Maximum Sports Performance Summary

Jim Fixx

Maximum Sports Performance

This useful compendium may alienate readers for two reasons. First, it is a book on fitness by an expert who neglected his own training and died as a result. Jim Fixx, who popularized recreational running in the 1970’s, collapsed and died in 1984 while running. It was later found that, despite danger signals and a family history of heart disease, Fixx had not given up a high-fat diet, believing that running would clear his arteries. His death should cause many weekend athletes to reassess their own habits, but his work, here in conjunction with the Nike Sports Research Lab, can stand on its own merit.

In addition, Fixx misstates the book’s purpose in the introduction: “to gather in one place all the principal facts about athletic accomplishment...(and to) enable athletes of all kinds, from beginner to most accomplished, to perform more expertly.” While the book is liberally salted with interesting data on advances in sports, it is, rather, an excellent introduction to different sports, primarily for a beginner, or for one starting a new sport. An expert will find much to interest him or her but may prefer the excellent bibliography.

As always, the real plus is Fixx himself, with his down-to-earth, anecdotal style and enthusiasm. While admitting his bias towards running, Fixx examines all sports, as grouped by the skills needed and the value gained from each. Included also are the comments and personal tips of highly ranked athletes in each field, as well as notes on the body types, muscle physiology, training guidelines, and equipment pertinent to each. Fixx draws on the latest knowledge concerning the physiology of movement to explain easy methods of avoiding injury. His insistence on shunning faddism of all kinds makes this a valuable and balanced work.

In sum, it is an ideal work for the beginner, the weekend athlete, and for those intent on trying new sports--a useful, all-in-one reference and a fine capstone to Fixx’s too-brief career.