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Customer Review

43 of 78 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect!, January 25, 2012
This review is from: Overcoming Gravity: A Systematic Approach to Gymnastics and Bodyweight Strength (Paperback)
Been reading a lot of bodyweight books lately, and this caught my eye on Amazon. Everyone seems to love this book, but it's not as perfect as all the other reviews would seem to imply. It really does have good points, which are summarized really well by the other reviewers. But there are negatives too--and in the interests of honesty, a future buyer should think about these before spending fifty bucks. For example:

-This book is being pushed as a "bible" and a master text-book on gymnastics. Such a book should be written by an international--or at least, national level--coach. The author is a relative unknown; no impressive competition history, and doesn't coach anyone known. He's a nobody in gymnastics terms. Harsh, but true.

-The books describes complex movements--it really requires photos for illustrations, but the pictures are mannequin drawings. These are often of crappy quality and can be confusing.

-There's too much biology/science in the book. I understand that the author studied this kind of thing in college. For a how-to book a layer of science is great, but there's far too much in this book and will turn many people off. It's like the author is trying to prove how clever he is, rather than trying to educate others.(I know some obsessive smarties will love it!)

-The book badly needs an editor. While the size of the book (500 plus pages) might seem like a plus, much of this size is useless or inappropriate, and would've been cut by a competent editor or publisher. There are huge chunks of text thrown in inappropriate places, often interrupting other batches of information, leaving the reader disoriented or confused rather than enlightened. There's a reason this book was self-published!

I don't mean to be totally negative about this book--it's got a stuff going for it, for sure. But the above problems are real, and you should consider them, is all. :) Most athletes wanting to add bodyweight strength would be better with something like You Are your own Gym.

You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises

Enjoy your training!
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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 25, 2012, 8:08:33 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 25, 2012, 8:19:37 AM PST
C. Salvato says:
Steely Dan, that is an interesting review. Where did you read that this was a "bible", because that has not been any part of the advertising for this book?

Steven Low makes no claim to being an expert. If you don't like the advice, you need not take it. With the wealth of information in this book, most people look beyond the credentials as the information is 100x better than any other text on the topic. You also clearly did not read the book description before making your "purchase", which directly addresses your criticisms:

"Thus, there are very few sources of true bodyweight strength programming available. Most of the information is in the heads of high level gymnastics coaches who do not have the time or inclination to write down their thoughts. Similarly, knowing progressions for exercises alone does not necessarily mean that one has enough knowledge to implement effective programming. "

Also, photos also have their own intrinsic problems, and I actually thought the mannequin drawings were much more appropriate. Building the Gymnastics body shows us how horrible a book can be when it relies on photos.

The book does need another round of editing, as others have said, though most people who have reviewed here concede that the information in this book is so novel, and new, and terrific, that this is a small problem in the scheme of things.

I also find it odd that your review is so in depth, without you having purchased from Amazon, when this is the only place from which the book can be purchased. It also seems like you did not take the time to read this book, as with other books you have reviewed, since many of your other reviews seem to be similar to this, in that you have taken a cursory look at the book and post a misleading review. For example, do you REALLY think this book is only 1 star better than Felon Fitness and Solitary Fitness?

It seems to me that you have an agenda to push You Are Your Own Gym, which is also written by a "nobody". I would say it is better to be fair about reviews than it is to post bad reviews when you didn't really give the book the time of day, or have another agenda working for you.

Posted on Jan 25, 2012, 8:44:24 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 25, 2012, 9:01:11 AM PST
TIZIANA says:
I can agree to some extent to your points (though those wouldn't make it lose 3 stars out of 5), but I surely have to disagree on this:
"-This book is being pushed as a "bible" and a master text-book on gymnastics. Such a book should be written by an international--or at least, national level--coach. The author is a relative unknown; no impressive competition history, and doesn't coach anyone known. He's a nobody in gymnastics terms. Harsh, but true."

I don't know anything about you, your age, sport background, athletic development and current abilities, but as an adult newcomer to gymnastic (where the book is aimed) I can assure you that teaching gymnastic skills to adults doesn't have ANYTHING to do with coaching gymnasts grown in the sport. I bet that even Chen Yibing's coach 24/7 by my side won't turn me in a decent gymnast, you have no idea what you're talking about. I played pro rugby and one thing I know for sure, an accomplished player won't automatically turn into an accomplished coach, nor all accomplished coaches were accomplished athletes. One example above all: Graham Henry! Had I had Graham Henry coaching me would made me into an all blacks? I don't think so.
The point is, train along any gymnast (what I've been doing for the past 1.5 years) and you'll see that the way they train can't apply to you. A coach that has experience with your same age and level group is much more preferable and you won't find such coach at any high level.
You have to be an olympic athlete to train like one, don't kid yourself, get real!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2012, 8:49:03 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 25, 2012, 8:50:03 AM PST
Steely Dan says:
Hi Chris,

Thanks for your comment. Just a few words of response.

