Defining fitness

‘I want to get fit and lose weight’ – its something that personal trainers and coaches hear all the time.  But fitness can be a tricky thing – how fit is fit enough – are we looking to run an ultra marathon or do we want to be able to carry our groceries up the hill without any problems?

You see, fitness can be defined so many ways and sometimes when someone says they want to ‘get fit and lose weight’ they might not have given much thought to what ‘fit’ means for them.

There’s many different ways to break this down but the main things I like to consider are:

  • Strength – this could be anything from lifting up the kids to doing a squillion chin ups and can be built through body weight work or lifting stuff.
  • Cardiovascular endurance – from brisk walking for 30min to an ultra ironman, this is anything that raises your heart rate for a period of time.
  • Flexibility – this is about the amount of movement you can get in your muscles and mobility is about the amount of movement you can get in your joints. Both are important for ease of movement as your age but it can range from the ability to get up and down from the floor through to doing acrobatic gymnastic feats.
  • Agility – this is the ability to move well – being able to stop, start and change direction without injury which is important both from an athletic perspective and also in everyday life to avoid falls.
  • Balance – the ability to maintain a centre of mass over a base of support, both in movement and stillness, and proprioception – knowing where our bodies are in space.  More about balance here.

And these are all relative to what someone wants to achieve and when you expand to include other aspects like muscular endurance, power, speed, co-ordination and accuracy, you can get some overlaps as well – for example between strength and power, or balance and co-ordination.

When we start to focus training and exercise in one of these areas, it makes sense that we may not be as good at other things in this list – because there’s only a limited time to devote to training, or its not of interest or maybe we don’t see the benefits as being as great, and that’s OK, depending on the outcome you’re after.

So when you’re thinking of getting ‘fit’ think about what that means to you.