Why should you care about fitness?

Posted: July 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

Sounds like a rhetorical question, but it isn’t. I didn’t care about fitness for a long time, or at least I didn’t think I cared. Not enough to put the time in, that’s for sure. But what I did care about were things I didn’t realize were fitness, the kind of fitness that comes easily when you’re young: being able to decide one day to go for a hike and not be ready to quit within five minutes, or to go down the Guadalupe River in a tube without worrying whether you’ll be able to swim out if you lose the tube in a deep spot, or to go play softball (or, in my case, play at it, and that badly), or to try your hand at fencing (yes, I think fencing is cool). When you’re young, you can decide to do that one day and can, although you may be sore the next day.  The older you get, the harder it is to be a weekend or holiday athlete for more than a few minutes.

So that’s one kind of fitness: being able to enjoy recreational activities that require at least a minimum amount of cardiovascular fitness.

And then there’s the stuff you begin to be unable to do in your everyday life as you become progressively more deconditioned: trouble going up or down steps (I dreaded the steps to my daughter’s old apartment), struggling to get out of a really deep comfy chair, losing your balance trying to put up cups on those blankety-blank hooks at the top of the cupboard you used to be able to reach.

So, yes, the less fitness you have, the more you realize, wait, I really would like to be fitter. Then it becomes a matter of doing it, and getting over the various hurdles to overcoming inertia. Unfortunately, unlike Captain Picard, I can’t just order my body to “make it so.”

But what I’ve stated is a rather vague idea of fitness. CrossFit has a pretty lengthy definition of fitness, but here are some highlights:

CrossFit makes use of three different standards or models for evaluating and guiding fitness. Collectively, these three standards define the CrossFit view of fitness. The first is based on the ten general physical skills widely recognized by exercise physiologists. The second standard, or model, is based on the performance of athletic tasks, while the third is based on the energy systems that drive all human action.

So, CrossFit looks at your ability in the ten different skills, your general ability to get through life’s daily demands and your body’s metabolic health.

The ten different skills? Well, here they are:

  1. Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance
  2. Stamina
  3. Strength
  4. Flexibility
  5. Power
  6. Speed
  7. Coordination
  8. Agility
  9. Balance
  10. Accuracy

I plan to blog about each one of these skills, but for the moment, I just want to talk about my previous experience with them.

Out of these ten, the only one I’ve ever had any talent for was No. 4, flexibility. But, until recently, I believed you were pretty much stuck with whatever level of coordination, agility, balance or accuracy. I might not have said so had you asked me, but I’ve been walking around the same house for close to 40 years and I still bump into the same old walls and doorways. And the furniture that hasn’t been moved in at least 10 years.  I trip over nonexistent bumps on the floor, have broken my little toes three times (one twice, the other once; hint: if you ever do it, do not go to the ER or doc-in-a-box. The shot they’ll give you will hurt more than breaking it. Just do what they’ll do and tape it to your next to smallest toe) tripping over furniture.

One of my kids’ theatre friends in high school, Mark, was really nice when I made the comment that I was a klutz, saying “Oh, I’m sure you’re overstating it.”  When I was backstage during some rehearsal (taking the cast food, I think), I decided I had to catch him to talk to him about something that I cannot recall, but at the time, it seemed significant enough for me to walk quickly across the immaculate, smooth concrete floor in my tennies. Just as I reached Mark, and called his name, he turned to see me fall flat on my face. No, there was nothing there to trip on. Luckily, the kids were past the point where that would have embarrassed them; they were just disappointed to have missed seeing it.

But I am assured that my coordination will improve. For years, my husband has told me the only reason I can’t catch or throw any kind of ball is that I just never practiced it enough; I have scowled in disbelief, based on all those laps I ran for making mistakes during a volleyball game and all those times I was picked last for any athletic game.

But when I think about it, there are lots of small ways in which I have improved physical skills, at least those that were absolutely required. Like what I’m doing now. Typing.

Back in the dark ages, there were these monstrous loud machines called typewriters, and you had to whack the heck out of the keys to get them to type. And if you made a mistake, you had to back up, stick in some eraser paper or change the setting (depending on how old or cheap the typewriter was), and type it again. Word-processing changed all that, and when it became less intimidating to fix mistakes (because it was readily evident when you made a mistake on a typewriter; instead of clickety clickety clickety ring, you had click click chunk chunck click), I got faster. Now I type with all ten fingers, fairly quickly, and it’s just been a very gradual process. And I’m at least as fast as my way more coordinated husband.

So there’s some evidence that it is possible. Not quick, not easy, but possible.

  1. Laura says:

    Good post! I think you have already gotten more coordinated (neither of us will be Gary or David coordinated, sad face). I think that will only continue to get better. I noticed on Monday you looked slimmer and were able to move around with more agility, so YAY progress! =?)

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