A few weeks ago I witnessed a heated debate over the cover of the latest Austin Fit Magazine; their swimsuit edition. It was a conversation between a few people centered on whether or not the woman on the cover looked “fit” vs. “genetically thin”.
“You would just think that to be on the cover of Austin Fit Magazine you’d at least pick someone with a little more visible muscle” was one of the opinions. More words were mixed and the conversation became too much for me; so I eventually walked away. But before I did so, an older woman who was also involved in the conversation said,
“Let me just tell you, fit looks a lot different when you’re 70 years old. I don’t look like the woman on the cover, but I am sure as hell still fit.”
And that got me thinking…. she’s right. Who am I or anyone else to decide what “fit” means, looks like, and is to each individual?
The actual definition of fit is: “in good health; especially because of regular physical exercise”
Notice that definition says nothing about body size, shape, height, weight, body fat percentage, muscle definition…… What may appear as fit to one person may be completely different to another – and that’s ok. We are all entitled to our own opinions and body types. What’s not ok is thinking someone is less than because they don’t measure up to your expectations.
“Fit” is a relative term and much like the older lady mentioned in her point above, it probably starts to look a lot different and feel a lot different in various stages of our lives.
I have clients who are all completely different levels of fit, and they all look quite a bit different from one another. Is my 70-year old client less fit than my clients who are in their 40’s? If I challenged them to a push up contest; sure she may not do quite as well as the others, but does that make her less fit? Hell no. They are just a different kind of fit.
Want to see different versions of fit? Watch a local road race, triathlon, CrossFit competition, flag football game, etc. Typically not one participant looks alike, but they do share one thing in common: they are moving and using their bodies; regardless of size, shape, and age.
It’s hard for people in certain fitness communities to recognize that one can participate in a number of different activities to become and be fit. Hardcore runners may argue that people who only lift weights aren’t truly “fit” because they don’t run or “get their heart rate up.” While the weight lifters may say the runners aren’t fit because they don’t lift weights. I know some CrossFitters who love to hate on people who belong to globo gyms and use the elliptical, viewing that method of training as a “waste of time”.
What some of these fit communities fail to recognize, going back to the original definition, – “in good health; especially because of regular physical exercise” does not specify the mode of regular physical exercise.
Is my bestfriend who primarily does yoga, runs occasionally, and prefers not to lift weights fit? Yes.
Is the person who only walks on the treadmill and does isolation training at the gym fit? Yes.
Is the girl who does the elliptical while watching her favorite TV show every day fit? Yes.
Is the overweight member in your CrossFit class who has to modify every workout; yet is there 5 days a week fit? Yes.
Is the marathon runner who truly loves to run every single day and do nothing else fit? Yes.
Is the Zumba instructor, spin class go-er, group exercise bunny fit? Yes.
Skinny, overweight, muscular, visible abs, no visible abs, old, young, middle-aged, pregnant, athlete, recreational exerciser….the list goes on….every single one of these people if they are regularly participating in physical exercise and are in good general health; is fit.
I love the Health at Every Size movement… Perhaps “fit” needs to adopt this philosophy as well. What do you think?