How Fit Are You? Redux

By Lou – August 7, 2012

After the dust settled at our first ever AFM FITTEST presented by Nexersys event on June 9, 2012, at Camp Mabry, the general consensus from spectators, sponsors, competitors, and staff was that it was a great event. We heard lots of comments about how much fun it was and how different it was from other events. Many people said they were already looking forward to doing it again next year. And while the performances were absolutely inspiring, what was really exciting about being there was seeing the camaraderie of the crowd as they cheered for their favorites through each test, pumped their arms with enthusiasm as they beat their own expectations, and laughed good naturedly when they stumbled or missed the mark. The passion and commitment in each performance and the positive attitudes of everyone involved are what I will always remember and these make me smile a lot. The bottom line is that what made this event a success was all of you and your celebration of fitness. Thanks so much!

This same month back in 2008, as part of our “10 Fittest” issue, I wrote about what fitness is. I still believe in what I said then and in its value and applicability regarding how we think about health and fitness today, so I thought it would be interesting to re-visit those thoughts this month.

From the Publisher | August 2008 Issue 

It’s August in Austin, Texas, and that means that you are about to find out the answer to a question that many of you have been waiting for all year. That’s right—who are AFM’s 2008 picks for the ten fittest people in our fair city?

Now I know that ya’ll already jumped ahead and are awed by the best of the trim and fit that Austin can offer, so I’m not going to pontificate on their collective buffness. What I did want to explore is what fitness really means, especially the part that is not just “skin deep,” the stuff that our wonderful images can’t entirely convey.

I always like to start at the beginning, with questions such as “What does the word fitness’ really mean?” If you spend any time researching this word, you will learn that there are many aspects of fitness from “Darwinian fitness” to good old-fashioned “physical fitness.” After due consideration, my view is that in the broadest sense, the word “fitness” projects this notion of “suitability.”

This idea makes a lot of sense to me, especially when one applies that suitability to “living one’s life.” In other words, one’s level of fitness determines one’s ability to be effective in living. Of course, different goals require different kinds of fitness, such as when a pilot must qualify to be fit to fly or a teacher must be certified to be fit to teach.

Are you confused yet? While we can certainly define fitness criteria for specific outcomes, I believe that there is a foundational fitness upon which all other functional fitness depends. This platform has three legs: physical fitness, mental fitness, and emotional/spiritual fitness.

We tend to focus most of our attention on physical fitness but all three elements of fitness are crucial to being truly fit for living. Furthermore, it is very important that we keep each of these elements in balance. How many times have we seen athletes perform below expectations or crack under pressure because they weren’t “mentally tough”? What about the emotional stamina it takes to be a caregiver? It’s clearly hard to operate at your peak when any one of the wheels comes off.

This model of fitness also assumes a high degree of integration. That is, that each element supports and catalyzes the others. I believe that, while people change and sustain behavior for many reasons, their motivations seem to arise from these three elements.

This is an important concept because it means that without considering all three components, it is unlikely that one can really optimize their suitability for living. Being emotionally motivated to look and feel better is likely to improve your mental state and ensure that you make a sincere effort to achieve that goal. Likewise, a strong mental motivation to accomplish something will provide positive emotional support and drive physical action. And while being physically active and healthy may not guarantee emotional and mental stability, it will provide a lot of biological reinforcement.

Now back to the present….This entire August issue is about the results of June 9, 2012, so enjoy the magazine that you, the fitness community in Austin, built and celebrate in your participation and success. Read on.

Keep Austin Fit,


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