Thursday, August 11, 2016

Excellence?

"Excellence," we strive for it, but what is it really?  I am primarily a science teacher by trade, so I am inclined to think that the things we pursue should leave a trail of data along the way that inform us of our progress. Otherwise, how will we ever know if we are making progress towards our goals. What I mean is that it is difficult to know if we are moving toward excellence, unless we have a way to measure it.  People don't like to be measured for whatever reason, it might be their ego or just a lack of self confidence.  We don't like to know where we stand because it is easier to lie to yourself if you aren't measuring anything. You can apply this line of thinking to all sorts of areas of your life if you like, but I will focus primarily on excellence in fitness for this particular blog post.

I think the only way to measure excellence is to have some sort of fitness standard that you can measure yourself against.  Lucky for us, CrossFit has defined these standards of fitness for us. These standards of fitness, unlike other definitions of fitness, are actually measurable. According to the CrossFit Journal, http://journal.crossfit.com/ There are ten recognized general physical skills. These physical skills include: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy.  You cannot be good at one thing and be considered fit.  If I am a great runner and possess tremendous amounts of cardiovascular and respirator endurance, but cannot jump more than 3 inches off the ground or pick up a 50 lb bag of salt from Costco for my water softener, would you consider me to be fit? No way! If I am a huge competitive weight lifter who can dead lift over 500 lbs, but I lack the mobility to pick a pencil up off of the floor, would you consider me to be fit? Absolutely not!  My point is, and CrossFit has be making this point for years now, these "specialists" are not necessarily fit.  Specialists are good at one thing.  In biology, when they say "survival of the fittest," they are not necessarily referring to the strongest or the fastest individual.  Scientists are typically referring to the individual who is best adapted to a changing environment. This is a great parallel, because he or she who is fittest may not be the absolute best in a single area, but they can adapt quickly to all areas of fitness and perform well in each area. This adaptability to changing conditions, and the ability to thrive in those conditions, is more desirable for the functionality required in our everyday lives. According to CrossFit, "you are as fit as you are competent in each of the ten skills. A regimen develops fitness to the extent that it improves each of these ten skills."  This is measurable, this is scientific, and this is the only definition that gives any sort of standard by which to measure ourselves and our fitness.

For more on this topic please go to http://journal.crossfit.com/ and read the classic article "What is Fitness?" It is a very thorough article on the topic.  So go measure yourself against the standard, because in my book this is "excellence."  Those who progress towards a standard of fitness and are willing to put in the work required to move closer to the standard each and every day are excellent!

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