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    Articles | corona

    Lockdown Reading List: Our Favourite Books

    By David (Jacko) Jackson

    Something that many of you have been asking during lockdown, as well as help for your handstands, is what our favourite books are.

    With more time on our hands, both figuratively and literally when it comes to handstands, many seem to be spending time reading, so we’ve pulled together a selection of top-notch books that we highly recommend!

    Tim’s top 3 books

    The task of limiting my list to three books was a difficult one as what I would recommend would depend on your interests, desire for technical knowledge and the style you enjoy reading.

    So, I’ve gone for three books that I really enjoyed and that are broadly categorised by training philosophy, development of self and a more scientific read but one which spoke volumes to me, especially in the current world we live in.

    If you choose to pick one of these up, I hope you enjoy them too.

    Natural Born Heroes – Mastering the lost secrets of strength and endurance

    Christopher McDougall

    I read this book one Christmas holiday whilst we were in South Africa and it had a big impact on me. Not only did I enjoy the combination of a non-fiction World War II story but also the key message that as human beings we are losing the natural traits that in the past have allowed us to be real heroes.

    You can tell if a book has made an impact as to whether I have written a blog about it. Well, here it is.

    I originally titled this blog: Hero Wanted. Start Date: Unknown. Sometimes you have to play the SEO game so it got changed but it gives a deeper insight to the book and my reflections after reading it.

    Read the blog: Do you want to be a hero

    Stillness is the key

    Ryan Holiday

    I would recommend this book, hands down, every day of the week to everyone I know. I have read a couple of Ryan’s books and he is an excellent author. In this, his latest book, he draws of the writings and experiences of some of history’s great leaders, philosophers and thinkers to present a confounding case as to why we should all make time to be still in a busy world.

    This book is eloquent, laid out in easy to read and short sections that contain so much wisdom and truth that every time you pick it up you get a gentle, but un-ignorable slap in the face that pulls you out of your busy, stressful and noisy world, one chapter at a time. Honestly, it’s amazing.


    Spark – How exercise will improve the performance of your brain

    Dr John J Ratey + Eric Hagerman

    This book was featured by ZHealth (functional neurological training) as one of their recommended texts. It’s a scientific read with plenty of references to brain physiology, neurotransmitters and research papers to substantiate the case the authors make, so be ready for that if you choose to pick up a copy. I’m no neurological expert and you don’t need to be to get the key information from the text.

    Sometimes there are things that you know, but you don’t know why. For a long time, I have known that exercise is good for my head but I couldn’t have told you for what reasons and certainly not the underlying biochemistry behind it. This book will help you to understand how exercise could be used as the most effective drug we have to treat conditions such as dementia, Alzheimers, depression, anxiety, chronic stress and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder. The conclusion is that we might not need to rely on pharmaceutical drugs as much as we have been led to believe.

    The authors also tell you how to use exercise to maximise the performance of your own brain from a productivity and longevity perspective. The book formed the foundation for the ‘Mental Wellbeing’ section of the blog I wrote about why calisthenics might be the greatest form of exercise.

    Jacko’s top 3 books

    Top three is a tough one which is crazy to say and even think if you ask my Mum how bad I was as a kid at reading… but it’s something I actually love now and the key has been finding things I’m passionate about learning about!

    Obviously, I love training but I also love sports phycology and mindset so I thought I’d select one from each of those three topics!


    Carole Dweck

    Incredible book that explains and highlights the research Carol Dweck undertook about the importance of the words we use as teachers, coaches and parents on those we have influence on and the dramatic effect it can have on the resulting mindset.

    Her findings show the distinct difference between an ‘open’ and a ‘closed’ mindset towards something. She details how the perception of success and failure can create shifts in ones mindset and the damaging effect it can have when it goes wrong… but also the power of an ‘open mindset’ has towards our success, growth and desire to learn new things.

    This is 100% a must read book!

    The Champions Mind

    Jim Afremow

    Another author with a PhD so you know it must be good! This is my favourite ‘reader friendly’ sports psychology book. I say reader friendly because Jim Afremow does a fantastic job of explaining the complexity of sports psychology in a way that is easy for anyone to read and understand.

    It’s full of great stories and real-life examples of athletes he’s worked with on improving their mindset and practical tips and mindset tool and drills you can start using straight away (once you’ve read the book) to help improve your own performance, mindset and confidence.

    If you’re at all interested in mindset training and sports psychology, I’d highly recommend getting a copy.

    The Oxygen Advantage

    Patrick Mckeown

    You breathe every minute of every day of your life, but are you doing it correctly and is it impacting not just your performance but your overall health? We are never taught how to breathe and it was something I was wondering about for quite some time before I finally found and read the Oxygen Advantage.

    Like I said, we’re never taught how to breathe, most often we’ve built up dysfunctional breathing patterns due to modern-day living and stress. But Patrick is here to re-teach you how to breathe and how to use your nose as the gateway to better health and performance.

    This one is life-changing!

    Get 50% off a membership

    Our handstand training programme is available as part of our memberships. Now you can get 50% off your first-month membership and get access to the new handstand training programme plus a whole lot more!

    That’s just £5 for our standard monthly membership. Check it out with no risk as you get 7-days FREE when you sign up and there’s no minimum contract when you pay monthly. Offer available until the UK lockdown ends. 


    Get 50% off a membership

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