This will be the final post in my Vs month which has been very well received. I hope you have enjoyed them. This post will look at the debate of Health and Fitness Vs Aesthetics.
Through the time I have spent as a coach and the ample time I spent in around the fitness industry before then I have learnt to separate the two in my own mind. I don’t however, think that many people have been able to do this or may not have even thought seriously about it.
In this post I want to examine the two which aren’t always mutually exclusive of each other so we are clear what each is and what they may stand for.
Let battle commence.
Health and Fitness: Definitions
The meaning of the word health can mean several things to one person and what I consider health or healthy could seriously differ from yours. It would be helpful that if we can’t fully agree on what health means, that you can at least understand what I mean by it.
For me, the meaning of health has changed over the years. When I first started my own health journey it meant that I fit into my clothes better and was able to do my job without having to stop to sit down. It also meant that I was healthy enough to be around for my family in the long-term.
We all know friends and family that should be still around but due to poor health they were taken early. I didn’t want to be a statistic that my son only knew from a photograph. I wanted to be there.
Over the years my view or what I consider to be healthy has developed depending on where I am in regards to sport, job and mental state. I’m sure you can probably say the same.
In 2011, after I had lost a lot of weight, I wanted to be healthy enough to ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats. Now I want to be healthy enough to compete as an old man in CrossFit competitions.
My view of what is healthy, for me, has changed over the years.
But could my definition of health be mixed up with fitness?
Health and Fitness
For me, the two of these go hand in hand and although you could separate them, I don’t feel the need to on this occasion.
I want to purposely leave them intertwined during this argument for reasons that will become clear later on.
What’s important here is that for me, being healthy means that I am physically able to carry out not only the exercise I want to do but also take part in family life. That I’m able to deadlift, to play football with my son but also walk up a set of stairs without having to stop for breath.
“I want to look good naked.”
“I want a six pack.”
“I’m going on holiday next week and want to look good in a bikini.”
All things I am regularly told as a coach. Stock phrases that are also said to every coach up and down the country, every day.
These are quite often throw-away comments from someone who hasn’t formulated their own opinions on what they consider to be healthy. Or if they have, these opinions have been formed in line with a convention that is heavily influenced by the media.
“Aesthetics; (also spelled esthetics) is a branch of philosophy that explores the nature of art, beauty, and taste, with the creation and appreciation of beauty.”
My interpretation of this definition of aesthetics is the appreciation of the body beautiful and the crafting of a body that is considered a work of art.
The sport of bodybuilding would come under this. For those of you that don’t know, bodybuilders devote themselves to building a body that could be considered as art. Think Arnold Schwarzenegger. I am not knocking someone who wants to do this. They spend years doing it and have to be very disciplined. I doth my cap to them. Whatever floats your boat.
My take on aesthetics for this post is the pursuit of a body that you have seen on Instagram or the front cover of a magazine.
That is what I find wrong with the pursuit of aesthetics.
As a society we are bombarded with images of what other people have defined as beautiful. So much so that they have now become accepted as the norm and that we should all look like that.
I train a young sportsperson that competes to a high level. Their questions to me when I train them aren’t about how they get faster, or fitter or jump higher so they can excel but are instead about six packs and biceps.
That makes me a little sad.
What I Think
Well for once, I am going to come down on one side of the fence rather than sitting on top.
I know that health and fitness are far more important than what you look like. If you are healthy and fit, the rest will come.
Being healthy and fit doesn’t mean that you can’t also follow the body beautiful. There is overlap there for those of us that are blessed with the genes and the time to do it. For the vast majority of us, we don’t have the hours that are required, much less the genes.
To us, I would say it’s time to come to terms with what you are seeing on social media. But also, be realistic about what you want to achieve. Fitness models don’t always look like that. Maybe it’s time to care less about conforming and what others think out you. To realise that the Instagram model that you follow has taken 200 selfies at a time to look like that.
We should be happy in our own skin.
After many years I’m not particularly worried about what I look like. What concerns me most is being fit and healthy enough to keep doing the things I love, forever.
Be all you can be