Why I Don't Teach Fitness
I actually kinda' hate the word. Okay, maybe hate is too strong a word ... but I think in our pursuit of a better relationship with our body and environment there are better choices than fitness.
And it's really just the lexicon of ... Fitness ... that causes the problem, more so than the pursuit. What is fitness anyway?
Well, the denotative meaning of the word basically states that something is fit. When you look up what is fit, Merriam-Webster says it's "adapted to an end or design." Connotatively though we often use the word fitness to express a state of being in superior physical condition. Maybe images of low body fat, toned muscles, high physical endurance or finessed skills, and a general sense of overall wellness might come to mind.
Whichever way you wanna look at it, fitness, the word, assumes a universal end result rather than a personal process of becoming. If you can't do ______, and you don't look like _____, and your numbers aren't _____ ... then you, friend, are not fit. The fact that the word fitness is heavily weighted in achievements and what's been done, rather than the doing-ness of activity, is a set-up for failure. If I don't achieve ______, then all this activity (and effort) was a waste.
It's in how you think about it, like the exercise vs. movement conversation. Exercise is a form of measured physical activity with designed outcomes (If I lift this this many times it will give me stronger that). Movement is the act of moving your parts ... that might be exercise or play, or might be walking to and from, or it might be standing and sitting, it might be a sport, and so on. The problem isn't in the action, it's in the words. Exercise often gives us an excuse to move less throughout the rest of our life (I can drive to Starbucks, because I already did my hour of treadmill). Movement requires us to catalogue and discern all the activities of all our moving parts (Instead of going to Starbucks I'll grind these beans at home, boil the water, and make my own coffee so I can spend more time on yard work, and not have to supplement with the gym after). One sounds more fitness-y, the other sounds less so, but if you really calculated moving active parts my money is on the yard work scenario. (Ever pulled weeds / dug holes / pruned branches / and mowed?) One also gives away a lot of power ... I think I have to go somewhere to do something in order to be this standardized version of fit. The other can be done anywhere, and it's about consistent positive choices and options. I have to achieve (or fail at) fitness, but I have to choose and participate in an active (movement rich) lifestyle.
Fitness sounds elitist (and honestly often boring). When you hear someone say they'd like to be more fit, or increase their fitness, do they often mean they'd like to be better suited to their environment? Or is it that they'd like to be skinnier, more muscular, or aerobically superior? All of those adjectives aren't a result of fitness ... fitness is the outcome ... the outcome of creating a better relationship with your body, its movement, its fuel (food), its needs (rest / stimulation / relaxation). In our pursuit of the outcome we readily neglect the process, and it's echoed in our vocabulary: Fitness / sets & reps / challenges & competitions (to win or lose) / so on. We neglect to acknowledge our start-state, our limitations, our strengths, our needs vs. desires, how our body responds to these movements and exercises. Even within exercises how might your relationship with your body shift if you considered what you're learning about yourself through that exercise movement rather than just banging out your sets and reps to be done? Shifting the experience from task to self-care (and appreciation).
Obviously I'm on the Movement bandwagon. I'm a Movement Coach. My classes are Movement Experiences. My studio motto is "Movement in the right direction!" I teach activities with stimulation, rather than exercises with weights. I talk about relationships with gravity and rebound more than muscle contractions ... and I love to see clients playing and creating their own movements within something I'm teaching. (Please by all means "get it wrong" and find YOUR way ... I'll help you figure it out.) But that's my way, my path, currently. I'm uninterested in being the top Pilates Instructor, and much more involved in helping my clients find the movements that are most challenging and fun for their body, (preferably) Pilates or otherwise. Life and movement doesn't end at Push-Up's, and I am certainly not the most fit at helping someone execute the Teaser ... but if you wanna figure out why you're stuck half-way through a Roll-Up, I know a thing or two about helping you process and progress. However you decide to teach, or pursue, a healthy relationship with the body, be sure it's a decision and not a default, and know there is never an end to that path but rather evolvement.
by James Crader