What Does Fitness and Well-Being Mean to You?

Fitness as a component to Health and Well-being

Group working out
Kettlebell L-sits. Getty images

We live in an era in which things are easily defined for us by society and mass media. Putting it together gives us mass social media and the formation of ideas that we associate with images and perceptions of things that are only a mediated reality and not reality as it would actually be experienced on the day-to-day basis.

As an example, take the word fitness. What does fitness actually mean?

The Darwinian view of fitness relates to one's ability to reproduce and extend life through to the next generation.

The fittest in this sense is the one who has the best possibility of extending the lineage by having healthy children, that can live and survive. It takes a hereditary view of fitness. 

The meaning of fitness to a triathlete is the best chance to be competitive in a triathlon. The hours of training will go into the event performance. 

The same is the case for any athlete from any sport. A team sport athlete such as a baseball player typically will have the (hopefully) overlapping goals of winning a team championship while performing with high personal statistics which increases the odds for a longer and more lucrative contract. Fitness in this sense is that which gives the best chance at monetary success and hopefully the success of glory from winning, which is to stay healthy and on the field., and to excel at the individual skills of hitting, running, catching, fielding, and throwing the baseball.


However, if your “sport” is working out you have a very different basis for defining fitness. There are not team goals and there most likely is no monetary incentive for achieving specific performance measures. So your definition of fitness can borrow from a very broad selection of criteria. 

Is strength or power fitness?

Or is fitness something else? 

Does it relate to body composition, or is fitness related to fine-motor tasks that involve balance, coordination or accuracy?

There was a time when fitness was most closely associated with cardio-respiratory fitness, otherwise, knows as aerobic fitness

There is the idea in some circles, that the ultimate method of fitness is to train all aspects of physical conditioning on every imaginable continuum. Take the best performers from the sports or activities that most closely embody peak performance in a specific physical skill, and emulate the training methods of those athletes. So, do what gymnasts do to gain superb body control. Lift like an Olympic weightlifter to develop maximal power, and run like both a sprinter and a middle-distance runner to develop maximal anaerobic and aerobic conditioning, respectively, and so on. 

The great dichotomy of this do-everything approach is, of course, that it is impossible to become singularly great at anything, if the effort is focused on being good at everything.


By definition, the best champion gymnast cannot be the champion triathlete at the same time, since each of those specialized skills requires dominant energy systems that are completely opposite, and movement patterns that are completely different.  

Does the professional boxer or MMA fighter need to do more weightlifting and gymnastics to be a fitter and able performer in the ring or octagon? Maybe, but not likely. 

It could be that "what is Fitness" is a question which can only be answered with an understanding of what the fitness is for. Hitting a baseball or digging a ditch? 

It is worth considering what your fitness objectives are. If you're not sure yet, see if you can find some inspiration or role model who represents or embodies the ideal you are shooting for and learn about how that person trains. Your ideas about fitness will likely change over time and in different circumstances. Perhaps rather than aiming for fitness, a focus on health and well-being is more sustainable. 

Continue Reading