I have spent all of my 53-plus years on this Earth without being tempted by inspirational self-help books.
When inspired to be better, I tend to respond, “No, I’m good.”
I’m a safe and easy-going person, or maybe I’m just lazy. In both cases the result is the same.
But a literal flood of 2023 books written by Peloton instructors has made me reconsider my no-self-help stance because I can’t deny my admiration for these people who talk to me through the screen, encouraging me on my “fitness journey” almost every day.
That’s right folks, after years of casually exercising following my high school and college (club) athletic career, I’m in the middle of a 129-week Peloton workout streak. I’m on track to log more than 20,000 minutes of activity on the platform in 2023.
The most recent release is Cody Rigsby’s “XOXO, Cody: An Opinionated Gay’s Guide to Self-Love, Relationships, and Subtle Pettiness”; This title captures Rigsby’s Peloton personality very well. By the flawed (but still useful) measure of his Instagram followers (1.3 million), Rigsby is the most famous Peloton instructor, a bona fide B-list celebrity who previously appeared on “Dancing with the Stars.”
What makes Rigsby so popular on the platform is his incessant monologue of jokes, comments, and anecdotes that allow you to delve into his inner world, too distracting for me from an exercise standpoint, but also perhaps making him the most likely Peloton instructor to produce. It’s a fun book.
Earlier this year, Ben Alldis, who is the exact opposite of Rigsby in terms of his approach to virtual fitness coaching, wrote “Raise the Bar: How to Push Your Limits and Build a Stronger Future for You.” published his book. Unlike Rigsby, Alldis is always on top form, a relentlessly positive presence who encourages you to “bring the heat” while subjecting you to a playlist of dance club “hitters.” When you watch the joy he takes doing raises, curls, and squats, you think there must be some hidden depth to his fitness classes that goes unseen. Maybe it will appear in the book. I have to admit, I’m curious.
Emma Lovewell’s motto “progress, not perfection” is featured in her book “Live Well, Learn Love: Lessons from an Imperfect Life of Progress,” and it’s a good indication of why she’s one of my favorite instructors. He offers a mix of Alldis positivity and the tough gym coach who has a taste in music similar to my own. Lovewell’s book reads like a complete lifestyle guide; how to literally live your best life as a six-pack-packed Martha Stewart with a huge organic garden at your cottage, a beautiful fitness instructor-turned-model. (I’m afraid that ship has sailed for yours on many fronts.)
Finally, Alex Toussaint’s song “Activate Your Greatness” will be released in October. Toussaint is a favorite with celebrities and is known for his grueling journeys that are said to make you the best you can be, but this left me feeling sick to my stomach and wondering why I was doing this. I avoid his classes like the plague, but each one has its own lesson.
Looking at the variety of books perhaps explains why Peloton has become so popular. There is a must have connection for everyone. Rigsby is your friend, Aldiss your coach, Lovewell your inspiration and Toussaint your training instructor.
Considering I’ve spent over 200 hours with these people this year alone, I’m obviously buying what these people are selling. Maybe it’s time to go beyond the screen and spend time with them on the page.
John Warner is the author of “Why They Can’t Write: Killing the Five-Paragraph Essay and Other Requirements.”
Book recommendations from Biblioracle
John Warner tells you what you should read, based on the last five books you’ve read.
1. “Heroes of Mercy Street: Real Nurses of the Civil War” By Pamela Toler
2. “Moloka’I” By Alan Brennert
3. “Rest is Resistance” By Tricia Hersey
4. “Sleepers: Dr. Jim O’Connell’s Urgent Mission to Bring Healing to the Homeless” By Tracy Kidder
5. “I Have Some Questions for You” By Rebecca Makkai
—Cindy N., LaGrange
I recommend Cindy a book that is basically about recovery in all its dimensions because it seems to fit the list of “The English Patient” by Michael Ondaatje.
1. “The Color of Water” by James McBride
2. “Extraordinary Reader” By Alan Bennett
3. “Protector” By Claire Keegan
4. “Everyone in My Family Killed Someone” by Benjamin Stevenson
5. “Tom Lake” By Ann Patchett
—Jenna P., Chicago
“Flight” by Lynn Steger Strong, a beautiful but also intense family drama for Jenna.
1. “It Starts with Us” By Colleen Hoover
2. “To Hell and Back” by Craig Johnson
3. “Bittersweet” By Colleen McCullough
4. “Hello Beautiful” By Ann Napolitano
5. “Saltworks Place” By Jamie Lee Sogn
— Willa R., Orland Park
Every once in a while I like to find someone who might not have read Larry McMurtry’s all-time classic “Lonesome Dove” and recommend it because really, it’s a book that everyone should probably read.
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Send a list of the last five books you read and your hometown to: email@example.com