Happy National Fitness Day! It’s the annual UK-wide celebration of fitness (exercise, training, sport, activity… whatever you choose to call it).
What do you choose to call it? And what does it mean to you?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. Why do I make time to get to the gym, work so hard that I’m often aching for a few days, and bother to set goals (goals that often nobody knows about except me and my training log book)?
I’m not a pro athlete. The effort and investment I put into training won’t necessarily come back to me. Life might well be easier if I didn’t know or care about training!
Yet I do it. Almost every day. For years – decades, actually – now.
I didn’t start out this way. I guess very few people, unless their parents are elite athletes and they were born into a sporty household, given a tennis racquet/put on horse/thrown off a diving board before they could walk 😉
So why have I persisted with training, general lifestyle fitness, and sometimes pretty high-level sport? It must be because of what it MEANS to me.
Fitness means health
Some of the extreme goals I have pursued in the name of sport haven’t been healthy (swimming the Channel, dieting down to bodybuilding-stage-lean). The sharp end of sport often isn’t. But on a day-to-day basis, fitness means health. This year has hammered this home to me. A couple of close family members have been through serious illness, and that stuff puts things into perspective. I want to be fit so my heart is as healthy as possible for as long as possible. I want to build and keep muscle so my body stays strong for as long as possible. Cardio matters. Muscle tissue matters. Activity levels matter.
Fitness means growth
Not just physical – although as a bodybuilder, that is important to me. (I actually think it should be important to anyone: after the age of about 30, our muscle mass starts to atrophy and bones lose density. By trying to “grow”, you’ll stand a decent change of keep one step ahead!) Setting myself personal fitness goals and working towards them helps me grow in confidence, learn new skills, and develop myself.
Fitness means confidence
I have no idea if I’d be the same kind of person without fitness. But I’m pretty sure that my regular fitness routine, goal setting, and achievements, empower me with a lot of confidence. Fitness is all you. Even if you’ve got a Personal Trainer, a coach, or team mates. What YOU achieve is all down to YOU. And it’s not always easy. Once you’ve achieved a fitness goal, you know you can achieve more – in business, in relationships, in finance, in life.
Fitness means fun
A lot of my social circle comes from fitness, and I’m not at all ashamed to say that. Fitness has given me friends, contacts, and an entire world of likeminded people. Training with a partner is about more than just the exercise session. It’s about friendship, talking, listening, making a human connection. The same goes for any hobby, of course. But with fitness, you’re getting healthier at the same time!
Fitness means sanity!
Training, a long walk, any kind of exercise on/in water, and even a sweaty gym cardio class gives me an important outlet for stress, high emotion, or an attack of the blahs. It’s one of my most important – and reliable – coping mechanisms. Exercise boosts my mood, lifts my spirits, and helps me put things into perspective. It also helps me work – some of my best ideas come to me when I’m physically active.
I asked a couple of fitness friends to tell you why fitness is so important to them.
Girl on the River, what does fitness mean to you?
“Fitness has fundamentally changed my life and how I feel about myself. Becoming fit has given me body confidence I never had, makes me feel strong and healthy and has given me a load of amazing friends. Finding a sport I love has also made it really fun, which I never thought possible.” Twitter: Girl On The River
And Lucy Fry, how about you?
“Fitness means… freedom to express myself, strength to embrace life, and help with slowing the chatter inside my mind. It’s been a support in difficult times; a source of joy, pride and excitement…!” Twitter: Lucy Fry
Over to you: what does fitness mean to you?
National Fitness Day is an annual awareness day from ukactive, the non-profit organisation whose mission is to get more people, more active, more often.
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.