I read Joe Manganiello’s book “Evolution” at the start of the new year. For many, he is most well known for his role as Alcide, the werewolf on HBO’s True Blood. For my sister and her girlfriends, he is the big guy from Magic Mike. No matter how you know him, everyone can agree the guy is a total beast. At 6′ 5″, he towers over the leading actions heroes of Hollywood and based on reading his book, he could outrun and out lift them all.
If his book were just a memoir, I probably would have skipped it; but it was generating good buzz for actually being an informed diet and fitness guide. With about 100 pages of exercise descriptions and photos that certainly is the case. Coupled with that is a 6-week transformation program he used to build strength and muscle while losing fat.
Common sense tells us that most professional actors look good on screen because they have a lot of time and money and CGI. Joe’s narrative doesn’t keep any secrets. He tells exactly how he transformed from a tall, lanky kid in high school to one of the most fit men in Hollywood. In addition, he discusses how he came back from a failed career and years wasted chain-smoking and drinking heavily. It is a story of humility, hard work and mental toughness.
Joe explains that no one walks into the gym ripped one day. You have to start somewhere. He writes, “You’ve got to enter the gym devoid of shame and comparison…Once you walk through those doors, no one is going to make fun of you for not lifting enough or doing something wrong. The gym is a community of people working together to become better, instead of accepting their fate as predetermined: ‘I’m built this way or that way, and nothing I do is going to change that.’”
With that spirit of community, Joe’s book aims for a higher purpose rather than pure self-promotion. He genuinely is interested in the reader achieving a life of better health and wellness. He shares everything he knows in a concise text that does not get distracted by tales of movie sets and awards shows. The biggest name dropping is Joe Weider and his personal trainers. And whether or not you decide to follow his exact programming, you can at least take inspiration from his story.
Lastly, there is a great introduction by Arnold Schwarzenegger. It is fun to read just so you can practice your best impersonation of The Governator. But more importantly, Arnold sets the right tone by saying, “This book does not promise any magic spells or gimmicks. That’s why I love it. But if you start reading today, you will be better tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that.”