Even the most motivated individuals need a little push. Whether you’re feeling a little too tired, or want to simply say ‘I’ll do my workout tomorrow’. On top of reading inspiring blog articles or watching vlogs, I like to sit down and watch a good movie to really get me revved up to get my runs or my lift workouts done.
Sometimes you don’t even have to get all the way through the film, although there are times you just can’t look away. But I love, personally, to be inspired by Hollywood feature films and documentaries.
So here are some films that I have seen in the past year that might inspire you (I know they inspire me!) to get out do your fitness thang!
- Fittest On Earth (2016)
I’m so excited because Madison is going to be hosting The Crossfit Games the next few years, and it’s literally going to be happening 15 minutes away from my front door. I personally have not done Crossfit, but have several friends who do. I effing respect all who do Crossfit. I found this movie about the 2015 Crossfit games earlier this year. I was trying to find that inspiration to kick up my weightlifting routine and Jesus God does this movie do that for you. It follows specific men and women as they compete among the fittest in the world in The Crossfit Games, and the perseverance and drive these individuals have to finish this (some of it involves puking in a trash can because they BAMF-ed it so hard, yeesh!) is inspiring. And the people were just fantastic personalities, humbled competitors, and they really show you just how tight and supportive the Crossfit community really is. And I can tell you, after seeing the arms on some of the women, I wanted to do push ups right then and there. So I did. And it really got me into lifting, and following distinct workouts that burn so good.
2. Finding Traction (2014)
If you ever want to see why people run races from 5ks to ultramarathons, this is the movie to see. It’s not about racing against just others in your quest, it is more about racing against yourself and pushing your limits. This awesome movie is a documentary the inspirational story of ultra runner Nikki Kimball’s journey to beat the record as the fastest person in history to run America’s oldest hiking trail, the 273-mile Long Trail. You see a runner in the raw this entire movie, meaning, you’re going to see the blood, sweat and tears that a runner goes pushes out to meet a goal. This is obviously not a representation of what a marathon race is like, but it can give you an idea of the mental training that runners work through to get them through the most extreme exhaustion and really owning that hunger they feel and use it to make the finish line. While you watch Nikki Kimball run hundreds of miles, and laughing, crying, and joyously speaking to the audience while doing it is really inspirational.
I never thought I would say that watching people punch each other in the face could be inspiring, but this movie is inspiring. A lot like runners, weightlifters, and cyclists, the training we see in Rocky not only gets him to the win, but how he transforms through the film physically and emotionally is truly inspiring. If you have not seen this movie in a while, you should definitely rent it when you are lacking the motivation you need!
4. Forrest Gump
This movie is all around fun, and it is just heartwarming. But I can tell you, I downloaded the song “Running on Empty” for my marathon playlist because of this movie. To see this man use running as a therapeutic tool to overcome his grief and heartbreak, and doing it until he is ready to throw in the towel is so rewarding. How much do I wish I could spend any day I wanted just hiking or backpacking, running, biking, just until my heart decided I no longer need to. The idea of taking back your life, taking back that control and really owning it is transparent here. We all have a choice to work as hard as we can to meet our goals, to run those races, to perform that specific yoga pose you’ve been working hard to get down, to meditate as much as you want. You have that power, and that’s what I love about this movie!
5. A League of Their Own
Watching a bunch of “ballsy” women step up to the plate in not only men’s jobs when World War II broke out is amazing, but then seeing a bunch of “ballsy” women play baseball in skimpy skirts and kill it? That’s EFFING amazing. The characters in this movie are so unique and relate to anyone. I can garuntee that you’d be able to look at one of the characters and say “That’s me!” or say they remind you of a loved one. But the obstacles the women overcome just to play baseball, a sport seen as one that only men can play, and really succeed is awe inspiring. It’s funny, it’s heartwarming, it’s frustrating in it’s reality of what women faced at that time, and it’s amazing. Oh and seeing Geena Davis do the splits to catch a ball…well if that doesn’t inspire you to get fit, I don’t know what can! haha!
6. Center Stage
I have several friends from college who trained in dance growing up, and who still walk with feet pointed out because of their training in ballet. While I have little training in dance, I have enough to know the true toll it can take on a dancer emotionally and physically. The competition is tough, in lack of better wording, and fierce. And you beat your body up pretty hard to get those right moves. But through the tough spots, comes the reward. The reward of using your body and music to create art. This romance dramedy takes you through all of this, the hardships, the competition, and the reward. All the while with characters that we empathize with, who teach those of us who don’t truly know the life of being a dancer, what it’s really like. When you see them sway, leap, swirl all the while falling in love with their art and each other, you’re going to go the bathroom afterwards and try to stand on your toes. And see if you have anything that resembles a red leotard. And possibly look for someone to date that reminds you of sweet Charlie! You will look up dance classes to see the closest class you can get to being center stage. It’s inspiring, it’s beautiful!
