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August 23, 2017

The Origins & Future of Fitness

By Michael Hughes

I had the honor last month to address this year’s Leadership SLO group for Health & Human Services day. (Sidenote: If you don’t already know about Leadership SLO, I encourage you to look into it. Both Paden and I have been a part of this annual 10 month program that is devoted to educating leaders on key sectors of our county.) I was asked to represent the Health and Wellness services. What do you say to a group of leaders about the state of health in our county? 

After much thought I decided to discuss the history of fitness and the future of movement. If you look at how fitness has emerged through humanity, it’s quite interesting. Here’s my digested timeline: 

History of Fitness

  • Fitness for survival: Humans moved in caveman days to literally run from predators and or hunt prey. While not structured as “fitness” these early humans stayed in functional shape because they had to to live. 
  • Fitness for war: Once man simulated into communities, the need to protect themselves from aggressors emerged and thus fitness was required for community survival and growth. 
  • Fitness for sport: We’re all familiar with the Ancient Greeks who invented the Olympics, a sporting event the competitors would train for in order to compete for honor and glory. 
  • Fitness for leisure: Soon enough fitness was something only the wealthy could afford because they had the time and money to fence, practice riding, box, etc. It wasn’t something the lower classes had much access to. 
  • Fitness for body building and physique: Finally we get to the 19th-20th century and we start to see physical education through calisthenics and traditional gymnastics programs enter formal education. From there we see figure heads like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jane Fonda popularize the concept that we can train to achieve certain desirable results with our figures. Welcome to “fitness” as we grew up with it. 

Emerging Importance of Movement 

I believe we are in an age where fitness is more than perfecting our bodies look, that it’s for combating the effects of our increasingly inactive lifestyles. With the rise of white collar jobs and the increased efficiencies of technology and innovation we are able to achieve more with less movement. This is fantastic on one front, but a losing battle on the side of human health. 

Our bodies are not designed to be sedentary for a prolonged amount of time (aside from sleeping). Think about how long we as a culture train our bodies to sit for extended periods of time, upwards of 4-6 hours at a time. Gravity is waging war on our bodies and we are “too busy” to combat it effectively. 

I believe the importance of moving is at an all time high. We need to move, train and carve out time to give our bodies the gift of movement to thrive in our inactive world. 

Future of Movement

I believe that in the name of increased productivity and therefore increased convenience, that we are witnessing a time in humanity when health is harder to achieve. Nutrition marketing clouds the reality of where to get the best fuel for your body. Fitness is not evolving fast enough to meet the needs of functional movement for our current lifestyles. And society is increasingly normalizing unhealthy behaviors to where the public is caring less and less about striving for a high level of health. We are willing to compromise on our health standards because it’s too inconvenient. 

It’s a bleak picture. But writing this only inspires me to combat this and be one of the forerunners to bring to market a brand of “fitness” that is really more about movement and health. 

If you’re reading this, congratulations for being someone who is interested in quality health and wellness, even if it means sacrificing in some way to reach for a higher level of training and conditioning. You are leading the way and the hope of our society in valuing health. Thank you for joining us in the fight for movement and in not succumbing to standards of fitness that are mainly designed to improve physique without assisting the body in how it is also functionally used.

Thank you for trusting me and my team to help you thrive in this life, not just limp through it.

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