Fitness cannot only be understood as two hours of training a week, it has to be a state and a process that shows across daily life.
It serves not just for one aspect of a life – to lose weight, to gain muscle,… – it is an improvement in quality of life and usefulness.
The playfulness of parkour that is coupled with an orientation – and a reality – of useful motion has shaped my view of that. From the “natural method” (methode naturelle), inventors of parkour took the idea “to be strong to be useful” (Être fort pour être utile)… and I think that this is an excellent guideline.
Your Body Balance
After all, it does not matter if you are thin or heavyset when it comes to whether you are healthy and able to live your life to the fullest.
Your range of motion and your capacity for movement, however, will count.
If you cannot pull yourself up a wall or climb a tree, cannot carry a pram – or the groceries, or your injured child or loved one – cannot walk home or just up an easy mountain (or the stairs), you’re missing out on something basic and essential.
Elevators and escalators are not always around; if you are not injured or impaired, your muscles should be able to move your body.
Don’t take any excuses in that. “I’m too heavily built to do a pull-up; you’re skinny” doesn’t really work. Your muscles need to move you; the balance of force and weight should fit.
A healthy-enough person is not one who can only just make it from door to elevator to car, don’t you agree?
This orientation on function, on use, does not mean that fitness should take over your life.
A fit life is not one where every day sees an hour spent in the gym; it is a life where there is enough motion in the other hours.
Not because you must chase an ideal, but because it is a part of life.
Not because you always do something for training, but because it is a pleasure to be able to move, to stand and balance securely, to be able to lift oneself and whatever (within your limits ;) ) needs lifting.
A fit life needs balance also between what aspects of fitness are in focus and at what time.
Times and Circles
To be a well-rounded person, you should not just work on your endurance and completely forget about strength.
As someone building muscle, you still should be able to run somewhere, to move yourself within a good range of motion.
Outside of professional athletes, “specialization is for insects” (and you might be surprised how much cross-training pro athletes do…)
That also means that, while winter time may be better for strength training indoors than sprint training outside, you should not be afraid to get yourself out the door even when it’s cold. Maybe especially then.
This is where I want to start talking “a fit life”. In winter.
Series 1: Winter Running Advice
Part 1: Winter Running’s Why… Or How.