Woman lifting a barbell

“Success in business requires training and discipline and hard work. But if you’re not frightened by these things, the opportunities are just as great today as they ever were.”  It’s a quote from David Rockefeller, and a great dose of motivation and hope for business owners. 

And it’s true. Great success is waiting around the bend, but you have to be willing to continue learning and innovating. Reading biographies, blogs, and books by thought leaders – then putting the wisdom to work – is one way to set yourself up for the success Rockefeller spoke of.  

If this way of learning interests you, take a break from your fitness management software and check out this list of some of our favorite books for fitness entrepreneurs.  

Two-Brain Business: Grow Your Gym

By: Chris Cooper

CrossFit Catalyst owner and founder of Two-Brain Business, Chris Cooper, penned this must-have guide to owning, running, and thriving with a fitness business 

Two-Brain Business focuses on strategies for developing a successful small business from the standpoint of left- and right-brained activities. Left-brain involves the decision-making aspects of entrepreneurship, while the right-brain involves the creative, visionary elements that make your business uniquely yours.  

Useful to virtually all small business owners (even those not in the fitness industry), we recommend that anyone interested in growing a business read this book.  

Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

By: Simon Sinek

Inspired by a selection of real-life experiences, Start With Why delivers an evocative account of why some people end up more successful than others.  

A powerful and motivating examination of world leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., Steve Jobs, and members of Congress, the book demonstrates the central, underlying similarities that define leaders. If you’re looking to stand out in the fitness world and command the attention of new clients, get started by reading this book.  

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business: 

By: Charles Duhigg

Ever wonder what makes certain people strive for more and more each year while others settle for less? Have you considered the factors that separate the products that fly from the shelves from those that don’t? 

These questions can all be answered by examining habits. The Power of Habit explores how simple behaviors performed everyday by individuals, companies, and societies can lead to greatness. Once you understand the cycle of habits, you can change them to work in your favor.  

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t

By: Jim Collins

American business consultant Jim Collins set out to determine whether a good company could transform itself into a great company. After studying nearly 1,500 companies, Collins came up with an answer and he shares it in Good to Great 

But here’s the interesting part: transformation doesn’t come through the methods many would expect. A great company doesn’t need a revolutionary CEO. No, a great company is built with a superior company culture and engaged individuals who drive that company into greatness.  

The Magic of Thinking Big

By David Schwartz

Thank David Schwartz for this enduring tome that defines the true secrets of success. It may seem like a lofty goal, but after more than three and a half decades, this book is still changing lives and mindsets.  

Its premise: Raise the bar on your life to fulfill all your dreams. The Magic of Thinking Big is a classic manual on how to maximize your career, relationships, and community. Pick it up and you’ll be glad you read it.  

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It

By: Michael E. Gerber 

What is an entrepreneur, and why do they go into business? What can get in the way of running your business? Michael E. Gerber answers these questions by exploring the myth of the entrepreneur.  

The E-Myth Revisited dispels the myths about who gets into business and how to be a successful entrepreneur. Whether you’re years into running your fitness business or just starting out, this book can help you draw the line between working in your business and working on your business. We recommend this book for any small business owners wanting to develop their entrepreneurial perspective and make measurable improvements 

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win 

By: Jocko Willink and Leif Babin  

These enthralling accounts of heroism and loss from the perspective of Jocko Willink and Leif Babin’s SEAL Team task unit explore the concept of leadership.  

Leadership is the most important factor in a team’s success or failure. Willink and Babin share how the SEAL unit’s mindset and leadership principles can contribute to a successful business in Extreme Ownership. If you want to develop your leadership skills, this book will challenge your perspective and help you succeed in any leadership environment.  

Change Maker: Turn Your Passion for Health and Fitness into a Powerful Purpose and a Wildly Successful Career 

By: John Berardi 

There is so much information out there for those new to the fitness industry, and it can be difficult to make sense of it all when you’re just starting out. John Berardi condenses it all down to one roadmap in Change Maker 

From trainers to nutritionists, anyone looking for guidance about turning their fitness passion into a career can find direction in this guide. Berardi covers logistical, practical, psychological, and financial issues that everyone in the fitness industry needs to know. If you want to know how to get clients, build your reputation and relationships, and more, you can get started with this book.  

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High 

By: Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler, and Emily Gregory  

You can’t run a successful business without good communication. Crucial Conversations gives you the communication tools you need to navigate difficult conversations and get the results you want.  

When your business is fueled by passion, emotions can sometimes run high and lead to difficult conversations. With the right skills, you can keep high-stakes conversations productive regardless of the topic at hand. If you want to improve your communication skills, this book will give you the tools to do so.  

Thinking, Fast and Slow 

By: Daniel Kahneman  

Have you ever wondered why we think the way we think? Daniel Kahneman, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes you on a tour of your mind to answer that question in Thinking, Fast and Slow 

Cognitive bias can impact every aspect of our lives, including how businesses are run. By examining the emotional and logical systems in our brain, Kahneman shares where we can and can’t trust our intuition. With insight into how those choices are made, you can protect against biases that can influence your judgment.  

Whether you have an established fitness business or you’re considering starting one, these inspirational business books will give you a nudge in the right direction. Happy reading!  

Article originally published June 2015 and updated May 2022.  

Ready to take the next step for your fitness business? Zen Planner is here to help. We pride ourselves on catering our proven gym management and billing solutions to the particular needs of your gym. Reach out today and book a live demo to see everything Zen Planner has to offer! 


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