The True Meaning of Fitness
Last week I saw a beautiful video on facebook that made me think about why I work out. Why we, as humans, exercise. In the past few decades, fitness has become so commercialized and materialistic that it’s easy to forget about the deeper meanings and opportunities that come with fitness.
When you hear the word “fit,” a clear image probably springs to mind - a man or woman with toned, sleek muscles and tan skin, glistening on the beach or wearing tight fitting clothing to show off their “hot bod.”
While a “hot bod” is nothing to be ashamed of, it’s not the sole reason people exercise and stay in shape. For some, it’s a big reason, and maybe a starter reason, but it shouldn’t be the main reason. Toned muscles and tight abs are superficial and short-lived if that’s your main goal. What happens when you reach your goal? What happens if you get injured? What happens when you get old?
To really value fitness, there needs to be a deeper reason.
Okay, if you haven’t watched the video yet, stop reading and go watch it now. It’s about two minutes long and it might make you cry, but it’s worth it. Spoilers coming…
In the video, an elderly man pulls a hefty looking kettle-bell weight out of a dusty old workshop and tries to start lifting. His nosy neighbors look at him as if he’s crazy. You can practically hear them thinking “what is that crazy old man doing now?” The seasons change and he continues to lift the kettle bell, progressing a little bit as time passes.
At last, we see his end-goal, in the final scene where he lifts his granddaughter up so she can place the star atop the family Christmas tree.
(Pause for mushy crying)
This is the real reason humans exercise. This is the reason we run and bike and lift weights. It’s not for the “hot bod” - it’s for the moments, the memories, and the people in our lives that we want to share those moments and memories with.
For me, it's about travel.
I love exploring cultures and learning about languages and histories and people all over the world. In order to do that, I need to be able to walk around. I want to see the sights, especially the natural wonders. I want to hike Machu Picchu. I want to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef. I want to explore the Grand Canyon and see the Aurora Borealis and traverse the tunnels of ancient civilizations.
That’s what excites me in my bones.
I’m also a bit of an adrenaline junkie. I’ve been sky-diving twice, and I was first attracted to my partner Jim because he owned a motorcycle. I love skiing and zip-lining and ropes-courses. I can’t wait to go bungee jumping and white water rafting.
But I know if I want to do all these things and more, I need to stay in shape. I won't make it very far if I don’t have the cardio endurance to walk a mile. How will I control my kayak on the rapids if I don’t have the arm and core strength to stabilize the boat?
Being able to pick up my niece and nephew and swing them in circles is also important to me. I love being an auntie! I love getting to run around and play with them, put them on my shoulders, race them to the end of the driveway and back. I’m so fortunate I have the energy to keep up with them.
For me, fitness is about health, energy, and presence. It’s about being able to be there and be ready for the moments that turn into memories. It’s about staying healthy and strong for the people you love, and it’s about finding the motivation to keep you moving.
What’s your motivation?
Maybe you want to travel like me. Maybe you want to run around with your children. Maybe you want to be able to lift your grandchild up to place a star on the Christmas tree.
That’s the true meaning of fitness.