Interview with You Are Your Own Gym’s Mark Lauren

Mark Lauren, author of You Are Your Own Gym is a certified Military Physical Training Specialist, Special Operations Combat Controller, triathlete, and competitive Thai boxer. He has effectively prepared over 700 trainees for the extreme demands of the most elite levels of the Special Operations community.

You can learn much more about Mark and access his own workouts, nutrition information and health-assessment tools at his website,

We had a chance to talk with Mark about his latest book, You Are Your Own Gym. This bible of bodyweight exercises for men and women draws from Ancient Greece’s Olympic athletes to tomorrow’s U.S. Special Forces to create an effective, efficient, inexpensive, and convenient routine that you can do at home and with just one piece of workout equipment: your body.

Here are some of Mark’s thoughts on exercise, nutrition and health.

What are some of the benefits of using your body as your own gym?

There are so many benefits, but probably the biggest benefit is that it is time-efficient. I can work out anywhere and anytime. The number one excuse is time, but with bodyweight exercise it’s not the case. There really isn’t an excuse for it because the routines take 20 minutes. Who can’t make time for 20 minutes?

Plus, it’s great for children and the elderly because it is low-impact and will not cause any stress or excess strain on the joints. And it’s incredibly cost-effective. You don’t have any gym membership fees and you don’t even have to buy any at-home gym equipment.

Can you list some of the various forms of exercise you drew from in creating these routines?

Many of the workouts are routines that are performed in the military. For military guys, bodyweight exercises are the core of their routine. In You Are Your Own Gym, I have pulled from a variety of exercise traditions. There is yoga and basic gymnastics, just to name a few.

How do you address the fear of these military-inspired workouts being too hardcore?

Bodyweight exercises can be adjusted to fit any fitness level. Even the basic push-up can start out as very basic. You can start out by doing a two-limbed push-up and then build up to one-limbed push up. Also, you can add pauses into your movement to create a rest, or use unstable movements versus stable movement, which challenges your body in different ways. The book has 120 different exercises and variations.

In regards to nutrition, you address the debate about calories versus what you are eating. What are your thoughts on nutrition?

Nutrition is a huge part of any fitness program. You won’t get the results without proper nutrition. The goals of a person are determined on how they vary their diet.

For those who want to build lean muscle mass, but are following a very low calorie diet, they are doing a disservice to their bodies. Changing body composition is much more than just losing weight. Most individuals on a diet are not eating enough protein or enough of the good fats.

In your book, you won’t find a guideline to hit the StairMaster for 30 minutes or run on the treadmill? Why not?

In Special Operations units, there is a cardiovascular aspect, but for the general population, in which you maintain a steady heart-rate for 20 or so minutes, this kind of exercise is just not an effective way to get in shape.

We built this workout with time efficiency in mind. Strength training with high intensity interval training has been shown to be the most effective way to keep your muscles engaged throughout the day and burn calories for up to 36 hours following your workout.

Thanks so much Mark!

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