Matt Articles

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the definition of fitness. You’d think there’d be some consensus on this one. Let me tell you if you don’t already know: there is more discord on this subject than anything else.

Dan John, whom I respect immensely, defines fitness roughly as the ability to complete a task. Any task. I agreed with this approach for a short time until I considered it closely. If the task was to back squat 500 pounds and one was fit enough to do this, then, yes, that would person would be fit. Being fit to squat 500 is not an easy task. The amount of specialization required to squat 500 is immense. Specialization requires one to eschew most other tasks in order to reach their goal. A man who can squat 500 cannot run a 5 minute mile. Nor, can the man who runs a 5 minute mile squat 500.

This, in essence, is the argument of CrossFit. “Nature punishes the specialist,” as Greg Glassman would say, and it is true. For you, the one at home, living a normal life consisting of trips to work, hauling light loads, performing basic household duties, and perhaps (when you want to feel young again) engaging in a quick pick-up game this idea is even more important. The ability to haul a full laundry basket up to the second floor of your home with a kid hanging onto your shoulders as fast as you can because you need to run back down into the kitchen before the food burns is important. Squatting 500 pounds easily gets the basket on your shoulder, but what about everything else?

No, none of us at Lombardy can squat 500. I can’t run a 5 minute mile. Put any one of us who trains at Lombardy against that power lifter or that runner in their respective areas of “fitness” and we will lose to the specialist. Turn those tables, though. Let me run against the lifter and squat against the runner and I will beat both of them.

Yes, I’ve heard the accusations that doing CrossFit makes you “mediocre” in everything rather than very good at one thing. Oh, yeah? When you haul the wash, get the kid in the bathroom, sprint down the steps and save the roast from burning and realize that everything is done, neat, how it needs to be, and right tell me if you feel mediocre. Those 20 pull-ups in a row you got yesterday ain’t bad either.

So you know, the Dynamax definition of fitness:

The 10 recognized physical skills include: Cardiovascular and Respiratory endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance, and Accuracy.

If your goal is optimum physical competence then all the general physical skills must be considered:
1. Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance – The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen.
2. Stamina – The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy.
3. Strength – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force.
4. Flexibility – the ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint.
5. Power – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.
6. Speed – The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.
7. Coordination – The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.
8. Agility – The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.
9. Balance – The ability to control the placement of the bodies center of gravity in relation to its support base.
10. Accuracy – The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.