Fitness is an odd word.
It’s a question that is often answered by a look of confusion and a drawn out, “Errrmmmm….”
Then you ask them to define “Functional Fitness” and they seem to have an easier time. Easier that is as they at least have a shit load of marketing spiel and buzzwords they can drop here.
Now without pulling out the text books and dictionaries to get the modern definition of fitness, let’s have a think about what it could mean.
One of the greatest summations of fitness comes from the oft referenced Georges Hebert. Hebert is credited as the founder/inspiration of Parkour/Free Running and also the MovNat system. So he’s a pretty good influence.
Georges Hebert walked the talk
He broke fitness down as follows:
“The final goal of physical education is to make strong beings. In the purely physical sense, the Natural Method promotes the qualities of organic resistance, muscularity and speed, towards being able to walk, run, jump, move on all fours, to climb, to keep balance, to throw, lift, defend yourself and to swim.”
No mention of any specific exercises or tools, just attributes that ought to be developed.
And that to me is fitness.
It’s not about the kettlebell, the barbell, the TRX or the Bosu Ball. It’s not about the Squat, the Deadlift, the Bench Press. It’s not about the size of your “gunz” or the tightness of your “bunz”
It’s about being strong, mobile and enduring enough to tick all ten of his boxes.
Walking is the most fundamental of all Human movement, we practice it even before we are born and spend the first year of our lives with the sole goal of achieving bipedal locomotion.
Running, is the next step up from walking. We can jog with almost the same energy efficiency of a walk meaning we can cover serious miles. Not only that we can put in a fair turn of speed when we need to.
Moving on all fours, or crawling, is very much back in vogue with the rise of Movement type practice. But not only that being able to get low and utilise four points of contact to locomote with is exceptionally practical in rough terrain. And there are those that tell us crawling is a reset for our system. It certainly feels good in the hips, spine and shoulders.
“The Daddy Bear is going to eat you!”
Climbing. Here’s an experiment, put a child next to some rocks or a tree stand back and watch. I’ll bet in no time at all there will be an outbreak of climbing. It’s like crawling but on a more vertical trajectory.
Throwing, both hands, forwards, backwards, whatever. It’s fun as well as an expression of full body explosive power.
Lift. Picking up heavy things. Obviously.
Swimming is a life skill as well as great exercise.
Defend. This is the one I was getting to. Up to this point Heberts fitness standards would be fairly common, most people run, walk and lift. Many Climb and Swim. And pretty much all of us would throw from time to time, even if that’s just the kettlebell ballistics. But defence. The ability to stand up for oneself and those that you care about. The ability to give and take a punch, to be courageous in the face of danger?
Mick Coup explaining the punch
The reason Heberts list speaks to me is that it was the element of Defence that got me into fitness and training in the first place. It’s 26 years now since I walked into St Martins Junior Karate club. 21 years since I added strength work to my Karate (defence), Running and cycling. 18 years since I added climbing. And even today my training still is still directed towards being effective in self defence scenario. It’s something I’ve spent time in as a professional, as a martial artist and more recently a coach.
This weekend I’ll be sharing genuine, tried and tested Self Defence information and training over tow days. There are a few spots left for late comers, details can be found HERE
See you on Saturday
Dave Hedges www.WG-Fit.com