5 Fitness Books (You Didn’t Know Were About Fitness)

Athletes understand the value of cross-training, but did you know that cross-reading can be just as valuable? Some of the best insights into your training will come from experts in other fields. If you’re looking for something to read this spring, try one of these fitness classics from other sections of the library. Bonus points for getting the audio version to listen to while you work out.

Getting Things Done (David Allen)

This classic business book sells as a formula for “stress-free productivity.” There’s a good chance you’ll apply its core ideas to organizing your life and business, just like millions already have.

For fitness, you’ll focus on the first section of the book. It’s all about priorities and setting goals, and will help you frame exactly why you’re working on your fitness, and how you’re going to get where you want to be.

Tao of Jeet Kun Do (Bruce Lee)

One look at the iconic photo of Lee’s bare torso and you know he has a thing or three to say about fitness. Tao is the central treatise on the martial art he developed after exposing his early Wing Chun training to other martial influences in Seattle and Los Angeles.

It also espouses a simple philosophy. Study hard. Use what’s useful. Discard the rest. Understanding and internalizing this concept, especially in Lee’s context of physical and personal development, will help anybody’s fitness program.

Strength Finder 2.0 (Tom Rath)

Rath’s concept turns the typical model of personal development on its ear. If you work to improve the areas where you’re weak, after years of effort you end up average. But if you spend that same energy on areas where you’re strong, you can become world-class in that arena.

Fitness is a bit different. If you’re strong and flexible, but overweight, you haven’t reduced your exposure to illnesses like heart disease and type II diabetes. Still, Rath’s insights into development and motivation can help you develop a fitness program that keeps you excited about your workouts and meal plans.

The Four-Hour Work Week (Tim Ferriss)

This one’s all about “lifestyle design,” and offers techniques and philosophy for creating exactly the life the reader wants to live. It tends to over-promise on what’s possible for the average working family, but still offers a compelling mindset and oodles of tools.

In terms of fitness, you’ll read this for the time and life hacks. Those tools include dozens of ways to find three or four extra hours of time or productivity each day … so say goodbye to “I don’t have time for fitness.” If you love this, also check out The Four-Hour Body and The Four-Hour Chef, two fitness-centric titles by the same author.

The Way of the Peaceful Warrior (Dan Millman)

A classic in the martial arts community, this is the fictional biography of a competitive gymnast who meets a spiritual guru and how that changes his life. It’s usually filed under “inspirational” and fits the description.

The fitness advice has as many myths as it does proven advice, but read this one for stress relief. The narrator learns life lessons and simple meditation techniques you can put into place tomorrow, and use for the rest of your life.

Honorable Mention: Biographies

Any biography, any time. Whenever you start to feel that your fitness goals are too much, read the biography of somebody like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Eleanor Roosevelt, Kevin Maynerd or Conrad Hilton. Nothing’s quite as inspiring and true stories of people who did incredible things.