Saturday, May 10, 2008

You can argue all day about what constitutes fitness

Kelly Mills wrote a piece that struck a chord with me (and I quote out of context):

You can argue all day about what constitutes fitness....But I absolutely agree that push-ups are a symbol of everything we (ie women) have done wrong in fitness....Here's a newsflash about why women have a hard time with push-ups: We don't do them.

She discusses how women have traditionally focused on cardio exercise such as stairmasters and treadmills and spinning and running because they burn calories; crunches in the quest for a flat stomach; and "mini-weights" to get muscle tone without bulking up. It's a great article. First I'll nitpick and then I'll tell you about the chord it struck in me.

My nitpick is that in my experience, women exercise a lot thru dance and yoga. I won't speculate too much on why but I guess, in addition to enjoying it, they feel flexibility and elegant movement are important.

Some points that I'd like to pick up on:

1. Fitness is something that we get to define for ourselves. And it's a question that we might want to consider from time to time. Does fitness have mostly to do with how we feel, long or short term health, aesthetics, or competitiveness for sports? For most of my life, fitness had to do with being able to play great soccer and staying slender was something that I could take for granted. Bakc then, I drilled on soccer skills and ran. A lot. Today, soccer players probably better understand how abs and torso strength help them but back then, I trained by playing and drilling and sprinting. Today fitness has more to do with health, aesthetics, and being competitive in the dojo.

2. Fitness has alot to do with health and self-defense. Kelly Mills mentions in her article the relation between fitness and health issues: Taking my pre-boot camp self as an example, I walked into those classes with a high level of cardiovascular endurance and pretty strong legs. My exercise regime had most likely reduced my risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, and I had fairly low body fat. In real-life terms, I had prepared myself well for outrunning an attacker or climbing several flights of stairs if the elevator broke, not that I'd hope to do either of those things.

But, I don't believe the point about fitness or even martial arts training being for self-defense (I know that this is heresy to some but for me, that's not important) but apparently, neither does Kelly as I found this on her FitnessFixation blog:

Occasionally someone will ask me if I am learning kickboxing for self-defense purposes. The best answer I can think of is that it’s the same as me practicing weightlifting in case I have to help someone move a couch. In other words, it is possible I’ll someday use it for that, but it’s not what I think about as a real goal or end result. Settling Scores

3. Pushups, long ignored by me, are now central to my measure of how fit I am. As KC Lavallee says over and over again: Pushups are good for the core, good for the shoulder, good for the abs, it's a entire body workout. So lets do another 25;->


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