Defining Fitness

What is fitness? Though the dictionary defines fitness as; “The condition of being physically fit and healthy”, there has yet to be any significant measuring tool that can adequately access fitness across all the different physiological components, simultaneously.

Yes, there are various fitness tests/evaluations that can be done to determine a baseline model of one’s general fitness and possible capacity for fitness progression but, these tests/evaluations are rather limited and can only determine certain thresholds/capacities, with no regard to other thresholds/capacities.

Though a battery of tests can be conducted in order to obtain as much baseline data as possible, there will always be gaps and voids in the understanding of individual fitness and the limits of human workload capacity of each physiological system.

Typically, one’s level of fitness is a direct byproduct of the type of training they are regularly performing. A marathoner may be conditioned to run a great 26.2 miles but, very likely would struggle to bench press their own body weight. On the other hand, an olympic powerlifter very easily could struggle to run a 10 minute mile.

The human body is one amazing piece of machinery and is one that can be tweaked and tuned in a variety of ways in order to achieve amazing physical feats.

In my opinion and experience, most people, including “athletes” aren’t actually very fit at all.

Too often, people mistake fitness and health as one and the same, however, that is not necessarily true at all. HEALTH – “the state of being free from illness or injury” 

So, who cares if you can run 100 miles per week if you are regularly sick or, nursing an injury every other month? Oh, you can dead lift 600 pounds but, your cholesterol and blood pressure are thru the roof??? Congratulations, you’re going to die young just so you can fit in with the “BRO SQUAD”.

Although I respect the “specialists of sport”, I think specializing hinders the development of being truly fit and healthy. Yeah, it’s impressive that a man can run 2:30 for a marathon but, it’s also embarrassing that he’d need to call over his little sister, in order to move the sofa across the room. It’s also impressive that someone can back squat a Mini Cooper but, it’s not very impressive when that same individual can’t play with his children without getting winded.

Some of the most unhealthy individuals I know are, RUNNERS! That’s right, I said it! When it comes to running, I am one of the biggest advocates and most devoted supporter of all things running, however, I am also a realist. As a coach, I can’t tell you how many runners I’ve seen nursing an injury (one that was likely avoidable), battling chronic fatigue or, were nutrient, vitamin deficient. I have had at least half a dozen female runners who, upon getting blood work, were found to be deficient in iron, sodium, calcium, potassium, magnesium, etc. I even had one client (who I begged to lighten her “working out” load) who was told by her doctor that “you have the lowest sodium counts I have ever seen and it’s beginning to cause all sorts of internal problems”. Hmmm, so this woman worked out 3-4 times per day on average, looked fit from an aesthetic standpoint, yet was severely unhealthy?

So, where am I going with all this? Essentially, no matter your athletic discipline or “speciality”, there is no reason you need to get holed into it exclusively.

With the latest craze of Crossfit and the recent push of all around strength and conditioning, one can become better at their speciality, without actually becoming a specialist, per se. Just make sure you find a good gym with knowledgeable coaches that understand the principles of biomechanics, nutrition, A&P and workload programming.

A runner can, believe it or not, become a stronger, faster and more accomplished runner, by adding in non-running elements of training. A bodybuilder can get the physique they desire, without sacrificing their health.

As humans, we were never designed, nor have we evolved, to be specialists. Through years of experimentation and evolution, we have become the most complex and diverse organism on the planet. We may not have been born to be the fastest, strongest or have the ability to do certain things, however, we have been able to create external resources to become the fastest, strongest and most capable.

So, what can YOU do to become more fit? How can you make yourself better today than you were tomorrow? For most of you reading this, you are not an “elite” athlete and never will be, however, you can put in the work to reach your greatest potential, all the while being fit AND healthy in the process. You should always push yourself to get the most out of yourself but, you should always emphasize the importance of your overall well being. That BQ marathon time that you drove yourself into the ground for, won’t be nearly as enjoyable if, at 60, you’re struggling to walk to the mailbox.

You only have one body and, investing in it, will prove to be the greatest of any choice you have made. Don’t squander it!