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Book Review: No Gym Required by Jennifer Cohen

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No Gym Required: Unleash Your Inner Rockstar is a new entry into the self-help market and despite the whimsy of the title, the book has solid commonsense advice on exercise and nutrition aimed at dispelling the myths surrounding media images of beauty. Author Jennifer Cohen pays as much attention to airbrushing as calorie intake as she takes on what it means to achieve beauty.

Canadian-born Cohen has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a masters degree in sports marketing, both of which she draws upon for her approach to fitness, but the jumpstart for this book was her experience as a celebrity fitness trainer in Los Angeles. The brush with today’s stars helped focus the author on the unique slant she wants to bring to an overcrowded fitness market.

In an interview, she said, “"I want to motivate people to do what they already know and to package it in a way that resonates. And I want people to be realistic about their body types."

Cohen chose the rock star as her media image of choice, both for the confidence in their uniqueness rock stars exude and the many body types successful singers have. According to Cohen, rock stars exemplify her own personal mantra of “Believe it, achieve it.”

Her psychology background means she places a lot of importance on mantras and mojo as she uses cognitive behavioural strategies to show how to change poor habits into better ones for achieving goals. She’s not interested in what she calls deficiency motivation. Her inner rock star has an empowering message of acceptance and confidence. I loved her upbeat but very commonsense tone as she talks about motivation for change to a healthy lifestyle.

Health is very much her focus, rather than a particular image of beauty. Cohen talks with an insider’s knowledge about the amount of poor health practices some celebrities engage in to try for a particular size and body type, and the amount of airbrushing that is still required for the final photo to appear in a magazine. She offers instead a no-nonsense one-stop fitness and health regime complete with body type information, exercises and nutrition discussion.

The chapter on exercises, which includes a cardio workout, power moves for building muscles and a fourteen day “boot camp” exercise plan, has a good array of different moves accompanied by photographs. The exercises for the most part need easily affordable equipment like exercise balls and skipping ropes, though she does recommend tread mill use, which is a little higher budget.

One can do the program without the treadmill, however, so the “no gym required” part is realistic. I liked that she gave many choices in a menu approach, so you could build your own plan and vary it. I also liked that she followed her rock star theme by offering different musical playlists!

The nutrition chapter emphasizes fresh natural organic food, with portion control and regular meals. There’s not a lot new to the message, which also draws on the Glycemic Index, but I enjoyed the specific discussion on various nutrients and foods. From Omega 3 fats to green tea, Cohen lets you know what is good for your body and what isn’t, with an interesting list of rockstar super foods which really deliver on nutrition. Hint: apples extend workout energy by ten minutes!

The book ends with a 14-day menu, complete with recipes, and personal trainer worksheets for a fourteen day boot camp. I was inspired to take Cohen’s challenge and see what changes I could bring about in two weeks, and I recommend the book to anyone wanting to release their inner rock star while thumbing their nose at size zero fits all media images for women.

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About Gerry Weaver

  • Being very lazy to go to a gym myself, your review has piqued me enough to give the book a chance. Is it really a good read, and informative?

  • Gerry

    How informative it is probably depends on how well informed you currently feel on why certain foods and nutrients are good for you and why others aren’t. Cohen doesn’t really break new ground, but what she says is right according to current thinking. Her exercises will do the trick if you follow them. I think what the book does well is present the facts in an entertaining and still commonsense way and show how a fourteen day program would be set up by a personal trainer. I think the whole “rockstar” metaphor is aimed more at a female market, as she talks a lot about body types and how they are all attractive. The advice is gender-neutral, though.