When I say “fitness writing” to you, what usually comes to mind? For many people it’s the glossy magazines in the grocery checkout featuring sexy abs, impossible tiny bikini bottoms, and provocative poses.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. The smartest, strongest people I know in the fitness game hardly ever read those magazines. That’s not to belittle the glossies or dismiss their function: I’ll grab the ten sexy tips men’s magazine for a long flight just like anyone else. But The general point is that busy people with complicated jobs or lives don’t have time to seek out a broader range of information, so they rely on those periodicals. Allow me then to introduce you to a broader range of information.
I’ve compiled a list of the people whose material I find myself most often sharing with clients or using for my own fitness. My hope is that the list isn’t quite what you’re expecting. Sure, you’ll find some exercise tips, but you’ll also find the intersection of economics and food, empathy, and elite-level powerlifting. Try following some of these experts on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram and see if the way you think about health and fitness doesn’t evolve. Everyone on this list has made me a better coach through the sheer quantity of free, concise, and thoughtful material they’ve given to the public.
For the record, none of these people could pick me out of a lineup, and I’ve never met any of them. But their public personas at least are helpful, practical, and sometimes even a little soulful.
Kelly McGonigal — McGonigal’s 2013 TED Talk called “How to make stress your friend” dramatically shifted the way I coach my clients. The basic premise behind her research and talk is that how we think about stress can alter its impact on our lives. She emphasizes the positive effect of empathy and caring for others on our own lives and health, and makes a strong claim that “the harmful effects of stress on your health are not inevitable.”
Jen Sinkler — What distinguishes Sinkler from a lot of the fitness crowd is not just her national-level rugby experience, her competitive powerlifting experience, or even the fact that she’s helped puncture the stereotypes of what a sexy woman is “supposed” to look like. What distinguishes Sinkler from the rest of the crowd is that she can write her ass off. Sinkler’s approach to fitness is inclusive, fun, and when the time is right–intense. Not a bad combination.
Roberto Ferdman — Ferdman writes about food, culture, and economics for the Washington Post in a way that elevates the discussion surrounding the latest health studies beyond banal attempts at provocation. When he writes about studies—such as in two really fantastic articles about poverty and nutrition here and here—he adds context, nuance, and reporting. You know, journalism. He’s not a “fitness writer,” but if you care about public policy’s impact on health you ought to be reading him.
Juggernaut Training Systems — This is where I go when I want to learn how to get stronger. The view I have of my own lane of the road is that I help translate information from guys like Juggernaut founder Chad Wesley Smith—whose carnival-like Instagram feed regularly features him squatting 800 pounds, bench pressing 500 pounds, and deadlifting well over 700 pounds—to regular folks like teachers and lawyers. I borrow heavily from his programming to fuel my own workouts and my efficacy as a coach grew exponentially the day I discovered his material online. If you want to know strong, get to know Juggernaut. You might not get to a 700-pound deadlift, but you can use his training principles nonetheless.
Tony Gentilcore — Like Sinkler, Gentilcore is a strong writer and strong coach with a background in athletic performance. His website regularly features a roundup of solid fitness material he calls “Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work.” His online persona is helpful, detail-oriented, and serious without any of the brotastic bravado you might expect from someone as accomplished and physically strong as he is.