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Sunday
Dec052010

Functional Inspiration for Trainers & Athletes

Advances in Functional Training (Training Techniques for Coaches, Personal Trainers and Athletes) by Michael Boyle

 

Bookcases are littered with books and DVDs purporting to contain the latest and greatest training information. My email inbox hears from these same people every day. As many years as I’ve been reading and learning about training and nutrition, the one fact I’m certain of is that nobody has all the answers, and in fact few people have very many of them. But, and this is the big deal, a few people are able to interpret and transmit their knowledge for all of us in a way we can understand and put to practical use.

Michael Boyle is one of those people. His new book, Advances in Functional Training, reflects this knowledge, and his passion, with each turned page. Interestingly enough, this isn’t a picture book, with step-by-step examinations of exotic dumbbell moves or kettleball protocols. Sure, there are photographs, but mostly you’ll find yourself hanging on Boyle’s words, reading slowly or even re-reading at times (the hallmark of great writing). I keep digging into the book randomly, finding myself immersed in discussions of structural balance and imbalance, or learning about Tabata, or the differences between single-leg and single-joint movements.

Advances in Functional Training isn’t an encyclopedia, nor does Boyle present it as any “complete” treatment of the topic. I find this book inspirational, very readable (and be straight with yourself, how many of those “serious” books on your shelves have you actually read?) and educational. In other words, essential!

$34.95, oversize trade paperback, www.ontargetpublications.net

Sunday
Nov212010

More Than A Million Records For Sale

We've all known collectors with houses full of vinyl, and phrases including "he must have a million records" easily come to mind. But an old friend of mine, Craig Moerer, probably really does own a million albums and 45s. Craig's Records By Mail is a mail-order recorded music institution hailing back to 1974, and he hasn't missed a step as digital technology has completely changed the record collecting world.

Subscribe to Craig's email newsletter if you have even minimal interest in great records and wonderful music. I'm finding his Playlist Archive, where disc jockeys around the world send in their current playlists, to be entertaining reading. It reminds me that there was a time when radio was worth listening to. 

 

Sunday
Nov212010

I Wasn't Even Sure Anyone Was Producing Turntables Any Longer!

The news that Panasonic has ceased production of Technics turntables jarred me. Very few people in my life today even own a turntable; entire generations of kids are growing up who don't even own compact discs! Do I feel nostalgia, or old?

Thursday
Oct212010

Books: Food and Culture 10-21-10

Often, I'm reading two or three printed books at one time. Usually, one non-fiction (known as "serious"), one novel (usually mysteries or crime), and one technology or culturally oriented title. Late at night when tired, it's fiction or online news and entertainment. Taking a laptop or iPad (beginning today) to bed at night for reading is now a pretty natural act. It feels like it was years ago that I subscribed to nearly two dozen magazines, and read a couple of newspapers each day. Today, no papers, and only one dead-tree magazine (that's Sports Illustrated; now that I have an iPad we'll see if I renew next year. I've continuously subscribed to SI for more than 25 years, and I'm still saying this).

Half of the books in today's post are in my current rotation; the other three were recently published, and worth your attention.

Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour by David Bianculli

Growing up in the '60s, the Smothers Brothers to me were a hokey comedy act with amazing taste in music. Nobody else had The Who on their show live, for example. It was cool. Tom and Dick Smothers were acceptable to my parents, their music didn't appeal to me, but their show had some of the best rock'n'roll performers of the time, making rare TV appearances. One week it was Jim Morrison and the Doors, or Donovan. No lip-synching - real performances. I would almost hold my breath when these performers were announced.

At the time I was in touch with my inner-radical teenage self, and appreciated the political views the Smothers brothers epoused on the air, and knew they were pushing the envelope of what the network would allow. Magazines such as Rolling Stone and Creem kept us up to date on the censorship fights continually taking place between the network and the writers on the show. Author Bianculli devotes a great deal of attention to this important topic in Dangerously Funny, helping new generations understand how cutting edge these guys were, and how they were the only clear voice for political change that was making the sanitized national airwaves. Satire and clever writing were hallmarks of the Smothers Brothers Show, in many ways filling the role Saturday Night Live did years later, and Jon Stewart does today. Touchstone/Simon & Schuster


 

 

Food has become a controversial topic in our society today. Where it's grown, who harvested it, what means were used, how far it was transported... on and on. Merely going to your local Farmer's Market used to be enough to feel good about your food purchasing decision, but according to writer James McWilliams in Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly, many of these ideas are plain-old-wrong.

McWilliams will challenge many "truths" you probably believe. He feels that transporting fruits and vegetables across the country in many cases is more energy efficient than growing them locally. In his view, genetically modified crops are worthwhile as they keep millions of pounds of insecticides off farmer's fields. Do you have a vision of fish ponds stretching to the horizon, full of freshwater protein? He does. As the world's population grows, meat will become a rarity, in his thinking. 

Just Food is clearly written, challenging mainstream thinking. McWilliams would like all of us to become involved in the decisions to be made in the near-future, about feeding the entire planet.  HachetteBookGroup.com

I'm With Fatty: Losing Fifty Pounds in Fifty Miserable Weeks is Edward Ugel's story. Who is he? Just another guy in America, one of millions of very overweight people who realized they damn near loved food more than living. His story is compelling, as is the the cover photo of him hugging a container of ice cream, through the details of how miserable he'd been, and how taxing his life remained as he struggled to change how he lived... so he could live!

Ugel manages to write with humor as he chronicles his struggles. Food had overtaken his whole life, even his relationships. His pain is loud, creating a compelling story. I meet many Edward Ugel's in my work as a personal trainer, and wish they would all read and learn from his story.  Weinstein Books


Continuing the theme of how food has taken over so many lives, David Kessler's The End Of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite scared me. Author Kessler knows enough to be scared himself; he used to be commissioner of the Food & Drug Administration. 

The End of Overeating isn't about the food industry. It's about you and me, about obsession, habits, about sugar and it's work on our brains. Going into this book I thought it would be dry, boring and crammed with facts, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it so readable and to-the-point. Rodale Books


I want to tell you about a wonderful book I haven't even finished yet. Bob Dylan in America is the type of historical, put-Dylan-in-perspective project that I instinctively run away from. Excellent reviews caused me to give author Sean Wilentz' book a try, and I'm engrossed. The cliche would be that history is coming alive in theses pages, but it's happening in this volume. Entire areas of music I have only minimal interest in, but appreciate from the perspective of how they affected Bob Dylan, become fascinating in these pages.

Beatniks, Allen Ginsburg, left wing radicals, the Rolling Thunder Revue, and old blues and folk performers I was only slightly aware of take turns popping up in Dylan's life, all parts of the jigsaw puzzle that resulted in this creative artist who defies all definition. I've been reading books about music for 40 years, and am going through this one slowly so I can savor it. An entire library of books about Bob Dylan are causing bookshelves to sag the world over, but I'll bet most of them are unread. If you begin Bob Dylan in America you'll finish it and be happy you did.  doubleday.com

john.koenig3@gmail.com

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