Let me introduce you to fitness guru Al Kavadlo and his great book, We’re Working Out! A Zen Approach to Everyday Fitness. Al’s well-known as one of New York City’s top personal trainers, and for his wildly successful blog www.Alkavadlo.com where he provides instructional exercise videos and photos covering bodyweight exercises and his impressive feats of strength, as well as tons of advice on nutrition and training techniques. Al and I became friends through our shared love of bodyweight training and I was lucky enough to grab a workout with him in his stomping ground at Tompkins Square Park in NYC. You can check out some of the highlights here:
The Great Bodyweight Brainstorm Workout in NYC.
I brought Al’s book We’re Working Out! A Zen Approach to Everyday Fitness along with me on my recent trip to France, where I was training with some Parkour teams and researching the history of the sport. I have to say that it was hard to put the book down. Even after being a professional fitness trainer and coach for over thirteen years, I still learned some new things and definitely picked up a few new philosophies.
The book itself is exactly as the title states – teaching you how to take a zen approach to everday fitness. It’s a well written combination of fitness tips for all levels of fitness enthusiasts, intertwined with teachings of zen Buddhism and wrapped up with a positive, encouraging message that only Al can bring. It’s practical and motivational at the same time. He not only tells you how to do a pull up, but why you should do the pull up, and then he’ll convince you that you really want to get out there and do that pull up no matter what.
Al’s background and training brings a great perspective to his teaching and writing. He first began his personal training career in 2003 in Chicago, where he turned his focus from his own pursuit of fitness and began nurturing his passion of helping others achieve there goals. After moving back to his native city of New York, Al’s complete style of training propelled him to the position of top producer at the New York Health and Racquet Club. His clients ranged from athletes, models, the elite business class and even an Olympic Medalist. But I believe that one of the things that really sets Al apart is his years of study of Zen Buddhism, a philosophy he has successfully merged into his own style of training.
It’s Al’s no-nonsense approach to fitness, that’s so refreshing. He has an uncanny ability to cut through all the BS and spread solid info with a fun and sometimes campy style that you might not expect from a tough looking guy who’s covered from neck to toe with tattoos. That’s where a lot of Al’s charm comes from, and makes him seem more like a friend or role model than a drill sergeant screaming out orders as he tortures his clients.
Just take a look at the table of contents to get an idea of the depth yet simplicity of this book:
- A No-Nonsense Introduction
- Chapter One: The First is the Worst
- Chapter Two: Exercising and Mindfulness
- Chapter Three: Breathe
- Chapter Four: Why Bother?
- Chapter Five: My Top Five
- Chapter Six: Primitive Minds: Fight or Flight
- Chapter Seven: Aesthetics vs Functonality
- Chapter Eight: Fifty-Fifty
- Chapter Nine: The Level Playing Field and The Path Ahead
- Chapter Ten: We’re Working Out
- Appendix: Sample Routines
Al sums it up best by saying:
“Getting fit isn’t easy, no matter what any commercial or fitness “expert” tells you. However, I hope you’ve seen that it doesn’t have to be a miserable experience. You can get fit and it can be fun! Before you walk away from this book (and go work out!), I want you to think about three things: your mind set, your body, and your quality of life. They’re all connected, like links in a chain. It starts with your mindset, and from there you can create the body you want, and the quality of life you desire.”
I would absolutely recommend picking this book up on Al’s website at www.alkavadlo.com!