There’s a fine line between motivational sports stories and inspirational fitness movies. While tales such as The Karate Kid and The Bad News Bears show individuals overcoming odds to achieve greatness, you don’t actually see them achieve fitness. Movies like Flashdance and Black Swan show how fitness plays into dance, but they don’t have the nominal “workout” scene that makes inspirational fitness movies work. Then again, it’s all about how you define fitness.

Certainly, we don’t get to see Gerard Butler work out to achieve his cartoonishly perfect form in 300, which does little to inspire anyone to get off the couch. For the purposes of this list, let’s focus on movies that inspire us to get off the couch, move the coffee table, and get our bodies moving in order to fight gravity.

Run, Fatboy, Run: Anyone Can Do It


Unlike how they portray runners in Chariots of Fire, Run, Fatboy, Run shows us that we can all give it a try. Because the main character is running in order to win back his family, we are inspired to find something in our own lives to run for. No matter how you view fitness programs, they are a solitary achievement and those who choose to do them have their own personal reasons. This film teaches us to focus on someone or something other than ourselves to reach an impossible goal.

Rocky IV: Bringing Technology Into Fitness


If you consider the importance of actually seeing people work out in a fitness movie, then Rocky IV is the hands-down best. Not only do you get the mandatory workout montage (complete with motivational 80s rock score), you also get a glimpse into the technical aspects of training. As the world moved into the technological age, Rocky IV brought into the mainstream the idea that exercise was, in fact, a science. Regardless of the fact that the Russians are portrayed as results-driven automatons, they used computer analysis and supplements in order to enhance their boxer’s performance abilities. The movie inspired a generation of athletes to consider their bodies as organic machines that can perform at their peak when examined scientifically.

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story Inspires Flexibility


Yes, this film has obligatory workout scenes where Bruce trains to become a worldwide martial arts sensation and superstar. However, the film also reminds athletes about the importance of working out the core and developing flexibility, rather than simply putting on muscle mass. Bruce Lee is an incredibly inspirational fitness figure. He approached fitness and athleticism from a holistic approach of the mind and body relationship. The movie also shows us how imagination and creativity are integral components to becoming a successful fitness expert.

Do you think that there is a difference between sports and fitness movies and do you have your own favorite picks?