Honestly, we have wondered why somebody needs a pre-designed workout log when all you need is a notebook. But the Ultimate Health & Fitness Journal (also known as the Ironworks Health & Fitness Journal) reminded us why this type of product can be helpful, particularly to a beginning or someone getting back into exercising.
The Ultimate Health & Fitness Journal is a pretty simple, spiral-bound, small-format notebook with a plastic cover. The independent designer and trainer behind it, Cynthia Brenneke, who owns Ironworks Fitness in Saint Louis, Mo., has put solid thought into what somebody needs in a journal for general fitness workouts and training. Studies show of course that charting progress is a huge motivator for exercise.
The journal is packed – perhaps a bit too packed. The first 30 pages are chock-full of basic information on getting started, goal-setting, charts to input and track your measurements, guides about different muscle groups and exercises for them, nutrition and calorie-use information, recipes, and FDA recommendations for a list of foods. Wow! That’s a lot for 30 pages. We really like the information on getting started, setting goals and exercise, but the nutrition and food information is cut down to such a small chunk that it loses some of its meaningfulness. We would prefer to see more of Brenneke’s own words of wisdom and nutrition tips. This book was obviously a labor of love for her, and we really enjoyed the personal touches and motivational tips that she does include in the journal.
After the first pages, she gets into the guts: First, a month-by-month planner and goal-setting section, then a day-by-day log section. About two-thirds of each page in the daily section is blank to allow users to make notes about their workouts. Also, each page offers a rotating selection of motivational messages, words of wisdom, and eating tips. Each page has a place to write in daily goals and an explanation of one exercise with a small photo. Weekly, there is a slot for your measurements and a place to note the week’s successes – all good motivators to help users remind themselves what they are doing and what they have achieved.
We like all the information and the variety, but the exercises are hard to track. We’d love to see a table of contents for exercises for reference, and we’d like to see them grouped in some way. For example, each month could focus on strengthening and stretching moves for a particular muscle.
As a bonus, she includes a CD she calls, “The Couch Workout.” It includes a 30-minute workout designed so that a person uses his or her body weight while actually sitting on the couch. The production is what we’d call “home movie” quality, so it’s not slick and not terribly professional, but it’s still approachable and a fun idea for true beginners.
Although it would add to the cost of a self-published book like this, we’d also like to see tabs to help somebody make their way through it, or some thicker colored pages at the start of each month or section.
All in all, not a bad item for a personal trainer who wants to motivate the world.
SNEWS® Rating: 3.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $18
For information: www.ironworksfitness.org