What is Fitness?

What is Fitness? It’s always amazing when you ask someone to define something that they take for granted, they struggle mightily with it.  So then, what is fitness?  That’s easy, right, its being “in shape.”  But for what?  We used to have the Presidential Physical Fitness Test, and your score on that was your level of fitness.  Maybe it’s how far you can run.  Or how much wait you can lift.  Or maybe your likelihood to avoid the stairs and take the escalator. The best definition I have heard of fitness is simply your ability to accomplish a task.  John Daly is fit to play golf.  WHAT? No way he’s out of shape, right?  Actually, believe it or not, his golf fitness is pretty good.  John moves well and really doesn’t get hurt very much.  He won’t be running a 5k, but that’s my entire point.  When you say I need to get “in-shape”, you have to define what it is you are getting in shape for.  It drives me crazy when I hear young kids that play explosive sports talking about jogging long distances to “get in shape.”  There is no general “in-shape,” unless your goal is to be kind of decent at everything.  Generalists eat last. This is why we need clear-cut goals and standards before we set out in the gym.  Now, for most people, a large part of their fitness goals are to look good.  Unfortunately, this usually leads to less-than effective training modalities “borrowed” from the world of bodybuilding.  Isolate everything, feel the burn, light jog on the treadmill, and take it to the house.  Great program right?  For a genetic freak with no day job, perhaps.  For the rest of the world, not so much.  If looking good is your primary fitness goal, you need to address several key areas. For one, if your job or lifestyle has you seated at a computer for much of the day, your posture sucks.  Sorry, was that too direct?  There’s nothing attractive about rounded shoulders, forward head posture, and no ass to hold your pants up.  More sets at the “pec deck” is only going to exacerbate the problem. So, the next time someone tells you they are “fit,” consider what they should be “fit” to accomplish.  If it’s looking good and being injury-free, drop the machine circuits and crunch marathons and start fixing what you aren’t doing the rest of the day.