The holidays are here. That means you get to relax. But don’t just veg out all month long! Here are our best picks for motivational movies that will get you in the mood to hit the gym!
While you’re enjoying your break from work or school, you can relax with a movie and some leftovers from your holiday feast.
Here’s a list of 10 movies with some examples of workouts and the calories they’ll help you burn. These films will get you so hyped that you won’t miss a workout no matter what!
#1 G.I. Jane (1997)
The 1997 film G.I. Jane, starring Demi Moore, is a well-known military movie about strength, perseverance and girl power. Lieutenant Jordan O’Neil is a topographical analyst. She is selected to be the first woman to attempt to complete the U.S Navy Combined Reconnaissance Training.
Later, we learn that she was selected because they thought she was sure to fail. The film features O’Neil’s transformation with intense workout scenes. Through all the hard work and dedication, she achieves a sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from overcoming obstacles.
Master Chief John James Urgayle encourages the trainees while doing P.T. in the surf on the beach saying the well-known words, “Pain is your friend; your ally. It tells you when you’re injured. It keeps you awake and tells you to finish the job. It lets you know you’re not dead.”
Lieutenant O’Neil’s journey shows you that accepting setbacks and failures as motivation and learning experiences will bring you closer to becoming a better, stronger version of yourself. While watching Demi Moore’s performance in G.I. Jane, you would probably want to enjoy a slice of pumpkin pie. Afterward, you could attempt O’Neil’s hardcore one-handed push-ups. Of course, you’ll need to do them for 36 straight minutes to burn off the calories from the pie.
#2 Chariots of Fire (1981)
This is a fact-based film based on sprint runners Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell’s journey to the 1924 Olympics in Paris. Chariots of Fire is different from the norm of motivational films.
There are no intimidating, rock hard, glistening bodies. It just has someone who took the first step and kept running.
Running is possibly the cheapest exercise regimen you could adopt. All you have to do is take that first step, followed by another and so on. Olympic athletes inspire everyday people to strive for the extraordinary and after watching this film, you’ll definitely have the urge to get out and experience the euphoria that Liddell and so many other runners swear by.
Don’t forget: Running is one of the best fat burning exercises and requires no equipment! But, to burn off one sugar cookie that you snagged from Santa’s plate, you’d need to run one mile at a speed of five miles per hour. Maybe Santa would enjoy a bowl of almonds this year.
#3 Rocky (1976)
Rocky Balboa, or as his fans know him, “The Italian Stallion,” was boxing and making $40 dollars a fight. He was pushing 30. He was feeling like he never reached his prime and those around him were telling him he needed to retire. Just when he begins to believe that maybe all of his naysayers are right, he’s offered a fight against the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, Apollo Creed. Rocky grabs this opportunity and does everything he can to achieve his goal.
He becomes dedicated to training for the fight. He wakes up at 4 a.m., eats five raw eggs and then goes jogging with the pinnacle of his run being his climb up museum stairs. On his first trip up the stairs, he made it to the top. He was panting and clutching his side, but he made it. With determination and willpower, he got better. During the iconic scene with “Gonna Fly Now” playing in the background, he reaches the top and his improvement in obvious.
If you’re starting out, it may be discouraging when you can’t complete a workout the way you planned or even in its entirety. Be like Rocky. Don’t give up. The only way to improve is through practice and perseverance. Boxing is a great way to burn calories, strengthen muscles and improve coordination. To burn off 140 grams of holiday ham, you would only need to complete 15 minutes of in-ring boxing. Watch for that left hook!
#4 Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
Changes in your life and your diet will not occur unless you’re ready and willing to make them happen. Bridget Jones was single in her early 30s and decided to make healthy changes in her life. This included quitting smoking and drinking alcohol. It also involved watching her weight and refraining from pursuing men with toxic personalities.
Even when you’re not at an unhealthy weight, you can still use exercise to improve your health, mentally and physically. She decided to document this journey in a diary. Using a diary to keep track of your goals is a great way to hold yourself accountable and to document your progress. Bridget learns the value of loving herself and being comfortable in her own skin.
These benefits are there for you as well through regular exercise. Stationary cycling is a great cardio and lower body workout. You can use it at home, in the gym and there are even high energy spin classes filled with men and women alike that will help keep you motivated as you go through the guided workout. A 30-minute spin class is the equivalent of burning off one 1 cup of stuffing from your holiday meals.
#5 The Wolverine (2013)
Haven’t we all, at some point, wished we could be a superhero? In The Wolverine, Hugh Jackman plays a man, haunted by his past, yet willing to use his powers to save those who need him. To achieve the primal, animalistic look, it was reported that Jackman meet with a trainer who had him doing basic lifts like the bench press, variations of squats, deadlifts, weighted pull-ups, shoulder press, triceps dips and lateral raises.
