Although it is rare for me to comment, write or vent online, I have decided to share some of my thoughts about fitness, what it really means, and who should be considered fit. Although this is just my opinion at this time in history, it should be mentioned nonetheless. This is a confession that I made out of disappointment. To learn and improve my knowledge in the industry of fitness, I regularly read blogs, newsletters, and articles written by fit people. However, I have come across some very fit people drawing lines in sand (regarding fitness) that I don’t think are necessary.
You’ve heard it many times. Technically, fitness is defined as having the best levels of:
Body composition (fat vs. Lean Body Mass)
This is true, and I agree with it. However, we are referring to a quantitative approach to a qualitative problem. Yes, sports are quantitative. These are all things that we often associate with sport. America is a quantitative society. We want to know what kind of money someone has, how many friends they have, who spends most on clothes, body fat percentage, and who can bench press the greatest weight. Also, we want to see who runs the longest distance in the shortest time. Our obsession with numbers, quantity and keeping score is what drives us.
The question is: Is physical fitness really a quantitative phenomenon? Could it be that physical fit is more qualitative? Perhaps a combination of both. Let us know what you think.
My only comment is that physical fitness does not refer to how often you can lift weights, run distances or whether you can move your feet enough. Physical fitness does not always have to be measured in numbers. It’s more than just a number, distance or score.
My clients tell me that everyone has strengths and weaknesses at different times in their lives. I was 24 years old when I had 9% bodyfat. I could lift 700 pounds and bench press 405 for reps. That is all I can do now. However, I can do 35 pull ups, stand on a stabilization ball for as long as I like, and touch my knees when stretching. All things that I couldn’t do as a 24-year-old beast-boy. Was I ever more fit than now?
Look around at the people you know. What is their story? What are their stories? Are they too fat? Are they too thin? Perhaps they are too weak to lift weights. They might have low endurance or can’t run for long distances without getting tired. For a moment, think about this: Does the fact that their fitness level isn’t up to what you expect really matter? All of these things are dependent on your perception of the person. My belief is that fitness changes as one grows older. Your early thoughts about fitness may not reflect your views later. No matter how difficult it may seem, I urge you to embrace fitness all your life.
Improve! Do something better. Although you may not be able do the same things as you did when you were young, there are still ways to improve. As an older person, I have seen people who were extremely sedentary when they were young but who have gradually increased their physical fitness. Lisa, a client of mine, said that she is in the best shape of all her adult lives. Isn’t that the essence of fitness? Isn’t fitness about feeling better and improving your body? Isn’t it about quality, not quantity?
That is what I believe. Fitness can have many faces and take on an infinite amount of characteristics. It is important to remember that fitness is not about you. It’s not about being the best, it’s about improving yourself. Fitness isn’t a sport. It’s not a race. No one is keeping score. Fitness is about you, as an individual. You might be an athlete with a lot of success like Drew Brees or Lance Armstrong, or you could be like Lisa, a fitness enthusiast who decided in her 60s that she wanted to be more energetic and more stable so she could spend more time with her grandchildren.
Consider this: Lisa can say she is in the most fit of her adult lives. Lance Armstrong can’t say the same. Which person’s fitness level is best for them? I’ll let you decide.
Fitness should be considered inclusive and not exclusive. It is wonderful to be involved in sports. However, it is important to keep track of the scores and compare them one to another. You should let the athletes score on the field of play and not on daily activities.