The biggest roadblock in your training is not having an adequate definition of fitness. Without a big picture philosophy to justify your hard work, your enthusiasm will wain, and you'll be leaving an incredible amount of potential untapped. Read on as we explore what fitness is, and the Fieldhouse philosophy that guides our every move inside and outside the gym walls.
WHAT IS FITNESS?
Fitness has always been a subjective term. Sometimes it describes a specific sport or task like, "I'm fit because I can run very long", or "I'm very lean, therefore, very fit." We think fitness shouldn’t imply a singleton approach, but rather describe the pictures as a whole - fitness is the summation of all your physical parts. In biology, fitness refers to the measurement of how much of your own genetic material you’ll contribute to the gene pool in further generations. Survival of the most fit to live beyond reproductive age, find a mate, and produce offspring. Double meaning here: fitter people are harder to kill and more useful in general.
Our outlook on fitness is exactly that. It’s not specific, it doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and it sure as hell isn’t one sided. CrossFit provides the definition of fitness as "an increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains". Simply, a high level of competency or performance no matter the duration or type of activity. The known, the unknown, and the unknowable.
I've also heard fitness described as "a constant state of readiness", implying that fitness is a hyper-aware physical property, and that no matter the task at hand, you’d have the minimum fitness needed to complete or survive the task. I'm a big fan of this term.
We also then need a way to measure your fitness or lack thereof. How do you know where you stand if you have no way to measure it? We like Jim Crawley and Bruce Evans' 10 general physical skills list best: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, flexibility, strength, power, speed, coordination, agility, accuracy, and balance. Large or limited capacities in any one of these physical properties can help us create an overall picture of how to train and how best to spend our time in the gym. Finding your figurative strength and weaknesses and your limiting factors will assess the kind of fitness you current have, and help you understand trends towards creating balance and breadth.
To put it all together: fitness is being constantly physically prepared for any and all outcomes. To measure your fitness, you must determine your capacity in all aspects. Not just how strong, not just how aerobic, but how well rounded. "Our speciality is not specializing”.
HOW SHOULD YOU TRAIN IT?
Training general fitness is a topic up to much debate. A large part of the debate stems from the fact that most of the parties arguing don’t actually have an adequate definition of fitness, or their definition is incomplete. Whatever their definition is, if they can’t give it to you in a 30 second elevator pitch, I would strongly question it.
A good coach who isn’t stuck in one system or one program and who approaches strength and conditioning with a deep understanding of the volatility and fluidity of the training continuum can tell you in two minutes or less how you should go about improving your general fitness. Creating balanced programs, improving strength without sacrificing other energy system adaptations, or deep learning and skill development doesn’t require a PhD, and in fact, is not as difficult as you might think.
Especially for beginners, who are so unadapted to any sort of fitness that anything they do will produce adaptations, creating workouts and even creating long term blocks of training can sometimes be a matter stating the obvious and eliminating the ridiculous. Those that need strength to balance their fitness lift more; those than need better engines condition more; those who need to refine movement patterns and perishable skills practice and learn.
We could distill training into five categories or variables:
1) Don’t train anything in exclusion.
2) Find and improve your weaknesses.
3) Train intuitively.
4) Recovery and restoration is why you get fitter, not necessarily more training.
5) Nutrition is infinitely more important than you realize.
That list gives you a LOT of options on how to tackle training. And it should. You are an individual and have different needs and limiting factors and no two people will ever approach one program the same (or should). You know you should be fit, you know what fitness is, you have figured out somewhat how you should train your fitness, and so you train. For most, this is as far as they get. It’s our belief that there is a higher order notion that supersedes just showing up and working out. It’s discovering why you are here.
WHY DO YOU DO IT?
We contend that the most important part of your fitness journey is understanding why you are putting in all the work in the first place. This is why we promote objective based fitness. Our training creates physical tools, and it’s up to you to figure out why you developed the tools in the first place, and ultimately, what you’ll use those tools for.
The specificity of your objective or goal is important here.
“I want to loose weight.”
“I want to look better.”
“I want to be stronger.”
“I want to be injury proof.”
Yes, and so do we. Doesn’t everyone?
And yes, every goal is valid. No goal gets devalued in the gym because honestly, we aren’t in your shoes and we only get you for one hour a day. Who are we to say it’s dumb?
Why do you want to loose weight? What would looking better do for you? What could you accomplish with newfound strength? What are you getting out of twenty pull-ups that you couldn’t get with zero pull-ups?
You must, in the most absolute sense, figure this out. You have to attach a cause to your effort. A group of walking, yelling people is called a shopping mall. A group of walking, yelling civil rights activists was called The March on Washington.
A few years back, my answer to “what are you training for?” would have been to be stronger/fitter/more abs/faster times, and that was it. But nowadays, I want to grow my family, I want children, I have more responsibilities than ever, and I realize how fleeting all this can be.
I want the fitness to protect my interests and allow them to thrive. I want to be able to fend off a would-be mugger my significant other and I might encounter in a dark parking lot after dinner. I never want to have to tell my kids “dad needs a nap”. My fitness should give me the ability to deal with lack of sleep, handle job stress, and create a legendary work ethic. I want to know I can take a punch to the face and live to talk about it.
Thus fitness, to me, means creating the ability to not only survive, but thrive, in any circumstance or situation that might come my way.
When I train, I know I’ll lift more, I know I’ll row faster, I know that the better I eat the better I’ll look and feel, but those are just a means to an end.
We challenge you to create your end. Give purpose to your efforts. If it’s the fitness and aesthetics to finally find a girlfriend, then I’m proud of you and will support you. If looking better and creating a fit body for yourself raises your personal brand within your career field, then we’ll help you make that happen and we’ll celebrate your promotion together. Show up, ask questions, don’t quit, but most importantly, know why you’re showing up in the first place.
Figure out what better fitness would bring to you. The how, and the what, are all questions that can be answered by your coaches. But it’s up to you to figure out the why. Why are you getting up at five o’clock every morning to train? Why are you so sore all the time? Why would you push yourself to absolute fatigue in your training? Figure out the destination to your climb, and the trek will be one million times more rewarding. Figure out why you want to be here, and we’ll take care of the rest.