8 Non-Fitness Books Every Fitness Professional Should Read

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Make no mistake: I stole the idea for today’s blog post from my buddy Dean Somerset who, yesterday, wrote a fantastic post titled 9 Non-Fitness Books Every Fitness Professional Should Read.

He bragged about not making his list a list of ten, and that nine was way cooler. Well, I beg to differ. Eight is what the cool kids are doing nowadays.

My list is a mish-mash of business books, personal development, as well as classic literature. I know many of my colleagues would agree when I say that some of the most successful people in the fitness industry (and I’d make the argument any industry) are those who are avid readers.

Not only are they avid readers, but they’re multifarious readers..ranging in tastes from the aforementioned personal development and classic literature to basic non-fiction and even comic books!

Furthermore, speaking personally (and as a self-described introvert) I oftentimes crave times when I can be alone within four walls, relax with a cup of tea with my cat, Dagny, nearby and read.

Really, I swear, I’m not 77 years old.

In addition, the more I read the more it helps me write. Profound, I know!

Every book I’ve read on the topic of writing has always highlighted the fact that if you’re going to be a remotely competent writer (much less one that has an audience)….it’s in your best interests to read, if for no other reason than to immerse yourself into someone else’s way of pacing, sentence structure, and flow.

And of course, good prose is just straight up sexy.

Having said all that, as Dean alluded to in his post, the books I’m recommending aren’t so much for their prowess in helping you figure out a way to work four hours a week while raking in a six-figure income, but more so for their commentary on experiences, values, organization, behavior, psychology, and how to fight crime with one hand tied behind your back.

In no particular order:

1. Decisive – Chip and Dan Heath

Chip and Dan Heath have written a number of books I recommend to people – Switch and Made to Stick are other favorites – but Decisive, their most recent, tops my “Heath list.”

In a nutshell, as humans, outside of sticking our fingers into an electrical socket (read: don’t do it) we’re fairly biased and irrational when it comes to making decisions. We seek out information that supports us and downplay information that doesn’t.

This book is a wonderful and insightful look into what drives us to make the decisions we make.

2. The War of Art – Steven Pressfield

A writer’s worst enemy is a cat who constantly walks across their keyboard procrastination. In this book, which you can read within 90 minutes, Mr. Pressfield discusses strategies on defeating procrastination and giving it a massive wedgie.

3. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

I’ve told this story before. Here’s the Cliff Notes version.

The year was 2003. My then girlfriend broke up with me and moved out. I was crushed and needed to find something to fill the time and to somehow block the incessant inner-dialogue, images and thoughts I was having of her banging other dudes with her new found singledome.

By happenstance I came across a list online titled The Modern Library List of Top 100 Novels and decided I was going to spend that summer reading as many books off that list as possible.

I started with Catcher in the Rye and didn’t look back until I crossed off 10-15 books in a matter of four months. For the record, I lasted seven pages through Ulysses before I wanted to toss my face against a cement wall.

The Grapes of Wrath was one of the first books I tackled off that list and has always resonated with me as one of the most powerful pieces of literature I’ve ever read. That ending still gives me goosebumps.

4. The Power of Habit  – Charles Duhigg

Just as much a book on life as it is improving your business savviness, this book was a game changer when I first read it a few years ago.

As a coach it only makes sense that I’m comfortable with anatomy, physiology, components of nutrition and how to work on someone’s technique with any particular exercise or movement.

What many trainers and coaches fail to understand, though, is that half the battle when trying to get someone to buy into (and thus changing) a habit is more psychological and trying to figure out what barriers – physical, mental, societal, socioeconomic, etc – prevent them from doing so in the first place.

5. Quiet – Susan Cain

I’ve mentioned this book several times throughout this blog in recent years, and it’s one of the best books I’ve read on the topic, ever.

Even if you don’t consider yourself an introvert (Newsflash: we’re all introverted/extroverted to some capacity), I’d still highly recommend reading this book. You undoubtedly have a friend, colleague, family member or significant other who’s more on the introvert side of the scale, and this book will, without question, help you better understand where they’re coming from and how you can better improve your relationship(s) with him or her.

6. The Art of Non-Conformity – Chris Guillebeau

I received the recommendation to read this book a few years back from Nate Green. And when Nate Green says to read a book, I’m going to listen.

Long story short: if the man is bringing you down and you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired of the predictable, oftentimes mundaneness of the 9-5 office job or being told that you have to do this and that you have to that….this book will open up your eyes.

7. The Power of Less – Leo Babauta

Do you really need to check your inbox 47 times per day?

Do you find yourself randomly washing the dishes when you should be doing some work?

This book helps with the clutter and noise of modern life. Productivity never looked so simple!

8. On Writing Well – William Zinsser

This book is pretty much THE book on how to write, and write well. Whether you’re a fitness writer, someone who writes about sports, cooking, or, I don’t know, Space-Zombie historical fiction1, this book well give you the building blocks to not suck.

And even if you don’t see yourself as a “writer” per se, in this day and age where much of our communication is done through email, it’s still a valuable book to pick up so that you’re better able to articulate yourself. Believe me: nothing says “douche” more than writing a sentence that includes the phrase “UR” in it.

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.
  1. Yep, I just made up a new genre. You’re welcome.

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