With irreverence, humor, and soul-touching candor, the former editor of Bicycling magazine explores the CrossFit phenomenon, the fitness revolution sweeping America, chronicling his experience "inside the box" and how he got into the best shape of his life.
Lifelong amateur athlete Stephen Madden decided to put himself to the test, physically and mentally, by immersing himself in the culture, diet, and psyche of CrossFit—the fast-growing but controversial fitness regime that's a stripped-down combination of high intensity aerobic activity, weightlifting, calisthenics, and gymnastics practiced by more than two million athletes worldwide. But what's crazier? The fact that such a grueling regimen—in which puking and muscle breakdowns during workouts are common—is so popular, or that people pay good money to do it?
In Embrace the Suck, Madden chronicles the year he devoted to mastering all of the basic Crossfit exercises like double unders, muscle ups and kipping pullups, and immersing himself in the Paleo diet that strips weight from its followers but leaves them fantasizing about loaves of bread. Throughout, he explores the culture of the sport, visiting gyms (boxes) around the country, becoming a CrossFit coach, and confronting some basic questions about himself, his past and athletic limitations—and why something so difficult and punishing can be at once beautiful, funny, and rewarding.
“A book that seemed to be about tough-minded, solitary self-improvement for masters-of-the-universe types turned out to be a story about sharing, community, and love. That’s right! ...Turns out in sports, according to Madden, winning isn’t everything: It still matters how you play the game.” —Alex Gibney, Academy Award-winning writer and director of Taxi to the Dark Side
“Even if you’ve never lifted a kettlebell, you’ll be fascinated by Madden’s view of the challenges and psychology behind the phenomenon.” —Self Magazine
“Madden’s entertaining and inspiring fitness memoir is ultimately about life, love, and so much more.” —Reader's Digest
“Stephen Madden’s engaging, open, and funny book about how it changed his life-but kept him resolutely who he is-did away with all that: He finds the human side of the sport, the activity, and the community. A perfect introduction to a worldview that can change yours.” —Will Leitch, founder of Deadspin, contributing editor for New York magazine, and author of God Save the Fan and Are We Winning?
“Surprisingly personal and compelling…Madden’s epiphanies are genuine, and well rendered…. He may be subpar as an athlete. He’s far, far above that as a writer.” —SportsIllustrated.com
“The numerous workout anecdotes will entertain the CrossFit faithful, but Madden’s well-written personal narrative may appeal to a more general fitness audience.” —Booklist