Achieving your fitness goals takes dedication. As a result, you could achieve the superhero physique you’ve always dreamed of. However, you most likely won’t develop Wolverine’s healing abilities, so don’t forget to give your muscles a chance to heal!
Triceps bench dips are a great way to get Wolverine’s sculpted arms. But, after eating one cup of Marie Callender’s Sweet Potato Casserole, you’ll have to do triceps dips for 75 minutes!
#6 Kickboxer (1989)
Want to watch an action-filled motivational film? If so, Jean-Claude Van Damme movies always fit the bill. Training your body for a purpose is far more rewarding than training to become aesthetically pleasing. That’s exactly what Kurt Sloane did in the 1989 movie Kickboxer. Setting goals is the foundation for a healthy lifestyle.
But, if the goal is a number on the scale, it becomes unstable. Why? Different body compositions can look drastically different, yet their weights are the same. Setting goals like the ability to run, lift a certain weight or complete a physical task that’s currently impossible for you are solid and achievable goals.
Sloane’s Muay Thai training with Xian Chow depicts the dedication that a transformation needs. The practice of Muay Thai kickboxing is a great lower body workout and cardio exercise. After 8 grams of turkey, you could de-stress with only 15 minutes of Muay Thai kickboxing and burn off enough calories to have more!
#7 Bloodsport (1988)
Here’s another Van Damme classic! This film showcases more of Van Damme’s abilities and makes viewers of all ages yearn to do a helicopter jump just like Frank Dux. Dux is somewhat of a superhero exhibiting honesty, integrity, and amazing strength abilities. But, unlike comic book superheroes, his abilities are attainable.
Sit down and relax with some holiday dessert like pecan pie and watch Bloodsport. By the end, you’ll be itching to try your hand at martial arts. And, as an added bonus, with only 20 minutes of martial arts training, you’ll be able to have another slice!
#8 The Karate Kid (1984)
Daniel LaRusso is forced to move from his home in Newark, New Jersey to California. A beautiful blonde named Ali catches his eye with her smile while her ex-boyfriend, Johnny Lawrence, catches his other eye with his fist. Daniel reaches out to the maintenance man at his new apartment to teach him karate to protect himself. His abilities will be tested at a karate tournament.
Daniel learns that his methods are, for lack of a better word, unconventional. But, after waxing cars, painting fences, sanding floors and painting houses, Daniel realizes that Mr. Miyagi isn’t simply looking for someone to do his chores. Miyagi is actually training him to fight.
While working out, you may begin to feel the same way Daniel did. “Is this really making a difference? All of this jumping around seems a little ridiculous.” Stick with it and you’ll see progress.
#9 Terminator Genysis (2015)
Since winning the title of Mr. Olympia at the age of 20, Arnold Schwarzenegger has been an icon of fitness. Since his 1982 role in Conan the Barbarian, he has also been known to play action packed roles filled with physical stunts. In Terminator Genesis, Kyle Reese, played by Jai Courtney, is sent back to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor, the mother of the leader of the resistance John Connor.
Arnold, however, is by no means obsolete in this film. With that said, Reeves clearly leads the way. The 2015 Terminator movie doesn’t disappoint die-hard Terminator fans. There are plenty of action and fight scenes. Arnold maintains his robotic and ironic sense of humor while Sarah Connor stands firm as an independent woman who doesn’t need anyone to take care of her.
In the war against the machines, every day is life and death, just as in the life of many Americans who wish to change their lifestyle to improve their health. Unlike the Terminators, we’re only given one body. It’s our job to take care of it and keep it running like a machine with exercise and a healthy diet. If you’d like to practice weight lifting to gain Mr. Olympia’s strength to defeat the machines, you should know that you could burn off the equivalent of a slice of pecan pie in 20 minutes.
#10 Invincible (2006)
Based on the true story of Vince Papale who played football for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1976 to 1978, Invincible is a film about a part-time bartender who is laid off from his job as a substitute teacher and whose wife leaves him in the same day.
While jogging through town, Vince, played by Mark Wahlberg, stops at Eagles stadium and attends a training camp as a walk-on. Vince endures ridicule from the fellow participants in the training camp. He learns that the road to success is not a straight line. He encounters setbacks and experiences a sense of defeat in the form of six preseason losses.
Vince puts his past failures behind him and focuses on his future. Invincible is a lesson in looking towards the future and not letting past failures pull your focus away from your goals. Learn from this and watch your diet and caloric intake. Just 12 minutes of vigorous cardio can burn off the calories in that can of soda you had with your festive dinner.
There are going to be times in your fitness journey when you feel like you’ve failed. Maybe you have taken a break from working out and you’re hesitant to begin again. Don’t get distracted from your goals. With attainable goals in mind, nothing is impossible. If nothing else, these movies prove you can get back in the game and finish the fight.
By April Wilson