What is Fitness?

Just back from the 2013 (IHRSA) International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association in Las Vegas where I was on a Quest to find out what the “Fitness Industry” knew about fitness and if they could define just what Fitness is and How to go about accessing it and improving it. 

I must say coming from a Human Performance Background with mentors like Arthur Lydiard, and Dr. Vigil as well as my own 35 years of experience it was pretty lame. No wonder Gyms do not seem to work. Ever wonder why, with over 26,000 Fitness Centers and Countless “Studios”, the Health of our nation has never been worse? 

Would you sit through a semester of Math with a teacher who could not define Math? Why do we do it with our own wellness and assessment of health and fitness. Are you fit? Yes? No?... How do you know? 

I asked this at every “Education Session” I could attend and at every product booth I came across and it was a very sad outcome. 

The one Nugget I found was on Tuesday Morning March 19th with a Session called: “Turning Health Crisis into the Club Opportunity”. This was a panel discussion moderated by Amy Bantham with Guillermo Velez of Argentina, Lauretta State of Australia and David Stalker of the UK. 

The whole thing boiled down to this: 

There is a Total Disconnect between three Key Groups: 

1. Healthcare Medical- Medical Doctors, Pharmaceuticals, Clinics ect. 

2. Fitness – Gym’s Clubs ect. 

3. Human Performance – Olympic Training History 

Not hard to disagree with, the only industry above that is real is Olympic Training History, as it is the only one not based on HYPE and Financial motives. 

· Healthcare Treats Sickness with Drugs, 

· Fitness Clubs are Set-up on a financial reality that they expect most of their members NOT to come, if they did what would they do with them? They wouldn’t fit in the building. 

· Human Performance is all about Citius Altius Fortius or Swifter –Higher and Stronger. The Goal is to pursue and exceed standards of Movement, and then you get paid. 

Here is how 2-time Olympic Coach Dr. Joe Vigil embraced the question that I could not get answered at IHRSA: 


“No matter what your goal in life is athletic or non athletic, fitness is always defined by the amount of Oxygen (O2) you can bring in an utilize for the demands and stresses you encounter in your life” Dr. Joe Vigil 3/16/2013 

In addition to this direct quote from Dr. Vigil he also sent me a Energy System Continuum, which basically lays out your Performance along a Continuum from Low Intensity -Fat Based Aerobic Energy (Lypolic) up through Pre- Acidic Anaerobic to Lactate Threshold on to Max Output. 

Fitness is your ability to MOVE at a variety of Metabolic States from Resting to Running for your life! 

The Australians who spoke on Tuesday the 19th had it right: “We (the fitness/wellness industry) need systematic Evidence Based Programs, backed by research to compete as a MEDICAL SOLUTION to communicate with the Medical Industry”. 

In the Human Performance world we simply call this: Evidence Based Exercise. 

If we ever want to GET BETTER we must Standardize Evaluation Criteria for Performance. The Australians went on to say Clubs MUST adopt Monitoring Systems to track and evaluate these standards so we can all have a point of reference to improve from and toward. IN other words a Definition of Fitness. 

Of course in the Olympic Training World we have known this for Years. What are your Standards? How Fit are You? 

Dr. Vigil answers this in one modality by a simple MILE RUN! It becomes your Fitness Reference Point to train from. Can’t run? You can do the same in a Pool, on a Bike, on a Kayak ect. What is your Best Kilo in a Kayak? What is your best sustained Wattage for 4-minutes on a bike? This is your Reference Point to train from. Learn to train at ALL Five Metabolic Thresholds along the Energy Continuum and establish your own personal performance at each fraction of your max. Dr. Vigil referes to this as Fractionalization it worked to Produce Gold, Silver and Bronze medals at the 2004 Olympic Marathon and it will work for you if you adopt it. 

Wake up Medical and Fitness you should be ashamed. Let’s fix the Problem!


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