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part 2

Fitness has a prerequisite- wellness.

For the sake of health we understand the need to exercise, but are quick to assume that getting exercise means we need to get fit. While fitness is a great and worthy endeavor, you have to be well enough to pursue it. This means taking into account all of the factors which constitute a human being- psychological and emotional state, stress, sleep, as well as your physical body, joints and tissues. It's this personal climate that can be gradually shifted toward one that is conducive to our desired outcome. Wellness forms the foundation on which fitness rests. If wellness erodes, so too will fitness.

In essence wellness is responsibility. It is the reason and logic to fitness' dogma and desire. It is that 'gray area' on the spectrum that we are inclined to avoid. The big picture objective here is to develop a sense of responsibility for the body you have- knowing how to take care of it and be able to effectively communicate when help is needed. To make informed choices and anticipate outcomes accordingly.

- We need to establish wants/needs (intention).

- Actions to reflect intention.

- A value based system of checks and balances.


This is the combination of 'where we are' and 'where we want to go'. We can locate our self within one of these four numbers at any point in time whether by choice or circumstance.

3. General improvement           [increase capacity]


1. countering sedentarism      [becoming a mover]

2. countering stagnation        [already a mover]

4. specific improvement           [Specialize ability]





toward a



Big picture, this would present as a neat linear progression, steps one through four (or as far as desired). The typical thinking in this approach is to conquer one step and move to the next. However, this is not an accurate portrayal of reality because process has no end. Process means constant adjustment and where our perspective tends to fail us is in giving these adjustments a direction, most notably forward or backward which is then attached to either a positive or negative. This makes choosing a ‘regression’ very difficult to do because we think it will take us farther from progress, when in reality it is actually an act of maintenance, which keeps us capable. When numbers become our compass, we surrender the experience of self. Progress is found in the ability to recognize and adapt to self, not exercises. If we repeatedly test ourselves with feats of strength, we will eventually come to find that we are weaker for it.


This is how we choose to expand ability from within our current context. If intention provides location, it is action that provides direction. Progress then, would be the product of accuracy and consistency. Do your actions reflect your intention?

One and two aren’t seeking improvement, but still actively making lifestyle choices towards their interests. Three and four are seeking improvement- three being in relation to basic fitness (general physical capacity) and four being in relation to a specialized fitness for a specific endeavor.


Different intentions can utilize different exercises, movements, protocols or they can use the same ones but with a differing focal point. A deep squat can originate as your main goal to achieve, but if done well, it could also transition to becoming just a part of the warm-up, providing space for new goals. Sometimes you might do squats for mobility, another time for strength, or for conditioning, rehab, balance, falling practice, force development, foot mechanics, posterior chain, anterior chain, posture, pelvic position, visual discrepancies, etc. The more you study self, the more intuitive the process of integrating needs with wants will become.

checks and balances

To make sure that we are doing what we think we are doing, it can be helpful to funnel everything through the bigger picture lens of wellness vs fitness. Do your actions and intention agree on one? 

We can also reverse this process, if we at least have intention. If intention falls under wellness, what actions might reflect this? If it is fitness, what might your actions be?

The relationship between wellness and fitness, provides a very interesting framework to build from. Wellness and fitness are relative to each other because they are relative to you. This is where we need to add back the element of self into the equation.


There are a few larger perspectives to consider-

  • Choosing wellness over fitness.

  • Choosing fitness over wellness.

  • Using wellness to obtain fitness.

  • Using fitness to hide from wellness.

A helpful question to ask before each session- 'Am I working on wellness or fitness?'



typically measured by quality

Measures are typically feeling based regarding- adaptability, resilience, integrity, understanding, control, the ability to cope and manage stress. 

Considers- soft tissues, mental state, emotional state, health, goals, stress levels, long-term/big picture.

typically measured by quantity

Measures are typically number dominated- sets, reps, times, days, weights, gains, losses, speeds, distances, efforts, amount of stress.

Considers- goals, ideals, timelines, programs, comparative measures, templates, rules/guidelines.


wants to be well




wants to be fit



Building a system

loading the system

are we

are we


which do you need more?

You need to be well before you can be fit.

You need to develop ability before working capacity.

You need to have a system before you can load the system.

You need to lay the foundation before you can build your house.

If you chase the latter first, you will eventually be forced back to the former, whether it's by physical, psychological or emotional means. We have limited time and energy, so it seems in our best interest to use it wisely by investing what we can toward our wellbeing- the one thing that we need to last as long as we do and the one thing that can give us permission to go nuts on occasion without throwing us off the rails physically or mentally. If we invest enough into our wellness and continue to do so as needed, the time reserved for fitness will be much more effective.


