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Cell Workout, by L.J. Flanders (LC Books, 2015)

231 pages, $35.00 softcover

Book review by David M. Reutter

“In prison, people can discover new things and improve themselves in many ways; faith, fitness, a new language, education, skills and qualifications that may lead to job opportunities,” writes author L.J. Flanders. “In my case, I decided to make use of my time and channeled my energy into exercise and fitness.”

The desire to fill his time with an effective exercise regimen while incarcerated at HM Prison Pentonville in England led Flanders to study sources to develop a fitness program. He found those sources lacking, and thus decided to write a book that describes how to conduct an in-cell workout without any exercise equipment.

With prisons increasingly restricting access to free weights and imposing more lockdown time, the ability of prisoners to stay fit and healthy can be easily hampered. The key is exercises that can be done in confined spaces that allow people to steadily increase their level of fitness.

Cell Workout fits the bill. As Flanders sees it, his book teaches people how to use “body weight resistance training” that does not require equipment or much space. He explains the benefits of bodyweight training and includes a graphic of the anatomical position of muscles in the body. Next, he describes “Basic Training Principles: FITT” and “Main Training Principles.”

To assure a full understanding, some exercise terminology is provided. The author then explains the five components of total fitness, breaking each down so they can be easily understood. Finally, he expounds on the different aspects of resistance training, cardiovascular training and flexibility training.

Flanders next moves on to the meat of his book: the exercises. This section covers 123 pages and is a comprehensive piece of work.

During my 28 years of incarceration, fitness has been one of the focuses of my life. Through those years I have read many fitness books, seeking bodyweight exercises because free weights were often unavailable. While in segregation, cell workouts were the only way I could keep myself fit.

Cell Workout is the most thorough, comprehensive and easily-understood compilation of bodyweight exercises I have ever read. For each muscle area, Flanders provides numerous exercises that are explained and displayed in color photographs.

The variety of exercises allows one to develop muscle groups from different angles and prevent plateaus; the exercises are great for both beginner and advanced workouts. There are sections on static stretches, relaxation and meditation. Cell Workout also provides a 10-week routine for the beginner, intermediate and advanced exercise enthusiast.

Does the program work? The photos of the author demonstrating each exercise is proof that it does, as Flanders is remarkably fit and buff. Cell Workout is available for $35.00 and can be purchased from PLN’s bookstore – see page 69. 

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