First off, it's clear from your ire and disbelief that my review has hurt your feelings. That was never my intention, and I'm genuinely sorry if that is the case. Criticism can hurt. But here's the reality: no matter how many people adore a book, there will be some people who don't like it. If you are going to self-publish, you had better learn to accept that fact.

Secondly, rushing to check your sales against my Amazon account, scouring my other reviews, and suggesting that I have some kind of hidden agenda was a totally classless (slightly creepy) thing to do. I do possess the book, and have a right to my opinion. It would be more grown-up to just accept this rather than resorting to accusations or conspiracy theories. (It also shows very little respect for the privacy of your customers, TBH.)

Third-by your own admission-many of my critical points are absolutely true; the most important being that the book is poorly edited and that the author lacks credentials. As for whether the book is being pushed as a "bible", I certainly get that vibe...in your own post, you say that the book is "100X better than any other text on the topic (!!)", which seems a little worshipful to me!

I do take your point on the line drawings. I see they must have a practical side, but to me many of them just looked messy and cheap. Again, you will despise me for saying it, but it's just my opinion. Others will doubtless disagree.

I can see why many people would love this book and I respect their opinion completely. For the reasons I gave, I didn't. Please respect mine.

Dan

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2012, 8:59:14 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 25, 2012, 9:00:36 AM PST
Steely Dan says:
TO VENTRE:

I actually agree with you in most respects. Being trained by an expert won't necessarily make you an expert...but given the choice between an expert and an unknown amateur, who would you choose as a teacher?

For a book that weighs in at fifty bucks, most people would say "an expert"!

That's all I meant. But I take your point. I'm glad you like the book though and see the logic in your points.

Dan

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2012, 9:17:54 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 25, 2012, 9:31:29 AM PST
TIZIANA says:
I re-read my post and I have to apologize as I was a bit rude.
There's one thing I'd like to reply though.
Is debatable that an expert coach will be the perfect fit just because his resume or qualifications speaks for himself (like in any other endeavour not just coaching), you have to ponder and make your own judgment based on the possible match with your needs. And your needs as a beginner will be totally different from the ones of the experts he/she coaches.

In the end I'd chose the GOOD coach, but that's not even the case as no book can coach you, they can only teach you. They have to make you become your own best possible coach.

one more note, I forgot to sign the previous comment,
Alberto.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2012, 9:44:29 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 25, 2012, 9:44:59 AM PST
Steely Dan says:
ALBERTO:

No need to apologize, I probably need slapping down a bit!

And we're on the same page--I heartily agree with all you say here!

Dan

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2012, 10:49:05 AM PST
C. Salvato says:
Dan:

I apologize if my post came off that way, but I can assure you that was not how it was intended. Forgive me for writing back before my morning coffee.

First, let me say, this is not my book. I am an enthusiast, not a publisher, editor or author.

I understand not every review can be favorable. I am fine with that. What I am not fine with is that you slam this book pretty hard in your review and recommend an alternative, based on things that are not fact.

1) You say this book is pushed as a gymnastics strength bible. This book was never pushed or advertised in that way.
2) You say that people in this domain don't want to read about science -- but the title is called "A Systematic Approach..." which implies a rigid systems approach. The content has been likened to Starting Strength in terms of structure and scientific depth; yet you gave that book 4 stars, and this only two.
3) You say that the author is a "nobody", which is untrue, has he has been an active member of several dozen fitness communities where he has earned high esteem.
4) You assume this material was to be written by a specific type of person, when the advertisement states that the kind of author you are looking for is NOT the one who wrote this book.
5) You assume that one needs a certification or a specific level of coaching experience to explain these movements and how to program them. If you have read any other books on this topic, you will often see those who train the most advanced of athletes do a horrible job of explaining programming, whereas there has been consistent feedback that the programming section of this book is superlative.

Regarding conspiracies, maybe you should consider *how* you post negative reviews. Objectively, if I were to see this review in a mix of nearly all other 5 star ratings, I wouldn't take it seriously at all. Your other reviews (which are only a click away), are very similar, where you try to push another product on customers looking at this product, without providing a basis for this recommendation. Couple this with the fact that you did not buy the book (no Amazon Verified Purchase text near your review) and it looks very sketchy. I don't mean to partake in conspiracies, but if you look at it objectively, your review could have been more informative on referring to your other recommendations.

