Fitness Lessons from the Temple of Doom

Fitness Lessons from Indiana Jones

AKA What Dr. Indiana Jones taught me about life.

Before I begin, I want to apologize to all you loyal readers out there.

In case you haven’t noticed, a full 2 weeks has gone by since I dropped a dose of super heroic knowledge on the Internet.

While I might be a gigantic nerd, my arch nemesis is definitely programming/coding (and spider webs, and sharks, and bed-head, and… well you get the idea,) and some back-end issues arose that required my attention.

I wish I could have banged them out quickly and gracefully, but instead I dealt with them by sobbing and screaming “why?!?” at my monitor a lot. And since this website isn’t how I support myself (seriously, buy more books people!) I had to take my own advice and prioritize things a little.

Hence the delay.

Hopefully today’s pile-o-words is so awesome that you will forgive me though!

I took a poll on Twitter and Facebook asking what movie franchise people wanted to see me turn into my next article. The overwhelming response?

Indiana Jones.

While I love me some Star Wars, and the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit have a special place in my nerd origin story, I am hard-pressed to not say Indiana Jones is probably my favorite cinematic protagonist of all time!

What’s not to love about him?

He’s a scholar and an adventurer, he travels the globe and discovers hidden treasures, his dad is James Bond and he gets to punch Nazis in the face!

Does it get any better than that?!?

And while Indiana Jones might be fictional, it isn’t going to stop me from drawing some inspiration from him (half my heroes are fictional characters anyway)! So let’s break down why this fedora wearing hero is so freaking awesome and all the great fitness, and life, lessons we can learn from him and his trilogy of adventures.

Yes, I said trilogy.

First person to utter the words “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” gets Batman kicked in the spleen… go ahead, say them; I dare you.

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Okay, now that is out of the way, what have I learned from Dr. Jones?!?

Get Smart!

Fitness Lessons from Indiana Jones 2

What was the first thing that really struck me about Indiana Jones? Was it the whip? The hat? The roguish charm?


It was the fact he was a college professor in his spare time!

Before he embarked on a life of treasure hunting and adventures he was a learned man, and that fact informed how he approached all the obstacles in his life.

Did Indy just walk out into the desert, with a shovel, and start randomly digging in the sand hoping to find the Ark of the Covenant; or how about just wandering aimlessly looking under random couches for the Holy Grail?

Of course not.

See, by the time Dr. Jones was ready to find his treasure he already understood it inside and out.

“Professor of archeology, expert on the occult, and how does one say it? Obtainer of rare antiquities.” – Major Eaton, Raiders of the Lost Ark

Not only did he already have a baseline understanding of what he was searching for in his head from years of schooling, but once he identified his goal he put down the whip and the fedora and cracked open the books!

He read, researched, and absorbed everything he could find on the subject. Books. Stories. Scraps of ancient maps. Everything!

If a piece of information existed, he found it. And then like the good archeologist that he was, he cross-referenced and tested it to separate fact from myth.

Indiana Jones was the inspiration for the 6th Law of the Jerd-Herd!

A little bit of research upfront goes a long way my friends. It doesn’t matter what your goal or objective is; it could be losing weight, finally doing a pull-up, getting your blood pressure under control or hunting down the missing Sivalinga stone.

It really doesn’t matter.

Research, study and absorb as much information as possible about your topic of choice. Reach out to other people; learn from their successes and mistakes. Become a scholar!

Don’t be discouraged when your quest for information nets you conflicting information or ideologies either. That is all part of the journey!

If all anyone had to do was read a map and find the lost city of Tanis it wouldn’t have been much of an accomplishment, would it? Luckily (because it would have made for a boring movie otherwise) there were all sorts of conflicting stories and data that Indy had to comb through to make sure he got to the Well of Souls before the Nazis!

You just need to remember to take that conflicting information and use it as an inspiration to research even further! The more you know about a subject, the better educated you are, the less likely you will be to make critical mistakes or fail at your quest.

Knowledge allows you formulate achievable goals.

Want to be a word-class Judo expert? You don’t just step on the mats, throw people on their head repeatedly and hope for the best. World-class athletes are laser focused in their approach to training and competition, in addition to all the time spent on the tatami they watch countless hours of video footage, read the classics, travel to where the best coaches are, etc… If you want to become an expert in Judo (like our friend Nick Delpopolo), become an expert on researching Judo.