7. The Barkley Marathons
I recently sat down and watched this on Netflix in the past week! This documentary is so good! Started a little under thirty years ago in the Tennessee wilderness, The Barkley Marathon is a unique race where a few selected runners travel to Tennessee from around the world to try and “run” five loops that equal around 20 miles each. They have 60 hours to do this, and most people do not finish. That’s a little over 100 miles, in 60 hours or less, having to walk through the wilderness during day and night, with little water supply stops, and very very little sleep. Oh, and you get a master map after you register and have to bring your own map and use the master map to write down the path. Hopefully you copy the distances on the map correctly and you bring your compass because you can wonder around for hours if you don’t have it right. When the documentary came out a couple of years ago, there had only been 10 finishers of the five loops in the 25 years the marathon had been going on. But, as the documentary beautifully points out, runners who compete in this race decide their own success. Whether it’s to make it through the first loop, to complete the “fun run” which is the first three loops, or to get through the whole thing, the runner chooses what their success will be. The very end with the three men in loop 5, which was the first time this had ever happen, will keep you on your toes as they have little energy, they have to fight through darkness, and are racing against the clock. It’s a true testimony of how resilient the human body and the mind can be when you’ve completely exhausted your resources and fuel. Even if you’re not a runner, this movie is a must see. The individuals they follow are from around the world, and show the vulnerability up close that you can put yourself in when doing something so challenging as this marathon. Their different philosophies on life and how that led them to this race is, I’ll say it again(!), truly inspiring.
I first read the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed in the summer of 2014. I was so in love with it that I have read it every year since. It’s like my bible for the love of backpacking and hiking whether it be alone, with Jeff, and friends. When the movie came out, I watched it, fell in love with the story, and went and read the book again. If I were in the Gilmore Girls reunion and was standing with Loralei as she was about to go on her “Wild” journey, I would be in line with the women for the book, not the movie. But, this movie was a great representation of the book, I thought. To see Cheryl transform from this timid, anxious, mess, to grow as a human being as much as she did while hiking the PCT, is mesmerizing. My favorite line “How wild it was, to let it be” resonates with me, giving me chills as the end credits appear. To see her hiking, but hearing her thought process through the whole movie, seeing where her mind mentally takes her when she sees a sunset, or a wolf, or drunkenly pukes as she remembers the past with her mother. This movie will make you want to break away from life and allow yourself to be vulnerable in such a harsh but also welcoming place that is nature. You’ll go out and finding a trail to backpack through soon after you watch this movie…but you know, do your research before just deciding to take a 2000 mile long journey.
9. From Fat to Finish Line
This documentary follows 12 individuals who created a running team after they all found each other after losing 100 pounds each. The whole film follows this team as they run a 200 mile Ragner Relay race in Florida. The movie is great to watch in seeing people who have taken their lives back; but it also represents just how supportive the running community really is. These folks were people who met each other through a blog, or somewhere online, and decided that they are going to support each other in their health goals, but also to push through difficult miles to make the finish line. I found myself tearing up, as it reminded me of times during races where a stranger who just happened to be running alongside me would tell me their story and keep me going when I was struggling. You see it more and more, where a runner is struggling to finish at the finish line because they’re injured and a stranger will stop, pick them up and cross the finish line with them. It’s not about winning, it’s about finishing. It’s about supporting one another. And this movie is a true representation of the power of support from your running community.
10. Age of Champions
What can I say? I love me some documentaries. This amazing documentary from 2011 is available on Netflix and follows athletes who are competing in the National Senior Games and just goes to show you that you don’t have to slow down with age. I remember in 2016 reading about 80 year old Ernestine Shepard, who made national news because of her strong physique due to weightlifting. I mean the woman looks 50, but is 80 and lifts heavier than some guys I know! With Age of Champions, you see tennis players who are competing at all ages, there’s a man that is 100 years old competing, and it made me feel really inadequate haha. You have senior female basketball players, swimmers, and the list goes on and on. If you don’t have a fire lit under your behind after watching these senior adults show off their athleticism, than you should probably reassess. This is inspiring, and shows what living a healthy life, an active life, can do to keep you young and vibrant as you age. This is a must see!
Watch these movies for some great inspiration! Of course, these are not the only movies I wanted to put on the list, but I felt like I wanted to place some that were familiar and some that were not.
What movies do you use as inspiration for fitness? Let me know in the comments!