Looking to learn something new in 2018? Take a break from the Internet and try picking up a book! We talked to studio and gym owners about their must-read book recommendations for those in the fitness business.

For mastering communication skills:

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High
By Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler 

Crucial Conversations is a strategic guide to teach people how to handle difficult, yet necessary conversations. When there is a lot on the line, people will enter a discussion with intense emotions that can make it a sensitive situation. Rather than avoiding those conversations or reacting defensively, this book gives actionable advice on how to have constructive conversation rather than a combative one.

According to Noam Tamir, founder of TS Fitness, this is an important read for any fitness business owner. “In the fitness industry there is a lot of gray area as to what fitness systems, exercises, nutrition, recovery is the best.  Being able to keep an open mind and understanding for people’s perspectives is paramount.”

Tamir believes that having open communication is important for retaining staff and creating loyal clients because you provide them with an environment in which they feel safe to discuss their ideas and offer helpful feedback—even if you don’t always agree with it. For him, this book is a must-read because it lays out exactly how you should approach sensitive, high-stakes conversations with a calm, open demeanor that will result in productive discussions.

For strategies for long-lasting success:

Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies
By James Collins and Jerry Porras

After a six-year study at Stanford University Graduate School of Business, James Collins and Jerry Porras wrote a book about their research comparing companies to see what the underlying factors were that led some to succeed while others stagnated. They offer hundreds of case studies on companies like Boeing, General Electric, Colgate, Merck, Wal-Mart, Hewlett-Packard, Walt Disney, Procter & Gamble, and Motorola—to name a few—and analyze what actions the leaders of these companies took that you might follow or avoid in your own business strategy.

For Reformation Fitness co-owner Mike Huling, this book shaped his approach to business. The key lesson he gleaned from Built to Last: “Don’t feel like you have to be everything to everyone. Know what values truly drive your organization and culture regardless of what you actually do—build your company (studio) around those principles.”

For yogis ready to take the leap to business owner:

The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga: The Yoga Professional’s Guide to a Fulfilling Career
By Amy Ippoliti and Taro Smith

In this book, renowned yoga teacher Amy Ippoliti along with scientist and former elite athlete Taro Smith fill in the gaps that many yoga teacher training programs leave, namely how to actually make yoga a career. The guide is for newly trained teachers and long-time yoga professionals to get new insights into how to create a loyal following, craft engaging classes, be financially stable, market effectively, establish a brand and inspire students. All of these lessons can also be applied outside of the yoga mat as well!

Owner and instructor of Collegeville Yoga Bar Stefania Davidse highly recommends this book, sharing that it’s “a great resource for anyone from an independent contractor yoga teacher to a business owner.” She references it often and incorporates it into her teaching training program, too.

For help with avoiding common small business mistakes:

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

After spending years as a small-business consultant, Michael Gerber took all that he learned from this work and created a definitive how-to guide for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to start, lead, and grow a successful business.  Gerber discovered that many business owners who knew the ins-and-outs of the technical side of their business did not know how to be entrepreneurs. This book explains where business owners might go wrong and lays out a groundwork to find success.

Founder and CEO of DanceBody Katia Pryce considers this a book that every fitness business owner should have on their shelf, calling it, “the entrepreneur starter kit book, to see if you want to, and should, be pursuing this dream.”

For anyone looking to increase productivity:

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

The Power of Habit explains the science of habit formation, a 3-part process called the “habit loop” and how to harness it to improve our lives. By studying how constructive habit formation has affected everything from brushing our teeth to the success of major corporations, business reporter Charles Duhigg sheds light on how to hack human potential. Duhigg shows how the secret to increasing productivity, running a successful business, losing weight, and exercising regularly lies in understanding how habitual behaviors work.

Marty Lavine, owner of PUSH Gym considers this a must-read for fitness people in general!