Central Athlete puts a big emphasis on striving for growth, for our clients and for our staff. One way that the coaches do that is through weekly education meetings where they review program design principles, coaching techniques, and general professional development. Additionally, all coaches are expected to learn outside of the gym as well through books, podcasts, videos, research articles, and more.
For this week’s blog, we’re sharing the most influential books on health and fitness that the Central Athlete team has read. (The links provided go to an Austin bookstore, but feel free to support your own local bookstore!)
Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky
This is a dense book that goes into the intricacies of the nervous system. This gave me a good understanding of stress, stress response and the intricacies of how the perception of stress, actual stress, and training affects an individual’s abilities to have a positive stress response. I recommend this book for health and fitness practitioners and for anyone wanting to take a deep dive into the topic of stress and the nervous system.
At the end of the day, as coaches, we help people to change their lives in the ways they want to. Humans are habitual creatures. As a coach, and as an individual, having a framework on how to best build, break, and create new habits is extremely valuable. Using the practices in this book in my own life, and with my clients, has proven to have been beneficial for my personal business as a coach, but has also increased the general fulfillment I experience every day of my life.
The Art of Resilience by Ross Edgely
This book follows Athlete-adventurer Ross Edgely and his 157 days at sea swimming 1,791 miles around the entire UK. Within the read, there are many lessons of stoicism and mental fortitude that helped Ross stick to his regime of swimming 6 hours on, and resting 6 hours off, for 157 straight days with no days of rest. This book is inspiring for any athlete as there are countless lessons to take from Ross and his journey of not just physiological adaptation, but mental adaptations as well. Ross also includes loads of information of exercise physiology, nutrition, sports science, and strategies for an unbreakable mind and body. This book was my favorite as I am a huge Ross Edgley fan; he has done numerous feats of strength and stamina, including completing an entire marathon while pulling a 1,400 kg car and climbing a rope repeatedly until he hit 29,029 feet, the same height of Mount Everest. This book will inspire anyone to get out and chase a goal that absolutely scares them.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
I used to be a "yes" person, and would take on more than I can chew. This led to a lot of overwhelm on my end, and working endlessly on projects while neglecting my own health and wellbeing. After reading this book, I have learned how to go from being a non-essentialist (doing everything) to being an essentialist (doing what is essential to me and my life). This has helped reduce stress in my life, and keep me focused on what truly matters to me. The book discusses what it means to be an essentialist, how to change your patterns and habits to gain essentialism in your life, how to eliminate distractions, and how to continually execute with daily practices. I recommend this book to anyone who is looking to take control of their life.
The Political Determinants of Health by Daniel Dawes
Unlike most of the Central Athlete coaches, my educational and professional background is in business and communications (Jesse does have a business degree as well.) My entry into the health and fitness space came through my own experience beginning to run, then strength train, then work with Jesse on a holistic approach that addressed nutrition, recovery, and lifestyle. I know a lot about the basics of health from an individual’s perspective but as I’ve become more entrenched in this industry, I’ve gotten curious about the larger systems that impact health, on an individual and community level. This book was a good primer on how much of a role politics and policy plays in public health and what that means for individuals from a variety of backgrounds. I’d highly recommend this book for anyone working in the health and fitness space to help understand how our profession fits into the larger world.
Let us know what your most influential book has been and what you think of the 5 above!