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on 11 August 2014
Before reading this book I'd taken part in a few obstacle course races and I'd signed up for a Spartan race. I was expecting to feel motivated by this book and to learn more about how to become this Spartan warrior everyone talks about. Instead it read more like an extended advertising piece than a book. I've no doubt that Spartan Race has inspired a lot of non-sporty people to get fit and lose weight but I don't need to hear those stories over and over again. De Sena actually sounds like an inspiring guy and I would've loved to have heard more of his tales. The opening tale was gripping, but after that I felt let down. Taking part in obstacle course racing can change your life but the book has failed in my opinion to put how, and why it can, across well. If you're just getting off the couch the book may appeal. If you're pretty fit and have read the classics- Born to Run for example- forget it. Take part in a Spartan Race but don't bother reading this book.
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on 6 August 2014
It's not a bad book. However, there doesn't seem much to it.

This is included in every chapter.
- Do Spartan Race
- This person was fat, did Spartan Race, now isn't and is married
- Do Spartan Race
- This person had an injury, did Spartan Race, now isn't and is rich
- Do Spartan Race
In a related aspect, there's very little real order to the book. No chapter stood out from any others as having a particular message.

The book does have some interesting stories and great quotes. And the idea behind the book is one I fully agree with. The main concepts:
- Exercise (although it doesn't really explain how... Except by doing Spartan Race)
- Eat healthily (briefly touches on how, but it's the fairly standard fresh-vegetables-grassfed-meat jobby)
- Just grit your teeth and do it - logically think of the pros and cons and if that says to do it, just do it
- Delay gratification, for the feeling upon completion (while true in theory, he says to do it almost completely at the cost of current gratification)
- Put yourself through discomforts, to get used to them
His only suggested way of achieving these are, however, the Spartan Race. He doesn't really give other ways on how to test what he's saying.

Joe is an incredible guy, and he's done some amazing things. A lot of this book is stories of what he's done. But that gets boring.

This book doesn't really explain the hows. It's "just do it". Specifically "just do Spartan Race", because it will make you happy, healthy, live forever etc etc. Of course, it can - but it's simply "set a goal, work towards it, achieve it, be happy". He completely ignores the "set a goal, ignore it" aspect, apart from saying "then you'll feel bad". There are no real take-aways from the book. I've done Tough Mudder, which was a big challenge (although he says is nothing compared to Spartan Race, even though it's three times the distance of the Sprint and videos make them look very similar). The event wasn't as hard, or as life-changing, as he claims it would be. You just decide to do it, and then do it. It doesn't inspire you stay healthy for the rest of your life, like he claims. I didn't even train a huge amount beforehand, like he said everyone does.

There are lots of references to Sparta (taken from 300), and they have some very admirable traits, but the world has changed a lot since then. We're not fighting to our deaths on a regular basis. He often speaks of "what a Spartan would do" and "be Spartan-like", but then Spartans also raped and murdered and lied. Everything they did was because of their surroundings - they had no choice. We should challenge ourselves, get back to more primal roots - be more like Spartans. But it felt overused and overbranded.

One little thing. He's obviously found his passion in exercise, but many people don't, and he doesn't fully seem to appreciate that. He said his priorities are "health, family, work, fun", and says he always does them in that order, then goes on to say that, for him, the exercising *is* fun, which is why he's made his life about doing this big challenges and doing burpees in the airport. Hmmm.

I always take lots of notes on books. From this I got very little. It should have been an article on the Art of Manliness (.com) - in fact, I think it has been.

Have I mentioned he thinks you should do Spartan Race?
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on 5 June 2014
I only stumbled across Joe De Sena a few days ago after making the decision to sign up for a Spartan Beast race for this October in the UK. Having made the commitment I listened to a few podcasts and watched a few Youtube clips which was enough for me to realise that I wanted to know more about the man who devised the endurance insanity I have signed up for!

De Sena strikes me as a man who walks his talk and genuinely wants to share the model for personal transformation that has led to his own success and has forged his character. The book is easy to become engrossed in and has much to offer, whether you are an athlete or simply someone who is curious to find out what all the hype is about.

He has a bold ambition - to make Obstacle Racing part of the Olympics and, if the quality of the thoughts outlined in this text are any indication, he may well just pull it off! I am kind of sad that I have come to the end of the book because now I have no reason not to 'Spartan Up' and get in my Workout for the Day! I love this book but Buck Furpees!
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on 26 September 2014
I bought this book after competing in a Spartan Race and everything about the race, the culture and mentality becomes more clear when you read this book. The book itself was an easy read and gives you principles you can apply to everyday life, it also provides you with other peoples motivational and inspiring stories along with how the races themselves have changed their lives and mentality. Even at the end of the book when it says "you'll know at the finish line" is true. Since reading this book I am more focused more determined than ever with both with physically and psychologically. Joe de Sena seems like such an inspiring guy with a great attitude.

I would have given it a 5 star but I do think that you would relate to it better once you have completed a Spartan Race yourself. I have recommended the book to my mate but I don't think they would connect with it as much as they have not completed a race.
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on 24 July 2014
It was a surprisingly easy read and something I felt like I could relate to - even though I've never done an endurance event of any sort. It's primarily about changing your frame of reference, which you can apply to every day life (e.g. work often gets too much for me but it's all been put into context by changing my frame of reference).

Since reading the book, I've signed up for Men's Health Survival of the Fittest and am about to sign-up for a duathlon :)

Am trying to get my girlfriend to read it now!
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on 24 June 2014
UK Spartan Beast last year was my first Obstacle Course Race - this book is designed to change your frame of reference, and reminds me why I enjoy OCR so much:
"Our fight-or-flight mechanism is supposed to kick in when we are running from a lion to save our lives, not when our brussels sprouts are slightly undercooked"
This is not a training manual or a diet book - although there are hints that both may be produced in the future - but it is a motivational handbook for a healthier attitude to life.
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on 14 May 2014
I love the clearity Joe speaks. He not only has the ability to make you see things and mostly reality clearly, he also addressess the bigger problem there is nation wide. What we teach our children. Or in this case, what we fail to teach them.

What is a Spartan?
What is the Spartan way to life?

How does obstacle racing have influence on your daily obstacles?
He handles all of the above points and more

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on 11 July 2014
I have read many self-help books and autobiographies alike.

Spartan Up! offers the perfect mix of the two, with many easily understood philosophies that you can apply to your own life. The book is written and structured very well, will plenty of inspiring stories. The ends of some of the chapters contain "Spartan Up! Life Lessons"; small stories that really hit the spot.

I would recommend this to anyone.
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on 14 March 2016
What an inspirational read! I like reading and try to read quite a bit and still this goes straight to my top 10 reads, maybe top 5 even! I know I will re-read it and I read it as a mental preparation to my first spartan race. It's more than paid for itself in the lessons and inspiration it's shared. Recommended to everyone who is interested in becoming more than they currently are!
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on 28 August 2014
Highly motivational and extremely inspiring in places - really gives you a good kick up the backside if you're at the stage where you're 'ready' for this type of approach to life. Unlike some of the other reviewers, I didn't view this as a sales pitch for his events at all - I thought all mentions were in context and supported the points he was trying to get across perfectly.
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