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Fitness Tip of the Day!
Obesity in the US: 2006
In 2006, Americans represented 4.6% of the world's total population, but 23% of the world's obese population (source: WHO, 2006).

Fitness - Steps to Success

Author: Naternicola N
Category: Fitness Training
Audience: Consumer
Length: 215 pages
Publisher: Human Kinetics
  Year Published: 2015
List Price: $21.95® Rating: Good

Fitness - Steps to Success addresses the basics of an exercise program: cardio, strength, flexibility, and balance.

Recommended for: Beginning exercisers


Nancy Naternicola, MS, earned her BS and masters degrees in physical education. She is also a national certified teacher in physical education and health. She is currently the fitness and wellness director for the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences (CPASS) at West Virginia U where she develops fitness programs and teaches classes for their Lifetime Activities Program. Nancy also manages the WVU Stansbury Fitness Center and is a Master Trainer for the American Council on Exercise (ACE). During her career, she has taught more than 15 types of group fitness classes including step, kickboxing, yoga, Pilates, and boot camps.


This 215-page book is organized as follows:

STEP 1: Overview of Fitness

STEP 2: Testing and Evaluation

STEP 3: Goals

STEP 4: Cardiorespiratory Exercise

STEP 5: Muscular Strength and Endurance

STEP 6: Flexibility

STEP 7: Balance

STEP 8: Core Strength and Stability

STEP 9: Nutrition

STEP 10: Behavior Change


To be consistent with the book's name, the author refers to each discussion as "Steps" instead of "Chapters."

In Step 1, the reader learns about the basics of fitness. This is good info and it's presented very succinctly. The author modifies the well-known "FITT" acronym describing the 4 elements of an exercise program (ie., frequency, intensity, time, type) by adding a 5th element: "E" for enjoyment. This is wise because very few people stick to an exercise program long-term if it's no fun. So, exercise professionals might want to consider the new acronym: "FITTE".

Step 2 presents a variety of tests that can be used to assess fitness level. Generally, this is a useful chapter, though several errors were noted (see "Accuracy" below).

Step 3 provides a perspective on setting goals. The SMART acronym is used: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time. The author provides a reasonable and practical discussion here.

Steps 4 and 5 address aerobic exercise and resistance exercise, respectively. There is good info in these chapters. Step 5 is over 60 pages long and contains dozens of well-done color images of a variety of subjects demonstrating various exercises.

Step 6 addresses flexibility. Lots of photos of subjects demonstrating various stretches are provided.

Step 7 covers balance. This chapter is longer than expected (30 pages), which is appreciated, because this aspect of exercise and fitness is often overlooked. A wide variety of balance exercises are demonstrated.

Step 8 addresses core strength. Surprisingly, all of the exercises here are floor exercises; no exercises using weight-stack machines are demonstrated.

I have commented on Step 9 in detail below.

The final chapter - Step 10 - addresses behavior change. Each reader will have to decide if this information is helpful for them.

• Photos & Illustrations: There are dozens of color photos throughout this book. These are very well-done, some of the best I have seen in exercise books. Several anatomical illustrations appear in Step 8. These are clear and precise.

• Tables & Graphs: There are quite a few tables in this book. Generally, they are presented clearly. However, Table 2.6 on page 34 has inconsistencies in how the time ranges are presented. Chapter 2 contains several graphs. These are acceptable, though a different color scheme on the individual vertical bars would make them easier to use.

• Documentation and Accuracy: This is not a research-intensive book. Thus, there are very few references to published scientific studies. On page 12, Table 2.1 lists stages of hypertension. This is based on JNC-7 guidelines, published in 2003. However, JNC-8 guidelines were published in Feb. 2014; these appear to do away with these stages of hypertension. On page 13, in Table 2.2, the author defines a normal resting heart rate as 60-100 beats per minute. This is incorrect. There is now good evidence that a resting HR above 75-85 bpm in a person who is out of shape is a substantial risk factor for heart disease.


Fitness - Steps to Success is easy to read. It provides solid information. The author writes from experience which validates the training advice. The color photos are excellent. The tables are easy to read and use and the page layout and design is clean.


I felt that the chapter on nutrition could have been omitted. Obviously, entire books are devoted to this topic alone. This chapter is only 13 pages long and that includes discussions of food labels and dietary supplements. Instead of attempting to provide an overview of nutrition in general, a better strategy would be to focus on sports nutrition only. In the section on Protein, there is no discussion of the importance of when to consume protein following a work-out. The author does cover this concept in the Carbohydrates section, but it is very brief. She mentions that consuming carbs and protein immediately after a workout helps with "recovery" but that concept could be explained, less muscle soreness, and, better performance the next day. The carb-to-protein ratio could be discussed. Whether post-workout consumption of protein and carbs is important after aerobic exercise as well as after weight-training could be discussed. Also, there is limited discussion of sports drinks and no mention of sports gels. Even though plain water will satisfy the needs of most exercisers, sports drinks do have their role. Further, beginners need to understand the concept of hyponatremia. Finally, the author reiterates the belief that caffeinated drinks lead to dehydration. This is a misconception refuted by science.


Fitness - Steps to Success provides readers with good information that they can use to construct a solid exercise program. Despite the limitations noted above, this book will be useful. If you are just starting on your exercise program and are looking for one book to help get you on the right path, this book can be a helpful resource.

Reviewed by: Stan Reents, PharmD 4/5/2017 8:19:07 AM

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