You are your own gym – Mark Lauren 8


I have to confess that I hate the gym. I prefer my yoga routine and brisk walks to keeping pace with the treadmill while staring into a wall. So, when I saw this title, I picked it out of curiosity. Coming from Mark Lauren, a certified Military Physical Training Specialist, Special Operations Combat Controller, triathlete, and champion Thai boxer, one starts reading the book with the wonder whether it is possible to shape up and stay fit without ever entering a gym.

I WANT YOU TO UNDERSTAND, unlike many other fitness authors, I do not train movie stars, television celebrities, models, or other personalities whose livelihoods hinge on being fit. I train those whose lives do. For a decade I’ve used bodyweight exercises to create the leanest, strongest, most confident people of our civilization.

You are your own gym - Mark Lauren

These opening words immediately hooked me in because, well, because he is right. When men are out there at the warfront, how do they workout and where is the gym? Aren’t they the ones who need to be the fittest? So, how do they do it?

Mark starts with an interesting incident in his life – a 9-week military training program, the subsequent selection process where he failed by 2 Sit Ups and eventually repeating the whole program – which lead him to become a trainer.

He elaborates on the motivation for body-weight exercises and convincingly argues about the myths surrounding strength training. He builds the base for the crux of the book by touching upon all aspects of getting fitter, including the importance of proper nutrition.

The essence of the book can be divided into three parts – a set of primitives which help understand how his exercises are to be done, the set of exercises and lastly 10-week programs for different ability groups.

Peppered with quotable motivating phrases, one can quickly read through it. Well, implementing is another story! The 111 exercises with photographs is a reference section to be scanned through in the first read and referred to while you are on the program. He has suggested variations to each exercise and the muscles that each exercise work out. All of these exercises can be done without any fancy equipment, but some of them need a few easily available props like a towel or a rope.

+ + +

  1. The argument for not using a gym (Yes, but he does not argue for not exercising).
  2. The author suggests general rules to create innumerable variations to make any exercise more challenging. Because of this abstraction, one can get creative. This makes exercising an act of creativity than monotony.
  3. He has an interesting definition for fitness. Fitness is the degree to which a person possesses muscular strength, power, muscular endurance, cardiovascular endurance, speed, coordination, balance and flexibility.
  4. His programs for each ability level are well-balanced. In addition, one is expected to exercise for 20 -30 minutes for 4-5 days a week. In this fast-track world, I found this attractive. So, now my exercise routine has adjusted itself to accommodate some of these exercises. This is for real people with a life apart from training and looking fit.

– – –

Except for the fact that some of these exercises are really tough (which is a negative of the content or should I say a negative of the implementation of the content or is it a negative of my fitness status?), I can’t think of any.

! ! !

  1. Though yoga is a body-weight method for fitness, it is frequently labelled as a flexibility exercise than a fitness exercise. After reading this book, I realized that apart from all the marketing gimmicks for the gym equipments, this is another trick used by people to make people buy their products or use their services. In this age of information we are bombarded with incorrect advice, useless gadgets, pills, powders which are pure hype.


I shall list some of the interesting takeaways I found.

  1. A successful team is one that is made up of individuals that are able to set themselves aside.

  2. Commitment equals success. Tweet
  3. Fitness is the degree to which a person possesses these qualities
    • Muscular strength
    • Power
    • Muscular Endurance
    • Cardiovascular Endurance
    • Speed
    • Coordination
    • Balance
    • Flexibility
  4. The best way to avoid eating junk is to simply banish it from your home. You won’t be tempted to eat poorly, because there’s nothing left to be tempted by.

  5. IT BLOWS ME AWAY EVERY TIME I walk into a nice home and meet its proud, overweight, out-of-shape owner. They just don’t get it. Your real home is not your apartment or your house or your city or even your country, but your body.

  6. Never giving up and keeping an achiever’s attitude is a matter of having a vision.

  7. Whatever you do in life reinforces patterns and habits. Quitting or coasting, when it’s time to drive on, reinforces that behavior and makes it more likely that you’ll do it again the next time.

For excuse-free fitness!

Book Details:

Title You are your own gym
Amazon Paperback
Flipkart Paperback
Editor(s)/Author(s)/Illustrator(s)/Translator(s) Mark Lauren
Publisher Ballantine Books

About Menaka S

Menaka is a computational linguist by education, an optimist by attitude and a dreamer by how she spends her time. Being left-brained, she runs PlusMinus'n'More to indulge her right brain interests.

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