What does “fit” mean?

By: Quinton de Bruin

I consider myself a bit of a thinker and if philosophy paid well, I'd happily be a scholar of life's big questions – the meaning of life; why are we here? Why is there something rather than nothing? – these are all great questions that deserve thought. One question that I believe worth pondering would be 'what does fit mean?' The beautiful thing about this question is that it has so many interpretations.

When I think back to my late teens and early 20's (it's like it was yesterday…) being fit was about being sport-ready which in those days for me was rugby. I was always bigger and taller than most of the guys my age, yet not necessarily as strong as one would associate with my size. For this reason, fit was about gaining strength, and lots of it! Like Mr McCaw said to Richie though, "you will enjoy the game so much more if you were fitter." I'm picking he was talking about having the ability to fully participate in the game for 80 minutes which meant working on both aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Was it possible to work on that and strength at the same time?

As time passes and we get a bit more…mature, the meaning of being fit changes. I would suggest it takes on a totally different meaning for different people. For me, at first it meant being able to compete in a half marathon, after which I rewrote the definition to competing in a half ironman. To me that was a true indication of my level of fitness, to others it was just stupid and insane (I loved it when someone said that to me, it made me feel like I was conquering a great big challenge that not every man and his dog would be prepared to take on). With the type of training this requires though your muscle tone and mass disappears. Not so much because of the type of training (although that is a factor), but because your program doesn't include a lot of weight training as every extra kilogram is one extra you have to drag around the entire course (imagine for a second, slinging a 10-kilogram sack of potatoes over your shoulder for 90km on a bike only to run with it for another 21km) ….so the less you have the better!

When all that is said and done though, outside of the physical training, I believe there is a humungous contributor to performance which contributes in a big way to our fitness and that is obviously what we eat. 80% of what we physically achieve is down to the food we consume, so it is impossible and unrealistic to exclude nutrition from my take on being fit. This is just my take though. There are people around me who value their health and see eating right, drinking little or no alcohol and walking a few times per week as being fit. They aren't wrong, are they? What if you feel that yoga or pilates is sufficient exercise to maintain your fitness? On the other end of the spectrum are those crazies who want to push themselves five or six times per week to a point where they are just shy of blacking out in super high intensity training to achieve or maintain peak fitness levels.

It would be a brave person to say that any of these lifestyles doesn't constitute or contribute to a person's fitness. As a father, being able to wrestle with my son, to run around and kick a ball with him or take him to the mountain bike track at Te Miro – fully participating in an active family lifestyle is as much an aspect of being fit as anything else. It is arguably a measure of one's fitness, and I say this sincerely, kids seem to have an endless supply of energy, 100% participation with them is an achievement in itself!

How would someone then choose what they should be doing to stay fit and healthy? I feel a great place to start is by answering that all important question – what does fit mean to you? When you have the answer to this, you can start breaking it down further. Let's say for example, fitness to you is being able to swim the Ocean Swim series 3.5km. That would be the objective or the measure by which you would claim that you are as fit as you want to be. What gives you that fitness, what gets you to a point of being able to complete that is a series of activities and exercises and fueling your body with foods that will give you the energy to get there. This is not an overnight achievement either, it's these activities that when done repetitively and with a view of constant improvement, change and develop us over time as we become more conditioned in the discipline we have elected as our fitness measure.

I would really like to hear what fit means to you. If it means more than one thing to you, great we are on the same page! If you don't have a meaning for it yet, it's time to take a break and ponder one of life's big questions. What I can tell you is that without your health life is a bit limited and we can agree that in the majority of cases the level of your health is very strongly correlated to your fitness. Is it time to make health and fitness a priority for you? If the thought of that is a bit scary, you may need to redefine what fit means to you.

The small print: now is probably a good time to encourage you to have a discussion about your personal situation with your doctor, a nutritionist and the Body and Motion trainers to work out how best to achieve any challenges you have in mind. The thoughts in these blogs are my own personal opinion and shouldn't be taken as direct advice. Some of the choices around what I consume or what activity I partake in may not be endorsed by Body and Motion. However, the team will always be keen enablers of your fitness goals! Talk to us today.


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