What is Fitness?

What Is Fitness and Who Is Fit?

Outside Magazine crowned triathlete Mark Allen "the fittest man on earth". Let's just assume for a moment that this famous six-time winner of the IronMan Triathlon is the fittest of the fit, then what title do we bestow on the decathlete Simon Poelman who also possesses incredible endurance and stamina, yet crushes Mr. Allen in any comparison that includes strength, power, speed, and coordination?

Perhaps the definition of fitness doesn't include strength, speed, power, and coordination though that seems rather odd. Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines "fitness" and being "fit" as the ability to transmit genes and being healthy. No help there. Searching the Internet for a workable, reasonable definition of fitness yields disappointingly little […] Worse yet, the NSCA, the most respected publisher in exercise physiology, in their highly authoritative Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning doesn't even attempt a definition. …" CrossFit Journal, October 2002.

Further, the Journal suggests 3 fitness standards, offering that fitness is

1) the proficiency and balance of 10 recognized physical skills:

  • Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance (the ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen),
  • Stamina (the ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy),
  • Strength (the ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force),
  • Flexibility (the ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint),
  • Power (the ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time),
  • Speed (the ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement),
  • Coordination (the ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement),
  • Agility (the ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another),
  • Balance (the ability to control the placement of the bodies center of gravity in relation to its support base),
  • and Accuracy (the ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity).

2) about performing well at any and every task imaginable (hopper model)

3) requires competency and training in each of these three metabolic pathways or engines.

As this is the most useful definition of fitness available, the FiCT competition will use these 3 standards as a guideline to test who is currently the Fittest in Cape Town.