Top 14 Inspirational Movies to Light a Fire Under Your Ass
When the weather turns cold, it’s human instinct to hunker down inside with Nextflix and a pile of takeout. (BYO Snuggie.) But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing for your body. Movie time can reset your fitness goals and reinvigorate your commitment to living a healthier lifestyle. Sometimes you need to get on the couch to get off the couch. Watching a montage of heroes or heroines building their bodies back up to some rockin’ inspirational tune like “Eye of the Tiger” never fails to get us lacing up our running shoes.
Don’t believe us? We’ve picked our favorite sports, food, and feel-good films and paired them with a workout or recipe, so you’ve got the complete inspirational package for on and off the couch. Go ahead and hit “play” for the movie motivation you need to light a fire under your a*%.
The Best Movies for Sports Lovers
Set in a time before Nike, Hoosiers is the classic underdog story of a scrappy basketball team from small-town Indiana that makes it to the state championship. Watching Gene Hackman yell out the “picket fence” play to the team is the emotional equivalent of a post-game high five.
Make it a double-feature: Hoop Dreams
Take it off the couch: Every baller needs to work on their jumping skills. Get the power to drive down the lane and spring into the air by following these foolproof pointers for increasing your vertical jump.
2. Bend It Like Beckham
This movie has more girl power than a Spice Girls’ reunion. Bend Ittells the story of the teenage daughter in a conservative Indian family who is soccer-obsessed but forbidden to play by her family. (Spoiler alert: That doesn’t stop her from playing.) A spunky Keira Knightley plays her BFF and Jonathan Rhys Meyers is their dreamboat coach.
Make it a double-feature: Shaolin Soccer
Take it off the couch: Get a leg up—you’ll need strong legs to get past the goalie. Run through this Tabata routine and picture a soccer ball bouncing on your high knees.
3. Remember the Titans
Football movies are plentiful and range in quality, but Titans gets our vote for pure inspiration. Consider the ingredients: A dash of Denzel Washington, a splash of historical setting, a heap of underdog scrappiness. Mix them together and you’ll get this uplifting Disney movie. Result: the best pep rally ever.
Make it a double-feature: The Blind Side
Take it off the couch: Do a halftime hustle. Instead of stuffing your face during halftime (or looking at kittens) get off your duff and do this routine (warning: jump squats). Then claim some healthier victory nachos.
A sentimental look back at a chapter in baseball history, League rewinds to WWII when men went off to war and women were asked to be pinch hitters, literally. Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, and, yup, Madonna star in this movie. We give it two-hankies and a catcher’s mitt’s thumb’s up.
Make it a double-feature: Moneyball
Take it off the couch: Show your shoulders some love. Whether you’re pitching a ball or rolling the bat through a swing, you’ll need strong, injury-free shoulders. Check out Eric Cressey’s tips for keeping your rotator cuffs in peak condition.
Must-See Films for Foodies
5. Forks Over Knives
Yes, we love kale, but sometimes we love double-chocolate frosting more. That’s OK. It’s hard to imagine life without layer cake. But we can all use motivation to get plant powered and invite more vegetables onto our plates. Watching vegan fireman Rip Esselstyn climb up a pole chanting, “Real men eat plants!” will convince you to up your intake of the green stuff.
Make it a double-feature: Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead
Take it off the couch: Make your own vegan comfort foods. These crazy delicious recipes prove eating a plant-based diet doesn’t have to be a endless parade of sad salad.
6. Fed Up
Yes there was a time when we all broke up with fat. It was the ‘90s, and low-fat everything was all the rage. (Incidentally, so was Nickelback.) The result? Food manufacturers removed tasty fat and then pumped sugar into all our food to boost the flavor, and there it stayed causing all kinds of damage. Fed Up pulls the cotton candy off our eyes and exposes the sugar overload in the standard American diet.
Make it a double-feature: Fresh
Take it off the couch: Try out some of our healthier desserts. Just because you’re cutting back on processed sugary snacks doesn’t mean treat time has to end. Baked apples or cinnamon toast FTW!
7. Super Size Me
Food documentaries can be a snooze, but watching Morgan Spurlock live off Mickey D’s for a month is like seeing a frat house dare done to the hilt. And once you’ve opened the Pandora’s box on the “chicken mash” used in nuggets, you’ll wanna keep a lid on that six-piece order.
