Do Singaporeans Know The TRUE Meaning Of Fitness?

August 22, 2011

Image of woman running on a treadmillOver the past couple of years, the fitness bug has certainly bit a large segment of the population here in Singapore, as seen in the rising number of people who engage in fitness pursuits of one kind or another.

From memberships at commercial fitness gyms and boutique studios, to enrolment in private personal training and personal mind-body wellness programs, to participation in outdoor group fitness sessions and other sporting activities, all these have hit an all-time high in Singapore.

With these high participation rates across fitness activities in Singapore, is it thus safe for us to assume that the vast majority of Singaporeans are truly fit, and that what they are pursuing really constitutes TRUE fitness or TOTAL fitness?

Contrary to what many of us would think, a study of Singaporeans’ exercise habits by the team here at Singapore Fitness Professionals Network actually reveal that the majority of exercises do NOT really understand the real meaning of fitness, and often fall short of attaining what TOTAL Fitness is.

Take for example – a typical 20-30 year-old male iron-pumper in the gym who is engaged in “bodybuilding” or “weight-lifting” type of training. Ask him what fitness is, and he invariably talks about building muscle mass, strength or even power. Hardy, if ever, will you hear any mention of flexibility, agility, balance or even cardiovascular efficiency.

Likewise, talk to any of the New Age followers of Yoga, Pilates or the like, and you will find their concept of fitness as limited to “stress reduction“, “mind-body connection“, “body tone“, “flexibility” etc. No where will you hear any emphasis on fitness concepts such as muscular strength, power, or even speed and agility.

Even those involved in traditional so-called “all-rounded” sports – such as triathlon – are often limited in their understanding of fitness. To them, fitness often means one thing, and one thing only  – having peak endurance or super-human stamina. No where will you hear them extolling the benefits of power/strength training, plyometrics, or balance, and flexibility.

So, what’s the point of all these? The point is:

Most people in Singapore are often so tuned in to just 1 or 2 of their favourite fitness activities that they FAIL to see that they are seriously neglecting other important components of fitness.

In other words, their concept and pursuit of fitness have become extremely one-sidedskewed or unbalanced.

By adopting a certain BIAS towards a particular fitness activity, they have invariably forgotten the basic foundational truth of fitness :

That NO single exercise or physical activity out there in the entire world can ever train or work ALL the various components of fitness.

This in turn basically means that anyone whose fitness pursuits are limited in variety, are seriously short-changing themselves in terms of their fitness.

So, this invariably begs the question of what we must do then in order to qualify as being truly fit – as in having TOTAL or COMPLETE fitness.

The answer is this:

We need to engage in as many DIFFERENT fitness activities as possible that train or stimulate ALL the different components of fitness – which could range from muscular strength, muscular endurance, cardiovascular efficiency to muscular power, flexibility, balance, mobility, and even speed and agility .

Take for example, someone who engages in middle-distance running, weight-trains 2-3 times a week, joins a flexibility group class, does a series of calisthenics/body-weight drills on his/her own, works on a bosu ball for balance, and partakes in interval sprint training in the pool, would notably be much more closer to having COMPLETE fitness than any of the following  :

  • someone who just pumps heavy iron 6-days a week to the exclusion of everything else.
  • someone who does Yoga, twice-a-day, 7-days a week and nothing else.
  • someone who just runs and runs and runs in the name of “fitness”

The lesson for all of us here is to bear in mind that FITNESS is  an extremely all-encompassing term. In order to qualify as being truly FIT – in its entirety – we need to do more than just indulge in our favourite physical activities to the exclusion of everything else.

So, the next time you hear someone boasting about being extremely “FIT”, take a good look at that person’s training regime.

If it’s nothing more than a one-dimensional pursuit of a single activity, you know for sure that the person has absolutely NO idea of what real fitness truly constitutes.