Want to become a ripped athlete all the while being a vegetarian? Eliminating meat from your diet is all well and good if that’s your thing, but doing it without a plan can leave you unhealthier than when you started if you aren’t careful! Start doing your research – learn from experts in their field, read five other books on the science of vegetarian nutrition, subscribe to ten vegetarian-based health blogs.  You get the picture! Learn it, adopt it, repeat.

Just want to lose some weight? We already know that “dieting” is a joke, so that’s not going to cut it. Time to dig back into the books! Read a few well thought out books on the subject [shamelessplug] And of course start with mine first![/shamelessplug], put a shopping plan together, learn to cook a bunch of healthy meals, try out a few different exercise programs to see what suits you. Fill your brain with all the knowledge it needs so you can pick a method that works for you!

Once you have the research out of the way, you can get down to the fun stuff!

Have Adventures!

Fitness Lessons from Indiana Jones 3

Dr. Jones is a world-renowned archaeologist, a popular college professor and quite the ladies’ man as well.

He could have spent his life living large as only an archaeology professor in the 1930’s could, but he didn’t. Instead he faced deathtrap after deathtrap, got betrayed by Doctor Octopus, fought Nazis, narrowly avoided getting his face melted off, and much, much more. But why?!?

Because having adventures is awesome, that’s why!

Fortunately for the movie-going public, Indy didn’t want to settle for a life of academia. He knew that all the studying and research in the world doesn’t get you anywhere if you don’t act on it!

While the research was necessary to lay the foundation, it was acting on it that knowledge that ended up proving the existence of the Holy Grail (and reconciled his relationship with his father to boot!)

And don’t be afraid to make mistakes!

Half the fun of these movies is watching Indy screw things up and then find fun and creative ways to get himself out of the situation he created!

Your research is just your starting point, a way to help you draw a map from where you are now to where you want to go.

“X marks the spot.” – Indiana Jones, The Last Crusade

I will also help minimize your mishaps and pitfalls; notice I said “minimize” not “eliminate”.

You are going to make mistakes, have setbacks, head down the wrong path, etc… it’s okay. It happens to the best of us!

Just remember, whether the mistake is big or small, to learn from it and move on.

Go get off your couch, out of your house and leave your comfort zones behind!

Your adventures can be anything, as long as you have fun doing them!

It could be:


Just have fun with it, and when you are done with one get ready for the sequel and start planning for the next!

You have to remember, going from geek to a real-life superhero of Indiana Jones’ caliber is not something that happens over night. Each piece of knowledge you absorb, each little improvement you make in your life, each adventure you undertake, they all add up over time!

Think of about that cool map that they use to help us keep track of where Dr. Jones is as the movies progress. Does Indy just magically teleport around the globe? No, he travels via red dashes obviously! Think of each of those dashes as the steps you need to take to get from where you are to where you want to be.

I find it is much easier to avoid getting overwhelmed looking at how far away your goal might be if you just fill up the space between here and there with fun adventures.

Don’t settle for just dreaming about doing cool stuff and looking and feeling your best. You deserve more than that!

Dreams are cool, but to accomplish them it requires preparation and action and sometimes the willingness to…


Fitness Lessons from Indiana Jones 4

Research got Dr. Jones in the reasonable vicinity of the artifacts he was tracking down; it even allowed him to skirt a few traps and solve a few puzzles here and there.

What it didn’t prepare him for though were Nazis, tribes of pissed off natives, pits of snakes and all around bad luck!

It is how he dealt with all this adversity that makes Indiana Jones so fun to watch!

He kept his cool (and his hat) when stuff hit the fan and was ready to switch things up as necessary without losing sight of his goals.

“I don’t know, I’m making this up as I go!” – Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark

I am pretty sure Indy never planned on almost getting his heart ripped out (“Kali Ma!”), but did he pack up his things and run home after that harrowing experience?


He managed to escape and kept working towards finding/freeing all the children enslaved under Pankot’s Palace. Because that’s what heroes do.

Now, I don’t expect you to have to deal with giant boulders rolling towards you to crush you every time you try and set foot in the gym, or for German spies to try and hunt you down whenever you avoid the junk food aisle at the grocery store, but things happen.

Now matter how well researched your plan is, life will conspire to get in the way.

Illnesses, business trips, money trouble, family obligations, etc… these things are going to happen and you are going to have to make some adjustments to stay on track.

Find yourself on the road for business for long periods of time? Remember to pack your workout clothes and try to reserve rooms with mini-fridges so you can still hit the grocery store for healthy foods.

