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4.6 out of 5 stars32
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on 8 January 2001
I was 16 when I first read this book, I'm now 18 and still use the programmes. I hope to run a Marathon either this or next year. My mum read it and has lost 2 stone!!! Whatever you goal, weight loss, to build muscle, to be able to run marathons, or just to live a little longer and more healthily; this book will have advice and a programme for you to follow to get exactly what you want, if you are prepared to give up some time for exercise and re-stock the fridge! May I also recommend you check out some of Ranulph Fiennes novels, may sound like I'm working for him or something but I feel like I owe him something, thanks to this book.
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on 12 July 2002
I approached this book with some scepticism because of the vast number of badly written self help books, diet books and fitness books on the market. I am in my early forties and (like many)prone to putting on weight, but I have used gyms, trained and been interested in fitness training for many years, having read many books on the subject. I thought this book would be the equivalent of an anectodal after-dinner speech by the great celebrity explorer, with a bit of fitness and advice thrown in for good measure. To my surprise and continuing pleasure, I could not have been more wrong.
I have never read a book on this subject which combines so much practical advice with such readability and sheer interest. Unlike one reviewer, I do find myself dipping into it - there is so much information in it I feel I come away each time with an interesting snippet or at least a refreshing slant on a familiar topic.
The style is very readable - Fiennes gives it to you straight, and cuts to the chase, with little of the woolly rubbish included in many other "lifestyle" manuals. He is especially good on motivation (I suppose to be expected from someone who had to motivate himself to some fairly hefty achievements).
The chapter on the benefits of being fit is excellent, as are the sections on general food control. This is a very realistic book...
I think the system he sets out (for both exercise and food control) is very good indeed. He acknowledges that relapses are normal, and advises that as long as you know what you are doing and do it whenever you can, your fitness level will increase accordingly. Sound advice for those prone to fits of depression at the scale of the task facing them.
I would recommend this book to just about anyone, from couch potatoes who find motivation difficult to fit athletes who want to move into ultra endurance events, from those who simply want to eat more healthily to those who want to prepare their bodies for Antarctic expeditons (Fiennes, in his fifties, is also alive to the fitness requirements of older persons). I was extremely surprised at how non-elitist and universal it is. It is also interesting and not a little inspiring to read about Fiennes' own experience, which is illustrative and informative rather than an intrusive part of this excellent book.
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on 4 October 2006
Let's be straight about something -- Sir Ranulph Fiennes is a remarkable man and is a national treasure. If any of us could accomplish 1/10th of what he has, then we could consider our lives well lived indeed.

It is a shame, then, that I found this particular title so underwhelming. I purchased it on the back of the plethora of five star reviews on Amazon, but must confess to feeling slightly misled.

A lot of reviewers trumpet the motivational aspects of this book. Perhaps I'm becoming less perceptive over the years, but I saw no motivation of value. If anything, Fiennes comes across as a scaremonger and somewhat elitist; as another review pointed out, there is enough finger-pointing towards our imminent ills, ailments, diseases, inferior genetics and death that I almost wanted to give up the reading halfway through.

Then there is the practical stuff. I found his "Food Control" method disorganised, unclear and a touch dodgy (skipping breakfast anyone?). There are no set meal plans, but rather a long list of foods with a potted biography of each one. You will know what to stock your kitchen with, but do not expect to learn how to put together a dietary plan. I also did a bit of digging online, and found a review where Fiennes confessed that he didn't actually follow the nutritional guidelines he laid out in the book; to say I found it a touch hypocritical is an understatement. I mean, the guy has accomplished some remarkable physical feats, so why not be upfront about what he *really* does.

The exercise section is fairly bloated and uneven. Most of Fiennes' emphasis is on aerobic training, particularly walking and running. The strength training chapters seem to be spread thin, with set exercises, set repetitions, set weights, and no real program of how to progress. It is also worth noting that you won't get tailored plans for fat loss, a muscular body or anything like that. I have seen *much* better manuals around (and have had great results from them).

Meh. There is more that I could write, but I think it is unnecessary. The general gist is already within the review. Fiennes is an outstanding individual, but this is a second-rate book in the tough fitness genre. To be fair, the fitness genre is a hard art to master; it is so packed with niches and nuances that it is impossible to do an effective all-in-one fitness manual.

Fit For Life could have done with a sterner editing job and a more streamlined vision of goals, and a bit more candour and a bit less preaching from Fiennes.
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Consider this; Would you buy a book about, say, learning to scuba dive (or whatever) from someone who has never ventured underwater? Of course not. When it comes to books about personal fitness, therefore, why not confine yourself to a product written by someone who not only understands the subject but also practises what he preaches - at the highest levels, just to continue with his chosen lifestyle. It says much for this author and the book that amongst the credits are such notable people as Dr Mike Stroud and Earl Mindell (to mention only two because they are moderately well known). So who is the author of this work?

Known as ‘Ran’ to his friends and ‘Ranulph Fiennes’ to most other people, Sir Ranulph Twistleton Wickham Fiennes BT, OBE (and the only holder of the Polar Medal with ‘double’ clasp for both the Arctic and Antarctica!) is without doubt the greatest living British explorer. As a former British Army officer, he also served with the Special Air Service. We met briefly in the late 1980s and I remember him as a man with great presence who has come to symbolise great achievements. Soldier, explorer - and the oldest man to have climbed Everest, author and so much more, his very lifestyle demands the highest degrees of motivation, fitness, nutrition, personal denial and DRIVE in order to achieve so much. Even as I write this review in February 2013, Ranulph Fiennes is exploring Antarctica (again!) - at the age of 68!

