“The word ‘fit’ simply means, are you capable of? It has everything to do with your ability to be.” – Carl Paoli
In 2002 Greg Glassman, owner and founder of CrossFit, defined fitness as “work capacity measured across broad time and modal domains.” This definition was concise, precise, scientific, and it provided the foundation upon which to build a superior training methodology. It also provided a program designed to elicit a broad, general, and inclusive fitness to prepare for the unknown and the unknowable in a deliberate attempt to optimize physical competence at all physical tasks as a solution to the world’s most vexing problem: chronic disease (CrossFit Level 1 Training Guide, 2016). Today, CrossFit is possibly the largest fitness program in the world, boasting over 13,000 affiliates in more than 120 countries. CrossFit has redefined health and fitness, and continues to combat obesity and chronic disease.
CrossFit provides measurable, observable, and repeatable tests to track fitness across time. Progress is measured by improvements in sets, reps, time, load, and health markers including body weight, blood pressure, heart rate, and triglycerides. Additionally, intangible metrics such as the ability to play with children/grandchildren, the fit and feel of clothing, increased energy, and reduced pain are often used to monitor one’s health and fitness. For the majority of the population, the intangible metrics foster the motivation to continue training. Greater quality of life is the primary objective; people want to be fit in order to live well.
Retrieved from the CrossFit Level 1 Training Guide, 2016
But, what does it mean to live well? Wellness, as defined by the National Wellness Institute (NWI), is a conscious, self-directed, and evolving process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward a more meaningful and fulfilling life. In support of the definition, Dr. Bill Hettler, co-founder of the NWI, developed a wellness paradigm- The Six Dimensions of Wellness- as a guide to achieving a “whole and complete life.” Similar, however, to fitness (prior to CrossFit) the definition and supporting models feel complex, inadequate, and fail to answer several questions. What quantifies a “meaningful and fulfilling” life? What are the steps toward achieving greater wellness? Are there varying degrees of wellness? Instead it seems, wellness should be viewed as “the ability to be.” It is the ability to learn, to teach, to provide, to protect, to run, to jump, to play, to enjoy life, and be present in every moment.
Wellness is dependent upon the following constructs: spiritual, psychological, and physiological. The spiritual component need not be faith-based; it simply represents the belief in something greater than oneself. It provides the foundation upon which to establish a purpose. The psychological component embodies the characteristics and attributes necessary to be at peace with oneself and positively impact others; and the physiological component represents the fitness, health, and abilities necessary to stay in motion. Although the above areas may be defined and considered independently, with regards to wellness, these constructs are interdependent; a deficiency in any single area will inhibit an individual’s potential to achieve wellness. Furthermore, these components are ranked according to significance (greatest-to-least): spiritual, psychological, and physiological. Thus, efforts toward improving the spiritual component will generate the most beneficial adaptations toward achieving wellness.
The pursuit of wellness is a journey without destination. It requires patience and perseverance. There is no ‘finish line.’ As humans, we live in a state of constant adaptation. As we evolve our needs and desires change. Similar to fitness, wellness requires training. The goal is to target our weaknesses until they become our strengths. Conscious efforts must be made to develop and refine the spiritual, psychological, and physiological constructs. Start with purpose by establishing core beliefs and values. Next, focus on self-awareness by embracing and expressing your personality. Develop immense levels of empathy and compassion, meet people where they are, and develop meaningful relationships. Finally, concentrate on fitness. Not fitness for fitness sake, but fitness for life.
Train to improve your “ability to be.” Train to live well.
Contributor: Derrick Ball, MS, CSCS, CF-L3, USA Weightlifting Level 1