Return home after working late only to remember you forgot to grocery shop? Don’t cave in and order pizza, see it as an opportunity to create a new healthy recipe from whatever random healthy stuff is in your kitchen.

The hotel you booked for your family vacation doesn’t have a gym? Have a few quick bodyweight exercise routines in your arsenal so you can stay on track with quick hotel room workouts.

Nazis have captured your love interest and are escaping with her and the Ark of the Covenant in a U-Boat? Take a deep breath, lash yourself to the periscope with your whip and hope for the best!

The specifics aren’t that important. What’s matters is that you are prepared to be flexible, not to lose you’re your cool and to adapt as the need arises.

Once you are able to handle all of that, you can really get down to why Indy is my favorite hero of all time.

Be An Individual!

Fitness Lessons from Indiana Jones 5

This might start a nerd holy war, but I am going to just come right out and say it…

Indiana Jones is cooler than Han Solo.

Look, I love that stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf-herder as much as the next guy, but he doesn’t hold a candle to Indiana Jones when it comes to being a rare and unique hero!

While the 30s and 40s were filled with pulp heroes that were just as equally at home studying for hours in libraries as they were duking it out with dastardly villains, Raiders of the Lost Ark was the first time I had seen mental acuity and physicality rolled into one character.

That was a combination that really stood out to me, and for my generation Indiana Jones was definitely a Jerd (that’s Jock+Nerd for those who haven’t been paying attention) to be looked up to!

“Hey, Dr. Jones, no time for love.” – Short Round, Temple of Doom

He truly had a passion for archaeology, was well versed in religion and mythology, traveled all over the world, rocked a cool hat, cracked a mean whip, and he never let an adventure get in the way of enjoying the company of the opposite sex.

That’s a combo of interests you don’t see very often, and I am pretty sure he didn’t give a crap what anyone thought either!

Most importantly he held strong to his beliefs, even if they were unpopular!

No one believed that the Ark of the Covenant or the Holy Grail were real. People all around him thought he was wasting his time chasing fairytales and legends. They told him to be realistic, that these things were impossibilities… and he told them to suck it!

He didn’t care what other people thought!

He had done the research, he knew what was possible, and he was going to get out there and find what he was looking for all the while not sacrificing who he was or what he believed in.

It’s a pretty epic way to live your life if you think about it.

Don’t think that because you want to get in shape, you have to give up playing video games or reading comics. Don’t think that if you played sports your whole life, shunning anything nerdy, that you can’t pick up some J.R.R. Tolkein and get your elf on.

These things are not mutually exclusive (see Jerd-Herd Law #4)!

I am pretty sure Indy is the type of person who wouldn’t give a crap what people thought if he decided one day that he wanted to take up ballet or yoga as a way to get more flexible, if he woke up one day deciding that he wanted to play Dungeons & Dragons, or if he wanted to become a vegetarian.

Nope, he would just put on his hat, grab his satchel and whip, and go pursue his next adventure. Public perception be damned!

And don’t think that because you have lived a certain way your whole life that you can’t make serious changes!

Been skinny since puberty? You can pack on muscle and feel confident walking down the beach! It just takes the right foods and a serious workout program.

Been overweight your whole life? You can shed those pounds and feel better about yourself! You just have to figure out how many calories to eat and start developing positive habits.

Been lazy and unmotivated? You can stop being a couch potato! It is going to mean examining your priorities and working on your willpower a little but you can do it…

All it takes is some research, epic adventures, a willingness to improvise and staying true to who you are and you can accomplish anything you set your mind to in life.

I urge all of you…

Be Like Indy.

Fitness Lessons from Indiana Jones 6

What adventure have you been putting off in life? What’s your personal Holy Grail or Ark of the Covenant? What can you start researching right now to prepare you for an epic adventure in life? What’s one thing you can learn about to help you live a healthier life?

Let me know in the comments below! That way I can be like Sallah and try to help you!

(Photo #1 credit, Photo #2 credit, Photo #3 credit, Photo #4 credit, Photo #5 credit, Photo #6 credit)

PS: Can you believe I made it through this whole article without making one “whip yourself into shape” joke? Me either.

PPS: Make sure to get your free e-book, “The 7 Fitness Obstacles Newbies Face” by subscribing to our newsletter… no spam, I promise!

  • Join Our Superhero Team of Awesome

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *