If the idea of fitness brings to your mind gyms, exercise machines and odd diets, you may be missing the bigger picture. Good health is intrinsically tied to every breath you take, every move you make, as a famous song put it—quite literally, no kidding, as some of this year’s most exciting books about health proved.
Beyond the hackneyed platitudes on weight loss and sterile manuals about the right training regime that fill the mind-body-spirit sections of bookstores, there is a wealth of literature on fitness that may have passed you by in 2020—simply because they don't scream fitness on their covers. Whether you are into working out or not, we picked five books that will not only open your mind but also make you appreciate the incredibly complex and beautiful machine that is your body.
Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui: Humans are terrestrial beings, but some of us have an affinity with water that is beyond the comprehension of others. Using memoir, reportage and a deep dive (pun intended) into history, Tsui brings alive the joys and heartbreaks of swimming in this book. If there are interviews with marathon swimmers and their bittersweet relationship with water, there are also gripping stories of survival, recovery from physical trauma, and finding mental balance through losing oneself in the flow of swimming. Whether you swim or not, this book is likely to change your attitude towards water and the secrets that are stored in the depths of it.
Not A Diet Book by James Smith: For those interested in actionable points and actual results, James Smith’s book should come handy. Instead of obsessing about the right diet that would help you get back or stay in shape, this master trainer focuses on the basics, especially on the difficult art of changing your mindset and forming habits that are likely to endure. From the best ways of losing fat to common fitness mistakes, Smith answers almost many frequently asked questions—and also warns you of fads, cons and slippery slopes.
The Wim Hof Method by Wim Hof: Some may dismiss his theories as esoteric woo-woo, others swear by the simplicity of his methods. Believe or disbelieve Wim Hof, the self-proclaimed man with a mission to change the way we live and unlock our potentials, you can’t ignore him. One of the biggest sensations in the fitness industry this year, he is a man of incredible determination and seemingly superhuman powers. From running on ice to submerging himself in freezing water to innovating his special breathing technique, Wim Hof has created a cult around him, leaving medical practitioners and scientists intrigued, alongside lay people. And he tells you how he did it in this best-selling book.
The Art of Resilience by Ross Edgley: Ross Edgley’s claim to fame includes running a marathon while pulling a 1.4 tonne car, living with Japanese warrior monks and other crazy adventures. His CV, filled with extraordinary feats of endurance, is likely to put the stars of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! to shame. But, jokes apart, Edgley’s ability to stay calm in the face of danger and excruciating pain is a marvel. It’s not for no reason that he is often referred to as the world’s fittest athlete. How does he achieve such inhuman feats? What is the secret to his mental endurance? In this book he provides the key to these questions and much more.
Be Water, My Friend by Shanon Lee: The name of Bruce Lee brings to mind martial arts, but as his daughter, the author of this book, says, he was much more than a fighter and film star. Subtitled "The True Teachings of Bruce Lee", this is a guide to the deeply philosophical mind that lay behind the physical agility and fierceness Bruce Lee. As Shanon Lee writes, one of her father’s mottos in life was "Empty your mind; be formless, shapeless like water". It was the combination of such impeccable self-control and concentration of energies, along with sheer physical strength, that made Bruce Lee among of the greatest martial artists in the world.