8 Movies = 8 Awesome Lessons about Fitness

movie lessonsI think movies are underrated.

Although I’m not a huge fan of spending countless hours staring at a big black box, I must admit that sometimes there’s no better feeling than kicking back and throwing on a classic hit.

Maybe some Jean Claude Van Dam? A little bit of Jessica Alba – yes?

It doesn’t matter – whatever puts you in the mood.

But I think there’s more to movies than just their entertainment value. I think there is an opportunity to learn something from everything we do – movies included. As funny as it may sound, there is a lot Hollywood can teach us about getting fit.

From all of my years in front of the TV (it may not be much), I’ve picked up some great lessons along the way. Here are 8 things movies have taught me about fitness:

1. Wall-E (2008)

Quick run-down: So it may be an animated film (a great one at that), but there’s something to be learned from this beautiful love story. Set hundreds of years into the future, the story is about a robot who’s purpose in life is to clean up the garbage that has completely succumbed planet Earth. While this is happening, humans are relaxing up on some cool spaceship with robot slaves and flying chairs. Everything is literally done for them at the touch of a button. Who knew obesity would become the norm??

Technology will make you fat!

Lesson Learned: If you become reliant on technology to take care of all your shit, you will become a fat slob. That may be a bit harsh, but not far from the truth. We are living in a world where we are quickly becoming more and more dependant on technology. Things that used to require us to actually do work are now simply at the touch of a button. If you want to be fit, don’t fall into the habit of relying on technology. Don’t opt for convenience. Make a consious effort to get off your ass and do something!

2. 300 (2006)

Quick run-down: This was a movie for the ages and you should be ashamed of yourself if you haven’t seen it. The plot was epic, but very simple. Back in 480 BC, an alliance of Greek city-states fought the invading Persian army. Persian King Xerxes lead an army of well over 100,000 men to Greece and was confronted by 300 Spartans. 300 of them!! That’s it! The battle was epic. I won’t tell you who won, but if you’re capable of doing some basic math I’m pretty sure you can figure it out. However, it wasn’t the victory or defeat that mattered – it was the courage to stand up for what you believe.

Note: This movie was so bad-ass that there were TWO lessons to be learned from it (BONUS!). One was on-screen, the other was off-screen. Don’t thank me, thank the Butler.

Lesson Learned (on-screen): King Leonidas lead his army of 300 Spartans to battle against 10-freakin-thousand Greek soldiers. Are you kidding me?? 300 tanks couldn’t take down 10,000 men let alone 300 men in sandals and capes. But that’s besides the point. The Spartans chose to stand up for their land. They weren’t just going to give in. They fought with courage and heart. This is how you have to take on your challenges. Losing 50lbs may seem like an impossible feat, but you have to be courageous enough to stand up for what you want. You have to be willing to fight even when things seem impossible.

An army of 300

Lesson Learned (off-screen): One of the reasons this movie got so much attention was because of the absolutely ridiculous fitness levels all the cast members achieved for the movie. Gerard Butler and crew showed the world that extremely hard work can get you in incredible shape, no matter how old you are. Although there’s probably no way you’d be able to train like they trained, it goes to show what kind of results can be achieved with an abundance of hard work.

Gerard Butler – Before and After 300 Workout

3. Fight Club (1999)

Quick run-down: I think everyone on the planet has seen this movie at least twice. I think. It’s a movie about a secret fight club that… actually all you need to know is that Brad Pitt is in this one and he looks absolutely ripped. The end.

Brad Pitt looking lean and mean in Fight Club

Lesson Learned: This was the movie that revolutionized the lean look. It showed the world that the bodybuilder look was no longer the desired look. Thanks to Mr. Pitt, being lean, cut and ripped became the number one item on every man’s wish list. Just ask my friend Rusty from Fitness Black Book – he knows a little something about the lean Hollywood look.

4. Honey (2003)

Quick run-down: This movie is about Honey Daniels, a young, sexy, tough-minded hip hop dancer in New York’s East Harlem who has dreams of making it big as a music video choreographer. Dance is her life. It’s her passion, her fuel and her reason for being. She also has an amazing body.