No human being - not even, for example, former Olympic athletes, airborne solders, climbers, runners or whatever, has the divine right to stay in shape just because of their past and middle-age spread DOES comes to everyone unless they tackle it correctly. The fundamental requirements to staying fit are; A requirement for self-discipline in one’s approach to personal fitness, condition and diet and an understanding of precisely what is required. This book provides that understanding.

The title ‘Fit for Life’ might be interpreted as meaning fit for whatever life delivers ‘or’ being fit for as long as you live - all things being equal of course. Having studied the work carefully, I found it to mean both - and more. After a thoughtful and somewhat revealing Introduction, the work is skilfully divided into thirteen chapters plus two appendices as follows: The benefits of being fit, outside factors, general food control - what is good and what is bad, fitness basics, warming up - stretching and cooling down, equipment and where to train, choosing your sports, keeping it up, strength training, plyometrics and circuit training, moving into the top two percent and ultimate fitness. The two appendices are; Avoiding illness and further information.

I found the chapters on foods that are good and bad particularly revealing with several myths destroyed on both sides of that particular coin. Altogether, therefore, this book covers every element of getting fit, staying fit and pursuing a personal fitness regime that will result in you looking good and feeling good - and there is nothing better than feeling good about the way you look.

Three years ago, at the age of 59, I was still running with a pack on my back - just as I did as an airborne soldier all those years ago. I had access to a gymnasium right on my doorstep and was in great shape. Then, very suddenly, I could no longer reach my toes and was in pain - even when walking. Last year I had a complete hip replacement and remain determined to get back to where I was. This book is proving to be the greatest help I could possibly have found and for that I shall remain eternally grateful. I mention this - just to show that we who permanently strive to achieve personal fitness are only ordinary human beings with all the medical problems and physical frailties encountered by others. If I can rate this product so highly then, perhaps, with a copy to hand, there really is nothing to stop you getting into shape!

NM
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VINE VOICEon 10 January 2004
I bought this book a number of years ago. I had been advised to give up playing squash by a cardiologist (he said as I was past 30 that 'squash is a dead mans game' ) I wanted to develop my fitness levels and having been a social squash player I was starting from quite low base. The book takes you through a wide range of issues on fitness including diet and other factors. It helps you identify what you want to do; be it the gym, swimming, cycling, walking etc and provides clear and understandable guidance on how to set and realise achievable goals and then take them beyond if you wish to do so. I would recommend it to anyone interested in reviewing a fitness routine, or their attitude to health in general.
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on 8 January 2003
Sir Ranulph's volume will appeal to all people who fall outside the Donny Osmondesque gym instructor books and the legion of Rosemary Conley type videos . If like me, anybody has interests in militaria, orienteering or outdoor pursuits then prancing round the lounge in a pink leotard in front of the DVD is all very embarrassing. The book is very informative and I really liked the 'to the point' style with info boxes listing foods to buy and which to ban. Fiennes stands like a rather menacing SAS doorman on the entrance to your pantry door-prohibiting substances which, he goes on to relate, can lead to all kinds of medical problems. This is not exactly a catalogue of exercise routines-though you will find photographic plates which cover the basics -it is a signpost to a more regimented and controlled phase of living which many thirty & forthy-somethings coming off the decadent 1990s will appreciate. It is in short a first class guide to organising food consumption and establishing fit living.
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on 22 April 2005
A truly inspirational man, mr. Ranulph Fiennes. He does all that I would love to do. How does he do it? A life replete with physical hardship, exercise and of course the mental strength to endure it all. Very important in all this is the diet that one adheres to. Except that the diet described in the book is one plainly discouraged by professional dieticians for its lack of scientific basis and its extremely low chance of success.
As far as I have been able to establsh, the rest of the advice in the book is sound, so we'll have to pardon mr. Fiennes his petty fad diet. It works for him, that's for sure.
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on 3 September 2014
A most remarkable book with many helpful hints for better, healthier living. In particular, Fiennes' solution for addressing arthritic problems echoes my own experience as taught to me many years ago by my mother, an experienced physiotherapist. This isn't a book exclusively for adventurers or fitness fanatics. Anybody who wants to take proper care of him/herself can benefit from it. Much recommended.
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on 20 October 2010
Having 'hit a wall' in regards to my own fitness regime, I thought I would give this book a try. It's very down to earth and plain talking. Easy to follow in regards to the diet tips and training regimes.
By following the diet regime for a week, whilst I planned my fitness routines around Ranulphs guidelines I managed to shed a few pounds already!
Its as good for beginners as it is for experts, as it has routines for the very novice runner/trainer and also for those planning round the world mountain running, with the odd desert marathon in between!
I am now motivated and at the start of my new routine. With races planned from now (Oct) until the middle of next year I have plenty to look forward to as they all lead up to training for a big endurance event for the summer.
What's also good in the book is his advice on how to keep your body right for your chosen sport, by stretching right and doing the correct exercises to prevent injuries.
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on 8 June 2015
Seriously, this is the best book there is on health and fitness. OK, so not all of us aim to be super endurance athletes (who this book really caters for), but for the basics about exercise and food in a simple, straightforward way, this book is the business. Get it, put the others in the bin, and get on with getting fitter and healthier - as the man says - the hardest bit of any exercise/expedition is getting off the sofa!
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