Book Review: The Great Fitness Experiment by Charlotte Hilton Andersen

The Great Fitness Experiment:  One Year of Trying Everything
Do you ever come to a point while reading a good book that you just stall your reading before it ends?  You bring it with you to your appointments and your comfy reading chair, but you just don't want it to end, so you actually avoid reading it?  This is what happened to me while reading Charlotte Hilton Andersen's book The Great Fitness Experiment:  One Year of Trying Everything

At first glance, the premise is simple:  Successful writer/fitness enthusiast/Minnesotan mom-of-five performs a year's worth of experiments on herself.  Together with her YMCA gym-buddies, Charlotte searches for the best fitness program that can shift those last few pounds while being fun and achievable.

What you get, however, is far more than just a small-sample exercise study.  If I used the old cliché, "You'll laugh, you'll cry..." to describe your reading experience, you'd think I was being cheesy or facetious.  And you'd be wrong. There is much more to this book than you might expect.  I will get to that in a moment.

The backbone of the book is the fitness experiments themselves.  Each chapter covers one month of experimentation (for example, CrossFit or Primal Blue Print or Going Vegan) and includes:
  • The theory behind the program
  • What she liked
  • What she did not like
  • Practicalities in the gym
  • Practicalities out of the gym
  • Her results
Being an exercise enthusiast myself, this information alone would be enough to make me like this book.  However, between each month's fitness experiment, she exposes the deeper layers of her life to readers.  You become engrossed in the bigger picture of who she is and how she came to become this person today.  Her history includes (but is probably not limited to):  eating disorders such as anorexia, orthorexia, exercise addiction, sexual assault, depression and anxiety.  She shares heart-warming stories about trying to cope with body-insecurity in today's world that is obsessed with perfectionist physical beauty.  And minimal body fat.

But don't think for one minute that this book is a 'downer.'  Charlotte is utterly hilarious and peppers the entire book with her wit.  I promise that you will LOL way more than you might expect for a book that delves into some serious subjects.  One of my favorite lines involves her description of the YMCA's heavy-weight room being located directly above the child-care:  

"There have been reports of pants wetting.  And that was just the staff."  

In addition, the girl does her research and shares her knowledge.  "How to live to be 100" anyone?  Do you know about "The Female Triad?"  You will.

Yes, I finally went back and finished the book.  Yes, I was sad as 'all good things must come to an end.'  And yet I realized that I shouldn't be so sad.  I can go and log onto her blog, The Great Fitness Experiment any time I want to learn something new about the latest fitness craze.  Or if I just want to laugh.  Or cry.  Or both.

Charlotte loves Kettlebells so much, she even trains in stilettos!


Janetha said...

I am so glad you are friends w/ Charlotte because ever since you started talking about her, I have been reading and loving her blog. And how awesome is it that she has a book?! I need to get my hands on it. Loved your review, it sounds like her book is full of so much good stuff outside of the exercise aspect.

Hope you have a great week! Love you lots xo

Lara (Thinspired) said...

Wow, I had no idea Charlotte was writing a book! I can't wait to check it out. Minimal body fat...yeah...I'm workin' on that one ;)

Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman said...

I absolutely hate fitness books (boring!) but I thought this was so so good. It was really funny (just like Charlotte's blog) and loved the personal notes.

tam said...

Sounds like a fab read thanks for the review x x

Charlotte said...

Oh thank you Deb!! I'm so glad you liked it! Seriously, this means so much to me - totally made my whole day:) And thank you to all who commented too! Yay!!

Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) said...

I've got Charlotte's book and can't wait to read it - it's next in my queue. Honestly, I squealed when I received my copy in the mail - so excited for her and so cool to see her on the cover of her very own book. I can't wait to read it as I know it will be cleverly written, and I'm sure before I'm finished I will have laughed out several times. That girl is hilarious and such a talented writer!

Ameena said...

Charlotte is such a superstar! I just found her blog and I love it and I am in such admiration that she wrote a book. I can't wait to read it.

I only hope that I can get my act together and write a book myself before this century is over!

Charlotte said...

And when you do Ameena (because I know you will!) I want to read it!!

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) said...

I had no idea Charlotte wrote a book!!! and it sounds fabulous!!!

When I lived in Phoenix and had far too much computer time on my hands b/c i was hating my surroundings so just stayed inside, but that's a whole other topic...I used to read everyone's blog, yours, Charlotte, others, a lot more frequently!

I miss you, and Charlotte, and am off to say hi to her next...but thanks for the stellar review.

Jenn said...

I can't wait to read her book when I can get my emotions to settle down a bit. We are going on a vacation in a few weeks and I think that will be perfect timing.

sophia said...

Okay. I need to read this book. I love witty writer that make me laugh so hard I piss my pants. The last picture also just totally warmed me up to her!

Heather @ Get Healthy with Heather said...

Thanks for sharing! I always love to hear about new fitnes books and thanks for leading me to Charlotte's blog.

Have a great weekend :)

Deb (Smoothie Girl Eats Too) said...

Janetha- I'm so glad that you're reading her blog- it's really special.

Lara- yah, minimal body fat. I might be changing my definition of 'minimal' :-)

Tracey- I had to stay away from your review until I read her book because I didn't want to be 'swayed' :-) Glad you liked it too!

Charlotte- what can I say- you are one very talented and wonderful person.

Heabs- you'll love it.

Ameena- I second Charlotte's comment- I want to read your book as soon as it comes out! :-)

Averie- you've got a lot on your plate- totally understood!

Jenn- perfect vacay reading

Sophie and Heather- Welcome ladies! Hope my review helps- I thoroughly recommend the book!

Tam- it was my pleasure to read and review this one!

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