Book Review: ‘The 10-Minute Total Body Breakthrough’ by Sean Foy


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It’s an appealing idea. Work out vigorously for 10-minute periods and burn more calories and get in better shape faster than with much longer sessions of moderate exercise. Too good to be true? Not according to personal trainer Sean Foy, who has developed an exercise program that he says can do just that.

After working with clients who struggled to find time to incorporate longer workouts into their daily lives, Foy looked for faster ways to get the same benefits. He became interested in interval or “burst” training, which he says has been shown to maximize the metabolism and burn body fat long after the exercise session is over and can be more effective than more leisurely workouts.


In “The 10-Minute Total Body Breakthrough,” Foy takes readers through the “fast fitness’ exercise program he came up with. His 4-3-2-1 workout, as he calls it, is made up of four minutes of high-energy aerobic training that alternates periods of intense and moderate activity, three minutes of resistance exercise, two minutes of core-strengthening exercises and one minute of stretching and deep breathing.

Foy leads off the book with chapters that function like a pep talk: He sells the concepts of exercise and eating right, shows success stories and directs readers to find their motivation and set goals. He looks briefly at nutrition and talks about building healthful meals.

He then launches into his exercise program. He starts by outlining fitness tests that readers can do themselves to determine how fit they are and how vigorously they should begin exercising. Think of the kind of testing you might get from a personal trainer at a gym -- a one-mile endurance walk, a push-up test, a flexibility test, a blood pressure reading.

His program offers three levels of intensity, each with four workouts. At the back of the book, the workouts are repeated in handy tabbed cutouts that can be flipped to mix and match exercises.

This is an exercise book truly designed to use while exercising. It’s spiral bound, which makes it easy to lay on a table or the floor to reference while doing the workouts. Step-by-step exercise directions are clearly written and pictures are captioned to tell exactly what each part of the body should be doing with each move.

But exercise and diet are only part of what Foy covers. In some ways, the book’s “Total Body” title is selling it short. Foy makes clear that the mental, spiritual and social aspects of fitness are just as important in his program as exercise and diet.


A list of questions prompts readers to evaluate things such as their stress levels, relationships, family life and self-esteem. A “daily instructions” section coaches them on how to “move” (exercise more), “fuel” (eat better), “renew” (rejuvenate mind and body) and “connect” (attend to social and spiritual needs) each day. Foy calls this section the ‘heart and soul’ of his program.

One day’s “connect” instruction, for example, is to forgive someone who may have offended or hurt you. Another day’s “renew” directive suggests buying some soothing music. There are inspirational quotes and “journal” spaces for each day to jot down thoughts and notes. The instructions cover 28 days for each of the three levels.

Will most readers be able to start and maintain a program like this on their own, with just a book to guide them? After all, the appeal of a personal trainer is having someone there to nudge and motivate you to work out and push harder. But Foy has at least laid out a game plan for getting started.

-- Anne Colby


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