These considerations are not rules nor guidelines. They are another lens to evaluate yourself through- to help clarify and understand yourself and your decisions. There will be times when none of this stuff matters- like when you've accidentally consumed six shots of espresso and are feeling fired up on what was supposed to be a low-key gym day. Don't waste opportunities when you are genuinely excited to go and do something. Wellness is not meant to be bound by discipline or obligation, in the ways that fitness is. Wellness is caring, and as much as it means taking responsibility in the more conservative sense, it also means letting go, cutting loose and removing the pressures that may be holding you captive.


As an athlete this is a big choice- there is a certain amount of time when you can choose to put sport before health, but it can't be done forever and choosing when and how, should be done with a lot of careful contemplation and strategy. As a very able bodied human it becomes even more difficult to imagine the body being unable, though it is the price you eventually pay when prioritizing sport above health for longer than can be afforded.


Be wary of careless instances becoming trend. When in doubt, choose wellness.

perception- making sense visually

Who orbits around who?

Which is built on top of the other?

Are they layered or intertwined?

Do they cycle or spiral around endlessly?





wellness & fitness





Wellness grants fitness

(fitness does not grant wellness)


What choosing wellness might look like for training/working out/practice

Example Scenario

On the agenda today is a heavy squat, and you really want to attempt a personal best -

Training has been going exceptionally well and progress feels almost addictive, you have knowingly been overreaching for a bit and are on the verge of overtraining with today and tomorrow's planned sessions - 

Midway through a set you tweak your knee -

Finally you've found a sport that is really enjoyable and you want to get better at it. You watch high level athletes and notice how they train, it looks super impressive -

Work is a hot mess right now and you've been off your game for a month (due to other valid reasons), all leading to a major error in a presentation to company executives. Your manager's frustration was unleashed on you before you left the office. On the way home is your scheduled gym time -

During your yoga class (which you do to keep mobile and to counter the other harder training), you realize some of the improvements, but you also realize that that tight hamstring still hasn't gotten any better - 

You wake up one morning feeling extra crusty for no apparent reason - 

A spontaneous day of hiking/bushwhacking up a mountain was great fun, but the following day your body feels exhausted - 

You stay up late working on a major project and your infant child cried all through the night so you didn't sleep much at all -

You have particular climbing project ambitions. Your soft tissues feel conditioned for loading but your skin is about to rip off when you touch the upcoming hold -

choice to progress

Developing and executing an appropriate warm-up, (general AND specific) will grant your nervous system permission to hit big numbers.

Force that rest day. Go home and eat some cookies as a distraction. In fact possibly eat cookies for a few days.

Instead of grinding through with a limp, you decide to forgo the rest of the planned session and instead work on bringing back some security to that joint by working on the structures that support it.

You realize that you are very different people, for one, you are not getting paid to pursue this sport in the ways that it would require. And two, the exercises you watched them do are specific to their current fitness level- they did not start with them. Your training progression has to be relative to your circumstance. The misconception of not working hard enough must be kept at bay or else risk someone else's training becoming your own (which means less progress). 

You feel shaky and upset. Rather than deciding to blow off this anxious energy by punishing yourself via stairmaster and an intense HIIT program, you decide instead to find a quiet part of the gym and lay on the mat to assess what has happened. You spend a few minutes replaying the situation that hurt you as you go through some simple breathing exercises and eventually the shaking feeling subsides and you feel able to think. Now you have enough clarity to decide which exercises will actually be in your favor today and which may not, (if you choose to stay at the gym at all).

Figure out what you like about yoga class and then figure out the ways in which it actually helps you. In the ways in which it doesn't help (that hamstring), you spend some of your own 'training time' figuring out what feels helpful and what doesn't so that you can make the appropriate adjustments during classes.

You extend your warm-up routine as long as is needed to get back to your baseline and maybe the entirety of your workout time is just a long warm-up.

You are supposed to be working a few specific exercises today, but instead of those harder ones, you get the legs to loosen up and work on patterns that are used in those harder exercises to get back on track for the next session.

The allotted time for your workout comes quick the following morning. You sleep in instead. Maybe reschedule to evening.

Climbing is done for the day, time to work on something else for the remainder, without the use of fingers. The time it will take for ripped skin to repair means missing out on valuable climbing time over the next few days. Skin conditioning needs to catch up with soft tissue conditioning and this just takes time (patience).

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