Back to basics

Waynesboro weightlifter writes fitness book

Waynesboro weightlifter writes fitness book

October 27, 2008|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- Author, journalist and champion weightlifter Marty Gallagher considers his latest book to be the "cold voice of fitness truth."

"Everyone wants to convince you there's a magic bullet, a shortcut to shape and reconfigure the human body," says Gallagher, 58, of Waynesboro, Pa. "If it were that easy, the world would be a whole bunch of Arnolds."

The truth is, Gallagher says, there is no magic solution. And if there are at least three things to take away from his 496-page book, "The Purposeful Primitive" (Dragon Door 2008), it's that getting fit doesn't come easy, results don't happen over night and that fitness doesn't have to be complicated. It just has to be challenging.

"You don't get anywhere with ease," says Gallagher, who has written two other books.

He says "The Purposeful Primitive" is a confluence of his own experience as an athlete and 30 years of writing about top athletes for a major newspaper and fitness magazines.


Gallagher, who grew up in suburban Washington D.C., started weight training when he was 12 because he wanted to be a better football player. But by age 14, he won a regional strength competition. He said he won his first championship when he was 17.

Gallagher says he's since coached and trained with the best. The first 91 pages of the book are dedicated to the "Iron Masters," essays and photo vignettes of power and weightlifters from as far back as the 1950s.

While the book offers a snapshot of how powerlifters think, the book is not intended for powerlifters, Gallagher says. The intent was to offer a cross-section of how top athletes train with some sound fundamentals in terms Joe Blow exerciser can incorporate into his own workout regime, Gallagher says.

By primitive, Gallagher says he means going back to fitness basics: a balanced regimen of cardio, weight training and good nutrition -- no fancy equipment or $100-an-hour personal trainer needed. His own weight room doesn't offer much more than a few benches, barbells and power rack.

The book has photo illustrations of how to do certain exercises and offers sample workout plans for both the person only able to work out once a week and the person who can frequent the gym several times a week.

He also uses the book to vent frustration with an industry that he says has grown more gimmicky and dollar-driven.

He riffs about the crowded gyms the day after New Year's. In fitness speak, "mullets" are those people who try to fulfill a New Year's resolution and drop out after six weeks.

He also takes aim at the other extreme: the drill-sergeant-type personal trainers who bark down orders at their clients. Gallagher devotes an entire chapter to slamming reality workout shows like "The Biggest Loser," "Celebrity Fit Club" and "Workout," shows he said were exploitative toward people who are earnestly trying to lose weight.

"They're cruel," Gallagher says. "If they were doing that stuff in Guantanamo, they'd be indicted."

Gallagher devotes a good portion of the book to "brain training," how the physical aspects of exercise can be influenced by how we think. He taps experts for advice on how people can get themselves mentally psyched to exercise and stay motivated enough to keep up a routine.

"The brain is the hardest muscle to train," Gallagher says.

"The Purposeful Primitive" ($39.95, Dragon Door 2008), by Marty Gallagher, can be purchased from the publisher,, or at

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