If you have read our blog posts before you might wonder where the heck the workout routines are. You might have been looking for opinions about what to eat and what not to eat, what the best exercise is and what the worst is. Thus far we may have seemed to dance around the main issues and left you wondering where the hard facts and solid recommendations are. We should tell you that one of the main reasons we started this blog was because of all these ‘opinions’ out there…because most don’t agree. After years of asking around, fitness opinions just seem to be a Hodge-podge of often contradicting ideas. There doesn’t seem to be anything like an agreement on what fitness actually is. In fact, even when asking all sorts of trainers for a definition we get a host of examples but rarely a clear definition.
People will talk about a special diet or a specific style of exercise but not often both and how they work together or if there are those it wouldn’t be suited for. What we have wanted to do is illustrate what fitness actually is and why this automatically makes it a personal, highly individual matter. Lets have a look at it from the point of view of some of the major, shall we say, philosophies people tend to hold whether they know it of not. Lets ask some questions to open up where many of you may not know you are even closed off to.
A question of questioning
We begin with a superficial question; is fitness egocentric and selfish because some center it on looks? As people who make a living as trainers we are faced with the looks issue all the time. The average individual correlates looking fit and athletic with being a good trainer. We agree a trainer should clearly be in shape and definitely not toting obvious excess fat but does looking like a magazine model mean you are a more knowledgeable fitness pro? Genetics and sometimes drugs account for the most outstanding looks and it fools even intelligent people who should know better. If you really take a moment and think, seeking advice about your health from someone because of the way they look is kind of shallow. The thing is how are you supposed to judge a fitness pro, is performance based athletic prowess a better measure? Crossfit and the popularity of flipping tires and pulling sleds certainly has people hyped about performance. Is seeing how high you can jump a measure of fitness? If you learn to run farther and faster are you actually more fit?
Now what about those convinced it is all about feeling well as we have seen with the popularity of the term ‘wellness’ in recent years. Shouldn’t fitness be about feeling good in your own skin and finding emotional balance? Is the main issue of fitness to stay pain free and fight fatigue…an internal harmony of things so to speak?
If you look at it all from an overview you might be inclined to say it should be all these things. Maybe it’s just a matter of personalities that see’s the industry split into different camps. Certainly ones interests and genetic body type will influence what style of fitness you gravitate towards.
Here is our take:
Often you/we feel our minds are stuck inside our bodies but sort of separate from our crude bones and flesh. We experience life as if we are just carried about and housed inside an organic shell. While we are definitely far more than our basic physicality we see mind and body are integrated. We think we are more than just a thin connection between consciousness and anatomy.
The mind has such influence over body that it is long been regarded as a ‘higher’ perspective to free ones self of the trappings of the body. In this fast tech age society has become ever more cerebral and we feel this perspective is losing…perspective. At one extreme we see mass numbers ignoring fitness as if tech will just provide quick fixes as needed. At the other end we see people becoming more obsessed with the superficial physical aspects and in ever greater denial…turning a blind eye to organic health. While technology has removed some of the immediate needs of fitness, it’s quick fixes are only superficial. Go ahead and replace part or all of your heart then forget being fit and see how well let alone how long your high tech fix works.
People often feel trapped inside their body and slaves to what they perceive their physical shortcomings to be. This leads to feeling imprisoned inside ones mind and seeking an ‘inner power’ to free you of your outer self. In reality it is the combination….ebb and flow of one’s physical and mental connections, strengths and weaknesses that are the key to your individual experience. In a sense in your sea of consciousness your physical state controls the tides of your mental experience.
The mind is dramatically influenced by the state of the body. Your decisions, your moods and your experience are driven and supported by the physical. From the cellular level to your organs, from your bone marrow to your outer sheathing of skin, the state of the physical makes mental states possible. You are an organic system and even as the system may seem to let you down as it ages or gets ill, mindfulness of taking care of your totality matters.
“Even a damaged or less than perfect system can sustain flow and support a healthy mental capacity – if fitness is maintained”
We think physical and performance perfection is a myth and comparison a trap. We think understanding your personal fitness brings acceptance of your genetics. Your body doesn’t need to be revered or downplayed…it just needs to be cared for. How you look and how you perform is as personal as your eye color. Improvements in look and performance can and should be expected from increased fitness but they are only surface markers. You will always have strengths and weaknesses in these categories. How you do and the quality of your physical life on a continual basis is a deeper measure of health. Anyone can enjoy highs as well as suffer from lows but can you maintain reasonable health and energy year round?
“Real fitness protects you and maintains you – it doesn’t make you a super hero”
The industry feeds on dangling a carrot (of being fantastic) in front of the average person. Even we must remind clients that what they see when we are dieting for competition is not necessarily realistic for a person who isn’t making a living from the world of fitness. As we shed fat and become sharper in shape and definition there is a tendency to see us as being more fit. What is being seen is just a display of muscularity and an ability to manipulate nutrition…not greater fitness.
Now sure you want to achieve concrete things you can see and experience and it is great to have firm goals of what you may want to physically accomplish or what you want to look like. Goals hold us accountable to real improvements but the ultimate aim is to build and maintain full symmetry. That is to say, the right amount and combination of fitness elements relative to your personal, individual make up. This certainly includes your likes and dislikes but such should not rule the main focus of your fitness. You may not ever be able to leap like a lion or run like a cheetah anymore than ever having razor cut abs all the time but you can still be very fit. We don’t have to set records or drop jaws to have solid fitness, it doesn’t hurt to dream except when it sidetracks your physical reality.
In a grander sense we don’t think there needs to be a disconnect between the so called ‘physical’ based western style science outlook and the internal energy and spirit based emphasis often attributed to eastern thinking. Having a positive view of yourself has as much effect on your fitness as actual positive activity does. It all works together when you don’t work against yourself trying to be something you’re not. You are a self-sustaining system and taking care of your fitness is just a way your inner and outer selves get to getting along as inseparable companions.
It may bother some that we don’t care to take sides but there is no ‘side’ to fitness. Physical science is fundamentally based in experimentation not conclusion. You are a living, conscious organism not a set of rules. In the game called your life the only real losing comes from the loss of health. We can lose things even people but loss of your fitness threatens your health and loss of health threatens your everything.
Here is the plain truth; fitness isn’t an above average state of being. There is noble wonder in continually striving to raise your state of being but such flows from your fitness and gives back to it…but it is not…it. Fitness is just you being you the best you can, taking care of yourself day to day amongst all your little and not so little ups and downs. Fitness is you doing maintenance and repair with exercise so you can stay active and staying active so you can make good use of good nutrition and have easy rest.
Fitness is the sum of the parts and is reflected in the parts. Your fitness is an expression of the essential you and your capabilities both actual and planned.
Ultimately we think you should be you…a fit you. Until next time be well, inside and out.