Book Review: Sly Moves by Sylvester Stallone

Released back in 2005, Sly Moves by Sylvester Stallone inspired me to lift weights, hit up GNC for supplements, and get healthy. Nearly 20 years later, I decided to revisit this book, this time as an audiobook. How does it hold up? Read on for my thoughts.

I bought Sly Moves in 2005, when it was released, because I’m a big Stallone fan, and I love Rocky. I’m from Philadelphia, and I’m Italian; how could I not be a fan of Sly and the iconic characters and movies he made famous? To this day, I think he’s a massively underappreciated talent, and he’s still one of my favorite actors.

My first internship was with the City of Philadelphia, and one of the events I worked on was the unveiling of the Rocky statue at the foot of the “Rocky Stairs” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I was standing behind the statue when they pulled the cover off of it to the thunderous applause of those in attendance. I had the chance to briefly introduce myself to Sly and say, “Hello.” Had I been as bold as I am now, I would have gotten a photo with him. But I was younger then and a bit starstruck. Regardless, I was thrilled to be a part of history.

But back to Sly Moves. Around the time this book was released, Stallone announced that he had a line of supplements and health products, Instone, available exclusively at GNC. One of those products was his protein pudding, which tasted fabulous. It’s arguably the greatest tasting pudding alternative I’ve ever had; just fantastic! I was also a big fan of LeanFire, which was essentially Sly’s version of GNC’s Mega Men Energy & Metabolism because it used thermogenics to fire up the metabolism. Yet again, I digress. Below is the publisher’s summary, as well as my thoughts on the book.

Publisher’s Summary

Are you ready to be a contender? Sly’s action-oriented program for getting fit and eating right is a revealing portrait of one of Hollywood’s biggest slaves

Sly Moves – part candid autobiography, part nuts-and-bolts training manual, part motivational handbook – is a refreshingly sensible guide to getting immediate results that last a lifetime. It’s also a provocative inside look at the trials of a body-conscious star rising in the most image-conscious industry in the world.

The truth is, Sly’s personal battle to stay in shape has been as tough as any fight he’s waged on screen. The book begins with a very personal history of Sylvester Stallone’s famous physique, as the Rocky star shares never-before-told stories about his being bullied as a child, finding comfort and strength in the gym, and then later, the wild ride of fad diets, crash-training regimens and workout disasters that fringed on obsession. Sly knows what works and what definitely doesn’t, and these experiences formed Sly’s unique fitness and nutrition plan. Part 2 consists of Sly’s program for getting physically fit without sacrificing life’s other pleasures. All he requires is three hours a week – that’s all Sly needs – for a total body workout, an engaging regimen involving all the major muscle groups and aerobic fitness. The step-by-step program includes four different levels of exercise: classic, advanced, women’s, and for those who dare, The Sly Challenge, a hardcore session pushing it to the max.

Sly has tried every diet imaginable and so in the Sly Moves nutrition plan he highlights a unique meal plan for a lifetime of good eating. He offers his unique perspective on what works and what doesn’t and offers an alternative for health-conscious readers who want great-tasting satisfying food that can become a way of life. The section Gonna Fly Now inspires and encourages listeners to make Sly Moves part of a long-term picture of health, fitness and well-being. This motivational section includes separate chapters on everything from setting and keeping goals to relaxation techniques to lessons learned from his reality-based boxing show The Contender.

My Thoughts

Sly Moves is a good book, but it’s flawed. For example, Sly talks about how there’s no replacement for lifting weights. How about pushups, crunches, squats, and other exercises that use isometrics and your body weight to build and refine muscle? He also spends quite a bit of time criticizing the Atkins diet and other low-carb approaches to eating, even though he admits to having done them. Stallone’s excuses for why Atkins and other low-carb approaches don’t work are based on debunked myths about protein, fiber, saturated fat, and more. It’s hard to take him seriously on this topic because of how woefully misinformed he is.

The best part of the book is the beginning because that’s when we hear about how Sly prepared his body for several of his most iconic movies. I found this interesting, as it provided me with a glimpse into his mindset and how it changed over time. Hearing that he realized working out only three to four hours a week is sufficient was refreshing. While he may not have the soundest advice on diet and nutrition, Stallone clearly learned the hard way that working out endlessly doesn’t yield the best results.

The audiobook version of Sly Moves is well narrated (not by Sly) and concise. However, it’s missing the workouts, recipes, and other items that are included in the hardback version of the book and the audio CD version. Why didn’t they simply create a PDF containing this information to accompany the digital audiobook? The publisher is HarperAudio, so you’d think they’d know better. I guess not.

Overall, Sly Moves is a fun listen. Just don’t take everything he says as the gospel truth. Hearing the stories about working on movies and his path to developing an efficient fitness routine was great. But listening to Stallone’s antiquated thoughts on weightlifting, diet, and nutrition made me cringe. While I may not agree with everything posited in this book, my admiration and respect for Sylvester Stallone has not been diminished.

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