What Does Fitness Mean?

I watched a documentary the other day called "The Fittest on Earth". It took you through the 2015 CrossFit Games and behind the scenes of what the athlete's were feeling, going through, the whole nine yards. It was an incredible documentary and I had to marvel at how hard these athletes were willing to push themselves.


There's no doubt about it CrossFit athletes are definitely very talented, and in great shape. Is it fair to call them the fittest?

First of all we need to define fitness. The dictionary usually does a good job at this, for our purposes I like the second definition given; "The quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular role or task". In other words, the ability to perform a task. That's how we're going to define fitness. 

To answer the previous question, I'll let you decide. 

Rather I want to take a closer look at the question, "what is fitness?" I'd have to say it depends. It depends on what you want to do and on your goals. If you want to compete at something, fitness means being prepared to do so.

While fitness is truly an individual endeavor there are three things that I think everyone can benefit from. They are the foundation, that when laid properly can greatly expedite the process of aptly performing a given task or fill a given role.

In no particular order these three qualities are:

  1. Movement
  2. Aerobic Capacity
  3. Relative Strength

Each of these are equally important and all three of these work in harmony to complement each other. 

Movement encapsulates stability, mobility, flexibility, and body awareness so that an individual can perform in the safest manner possible. 

Aerobic capacity is the body's ability to "run it's motor" for a long time. Not to mention the better someone's aerobic fitness the faster their body can recover during and after any exercise session or competition.

Relative strength. It's important to note the word "relative". This is how strong someone is compared to their body weight. Unless we were a powerlifter, strongman, olympic lifter, etc, we do not need to move the most weight possible, but it is important to be able to move weight relatively speaking.

Overall relative strength will help enhance movement capability as well as aerobic capacity. Aerobic capacity will allow for better recovery during and after strength and movement sessions to enhance our capability to train more often. While mastery of movement will make for better body control and safer execution during aerobic work and relative strength.

These qualities, the triumvirate of fitness, are the necessary foundation we need regardless of the goal, and they can be improved a multitude of ways. 

All this being said, when doing anything, we must always ask ourselves, "Is this the most effective and safest way to get me closer to my goals?" If we can't answer that question with a yes, then perhaps we should look at a different tool in the tool box.

- Dave