• NZ Booklovers

Mental Fitness by Ant Middleton


Mental fitness and agility are buzz words at the moment. The resilience of an individual is paramount in our schools and in society more widely. Often the books that focus on this area of life tend to be highly emotionally driven or take a softly softly approach. Not so with Ant Middleton’s new book, Mental Fitness. This is an in-your-face, hard nosed approach to mental resilience, taught by an ex SAS soldier from Australia.


Dealing with a huge smorgasboard of situations with everything from parenting to office work covered, Middleton manages to explore the tactics and techniques to assist with dealing with the pressures of life - no matter what situation you are in. Using language that is confronting at times, he writes with that typical military style with no holds barred in explaining how he feels about certain elements. He shows some empathy towards general life, but definitely puts perspective on these ideas when he discusses storming a Taliban stronghold and losing fellow soldiers in the process.


At times the canyon between what he is describing and one’s own issues is vast, yet he explains it as all relatable. The stresses of the moment can feel like you are in some kind of warfare and in that moment you are correct in feeling that way. However, he does also suggest that some perspective now and again will definitely be beneficial.


Each of the chapters are split into sub headings like “The world of ‘What if?’” and “Happy Families are no Accident”. Each of which has logical and helpful examples of responding to such stressful stimuli. As the whole book continues these stories are both relevant and remind the reader of the extremities of operating at such an elite level of military operation.


Straight talking instruction in straight forward language really drives this whole concept. Middleton has pivoted away from the Channel 7 programme SAS Australia and captured many of the ideas he presents on the show into his books. His success is from the inspirational principles that he developed throughout the stories. He summarises the concepts into fifteen core principles that teach the reader a solid foundation of confidence.


From one who has quite nearly seen it all, this book provides enough to work on for a lifetime. Continued practice of the fifteen principles seems logical, if mastery of any one seems a daunting challenge. Middleton expounds the virtues of a little and often approach to the principles, not expecting big changes overnight.


Reviewer: Chris Reed

HarperCollins