Gym rats & bookworms! Choose a fitness program you will love… based on your favorite type of book.

I love reading.

I love working out.

I’ve attempted to do both at the same time, but this usually leads to snail-like crawling on the elliptical machine while squinting to discern the next line of whatever post-apocalyptian dystopian drama I’m trying to devour. (Note to self: switch to audio books!)

If you’re a bookworm and you want to get fit, stretchy, and strong — but you’re struggling to find a style of exercise that doesn’t make your entire face look like a sad emoticon — here is a list of recommended fitness regimes based on your literary obsessions.

Whatever inspires you to read… can also inspire you to sweat!


TRAVEL BOOKS about glorious cities, islands, nations, cultures, and adventurous treks to farflung locations [like In A Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson or Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.]

TRY: Choosing a long, intense “trek” or “trail hike” or “biking / walking tour” that you’d like to complete within the next year.

Maybe a bicycle tour around the island of Maui, or the Camina de Santiago in Europe or the Pacific Crest Trail that Cheryl Strayed traverses in her memoir, Wild.

Calculate the distance you’ll be biking / walking to set a specific fitness goal for yourself.

Once you’ve selected your trek, purchase a ticket and put the date in your calendar. Make it official.

Then create a training plan (just like an athlete!) to ramp up your strength and endurance over the course of several weeks or months… so that you can safely complete your epic pilgrimage. Hire a personal trainer to help you map out a training program if you feel flummoxed. (While you work out, listen to inspiring travel podcasts or books-on-tape about your future destination. The time will fly!)


PSYCHOLOGY / HAPPINESS BOOKS about how we can re-design our lives, enjoy happier relationships, and live more peacefully and joyfully [like Daring Greatly by Brené Brown or The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin].

TRY: A yoga and cardio-dance-inspired workout that feels like a glimmering disco ball of positivity, like Intensati or a Shrink Session.

With both of these workouts, you call out confidence-building affirmations (“I am strong!” “I am focused!” “I achieve my goals!” “Nothing can stop me!”) while you bop, squat, jump, and get your heart rate pumping. Fans of these techniques say that it often feels ridiculous at first, but the results are flat-out amazing.


SPIRITUALITY BOOKS on meditation, mindfulness, presence, minimalism, and living on purpose [like The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo or Start Where You Are by Pema Chödrön.]

TRY: Any form of fitness that feels like a meditative, repetitive, solitary pursuit, like rowing, walking, swimming, or “zen running.”

As you create your fitness plan and complete your workouts, see if you can adopt the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen, where the point of your effort is to make “continual improvement” rather than aiming for rigid “perfection.”


PRODUCTIVITY / BUSINESS BOOKS filled with “life hacks” to get more done in less time and tips on how to optimize your workday for maximum success, profit, world domination, etc. [like anything by Malcolm Gladwell, Seth Godin, Ramit Sethi, and folks like that]

TRY: A science-driven fitness regime like High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) which allows for maximum fitness benefits in a relatively compressed amount of time.

Another buzzword for you to know: Tabata training, a powerful form of interval training developed by Japanese researcher Dr. Izumi Tabata. Tabata training (where you push hard for 20 seconds, rest for 10, push for 20, rest for 10, and repeat for a total of 4 minutes) has been shown to have huge benefits for cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength.


SEXY, SMUTTY, EROTIC BOOKS about love, sex, angst, lust, more love, and more sex [like Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James or Priest by Sierra Simone]

TRY: Pole dancing! It’s an insanely good workout with just the right amount of smut-factor. Tip: NO LOTION on your legs or you will slide down to the ground with a painful thump.

You might also enjoy burlesque dancing classes, Bollywood dancing, or maybe even running. (Christian Grey is always running around town looking tortured and morose in a gray hoodie sweater. Why not plan out a walking or running tour where you visit all of the memorable filming locations from the Fifty Shades movie, hmm?)


DYSTOPIAN FANTASY BOOKS about post-apocalyptic worlds where the government is pure evil and teenagers are in charge of everything, for some reason [like The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins or The Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld]

TRY: A form of fitness that brings out your inner warrior, like archery, fencing or Krav Maga.

Or, consider training for an bad-ass event that pushes all your fear-buttons, like the Reebok Spartan Race. (I’ll be participating in a Spartan event this winter and another next spring! GULP.)


AUTOBIOGRAPHIES / BIOGRAPHIES about amazing people achieving incredible victories against all the odds [like My Fight / Your Fight by Ronda Rousey or Rusch To Glory by Rebecca Rusch]

TRY: Combat sports, martial arts, boxing, or training for an endurance event that you don’t believe you could ever possibly do, like a local 5K or 10K run, or even a half-marathon.

You might be very surprised to discover what your body is truly capable of. Take all of your doubts, train diligently, and prove yourself wrong.


TWILIGHT. Maybe you’re still really, really into Twilight, heavily breathing and waiting for a new installment in the teen vampire series so that your life can be complete. Yes, there is a Twilight-inspired workout just for you. Several, in fact. Nicole, you’re welcome.

Happy reading. Happy sweating.

Be safe. Be smart. Be brave. Have fun!

Disclaimer: I am not a physician. I am a writer and fitness enthusiast with no kids and, thusly, apparently, way too much free time in which to dream up work out / book combinations. Don’t start a fitness program without your doctor’s authorization. Don’t hurt yourself. Don’t sue me. Thank you. Etc.