I was all gung-ho about asking all of you to answer this question, but when it came to be my turn to respond, things got a little more complicated and I wasn’t sure how to articulate my feelings on fitness. So, I’m going to answer this question for now as me, not as a trainer. This is my personal response on what fitness means to me, personally, right now.
To me, fitness means…
Feeling strong, healthy, and able, 362 days out of the year.
Everyone has some off days, but I feel strong (physically and otherwise), healthy, and able to tackle whatever challenges come my way almost every single day. If I have heavy boxes or groceries that need to be moved, no problem. If everyone around me has a cold, I know my body will most likely fight the germs. If I have a busy schedule or a rough training session or bad news, I keep on doing my best.
Strength, endurance, power, and flexibility.
I assume that I will always be working to improve in all four of these areas, but right now I know that I can:
- comfortably complete as many push-ups, squats, weird TRX moves (handstand push-ups, one-legged pikes….), etc. as needed in my workouts and in hours of training sessions with my clients…and that I can climb all sorts of things, pull myself up, hang upside down….
- comfortably run 10 miles, teach 3 or more high impact hours of Zumba in a day, dance 10 hours a day for days on end at events like the Zumba Instructor Convention or weekend-long Salsa events
- jump higher and longer than I’ve ever been able to, and sustain myself through endless plyometric HIIT sessions on my own and with my clients
- accomplish yoga poses (asanas) that have long eluded me (wheel and variations, scorpion, headstand, splits, and so many others)
Supporting and nurturing my body in its growth, rather than fighting it.
The “inner peace” of fitness – appreciating my current abilities while pushing for more. I don’t work to improve because I hate my body or my current level of strength/endurance/etc. – I work to improve because I love my body and its abilities, and I want to see how far I can go. There is no inner struggle, only celebration.
Staying the course.
Fitness isn’t a mountain peak – it’s the whole climb. I will never be “done”, because there’s always something more I can accomplish, attempt, or achieve. It’s the long view, and the big picture. So fitness means always showing up and walking the walk – working out, taking care of myself with healthy food, water, and rest, and nurturing my inner life.
Are you surprised?
Are you surprised that I didn’t say “squat booty!” or “six-pack!”? It’s not that I don’t have eyes or a mirror – I’m human and I love being able to look good in fun clothes just as much as the next gal – but those things are aesthetics, not fitness. You can’t tell how fit someone is just by looking at them; fitness is about ability and attitude, not jeans size or how visible your bicep veins are.
It’s easy to sell aesthetics – that’s why so many people do it – but they’re not what’s important (or sustainable) in the long run. I focus on helping y’all get fit first, because you have to be alive and healthy in order to worry about lowering body fat percentage and chiseling new muscle definition.
So. Fitness. What does it mean to you today?