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]
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
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
(fitness does not grant wellness)