Monday Funday ! Mondays are only fun when you know you have a holiday on the near horizon – four days and counting :). In case you’re not sharing my sentiments towards Monday, this should make you smile:
I’m suddenly craving popcorn but that’s besides the point. The other day I had an interesting conversation with a friend who decided to rejoin the gym. For the past 4 months, she traded in her gym workouts for regular yoga classes. Her main concern was that her fitness levels would have dropped tremendously i.e. she wouldn’t be able to run as fast (or as long) as she had built herself up to once upon a time. It got me thinking about my current endurance levels compared to 6 months ago. For starters, I used to run much more than I currently do. Back in November, 8-12 kilometers used to be the norm for me whereas now anything over 5km seems like a “long run”. Funny enough I actually feel equally, if not fitter, these days…just in a different way.
I guess that’s the beauty of fitness: it’s so subjective! There is no “one size shoe fits all” approach. Whether you’re a marathoner, bodybuilder, or gymnast, being “fit” has no boundaries. Depending on who you ask, the term “fitness” is so broad, and can vary in meaning. According to Bill Tancred (1995), fitness is made of various components:
- Strength – the extent to which muscles can exert force by contracting against resistance (e.g. holding or restraining an object or person)
- Power – the ability to exert maximum muscular contraction instantly in an explosive burst of movements. The two components of power are strength and speed. (e.g. jumping or a sprint start)
- Agility – the ability to perform a series of explosive power movements in rapid succession in opposing directions (e.g. ZigZag running or cutting movements)
- Balance – the ability to control the body’s position, either stationary (e.g. a handstand) or while moving (e.g. a gymnastics stunt)
- Flexibility – the ability to achieve an extended range of motion without being impeded by excess tissue, i.e. fat or muscle (e.g. executing a leg split)
- Local Muscle Endurance – a single muscle’s ability to perform sustained work (e.g. rowing or cycling)
- Cardiovascular Endurance – the heart’s ability to deliver blood to working muscles and their ability to use it (e.g. running long distances)
- Strength Endurance – a muscle’s ability to perform a maximum contraction time after time (e.g. continuous explosive rebounding through an entire basketball game)
- Co-ordination– the ability to integrate the above listed components so that effective movements are achieved.
When I look at the members in my gym, there are some who run at lightning speed whereas others dead-lift the equivalent of (or double) my body weight. Who’s to say which group of members is fitter?
Going back to my friend: while her endurance levels on the cardio front might not be as high as a few months ago, there’s no doubt that her flexibility levels have soared. In terms of my own goals, I don’t consider my decline in cardiovascular endurance (i.e. running) as lazy or a case of being less fit. I’ve just found other ways to stay fit (lifting weights) and am focusing on new goals: muscular strength.
Take this as a reminder that life is not static: our preferences and goals are constantly evolving. Fitness is a goal many of us share…you just decide what “being fit” means to you and then tailor your workouts accordingly!
What does “being fit” mean to you?