You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Mon, Apr 11, 2011 : 3 p.m.

Comedy and caveats in new book 'The Great Fitness Experiment'

By Eva Johnson

Out of the blue, someone emailed me and sent me a copy of a new book! After having a brief "maybe I am a somebody" moment, I picked up the book and fell into a giggle fest.

Charlotte Hilton Andersen, a blogger for The Huffington Post, and a very fit mommy, has published a book called "The Great Fitness Experiment," in which she decides she wants to turn herself into a human fitness trial subject. Each month for a year, she decides to follow a new fitness craze and tell us all about her experience and results.

Even though she is a self-confessed exercise addict (yes, there is such a thing) and orthorexic (look it up, I can't describe), she had me guessing and second guessing the media's odd fitness influence.

I would never recommend this book as a method of losing weight or getting more healthy (and she doesn't either, in fact). First of all, she confesses to running 30 miles a week and follows a weird vegetarian diet.

Her account of originally trying to lose the last five pounds goes from amusing to downright scary. On top of all of that, her personal life experiences made me giggle and then want to cry. Overall, I loved reading about her experiment, but I worry about anyone else attempting to replicate this. It isn't healthy or safe.

After reading her account of a few great workouts, I am excited to add some of these to my current workout. I want to try CrossFit for the challenge (and inevitable unreasonable soreness). I also want to try out the Monkey Bar Gym program.

I could pass on double cardio and intense interval training. I could also pass on the three-pound maximum dumbbell routines with several 100-rep moves. No one has that kind of time.

I wish she had tried a few more workouts that are hanging over my head right now, but maybe I will have to read her ongoing blog to catch them. I want to know how she would rate P90X, just so that I don't feel like I have to!

I also would love to have her try a ballerina workout, since that is all the rage right now. Oh well, that means that I still have some new ideas to try.

Overall, I loved the book and her delightful sense of humor. I was simultaneously laughing and horrified by her crazy antics, but I'm glad that I'm not the only one who is willing to make a fool of herself at the gym. I would love to meet her and try to convince her that not all personal trainers are mean and cruel.

She could show me a thing or two about accomplishing a pull-up, and I could show her that she doesn't need so much cardio — 30 miles a week is ridiculous!

The lesson in all of this? I can't stress enough that being healthy isn't this hard. If you, like Charlotte, have several kids or a full-time job, you don't need to spend that much time on exercise. I often wondered how her kids are faring while she is hanging out with her gym buddies for hours a day. Her obsession with this experiment is extreme and while this book is great for entertainment, I hope she continues to find a balance and a healthier relationship with food.

Food isn't the enemy. Fitness is a journey, not a destination. We moms can have it all, but not all at once.

I wish Charlotte the best and hope she continues to crack me up, without hurting herself!

Eva Johnson is an ACE (American Council on Exercise) certified personal trainer, who is still letting P90X collect dust. She lives in chaos with her husband and two boys. To see her complete blog about how to stay sane and in shape in the real world, visit


Eva Johnson

Tue, Apr 12, 2011 : 2:58 a.m.

Hi Charlotte! I loved the book and I am so glad you read and commented on my thoughts about it! It is so great that you have found a healthy balance and I look forward to reading about all of your upcoming fitness experiments on your blog. You are a wonderful writer, and I am so glad you let us all into your life so that we can all learn how to accept ourselves and our bodies. Your journey is inspiring to all of us mommies! I look forward to reading more about all those fun adventures in the gym! Thanks!


Tue, Apr 12, 2011 : 2:27 a.m.

Hi Eva! Thank you so much for reading my book and for your wonderful review! Just thought I'd pop in and answer a few of your q's. First up: My mental health:) The Experiments covered in my first book happened four years ago and since then I did a round of eating disorder therapy and while I'm not totally cured I am happy and healthy these days. I eat what I want, when I want. I exercise only 1 hour per day (and you'll be happy to know that I'm mainly a heavy-lifting weights girl these days). Second: My kiddos. As a mom of 5 I'm very concerned about their welfare and while I won't say they weren't at all impacted I was conscious to exercise either before they woke up or after they went to bed or while they were in school so hopefully the impact on their lives was minimal. Third: So funny you should mention doing a ballerina experiment because that's what we're doing for April! It is SO fun! We're doing part of the Barre Method and some others worked in for variety. Lastly, P90X was awesome:) We've done 2 cycles of it and I've got the full write-ups on my blog! Please don't write me off as a total lunatic (I understand the temptation, I have it myself) - the book details one really crazy year of my life and it hasn't been that way since then. Thanks! Charlotte Hilton Andersen, author