Yes, dancing can make you look this good.

Lesson Learned: You don’t need a gym membership to get fit and look incredible. Find a physical activity you are truly passionate about – something you truly enjoy doing – and you’ll never have to step foot in the gym again.

5. I Am Legend (2007)

Quick run-down: Will Smith plays the role of a brilliant scientist stuck in a world where a terrible man-made virus has left him as the last human survivor in what is left of New York City. For years, the dude is sending out radio messages praying to God somebody else is out there. There are also some crazy mutants that are waiting for him to make a mistake so they can eat his ass. Needless to say, Smith clearly can’t leave his home so he spends his time doing pull ups and push ups inside his pad – clearly the ultimate home workout since the dude looks jacked.

The ultimate home workout.

Lesson Learned: Just like Honey Daniels, Smith shows us that you don’t need a gym membership to get fit. A simple pull-up bar and some space for push ups is perhaps all you need to get a rocking body. No more excuses about lack of time or money – all you need is some space. A nice set of kettlebells would be nice too but hey, let’s not push it now.

6. Gladiator (2000)

Quick run-down: Without a doubt, this is one of the most epic revenge movies of all time. To keep it short, Maximus (Russell Crowe) goes on a bloodthirsty rampage after his son and wife are murdered. As a Gladiator, he fights his way from Africa to Rome where he meets (and, yes, kills) the man who murdered his family. A lot of blood and a lot of ‘Fuck yea’ moments in this one.

You can actually see the motivation in his eyes.

Lesson Learned: Maximus does nothing short of bringing down the ROMAN EMPEROR – all by himself. In sandals (again?). Sounds impossible. But it goes to show what one man is capable of doing when he is motivated. Motivation is the key to success. Without a passionate, deep-driven reason pushing you forward, you will never achieve what you’re striving for. That’s what the fitness bloomer revolution is all about. Why do you want to lose weight? Why do you want to get fit? What is driving you?

7. Into the Wild (2007)

Quick run-down: The story is of a young man who decides to leave the world he lives in and all of his possessions so he can pursue his journey to Alaska where he hopes to spend time with nature and experience ‘real’ existence. It’s a beautiful movie that shows a path of self-discovery and a realization that happiness is only real when shared. That description just sounded so beautiful – don’t you think??

Find out who you really are

Lesson Learned: Sometimes you have to abandon everything you do/own to find out who you really are. Sometimes you have to abandon everything you’re doing and start over. In a world where unhealthy habits subconsciously lead us to poor decisions, this movie shows that sometimes you have to abandon all that you think is right to truly find out who you are and who you want to be.

8. Rocky (1976 +)

Quick run-down: I don’t think you need me to tell you the synopsis of the greatest film series of all time. But I will anyways. Sylvester Stallone plays the role of Rocky Balboa, a man who holds the record for the most punches taken to the head without getting knocked out or dying. Six movies of endless beating to the head from black guys, Russian guys and a random young American guy with a mullet, Rocky is still moving on two feet – now that’s something we can learn from.

Yes, Rocky got up after this punch and finished the guy off. Lol

Lesson Learned: All jokes aside, Rocky Balboa teaches us something valuable about fitness and life in general. You’re going to face massive challenges along your road to fitness. You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to get knocked down. At the end, all that matters is whether you get back up and keep fighting.

As you can see, movies bring more to the table than just a bit of entertainment. There’s a lot we can learn from them – even fitness related.

What I would like you to do…

  • Scroll down to the comments section and tell me about one movie that you have learned something from. Tell me what you learned!! I need a good list of movies to watch!
  • Share this post with your friends by clicking the Like button to the left 🙂

21 thoughts on “8 Movies = 8 Awesome Lessons about Fitness”

  1. I never thought about Wall-E but I really like 300, Gladiator and I am Legend.
    Even though Rocky is a classic I never really got into them.
    So many movies but one comes to mind is I always liked all the Bruce Lee Movies -eg. Way of the Dragon -where Bruce takes on Chuck Norris in the epic fight scene and what I learnt is that you have to be adaptable as Bruce had to change his fighting style to be effective against Chuck, same as in fitness if your workouts aren’t working then change it and also to have respect for opponents and other people who are different.

