Be PARA Fit, a new book from Major Sam McGrath, former commander of The Parachute Regiment’s legendary P Company selection process, aims to transform your lifestyle and fitness with the powerful new programme. 

Whatever your fitness level and aims, the book’s four-week formula evolves with you, equipping you to take on your most ambitious goals, maximise your potential and achieve truly transformational results. Sam, now the managing director of a FTSE 100 company, a father to four young daughters, and a top ultra-marathon athlete, brings unique insight into this elite military unit in which he served. Sam is donating all royalties to The Parachute Regiment’s charity, Support Our Paras.

We asked two of Army&You’s readers, Ceri Wareing and Katy Brim, to review the book and here’s what they thought…

Ceri says: “I like to think of myself as fairly fit but will admit I had some initial trepidation on receiving the book. Aesthetically it looked intimidating, a little mean and green. As a working mum with a two-year-old, and a husband working sporadic hours I wondered whether I had bitten off more than I would be able to chew. I love to run but am certainly no PARA! However, I was relieved to discover that this book encourages you to set real expectations, working to a pyramid approach. I found it really refreshing that the author adopts a holistic approach and it’s essentially about building solid foundations centred on sleep, nutrition and mobility. I liked this responsible method of fitness, building your body up to attaining your peak goal, in this case PARA selection.

The spotlight on military planning made me think more deeply about my life generally, as well as my fitness capability. I wasn’t expecting to gain that kind of reflective sentiment from a ‘fitness book’. It definitely gave me a sense of motivation to try new things within the scope of my day-to-day work outs.

There isn’t any need for military training or experience to get something out of reading this book. I found it to be an easier read than I had expected and actually quite entertaining in parts.

I relatively recently trained for RAF selection and feel this book would have been an incredibly useful resource to have at hand for that type of training programme. I would have followed it more diligently. However, regardless of not having a goal as clear cut as that, I still feel that anybody interested in their fitness and wellbeing would gain something from reading the book – especially if you have some insight into the military ethos.”

Katy says: “Be PARA Fit offers a systematic approach for those wanting to achieve their highest fitness goals by drawing on McGrath’s experience as a former commander and instructor in the Parachute Regiment.

Despite the title, McGrath’s method is not intended for a ‘quick fix’; rather, it’s a toolkit for incorporating training for longer term gains. Holistic in approach, McGrath spends a large portion of the book outlining the features of a successful training plan, including sections on sleep/nutrition, cultivating a PARA mindset and training principles before delving into the actual programmes. An entire section has been dedicated to effective goal setting and is a key starting point before embarking on the programmes.

The three programmes consist of four-week blocks with ‘traditional’ activities (think running, squats, burpees). Usually an hour or less is required per day, and the incorporation of mobility exercise is welcome. The ‘drills’ are suitable for both novice and experienced athletes with minimal equipment required, and advice on which plan to choose is provided. The progammes appear rigid at first glance, but if an effort is made to find suitable alternatives, there’s some flexibility to make the plans complement individual lifestyles.

Overall, it’s easy to follow with personal and regimental anecdotes utilised well to support points without being overbearing. The guide on goal setting is incredibly useful and I refer to it frequently as I set my training plan for the next rugby season. For those who wish to add more structure to their own training, Be Para Fit is a good addition.”

Be PARA Fit is published by Osprey, priced £14.99

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