What is fitness?

20 03 2012

When I ask, “What is fitness?” I’m not looking for a dictionary definition. I’m actually asking what does “fitness” do? What does it look like? What does it feel like?  Web MD says fitness is “being able to perform physical activity… having the energy and strength to feel as good as possible”. I find that to be a very simple and straight forward statement. However, I also find it very vague. The ability to perform physical activity can mean just about anything. After all, getting up off of the couch and walking to the refrigerator is physical activity. Now I understand that for some people this would medically qualify as strenuous exercise, but I am not writing this for them as they need a level of care that I am not qualified to provide.

The problem with typical definitions of fitness, is that they tend to not really help you to get a picture in your mind of what you are trying to achieve (ability to perform physical activity) or they include benchmarks that for some people are either physiologically unobtainable (sub 60 bpm pulse) or simply undesirable (22 inch arms). Now I’m not saying these are not great goals, what I’m saying is that for most of the people I see in the gym, if you gave them a workout program and then told them to go achieve a sub 60 beats per minute pulse rate, they’d be lost. (This is where a good trainer will help you whittle down your big goal into multiple small goals.) Image

In the 90’s the idea of kaizen was very popular in business circles. Kaizen is a Japanese word that means “improvement”. In practice it stands for continuous improvement. Now if we take that concept and apply it to fitness, I think we end up with something a little more workable. To me, the idea of fitness… the goal of fitness, is to be physically better than you were. After all, most people in the gym whether they have 30% body fat or 4% body fat, all want to be better than they are in some way.

This means that fitness is not static. It’s dynamic. Fitness is constantly changing. What one considers fit when thinking of themselves changes as they get closer to perceived goals. I have personally lost more than 50lbs of fat in the last 16 months. If I could see what I look like now when I first started, I would think I am fit. However, I still go to the gym 5 days a week because as I see myself now, I have so much more to accomplish towards being fit.

Woman doing bicep curls So again I ask, what is fitness? More importantly, what is fitness to you? To me being fit is about many different things. It’s about being able to perform the physically demanding duties of a firefighter. It’s about having the energy to play with my young child. It’s about feeling and looking better than most people half my age. Most importantly, to me,  fitness is about being better today than I was yesterday or as a trainer I know says, “fitness is having strength and endurance to get through those tough workouts that you never ever dreamed you could ever do”.

Get fit,


©LAWIII 2012




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