As with most things in life, when it comes to fitness, nutrition, and overall health, knowledge is important to success. You need to know how to exercise, what foods to eat, and what strategies to use to keep yourself motivated. With that in mind, we turned to seven fitness professionals and asked them for recommendations from their personal bookshelves.

Movement: Functional Movement Systems, by Gray Cook

Recommended by Bruce Kelly, MS, CSCS, CFSC, owner of Fitness Together Media in Media, Penn.

"Movement looks at training/activity from the perspective that you first have to move well, and then you have to move often. Too often people just jump into training, running, or some sort of fitness program without fully understanding where their movement limitations may be, and then they suffer the consequences of overuse injuries or other injuries. I use the basic premises of the book every day to train our clients, and I also use it in my own training/activities."

Book: Mudras for Healing and Transformation, by Joseph Le Page and Lilia Le Page

Recommended by Audrey DeLong, a Redding, Calif. based yoga instructor/therapist and owner of On Water Yoga.

"Since coming across it in February [2015], I have used Mudras for Healing and Transformation in nearly every one of my yoga sessions; it has become a key part of my yoga toolbox," says DeLong.

"This book would be helpful for those who want to deepen their practice of yoga, want help in overcoming disease or stress, or are interested in health and wholeness. This book demystifies the 108 mudras [Sanskrit for "gesture"; holding your hands in prayer pose, for instance, is a mudra], giving the science behind them, how to perform each one, the therapeutic benefits, and when to use them, all in a handy spiral binding, perfect for yoga practice."

Book: The Secret to Success, by Eric Thomas

Recommended by Chris Cooper, NSCA-CPT, fitness trainer and owner of Active Movement and Performance in Massapequa Park, NY.

"I read The Secret to Success fully about a year ago, but keep going back here and there for inspiration and motivation. It's got a lot of great teaching tips to help you be successful no matter what you’re doing. And it reminds you that success is a journey. That would be the best lesson. It also reminds you that rejection is all part of the game and it's all in how you respond: Do you get down or do you get driven?"

Book: The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential…in Business and in Life, by Leo Babauta

Recommended by Stephen Box, CFT, certified fitness trainer and owner of Stephen Box Fitness and Nutrition, in the Suwanee, Georgia area.

"I first read the book this past July, and it had a big impact on me personally. At the time I was launching my new training business and like most entrepreneurs was trying to wear too many hats. The biggest lesson I took from the book was the value of focusing on just one thing at a time.

"The author shares the interesting statistic that following one new habit at a time gives you an 85 percent success rate, [following] two new habits at once drops your success rate to 35 percent, and [following] three or more new habits at once drops your success rate to less than 10 percent," Box points out. "I often find that my clients also try to do too much at once. They want to come in and start working out consistently, change their entire diet overnight, change their sleep patterns, and do numerous other things all in the first week. Because I know that approach doesn't work, the first thing I do is recommend this book."

Book: The Dorito Effect:The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor, by Mark Shatzker

Recommended by Jamie Logie, a nutritionist and personal trainer located in London, Ontario, Canada, who runs

"This book is all about the creation of artificial flavors, and the science that goes into our senses being hijacked to crave the foods we don't need. I recommend this book all the time to people I train, and on podcast episodes and blog articles.

"I eat relatively well," Logie says, "but this really got me up to speed with avoiding 'natural flavors,' as the book shows how the process of making these 'natural flavors' is not any different than the process that creates artificial ones.

"I want people to take away the importance of eating real whole food that's found in nature. When you eat food with artificial flavor, you’re tricking the brain into believing it’s getting nourished. It then starts to crave these foods with fake flavorings, as your brain now associates them as something you need."

Book: Fitness at 40, 50, 60 and Beyond, by Michael Spitzer

Recommended by Josh Anderson, M.S. PT, and Founder of DIY Active, a website that offers nutrition and fitness advice.

"Fitness at 40, 50, 60 and Beyond is seriously full of sound fitness, nutrition, and motivational tips that anyone can use," Anderson says. "While it was written for an older generation, the tips and practical advice are laid out in a step-by-step approach to fitness and nutrition, making it easy to follow. [The book can] help anyone take control of their health! From recipes to exercise examples, anyone can benefit from the information.

"The best lesson [from this book] is that no matter what your age, you can start to improve your health with a proper diet and exercise. Whether you’re just starting out at age 18 or are 68 years old, the practical approach to weight lifting and eating healthy can improve your life. It's never too late to start exercising."

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

Recommended by Kristian Henderson, MPH, wellness coach, fitness instructor, health guru, and blogger at

This isn't a book about fitness, per se, but "The Alchemist presents a simple fable, based on simple truths.... I have found that no matter where I am in my life, there is always a new lesson in The Alchemist for me to learn from. My favorite quote from the book is 'There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure,'" Henderson says. While the book doesn’t give any specific fitness advice, the lessons it imparts are inspiring and can motivate you to shoot for big goals, ultimately pushing you to stretch your workouts to new heights.

Kristian Henderson, MPH, reviewed this article.


Anderson, Josh, M.S. PT. DIY Active. Email interview, Dec. 23, 2015.

Box, Stephen. Stephen Box Fitness & Nutrition. Email interview, Dec. 23, 2015.

Cooper, Chris, NSCA-CPT. Active Movement and Performance. Email interview, Dec. 23, 2015.

DeLong, Audrey. Email interview, Dec. 23 2015.

Henderson, Kristian, MPH. Email interview, Dec. 23, 2015.

Kelly, Bruce, MS, CSCS, CFSC. Fitness Together Media. Email interview, Dec. 23, 2015.

Logie, Jamie. Email interview, Dec. 23, 2015.