    1. Way of the Dragon was an awesome movie! Actually every Bruce lee movie was awesome.

      You also made a great correlation there. You really do have to be adaptable when it comes to fitness. You will quite often have to make changes to your routine, to your diet, and even to your lifestyle – you’ll have to adapt to change as your fitness level progresses.

      P.S. How couldn’t you get into the Rocky movies???? 😉

  2. Million Dollar Baby,

    Poor girl from wrong side of tracks on the road to nowhere wants to box. Clint eventually agrees to train her and they both get another shot at life….

    Find the thing you want to do and give it everything you have. There are no guarantees, and it’s probably going to hurt, but at least you’ll know.

  3. One movie I saw recently that really affected me was “Temple Grandin”. It is the true story about a woman with autism who uses her unique gifts and skills to revolutionize the way we treat farm animals. People who cared about her never gave up on her and she never gave up on herself. She is so accomplished has been a speaker at TED! She says that people with autism just see the world in a different way from most people.
    LESSONS LEARNED: Never give up. Don’t care what others think about you. Everyone has something to offer. Don’t judge people who are “different”.

  4. I love the Rocky series, well parts 1 to 4. It’s such an inspiring series of movies.

    As I kid I loved the Bad News Bears. I don’t know if any of your readers are familiar with it but it’s basically a group of kids playing Little League Baseball. They basically suck- can’t pitch, bat, throw or catch. But they have a lot of heart and go on to win the state championship.

    All it took was faith in themselves to get to their goal.

    In fitness we all start as underdogs and often are underdogs for a long time trying to get to our goal but if we have faith and stick to it we eventually get there. No if’s and’s or but’s.


    1. I don’t think I’ve seen the movie, but I’ve definitely heard of it.

      The lesson you outlined is brilliant. We do all start off as underdogs and have to have faith and keep fighting for what we want. That’s how you become a true champion.

  5. Srdjan,

    Great list! My favorite fitness movie of all time is Never Back Down. Cam Gigandet is ridiculously ripped in that movie and that was really what inspired me to go for the lean look. It’s also got some great MMA training sequences and killer circuit workouts.


    1. Never Back Down is a great movie. It was one of those movies where I didn’t expect much going in but was blown away after seeing it. All the guys looked like they were in incredible shape, the fight scenes were insane and the girls weren’t too bad either 😉

      Who’s got a better look: Brad Pitt from Fight Club or Cam Gigandet from Never Back Down??

        1. I would have to agree.

          The only thing I’m thinking is that, with the difference in the time the movies were made (1999 compared to 2008), do you think new age technology had something to do with making Cam’s body look more visually appealing than it actually was?

          1. Perhaps… maybe not so much special effects as cutting edge diet and training techniques to get super “event ready”. If you look at older movies, actors were lean, but not as ripped. And these days, almost every actor in any movie (even those playing roles of guys who don’t need to be ripped) are jacked.

  6. Great post Srdjan, although Im missing the Rambo movies in your post.

    I grew up with Rambo and I still get pumped to go lift some heavy iron after watching a First Blood movie.

    The physique he presents in Rambo 2+3 has always been a strong motivation for me. Totally ripped, strong, just the right amount of muscle while still being fast, mobile and athletic.

    And on top of this he defeated the entire Russian army. How bad ass is that.

    1. Rambo definitely deserves a spot in there as well. But since I already gave Mr. Stallone one appearance I thought it would be too much to have him in there twice :).

      Did you see the newest Rambo flick?? Where he took on the entire army with an AK? Regardless of how ridiculous it looks it’s still pretty bad ass!

      Thanks for the comment man!

  7. To me, Fight Club really stood out and propelled the lean Hollywood look into an extremely popular physique to shoot for. After that movie everybody wanted to know what the Brad Pitt Fight Club workout was all about.

  8. Thanks for this article. Very inspiring as I would never have thought consciously of films in that way before. I don’t think I will view films in the same way again so thank you for that.

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