What is Fit-ness? The term “fitness" is so ubiquitous that the question might seem like it isn't worth asking. After all, isn't the answer obvious?
There are myriad different explanations as to what constitutes fitness. There are entire systems devoted to developing whatever "fitness" fits within the preferred doctrines of those systems. And while I don't intend to dissuade anyone from their position, I do hope to provide a perspective that may be more sensible, useful, and (dare I say it?) simple. Let's start by taking a look at some of the more common ideas on the subject.
Most of us already have some idea of what it means to be fit. Upon asking someone to describe a “fit” person, you might be struck by a barrage of attributes a “fit” person is supposed to have, or might develop and maintain through training. Such lists usually include things like strength, power, accuracy, endurance, rhythm, stamina, focus, flexibility, sensitivity, flow, coordination, agility, and balance. Maybe that doesn't fit your current definition, maybe it does. And if it does, maybe it shouldn't. Personally, I prefer a dictionary definition:
Fit-ness: The quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular role or task.
That's it! It's that simple. To the degree that you are suited to the intended role or task, you are fit. Instead of asking “"Are you Fit?"”, what we should be asking is "“What are you fit FOR?”"
The key to understanding your fitness and the fitness of others is in the understanding of values. The roles or tasks one is fit for will be heavily influenced by what a person personally values and wants to be fit for. The kind of fit-ness valued by a NASCAR driver will likely be very different from those who want to run marathons, be a human pretzel, play World of Warcraft professionally, dodge a ball, or compete in Archery.
Indeed, there are those who want to “have it all”, to be fit for anything and everything. However, this is simply not how the human body works. We can certainly improve our abilities across a wide variety of attributes, but the fact of the matter is that you can only do what your body is conditioned to do. In order to be most prepared for the unexpected (any and everything), the best we can do is to calculate the most likely “unexpected” kinds of events, and train accordingly.
What does this all mean? It means that the person who only cares about reading books all day every day, may be “fit” for their goals (or they might not). It means that the powerlifter can be more fit than the runner, and the runner more fit than the powerlifter... at the same time. It means that you can be strong and fit for all sorts of things, but if you are walking around with injuries that make playing with your kids or having sex less enjoyable, you might not be as “fit” as you think. It means that fitness is a simple as being able to do what you want to be able to do.
What are YOU fit for?