What Kung-Fu Panda can teach you about fitness

What Kung-Fu Panda can teach you about fitness

Did you ever see the movie, Kung-Fu Panda?

It’s genuinely a favourite of mine.

It’s got a top cast, brilliant music, fun scenes, a great character arc and a ton of wisdom!

Read on for 4 things Kung-Fu Panda can teach you about fitness.

Kung-Fu Panda
1. The right environment is key.

Po is a clumsy panda. He dreams of learning the art of kung-fu. But finding himself stuck working in his dad’s noodle shop, he is unable to realise his dream.

Only when Po – albeit fortuitously – puts himself in the right environment, does he begin to move towards his goal.

Suddenly he is amongst peers who already live the kung-fu life. And he is exposed to proper instruction from the experienced Master Shifu.

2. Change is hard at the start …and messy in the middle.

Of course, being a clumsy panda, it is hard at the start.

Po goes through the change curve, experiencing shock, denial, frustration and depression.

True change is identity change. It is a notoriously difficult process that requires navigating setbacks, discomfort and low moods.

Po suffers a lot at this stage. He is on the verge of quitting and going back to making noodles.

He finds a mentor in Grandmaster Oogway who helps Po let go of outcomes and focus on the present.

3. It’s easier when your goals align with your values.

It seems impossible for Po to learn kung-fu. After all, what’s required is in opposition to all of his natural panda-like behaviours and tendencies.

That is until Master Shifu realises that focus and concentration aren’t enough. The other kung fu warriors are literally different beasts and it’s futile to attempt to train Po in the same way.

Instead, Shifu must leverage what Po values most – in this case food! – in order to tap into a deeper sense of motivation and purpose.

4. Ultimately, the secret lies within you.

Po learns kung-fu.

But with the evil Tai Lung approaching, hell bent on destroying the valley, the stakes become higher than ever.

To become the Dragon Warrior and save the valley, Po is given the Dragon Scroll – a sacred document said to contain the secret to unlimited power.

But the scroll is blank.

Po’s arc is complete when he realises that there is no secret. The scroll isn’t blank; it’s a mirror. The secret lies within him.


In fitness, we’re all prone to looking outside ourselves for the secret.

Diets, programmes and solutions are marketed with a level of sophistication than can make them irresistible.

The reality is, though, there is no secret.

It’s about putting yourself in the right environment, with the right people, instruction and support.

It’s about linking your goals to your values and matching your behaviours to your goals.

And when things get difficult – and they will! – it’s about doing the work and embracing the discomfort of change rather than distracting yourself with another exciting new solution. (With respect, how many have you tried already?).

This work cannot be outsourced because, after all – just as Po discovered – the secret lies within you.

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