Joe De Sena is the CEO and co-founder of The Spartan Race. These races are not for the faint hearted and from what I’ve read and understood, cannot be completed without the mental strength equivalent to the physical strength of an ox, bear and dung beetle combined.
Some call him crazy, but for many he is a true inspiration. Spartan Race is responsible for thousands of people changing their attitudes towards the way they live their life. From annihilating certain health issues to progressing in strength and stamina, a day at these races is worth a lifetime of lessons.
What is a Spartan? Well, by the traditional sense, it’s a person from the Greek city Sparta. In this ancient civilization, poor fitness was a valid cause for ridicule and surrendering in battle was the ultimate disgrace.
But in the modern day, influential sense it is a person who:
- pushes both their mind and body to its limits,
- learns continuously,
- stands up for their beliefs,
- knows their flaws as well as their strengths,
- and proves themselves through actions, not words.
These are just a small selection of the Spartan requirements (you’ll have to read the book to discover the complete formula) and as you can see, it’s quite a hefty arsenal of qualities that you need.
“You run the first half with your legs, the second half with your mind.” – old running proverb.
Spartan Up! A Guide To Life, is not an instruction manual giving you a step-by-step guide of how to tackle physical obstacles. There are no diagrams of how high you should lift your arms or how wide you should stretch your legs when climbing walls or attempting monkey bars. This book is a short read of De Sena’s personal story, the stories and case studies of people who he has inspired and ultimately a guide to facing the everyday metaphorical obstacles we face and (in my case) rarely do anything about.
“Some people stay stuck to one spot years because they are paralyzed by the fear of change…They are stuck in a prison of their own design.” – Joe De Sena
I have an aversion to ‘self-help’ books. The patronizing messages, the overly enthusiastic tones demanding that you live your life to the fullest and grabbing the whatever by the whatsits turns me off (possibly because the teenager in me doesn’t take direction well). But Spartan Up! not only delivers exciting non-fictional accounts of courage and perseverance, it offers an attitude to life that through following, you will have no regrets.
“If you can over-come that obstacle, then you can learn how to overcome an addiction, bad habits, intertia, unhappiness, anything that is dragging you down.” – Joe De Sena
For a lot of people, including myself, we struggle to identify or realize what we should be prioritizing in life. Shoes are more important than bills, fun is more important than health, business is more important than family, etc. Rotating these round the other way means that we’re healthy, debt-free, connected and supported by people who matter.
Grabbing the proverbial bull by the balls should not directly translate to buying the flash car you’ve always wanted or excessively partying every night. The Spartan Way uses discipline to lead a healthier life. And surely a better life is a big enough reward for foregoing superficial expenses?
“Our society’s approach to nutrition reflects our society’s approach to everything: convenience above all else, no matter the long-term effects.”
One of the most interesting chapters of Spartan Up! for me is Change Your Diet, Change Your Life. The Spartan way of eating is a disciplined one, but one that you will only see benefits from.
The history of food from the caveman era to the Industrial Revolution speaks volumes about the health of society at those times. Our fast food culture today has helped sow an obesity epidemic and a plethora of diet-related health problems which we can only avoid and prevent with the right knowledge and attitude.
Whilst healthy eating doesn’t seem like rocket science, making the right food choices will strengthen, nourish and protect you, helping you to lead your Spartan life to its full potential.
“Scientists say that it is not the most intelligent or the most talented people who are successful but the people who can ‘tough it out.’” – Joe De Sena
There are plenty of books out there that tell you how to live your life. They try to usher you along the path of success with encouraging quotes and doses of wisdom. Reading Spartan Up! has made me realize that it will not change my life, the change has to come from me. The book offers guidance and a wealth of evidence of how I could feel, how I could live and what I could achieve by being stronger. However the Spartan mentality does not condone cutting corners and if I want to reap the benefits I have make the decision to do so and then, ultimately…do it. Not just read about.
Everyone has a defining moment when they realize they need to make a serious change in their life, but you don’t need to wait until you hit rock bottom for your epiphany.
This book does not take a long time to read, so in just one morning you can learn and be privy to some sacrosanct sentences, which you will remember and revel in and undoubtedly want to pass on to others. Your quest to being a Spartan begins when you’ve closed the book and signed up for a Spartan Race. *
“Physicality has become alien rather than second nature.”
I can vouch for the influential powers of this book. Instead of going straight home after work and taking the bus to get back as soon as possible to write this review, I went to the gym and walked the near hour long journey back. And I have no regrets in choosing to be healthier.
*But first, you really should buy the book: