Itzler’s Charming Book SEALed With a Kick

Itzler’s Charming Book SEALed With a Kick

Michael Jacobs

Atlanta Jewish Times Editor Michael Jacobs is on his second stint leading the AJT's editorial operations. He previously served as managing editor from 2005 to 2008.

Jesse Itzler is the kind of self-made, say-anything, do-anything business superstar I think many Donald Trump voters want to see in their candidate.

He’s a guy who has forced his way into the establishment elite by, not despite, playing by his own rules. He wanted to be a rapper on MTV; he made it happen. He wanted to write theme songs for NBA teams; he made it happen. He wanted to get close to fellow innovative Jewish entrepreneur Sara Blakely; he married the Spanx founder.

Living With a SEAL By Jesse Itzler Center Street, 272 pages, $26
Living With a SEAL
By Jesse Itzler
Center Street, 272 pages, $26

So in 2010 when he decided that he needed to shake up the fitness routine enabling him to run marathons and ultramarathons and that a Navy SEAL he saw at a 24-hour run in San Diego was the person who could help him do it, Itzler made it happen.

That unnamed SEAL, with nearly superhuman mental and physical powers, moved in for 31 days with Itzler, Blakely and their toddler son in New York’s toney Central Park West (the likes of Sting and Bob Costas share the building) on the condition that Itzler would do whatever he told him to do at any time.

“Living With a SEAL” tells of that fanatical, fantastical, frozen month of 6-mile runs, 50-pound weight vests, burpees, sit-ups, pullups and as many as 1,000 pushups a day.

Itzler and the SEAL run at 6 in the morning and 10 at night. They work out during 10-minute breaks in business meetings. They smash holes in a frozen Connecticut lake to risk hypothermia by jumping in.

It’s all mind-blowingly insane and amazingly entertaining.

As if he didn’t have enough going for him, Itzler is a vivid, funny, self-deprecating writer who lets such physical accomplishments as 222.5 miles run and 6,488 pushups completed in 30 days speak for themselves while he marvels at the SEAL and laughs at himself.

By all rights, jealousy should drive readers to hate Itzler as he and his beautiful wife travel among homes in Atlanta, New York and Connecticut in a world where money is no object. Instead, his irresistible charm leaps from every page, creating the hope that he’ll decide to be a George Plimpton for the 21st century, taking us along through books on a series of physical adventures, one crazier than the next.

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