What Does “Fitness” Mean?

I teach fitness classes. I think fitness is awesome. As an active participant in the fitness world I hear a lot of phrases like this: get in shape, pump some iron, work on our core, build lean muscle, and get a healthy BMI, and get fit. When you are in the fitness industry you find yourself using so many of these phrases that they start sounding regrettably cliche.

Let’s think about the word “fitness” for a minute, and see if we can understand what’s behind the cliche. What does fitness mean? The word “fit” is in there with a suffix tagged on the end. When I google the word “fit” here is the first definition, “Adj. – Of a suitable quality, standard, or type to meet the required purpose: ‘the meat is fit for human consumption’.” As a vegan, I would contest the part about the meat, but the rest sounds pretty good: of suitable quality, meeting a standard or required purpose. Now lets look at the synonyms: “suitable, proper, apt, appropriate, fitting, right.” So in the world of gyms and health clubs, we apply this to our bodies. We want our bodies to be of a suitable quality,  to meet a required purpose. We want our bodies to have a “proper” appearance, “apt” at physical activities, with “appropriate” amounts of body fat and muscle, “fitting” into our clothes.

The question is, how do we define what is suitable for our bodies? And even more important, what is the “required purpose” of our bodies? When it comes to your personal fitness, don’t let a media myth of beauty or physical perfection tell you how to answer these questions. Don’t even let a personal trainer tell you how to answer these questions. Let the answer come out of who you are and what is fitting and suitable for you. Discover for yourself the purpose of being fit.

The word fitness also has to do with the relationship between things, and whether they are harmoniously arranged. Try asking, “Where does my body fit?” not just, “Is my body fit?” Here’s my answer: I fit in a yoga class, Feeling the energy of a steaming room of yogis while devoting myself to the discovery of new self-knowledge as I experiment with each pose. I fit in running shoes on a good long trail run, enjoying nature and fresh air. I fit in a community, using my physical health and energy to focus on bringing good by volunteering or educating others about health, or simply being a friend. These are some of the suitable, proper, right and fitting purposes of my body.

Your answer might be similar, or it  might be completely different. If you don’t know the purpose of fitness for your body, I encourage you to search yourself before you start your next “fitness” plan.

About Lindsay Morgan

I am a certified yoga instructor in Bartlesville, OK.
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