Objectively, to me, it looks like you got the book for free from somewhere (or not at all), took a cursory look through it (commenting on photos and not content) and attack the author's credentials, but not the content of the book. If this is not the case, you may want to revise your review so that the author can improve his second edition, and so that other people take your reviews more seriously - which seems to be a problem for you based on the other reviews you have written about other books.

Chris

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 27, 2012, 6:30:29 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 27, 2012, 6:36:48 AM PST
TIZIANA says:
glad to hear you saying that. Neither good coaches or teachers are evenly spread...
alberto

Posted on Jan 29, 2012, 8:18:50 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 29, 2012, 8:39:58 AM PST
Steven Low says:
1. "-This book is being pushed as a "bible" and a master text-book on gymnastics. Such a book should be written by an international--or at least, national level--coach. The author is a relative unknown; no impressive competition history, and doesn't coach anyone known. He's a nobody in gymnastics terms. Harsh, but true."

Harsh, but false actually.

I see nowhere that this book is being pushed as a Bible. The description and my intention with this book is that it shows people how to logically and systematically contruct workout routines based on their goals while keeping them healthy and safe. Gymnastics training is such that a "true Bible" would be easily more than thousands if not tens of thousands of pages. There is no way I would claim this either verbally or written because I know it would be false.

Additionally, I am a multi-year assistant coach of the Gymkana troupe, which is nationally known. We've also recently appeared on America's Got Talent. So strictly speaking, I am a coach of a nationally know gymnastics troupe.

This is not to mention my substantial involvement online.

However, overall, I actually don't care if I'm known or not known or whatever. I am always of the opinion that quality descriptions should speak for themselves. So if you have any actual criticism of my descriptions that are valid I would like some feedback regarding those so they can be changed in future editions. That is what matters to me the most.

2. "-The books describes complex movements--it really requires photos for illustrations, but the pictures are mannequin drawings. These are often of crappy quality and can be confusing."

There are pros and cons of illustrations vs pictures. I won't get into the details, but this is a valid criticism I would say. We chose illustrations because the typically can better express some of the nuances of hip and shoulder positioning much better than pictures can.

But people have their different preferences for illustrations or pictures so it is what it is.

3. "-There's too much biology/science in the book. I understand that the author studied this kind of thing in college. For a how-to book a layer of science is great, but there's far too much in this book and will turn many people off. It's like the author is trying to prove how clever he is, rather than trying to educate others.(I know some obsessive smarties will love it!)"

This is the most uninformed criticism.

The description of the book on the Amazon page, EMI, and everywhere else around the net specifically says in the second sentence:

"In this book, Steven Low takes the reader on a journey through logically and systematically constructing a strength oriented bodyweight workout routine. *****With a highly systematic and scientific approach, Steven delves into the exercise physiology behind strength training and how to adequately prepare the body for the rigors of bodyweight training*****"

It says the book is based on a scientific approach. It is definitely not me trying to prove "how clever I am instead of trying to educate others."

If you don't want to read the description of the book before buying it you don't have to. But don't criticize me for something that is stated in the description of the book.

4. "-The book badly needs an editor. While the size of the book (500 plus pages) might seem like a plus, much of this size is useless or inappropriate, and would've been cut by a competent editor or publisher. There are huge chunks of text thrown in inappropriate places, often interrupting other batches of information, leaving the reader disoriented or confused rather than enlightened. There's a reason this book was self-published!"

I would actually like to know which parts you found out of order or inappropriate so I can make some changes.

5. "I don't mean to be totally negative about this book--it's got a stuff going for it, for sure. But the above problems are real, and you should consider them, is all. :) Most athletes wanting to add bodyweight strength would be better with something like You Are your own Gym.

You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises"

This makes absolutely no sense at all.

If you are going to criticize me for not being a well known gymnastics coach, then why are you recommending a book that isn't even about gymnastics type strength?

If I take your criticisms logically, I could see taking off 2 stars for the illustrations and editting giving the book a 3 out of 5. Where would you say the extra -1 star came from? I'm curious.

If you have any other criticisms or constructive comments I would like to hear back from you. Often those who are the most "negative" about something can provide the most constructive feedback.

Cheers,
Steven Low

Posted on Jun 26, 2012, 1:40:02 PM PDT
It's not often that a reviewer is an expert on international gymnast coaching, professional editing, and an artist. Seems to be a minority here though.
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