I recently helped some of my relatives with a big move.
And by “help”, I don’t mean just help with packing, or organizing. I mean full on, moving sh*t. Boxes, furniture. Loading things into the truck, and unloading them. Carrying things up the stairs.
There was lifting, holding boxes with one hand and opening the door with another, twisting, reaching, grabbing. Lots of work for the legs, arms, core, and of course, the heart & lungs!
Thanks to this move, I found a new perspective on fitness.
What if we trained for life, instead of weight loss or just to look good?
What if, we stopped determining one’s “fitness” based on looks like, and instead focused on what the body can do?
What if it’s time for our definition of fitness to change?
Fitness is ability
A slim, defined body is seen as fit and strong. A body that defies these traits is seen as weak and wimpy.
I’m a personal trainer and I can tell you with 100% certainty that’s complete BS.
A better measure of fitness is what your body can DO. Your ability to perform activities of daily life – whatever those might be.
To pick up your 50lb child because she hurt herself, and not be worried you’ll pull your back.
To come back from grocery shopping with a full backpack, and know you can make it up the hill.
To go up a flight of stairs because the escalator is broken, and not feel like you’re going to die.
Fitness is confidence
Fitness is the confidence to look at something heavy and be like “yup, I can lift this, and I know how to do it safely”.
It’s feeling your core working; understanding what it means to “lift with your legs”.
It’s trusting your body that it will perform and do the job, because it’s performed and done similar tasks and you know how to apply the same skills to real life.
When you are able to trust your body to do the work, you gain confidence – and that translates to areas of life beyond just fitness!
Fitness is body awareness
Fitness is about knowing your body from the inside out.
While I helped with moving awkwardly shaped boxes, and even some pieces of furniture, I backed off from the heavy stuff because I knew I would only end up hurting myself.
I was able to correctly identify which tasks my body could perform, and which ones were simply too much – both are equally important, and they come from knowing your body and having body awareness.
What are YOU training for?
What about you? Do you define fitness based on looks, or based on ability?
If it’s based on looks – I know it’s tough to change that perspective, but if you want to start, begin by asking yourself this question:
What “life” things do you want to be able to do?
Travel? Go on long walks or hikes? Feel more energetic and strong?
These are the things that truly matter, the things that feed your soul, heart, and that bring you joy. Once you’ve identified them – does your body have the ability to do them? If yes, rock on!
If no, then that’s what you need to work on. Bridging the gap between what your body can do now, and what you want it to be able to do.
(Here is a recent blog post that discusses this topic in more detail: What does fitness look like to you?
And here’s another one that challenges the notion of “fitness goals” and instead asks if it makes more sense to set “life goals” instead: Life goals or fitness goals? Lessons from a personal crisis )
For me, being able to play an active role in a big move, made me happy. I was proud of my abilities, proud of what my body could do, and proud that I could discern between what was appropriate and not appropriate for me.
It’s time to stop defining fitness based on looks. And start defining fitness by how an able, confident and strong body serves your life.
No matter its shape and size.
Let’s work (out) together
- Are curious about their body and want to learn its inner workings
- Are willing to commit the patience and time it will take to see long-lasting results
- Want to build strength and stamina so they can do whatever life things they want to be doing
Does that sound like you?