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Ten More, OK, Now Twenty, Finish Thirty, Next Run the Hill

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

Book Corner: Living with a Seal: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet, written by Jesse Itzler

Living with a seal | Jesse Itzler
Living with a seal | Jesse Itzler

We all have had days where we couldn’t get out of bed to exercise, whether it be going for a morning run or hitting the gym at opening time. What would you do if you had a former Navy SEAL living with you and training you twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for an entire month? And with the agreement that you had to do everything he said - every gym rep, every run, push-up, pull-up and burpee?

In Living with a SEAL: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet, a true story, that’s exactly what happened to author, former rapper, and entrepreneur (part owner of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks) Jesse Itzler.

Itzler met the SEAL at an ultramarathon where the latter dominated. Itzler refers to the man only as “SEAL” and never reveals his identity, although it has become known since the book’s publication and SEAL has become a well-known fitness celebrity and author in his own right. Impressed by his astonishing physical shape, steely-eyed grit and laconic demeanor, Itzler inked a deal for SEAL to move into the Manhattan apartment where he lived with his family and train him for one complete month in the only way that SEAL knows - hard and nasty - where your limits are constantly pushed to the maximum.

Despite being a fitness buff, Itzler is yanked out of his comfort zone and challenged from day one. This begins a month of exercise sessions on a level that Itzler previously never experienced, such as grueling runs in and around Central Park with endless hills and thigh-splitting sprints in the frigid NYC winter. Other times, SEAL would command Itzler to do endless sets of upper body work comprised of weights, machines, and military-style calisthenics, sometimes on a moment’s notice or little to no sleep. And with SEAL, failure was not an option.

Itzler kept a diary during this month and the book is formatted as such. Additionally, each chapter begins with a SEAL quote. One of my favorites was, “you can get through any workout because everything ends.” And then there are thoughts on people and interaction gems like, “I don’t like to talk to strangers. Actually, I don’t like to talk, period.”

Despite the tortuous sessions that he endured, Jesse Itzler relates it all with humor and of course pride: his fitness level improved tremendously. He treats SEAL with great respect and admiration, something that we, as readers will share. SEAL comes across as a man of integrity who is true to his word. And how can one not admire a man who talks little, eats little, needs very little to get by in life, and runs in five-degree Fahrenheit weather wearing only gym shorts and a T-shirt?

The book is quick, light, and enjoyable. It's also quite motivating. After reading it, you’ll be laying out your running clothes and setting your alarm clock for five in the morning.

If you want to read another Book Corner article, please visit this review by Evan Rothfeld:


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