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The Great Handbook how-to fitness series (Body Ball/Home Gym/Stretch Tubing/Dumbbell/Medicine Ball)

When someone buys a home gym, a length of stretch tubing, or some other exercise accessory for workouts, it's usually done with the best of intentions and often on recommendation of either a physical therapist or an enthusiastic friend.


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When someone buys a home gym, a length of stretch tubing, or some other exercise accessory for workouts, it’s usually done with the best of intentions and often on recommendation of either a physical therapist or an enthusiastic friend.

Unfortunately, many of these workout accessories don’t come with detailed how-to manuals — heck, many don’t come with anything — and it’s not exactly intuitive if you don’t know body biomechanics or anatomy, or you haven’t spent much time in a gym. That’s especially true if you don’t want to spend time in a gym but just want a good workout to supplement an outdoor activity or other recreational pursuit.

Enter these great little handbooks that don’t try to be a book that you actually read. There is no poetic introduction, no historic diatribe on how for example the Romans used rocks for workouts, or attempts at technical explanations of sports medicine research (as if you care what a Golgi organ is, or why a stretch reflex kicks in?). They are instructional guides, simply written, with loads of pictures. And at a low enough price that adding one on to the purchase of some equipment should not cause a customer to so much as flinch.

There are now five books in the series, with one just added this fall: The Great Dumbbell Handbook was the first in 1996. Then came The Great Home Gym Handbook three years later. Last year, came both The Great Body Ball Handbook and The Great Stretch Tubing Handbook. Now comes The Great Medicine Ball Handbook.

 What you get in each are about 60 pages of the basics boiled down to the least technical and most straightforward presentation. In general that includes: myths about the type of workout, diagrams of the body with muscles for reference, pictures of accessories or attachments, safety, basic routine programming, and, of course, the exercises you can do using black-and-white pictures of real people, not those overly buff, computerized, intimidating models. The exercises themselves are basic, doing just about everything any beginner with the equipment would need — and likely fulfilling the needs of even an advanced person who wants to use the workout to supplement other recreation or pursuits.

SNEWS® Rating: 4 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)

Suggested Retail: $8.95 U.S. each ($10.95 CAN)

For more information, click on www.productivefitness.com or call 888-221-8833