As long as man has been alive, there has been physical fitness. Centuries ago, physical fitness was a way of life. It was how we lived and more importantly, it was how we survived. Fast forward to 2007, and physical fitness hasn’t changed. At least it shouldn’t have changed. It is and should still be a way of life and unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, it is definitely something that will help you survive. But study after study only shows that as a society we move less and less and physical fitness is diminishing as quickly as the national budget. Is it that fitness is so misunderstood or is our idea of fitness completely off kilter?
Most people would certainly agree that exercise is something that they need to do and more often. It is no secret that the number one New Year’s resolution people make is to exercise, be it to lose weight or just get moving. Yet when it comes to making the decision whether or not to exercise, more times than not an alternative or excuse to do something other than exercise usually wins out. Has exercise become so high tech, advanced, and intimidating that even the intelligent person can’t make heads from tails? Or is it something else? As a society, I like to think we suffer from what I call politically correct fitness.
Political correctness is a term used to describe any language, ideas, policies, or behaviors seen as seeking to minimize offense to racial, cultural, or other identity groups. In a broader sense, it is also used to describe adherence to any political or cultural belief. While it’s unlikely that anyone would say they find exercise offensive, it is the cultural belief of exercise that is in question. That cultural belief is that exercise is time consuming; cumbersome; painful; sweat inducing; only for the already fit; not fun; too much work; etc. But where did these ideas originate? Past experiences from high school gym class; the aerobics/spandex boom of the eighties; the dark, cold steel days of the early weight lifters? Perhaps it is the media’s attempt to make fitness seem more glamorous and easy, thus creating a false sense of what it really means to exercise.
While watching a popular morning news show the other day, I witnessed the anchor “attempt” to do a rather easy exercise and gasped as she did everything in her power to make it look like it was something only Houdini could perform. Her message to the audience: “We need more exercise but I’m just going to stay home and watch my TiVo”. In a popular magazine, an article written by a fellow fitness professional says how all one needs to do to stay in shape is clean their windows and wash the floors once a week. That may be true if your house was the Sears Tower! The sensationalism of fitness as it relates to our health has only added to the confusion and reluctance of more people making an active choice to live a healthier life. There are no guarantees in life and contrary to what some think, we are not entitled to an existence free of injury and sickness. When you can appreciate the fact that over 70% of the diseases and illnesses listed with the AMA (American Medical Association) are preventable through healthier lifestyles, it makes you wonder why we just don’t carry around our own shovels.
Bottom line – there is no politically correct way to go about fitness. Fitness requires work. It requires time. It requires dedication. It requires commitment. And most of all, it requires a willingness to not accept things as they are, but to work towards something perhaps once thought as unachievable. Fitness, specifically physical fitness, is a part of a healthy lifestyle. It is not the solution, but a piece of the solution. It is part of a healthy lifestyle that includes sensible nutrition habits, good emotional health, and sound spiritual health. To that end, it is a big part of a solution to a problem that is only going to keep getting worse the longer it is ignored. And that is damn near offensive.
Featured in November 2007 Issue of 422 Business Advisor