The best fitness films of Netflix

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Treasury of Dwayne Johnson films, saviour of evenings in. If you’ve got a Netflix subscription you’ve no doubt trawled it for classics – but perhaps these inspiring and informative documentaries slipped through your eye-net. And if you haven’t got one? Well, you could always sign up for a free trial, watch this lot, and then cancel it. Tell them we sent you.

Pumping iron 

The original, and still the best. If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to become a seven-time Mr Olympia – including lying, mind games, threatening to sleep with your main competitor’s sister, and workouts that would kill a medium-sized gorilla – this Schwarzenegger-focused documentary is required viewing. It also contains Arnie explaining why training is better than sex, IFBB Hall of Famer Ed Corney collapsing after a merciless set of squats and former Hulk Lou Ferrigno bellowing ‘Arnold!’ after every rep of a set of shoulder presses. Glorious.

Supersize me 

Yes, it’s exaggerated in places, but Morgan Spurlock’s attempt to live on nothing but McDonald’s for 30 days is still informative, terrifying viewing. From the ads tricks fast-food companies use to the actual effect all that sugar and processed meat has on a human body, it’ll put you off burgers for at least, oh, let’s say a day.

Food, Inc. 

Still buying the No Frills chicken? That’s about to change. Once you’ve seen 700 hens squashed into a cage made for half that number – and then deprived of sunlight – you’ll probably rethink the expense of going free range, if not for your own peace of mind then for the good of your health. You’ll probably also rethink your meat consumption, which may be no bad thing.

The art of flight 

Into snowboarding? Actually, it doesn’t really matter. Even if the only powder you get close to this winter is at the bottom of your protein shaker, this documentary – following Travis Rice’s far-flung exploits in search of fresh lines and showing just how far it’s possible to go in pursuit of a dream – is fascinating. And if you like snowboarding, you’ll love it. Probably.

The short game

You train hard, right? Wrong. Compared with the wannabe-pro golfers training to make the tour in this documentary, your toughest week in the gym looks, well, a bit soft. Watch the tears and tribulations and maybe you’ll summon up the motivation to make future performances… (puts on sunglasses)… above-par. Sorry. 

Joel Snape

From 2008 to 2018, Joel worked for Men's Fitness, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Though he spent years running the hills of Bath, he’s since ditched his trainers for a succession of Converse high-tops, since they’re better suited to his love of pulling vans, lifting cars, and hefting logs in a succession of strongman competitions.