12 Fitness Documentaries to Inspire a Healthier Lifestyle

Most of us want to be more active, eat healthier, and have happier lives. But finding the motivation to improve our health and fitness can be challenging. Whether you need to completely transform your body and mind or are just looking to take things to a higher level, these documentaries can provide the inspiration you need to get out there and start living a healthier, happier life.

Losing Sight of Shore

If you’re looking for some motivation to take on the daunting challenges in your life, you’re likely to find it in Losing Sight of Shore. This documentary follows 4 women who set out to row across the Pacific Ocean from America to Australia. You’ll not only witness the extreme physical and mental hardships these brave women endured on their 8,000-mile journey, but will be able to apply the struggles of their journey to your own personal challenges. As the film’s tagline says: “Everyone has a Pacific to cross.”

In Defense of Food

Wondering what you should eat to be healthy? Journalist Michael Pollen has a simple answer: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Pollan’s In Defense of Food sorts through the conflicting claims we hear about nutrition and explains why we should focus on eating the types of foods our great grandparents would recognize. This compelling documentary can provide a starting point for making better decisions about the food you choose to eat.

Iron Cowboy

cyclist on paved road on sunny day

Completing one Ironman is a significant accomplishment. But what about 50 Ironman distances, in 50 different states, in just 50 days? Sounds impossible, right? In 2016, James Lawrence took on this daunting task to prove he was worthy of the name Iron Cowboy. Watch and you’ll be inspired by this cowboy’s ability to redefine what’s physically and mentally possible with the support of his family, frequent ZYTO nutrition scanning, and sheer determination.

May I Be Frank

Many of us struggle to maintain a healthy weight throughout our lives. Such was the case with Frank Ferrante, a 54-year-old man that tipped the scale at 290 pounds. From drug and alcohol abuse to anti-depressants and chemo treatments, this film explores the many issues Frank had to deal with to start losing weight and loving himself again. The story follows Frank’s amazing transformation, showing us that anyone can shed extra pounds and be well again with the right support and diet.

Heal

Through interviews with leading scientists, spiritual healers, and people working through serious health issues, Heal helps us discover the power our perceptions have on health and well-being. This empowering documentary shows that we have the ability to rise above our circumstances and defeat any health challenge that comes our way. If you believe in the power of natural health interventions and are interested in the mind/body connection, you’ll want to check out this inspiring film.

Enlighten Up!

happy man in yoga pose

Can yoga really transform your life? Kate Churchill believes that it can, and set out to prove it in the 2008 documentary Enlighten Up! The story follows Nick Rosen, who agrees to be the guinea pig for Kate’s 6-month experiment. A skeptical 29-year-old man with no yoga experience, Nick is about to see if this ancient practice is all it’s cracked up to be. Along with providing some good laughs, this film offers an interesting introduction into yoga’s diverse practices and its ability to enhance our health and fitness.    

Bite Size

With nearly 1 in 3 American children classified as overweight, our obesity epidemic isn’t only limited to adults.1 Many children suffer from poor eating habits and other problems that lead to excess weight gain. In Bite Size, we meet 4 overweight children looking to shed their excess pounds and become healthier and happier. If you have kids, especially if they are overweight, this is a documentary you will want to watch together.

Froning

Whether you’re a CrossFit enthusiast or are just interested in fitness, Froning: The Fittest Man in History is a film you’ll want to watch. The documentary follows professional CrossFit athlete Rick Froning Jr. as he attempts to win his fourth CrossFit Games competition in a row. From Rick’s highly competitive attitude to his ridiculous training regimen, you’ll see what it takes to be regarded as the fittest man in history.  

The Magic Pill

While there’s no magic pill that can give us optimal health, eating nutritious food is our best bet for conquering disease, illness, and other health challenges. In The Magic Pill, you’ll learn about the damage that processed foods have done to our society, and find out why replacing empty calories with healthy fats can unlock the key to improved well-being. Check out this film to see how you can better reach your health and fitness goals by embracing the best type of fuel: fat.

Marathon Challenge

marathon runners - fitness documentary concept

If you love marathons, Nova’s 5-chapter Marathon Challenge is the documentary for you. You’ll meet a group of sedentary non-athletes and see if they can be transformed to compete in the famous Boston Marathon. Watch and witness the unique challenges each runner has to deal with leading up to the day of the race, and find out what happens when all the training is put to the test in this interesting and motivating film.

30 for 30: Into the Wind

Into the Wind is an ESPN 30 for 30 special that documents amputee Terry Fox’s attempt to run across Canada to raise awareness for cancer. Directed by former NBA star Steve Nash, this film shows how Terry’s journey started out under the radar, but eventually gained more support until it became a national phenomenon. This story of hope and determination in spite of limitations is definitely worth your time.

World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge Fiji

Hosted by survival expert Bear Grylls, World’s Toughest Race follows 66 teams as they compete in the Fiji Eco-Challenge. In this 10-episode series, professional adventure athletes race alongside amateurs in a backcountry course that extends for more than 400 miles. You’ll be inspired by the stories of the competitors and how they are able to endure this non-stop race that lasts several days. James Lawrence of Iron Cowboy fame also competes in this Eco-Challenge as part of an American team of Ironmen endurance athletes.


Sources:

1.. “BMI in Children.” American Heart Association, Inc. Heart.org.