Questions of Fitness

What is your definition of fitness? Do you agree with CrossFit? Or, do you agree with another fitness body or organization? Or, do you have your own idea or theory? What constitutes a legitimate definition? I will be presenting (more in-depth) on this topic at the OPTathalon in San Diego in October.  But, for now, let's just get a little bit into this without going overboard. Comments/discussions are welcomed.

I imagine most of my readers would be those that are engaged in CrossFit or at least know enough about it to get the gist of my blog posts. So, we will say that everyone (I am exaggerating, or at least I hope I am) reading this agrees with CrossFit and their definition of fitness, as "work capacity, across broad time, and modal domains (WCBTMD)".

Here I am trying to outline a simple way for you to understand where your own personal definition of fitness may sit in the evolution of definitions.

First (Basic) Order Definition - "To complete a task"
* Not specific (too broad of a scope). If the scope of the definition is too broad, then it is useless and infinite.
* Not directive and descriptive (i.e. does not provide direction as to how to go about testing this as a legitimate theory. It does not provide any insight as to what the "nuts and bolts" are, so to speak...what makes up fitness?)
* Universally understood and appreciated (i.e. farmer working in the field on their crop, or shovelling your driveway if needed, CrossFit Games, OPTathalon, or whatever).

Second Order Definition - "WCBTMD"
* Not specific (too broad of a scope). Characteristics of what they consider makes up fitness ("the 10 components of fitness" is important, but does not limit the scope as any single thing (i.e. typing on a keyboard, walking your dog) can be useful on this scale of 10 components.
* Somewhat directive and descriptive (does provide insight into the ways in which fitness can be tested, but does not go into great detail. There is substance to the definition, and it does give more insight about the subject of fitness and what it is).
* Less understood and less appreciated than the 1st Order definition (inherent as the intricacy of the definition increases.)

Third (Intricate) Order Definition - to be determined
* Must be specific. Here are just some of the "little things that must be discussed and considered".
- what are the "nuts and bolts" of fitness? what is the over-riding guide? energy systems? 
- should characteristics like agility, balance, co-ordination, etc. be considered useful in designing appropriate testing? or are they merely correlative of appropriate testing and of the top athletes? 
- which modalities are appropriate and suitable for testing and which are only appropriate and suitable for training? are certain modalities more important and valid than others in testing (i.e. running, clean and jerks, deadlifting, burpees vs. sit-ups, step-ups, turkish get-ups, back extensions)?
- which scoring system has to be adopted universally such that testing can be considered legitimate and a comparison between years can be made?
- should weight and height ever be considered, or not?
- should a judge be necessary? how much of a factor should judging be? who is qualified to judge? are modalities selected with judging capability and accuracy in mind (how much judging capacity does running and rowing require? how much judging capacity do kettlebell swings require?
- can we determine the validity and repeatability of said test/event?
*Must provide direction and be descriptive.
- should it outline appropriate ways (i.e. workouts, events, modalities) to administer testing? 
- who determines that the testing is appropriate and suitable to be able to say it is testing an aspect of fitness? Remember for the 1st and 2nd Order definition, anything can be considered a test of fitness as they are too broad in scope.
- should human physiology be considered into what makes up an entire testing event (i.e. an entire competition)? how many energy systems will be considered in testing? on what basis? how many events per energy system shall be utilized?
- are their yearly reviews, conferences, and roundtable discussions to try to improve our understanding of the definition.

All I really want people/readers to get from this brief exercise is to think more deeply about the thing we all love so dearly...Fitness! Without discussion and reasoning, we will get no where.

(James - photo courtesy of Focus Sisters Photography)

(Michael - photo courtesy of Focus Sisters Photography)