Wednesday 27 February 2013

Being Fit In The 21st Century

Being Fit In The 21st Century

What does it mean to be fit in the 21st Century? To me it doesn't mean looking like the pros we see on the cover of fitness magazines, it means looking healthy and feeling good. As consumers in the 21st Century, companies realize we are much more sophisticated in as far as what it is we want, how we spend our money (especially since 2009) and perhaps most importantly in what we know or what we can learn about.

Yes, with everything from health segments in the daily/nightly news, the expansion of fitness clubs, cooking shows, diet and fitness magazines which often provide recipes for healthy alternatives, and of course social media and the PC and Internet, we are much more savvy when it comes to the human body and it's nutritional requirements.

What's more important, is the fact that physical exorcise as part of a healthy diet is just sensible these days. We don't have the excuse "we didn't know better" because living in the information age... we should.

REALISTIC                                                         VS.                                  UNREALISTIC

Setting goals is key when doing anything, but when it comes to fitness, too many people seek to attain that which is unattainable.

We don't take into account the fact that people in the fitness industry are not only professionals, but that fitness and body sculpting is their life as well as their livelihood. Which means a significant portion of their daily routine is dedicated to training in excess, the chief requirement of body builders.


Okay, so you see celebrities with sculpted bodies in movies, TV and print ads and figure that's what you want, but again, most don't take into account the dedication required, or the fact most celebrities don't look that way year round. In fact, most hit the gym (personal) with a professional trainer when hired for a role and more often than not the dedication to excessive training is left behind at the wrap parties.

Unless your name happens to be Arnold, Sylvester, or Dwayne, and a statuesque physique is your bread and butter (or unless you have the time to dedicate to excessive exorcise) you don't need to look like them.

While stars like Ed Norton (American History X), Christian Bale (Batman,The Machinist) Matthew Mcconaughey (Ring of Fire,The Dallas Buyers Club) and Curtis James Jackson A.K.A. 50 cent (Things Fall Apart) have demonstrated the uncanny ability to modify their look for a specific role, there are a few like Jamie Fox, Brad Pitt and Will Smith who appear to have made fitness a lifestyle. But again, take into account a more flexible schedule (not 9-5 year round) financial abundance allowing for personal training and years of dedication (for when they're ready to return to their normal look, and believe me, once you've become accustomed to having a certain look, anything less is hard to live with)

Problem is, we're denizens of a microwave dinner society. We seemed to have lost the very thing that brought this civilization into the 21st Century... patience. Meaning we want everything faster. Cars, Internet download speed, smart phone download speed, we want what we want now... and with the level of body shaping dreamt of, that's just not possible (and remember, we're not being paid exorbitant amounts of money to do so) we're doing it for something much more noble... happiness and personal satisfaction.


The great thing is the human body was actually designed for physical activity. It really wasn't that long ago the majority of human beings walked to our destinations, hunted for our food, ran from becoming food, and warred hand to hand for protection and conquest. What happened...? The 20th century. To balance the heavy labour requirements of the Industrial Revolution, a culture of comfort was created.

With TV being the platform used to deliver product advertising, most bought into the idea of luxurious living made for the common man and keeping up with the Joneses, and over the decades we've seen the emergence of the couch potato, the office desk worker, the driver, coupled with the global expansion of the Fast Food Industry. The scales were heavily tipped in favour of little to no exorcise, and as our work becomes less physically laborious in favour of a more cerebral work culture, the need for physical activity will only increase. Office workers and drivers generally seem to notice mobility issues that stem from sitting at a desk 40 hours a week, and while some companies actually implement some form of physical activity for their employees, I'm of the opinion it just doesn't go far enough. Why? Simple... technology makes us lazy, and that laziness is becoming a culture in itself... starting with today's youth.


Now don't mistake this section as a condemnation of modern technology, it is here to highlight what I feel is part of the problem with our youth today. Too many gadgets equals less inclination to leave the bedroom much less go outside.

20 plus years ago, I used to skateboard... less than five years ago, my step daughter was skateboarding in her bedroom, on a faux skateboard hooked in to her play station while a digital representation of her performed tricks and skated the course... need I say more? Okay, how about the fact the hours upon hours children used to spend playing outside are now spent in front of a TV playing video games.

Like many things that have become important to our culture, education about healthy diet and exorcise has to begin at a young enough age as to make it second nature to the generation of the future.


I can't stress more how important having inspiration for weight loss or fitness goals is than the left picture. Body sculpting is a slow process especially if you're just starting out with little or no experience. The flip side of that coin is muscle memory. Regardless of how long a break you take from even the most novice weight training, your muscles will always remember being in prime condition and actually works to stay that way, but you have to get to a certain point for that benefit... you have to take action.

Grab inspiration from anywhere you can find it (when I first began weight training in my late teens back in the late 80s, my inspiration was... Arnold Schwarzenegger (I had this exact picture from his competition days on my wall) did I for a moment dream of attaining what he had...? Of course not, he was a professional body builder turned action hero star.

It did provide the inspiration to work to look and feel better than I ever could have before fitness became a lifestyle, and 20 plus years later, I still work out, not anywhere near what I used to (3-4 hour sessions 3 times a week) and being experienced I know exactly how to target the muscles I want to grow, and with muscle memory, I can break for the winter (3-4 months) hit the gym in the spring and regain what I lost by early summer.


Good enough. No two words are more important to understand with health and fitness training. Too many reach for that unattainable brass ring, then the few that do (non professionals that is) end up allowing it to become an obsession. The rule should be, if you feel good, then that's good enough. If changes in lifestyle provide you with more energy, good enough.

If you're no longer gasping for air when you do something as simple as climb a few stairs, good enough. If you can play with your kids and not feel pain or stiffness afterwards, that's good enough. If you can finally fit into clothing you haven't been able to in a decade or two, that's certainly good enough.

Although I am long past the days of 9-12 hours per week workouts in order to maintain 155 pounds of solid muscle, 8% body fat on a 5'5" body, I have been feeling the urge to mass load again, mostly due to two forms of inspiration, Dwayne Johnson "the Rock" who is two years younger than me and the biggest he's ever been (even as a pro wrestler...)

I've been hearing so much (too often in fact) about how much muscle mass we loose the older we get, and I didn't start to have doubts about my plan to be a healthy golden ager... but then I found my second inspiration...

... and proof I can (and will) be working out into my golden years. If the senior in the picture below left can look like that at 74 years old, what possible excuse do I have? What excuse do you have?

Maybe that's a special case?
A one in a million shot finding a picture of a one senior in a million .

Well, 74 year old Ernestine Shepard may say otherwise. So may 74-year-old Tsutomu Tosuka and Bob Delmonteque, who happened to be 84 at the time the bottom right picture was taken.

Okay, so perhaps you'll use the excuse that they are muscle heads and you don't like weight training. Is it possible to be fit without using weights? Ask the Australian aboriginal males, ripped and muscular without the use of a gym, calorie counting, or fat-burning supplements.

How then? Simple... they are contemporary hunter-gatherers. The way of life replaced by the machine of progress is what keeps them healthy. Now am I asking Westerners to cast off civilization as we know it in order to get healthy? Of course not. But living in the 21st Century, I'm certain we could come up with a world of alternatives.

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