Make it a double-feature: Food, Inc.
Take it off the couch: Tweak your favorite junk, er, comfort foods. With these healthy, super tasty recipes, burgers, fries, pizza, and chicken wings can stay on the menu.
Feel-Good Fitness Flicks
8. Center Stage
Think of this as the anti-Black Swan: a feel-good, high-kickin’, toe-shoe sporting spectacle. Magical costume changes? Sure thing! Motorcycles on stage? You got it! Young, fierce ballerinas come into their own, challenging dance moms and blowing the roof off the recital hall. Keep an eye out for a young Zoe Saldana before her brush with Avatar-blue.
Make it a double-feature: Step Up
Take it off the couch: Shake your money maker. Now that you’re primed to pirouette all over the place, try some dance workouts online, from barre to bokwa.
9. North Shore
This is the surfing counterpart to the Karate Kid franchise. Young boy comes to Hawaii as an outsider, learns to surf, and wins the heart of a local girl. Nothing in the plot will surprise you, but just try to stop yourself from cheering for this “haole” as he becomes a “soul surfer.”
Make it a double-feature: Blue Crush
Take it off the couch: Try the plank to pop-up. Popping up on a surfboard to balance on a wave takes killer core strength. These plank variations will get you in shape to hang ten with the best of ‘em. Or try a pop-up on dry land at a SURFSET class.
10. Blades of Glory
Will Ferrell, at his goofiest, plays hotshot skater Chazz Michael Michaels, a “lone wolf” who must join forces with his ice-skating nemesis. But it’s not all wacky slapstick—somewhere in the middle of this movie, it shifts from supreme silliness to genuinely adorable. By the time Chazz declares to his partner, “We’re freestyling. You’re the steak! I’m the sizzle!” the duo has triple axeled their way into your heart.
Make it a double-feature: The Cutting Edge
Take it off the couch: Muscle up with kettlebells. Russians rule at ice skating, so it makes sense when you wanna get in tip-top, toe-pick shape, you’d turn to a piece of fitness equipment whose use they perfected. Try these 22 kettlebell combos and build up the muscle to go for gold. Once you master the technique, try a full-body kettlebell workout.
Heart-Pumping Underdog Pics
With grit and realism, Girlfight is Rocky for the millennial set. Michelle Rodriguez plays a teenager enrolled in the school of hard knocks who decides to start throwing her own punches. It’s a raw and real look at everything fitness can offer at-risk teens.
Make it a double-feature: Warrior
Take it off the couch: Boxing isn’t all about the punching bag. Quick footwork is required to avoid getting slugged, which is where jumping rope comes in. Here’s a quick but intense 15-minute workout to get your heart skipping and your feet moving.
12. Premium Rush
Premium Rush is a premium popcorn muncher, a fast-and-fun chase movie with a hero, a villain, and a bike. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Wilee the bike messenger, dodging through NYC traffic Frogger-style to keep a package away from a corrupt cop. And yes, one of the other messengers is SoulCycle instructor Kym Perfetto.
Make it a double-feature: Breaking Away
Take it off the couch: Before you’re popping wheelies and zooming around city streets, get the intel on bike basics with our handy guideto everything from saddle sores to race pace. Or jump on the stationary bike and crush a high-intensity workout.
13. Dogtown and Z Boys
If your idea of a documentary is someone droning on about the Civil War, this movie will knock your Vans off. Dogtown follows the birth of modern skateboarding from its surfing roots to the aerial flips that transformed it into a high-flying, extreme sport. Tony Alva doing the first 360 flip is probably number two on the list of coolest things people have done on Earth. (This is number one.)
Make it a double-feature: Bones Brigade
Take it off the couch: What’ll help those ollies get more height? Stability through strength. Try these stability-ball exercises for all around conditioning.
14. Run Lola Run
Runners know that mental tricks can keep you sprinting to the finish line (whether that’s pretending to race the person next to you or surviving zombie attacks). Next time you hit the track, you can picture Lola’s plight as she charges through the streets of Berlin with just minutes to save her boyfriend. If the frantic racing doesn’t make your heart thump, the techno soundtrack most definitely will.
Make it a double-feature: Run Fat Boy Run
Take it off the couch: Ready to do your own lifesaving sprint? We’ve got 25 ways to improve your speed.