Fitness for Geeks is part of O’Reilly’s Make series. It’s not intended as a weight loss book. It’s not really even a book for the Couch to 5k crowd. It’s intended primarily as a fitness book for the very active person seeking an overall healthy lifestyle or the slightly out of shape coder looking for some ways to mitigate all that time in an office chair. In fact, many of the suggestions would actually cause you to gain weight if you’re not doing plenty of activity to offset the calories, like climbing mountains in the cold. That isn’t to say that there aren’t plenty of fat loss tips in there as well. I just wouldn’t suggest it as the first book you read if you need to lose more than 20 pounds.
Computer geeks should feel right at home with the easy tone in the book. Perry used code, coffee, and even Lego analogies to discuss different mechanisms of nutrition. There are tips for sneaking in workouts during business flights or while travelling to and from your cubicle. He also included an interview with John Walker of the Hacker’s Diet.
Occasionally Perry was repetitive in his descriptions. He mentions the mnemonic “a deck of cards” to remember the fat soluble vitamins A,D,E, and K. That’s not unusual for a book intended to be either read cover to cover or skimmed through and read by individual chapters of interest. While I was mildly annoyed at the repetition, my daughter asked something about fat soluble vitamins, and I immediately knew the answer. Well played, Perry.
Gadgets, Apps, and More
Perry emphasizes physical exercise and better nutrition through less processed foods (he tended to be a modified Paleo fan), but he lists plenty of apps and gadgets to help you get there. He talks about gadgets like the Fitbit, apps like Endomondo, and sites like Fitday. He neglected some items like the Motoactv watch or Your Shape Fitness for Kinect. It’s possible some items were too new to make the publishing cutoff, but it’s also possible that it just didn’t occur to the author to try them out.
A Single Perspective
Perry tried very hard to include “and women too!” in many statements, but the book gave me the feeling that I was mostly listening to advice from his personal experience. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot we can learn from the experience of others. But there’s also a lot of things that were missing from his book that might have benefited from a female perspective. He talked about CrossFit, for example, which sounds like a lot of fun, but no mention of Zumba or Bikram Yoga, which would have fit in nicely in his discussion of Hormesis. Pregnancy and postpartum fitness are also neglected.
Perry delivers a great snapshot of current trends in fitness. Paleo diets, CrossFit training, intermittent fasting, and more. He peppers his book with interviews with many of the leaders for these new trends, and he tries his best to explain why he thinks this would work. In some cases the science just isn’t there. He’s usually careful to point out that what he’s suggesting is something that just works for him, although at times it seems he’s got a bit more certitude on choices than is warranted by science.
I didn’t start running marathons after reading this book, but I did start taking the stairs and paying attention to the nutritional content of my food choices. His suggestion for a 10-15 minute resistance workout that I could do on a lunch break without getting all sweaty and needing a shower? Genius! I’d recommend this book as a good buffet to pick and choose the bits of advice that will work for you. While it’s primarily a male-oriented book, I’ll include my own “and women too!”
Full disclosure: an eBook was provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.