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‘You Are Your Own Gym’: Learning fitness without filler

Tired of fitness fads and overhyped gadgets that aren't helping you build the body you want? In his new book, "You Are Your Own Gym," Mark Lauren shows you how to utilize the tools you already possess to maximize your potential.
/ Source: TODAY books

Honed by years of military discipline and efficiency, Mark Lauren has excelled in the physical training of the most elite levels of the Special Operations community. Never mind the fads, the gimmicks and the gadgets, Lauren has divined a method of maintaining physical fitness born out of the basic tools that we all inherently possess. In his new book, “You Are Your Own Gym,” Lauren lays out programs for maximizing your physical potential that are refreshingly free of filler. You already have everything you need, but are you up to the challenge? Here’s an excerpt.

1. Lean, strong, and confident

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.

I honed the programs and myriad exercises in this book while preparing hundreds of trainees for the extreme demands of the most elite levels of the United States Special Operations community. I have spent years developing new training principles, and observing the results. A stellar record led the top command to buy into my system. The military’s most advanced forces — from Navy SEALs to Army Green Berets to Air Force Special Tactics Operators — use these exercises as the backbone to their strength training, and now I bring them to you. Now, for the first time, men and women outside SpecOps have the opportunity to reach the pinnacle of fitness, with an amazingly small sacrifice of your time. Clear, concise, and complete, I bring these exercises into your living room, bedroom, hotel room, garage, yard, office, wherever you like. They are for people of all athletic ability levels, tailored to suit the needs and lifestyles of today’s busy women and men.

No book like this has existed before. Yet for thousands of years — from Ancient Greece’s Olympic athletes to tomorrow’s Special Operations forces — humanity’s greatest physical specimens have not relied on fitness centers in their towns or dumbbells in their homes.

What if I told you that you already have the most advanced fitness machine ever created? Your own body. And what’s so great about this fitness machine is that it’s always there. It is the one and only thing you are never without. And now you’re holding in your hand all the additional exercise equipment you’ll ever need again. It’s no longer necessary to spend hours and hours at a gym. In fact, you won’t have to go to a gym at all. The time spent training, wherever you may be, will be minimal. Two hours per week. That’s it. With these workouts you will not waste a single moment of your valued time using ineffective training methods. And no longer will you be able to use the #1 excuse for not training: “I don’t have the time.”

Whether you’re a part-time fitness enthusiast, Olympic gymnast, bodybuilder, yogi, or someone who hasn’t lifted anything but the groceries in years, my program will get you into the best shape of your life. You’ll find an incomparable selection of the 125 most effective exercises to work any muscle you want, anywhere you want, for the rest of your life. With these clearly demonstrated and explained exercises you’ll be able to construct your own training programs, catering to your needs and desires, that can be changed and modified in a virtually infinite amount of ways. Keeping your muscles guessing is how you keep them growing.

But for those who want the direction, I’ve laid out 10-week programs for all levels of fitness, programs that will lead to success where others have failed you before. You’ll only workout 20 to 30 minutes a day, 4 or 5 times a week. I strongly recommend at least starting out with one of these programs. They combine the secrets to what made ancient warriors so strong, with the world’s most effective and modern training principles.

These programs will increase the strength of important muscle groups needed in everyday living, keep your muscles and joints supple and flexible, improve the efficiency and capacity of the heart, lungs and other body organs, reduce susceptibility to common injuries as well as degenerative heart diseases, and reduce emotional and nervous tension. The benefits are never-ending. And success in your fitness program will inevitably lead to success in the other aspects of your life, both work and play.

This book can replace all other fitness programs in a person’s life, or be used as a supplement to your regular program, as a way to change things up from the same ol’ borrrrrrrring routine in your fitness center, or even just to take on the road when you can’t find a gym. Variety is the spice of life. Forget about doing the same sets and exercises day in and day out, maybe hitting the same treadmill every day, like a gerbil trapped in a wheel. And there’s no need to change clothes, pack a gym bag, drive, park, find a locker, find an open machine then, after a long, boring workout, do the whole process in reverse. You just start, whether at home, in your office, or a hotel room, and 20 – 30 minutes later you’re finished.

You’ll find no rhetorical filler in this book. No "before" photos of people pale and frowning with their glasses on, next to "after" photos of them tanned, smiling, flexing, and sucking their shaved and oiled tummies in. The proof has been before our eyes since man became man. In fact, even before that — why do you think monkeys are pound for pound stronger than humans? (Hint: It’s not because they have Gold’s Gym memberships.)

Do you really think that we evolved or were created to require machines in order to stay fit? It’s lack of knowledge about your own body’s potential that drives modern mankind’s endless demand for useless fitness gimmicks. When in fact the solution to ultimate fitness is surprisingly simple. Though it’s up to you to apply it. Free yourself from the dependency on gadgets, trainers, and common misconceptions. They are all crutches, keeping you from getting into the best shape possible. It’s a call back to nature.

Your fitness should be dependent on nothing other than yourself.

From the book "You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises" by Mark Lauren. Copyright © 2011 by Mark Lauren. Reprinted by arrangement with Ballantine Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.  All rights reserved.