The Application of Fitness

Here’s my question….why do you go to the gym?

I recently listened to a fascinating interview with Kelly Starrett on the purpose of training. As a regular CrossFitter and gym owner, what he had to say made me stop and assess the purpose of it all.

This is what he said…….

People are working harder than they have ever worked with regards to fitness. Movement practices and systems are more complete, whether thats power lifting, olympic lifting or in the CrossFit community, even in various boot camps we are starting to see a much more rounded practice. We are taking all the joints through their full range of motions, making sure we are covering all the necessary skills and movements.

The issue we now seem to have, even with the big improves we have seen in peoples diets, is that we are forgetting why we are in the gym in the first place. The whole point of this is about getting outside and acquiring new skills and existing in chaotic environments.

As kids develop through school and participate in various sports, we know that those sports need to be backed up with some form of movement training for optimum skill development. However, there seems to be a significant shift away from those sports, we are forgetting about playing football or skiing, biking, running and climbing. We instead see an artifact of things that only exist in the gym. The application has been lost, of getting out and learning new skills regularly and playing. If we don’t dissociate fitnessing from training, we are going to miss out on a set of skill that transfer into life, movement and sport.

Any program that requires you to spend two to four hours in the gym every day is unrealistic and unscalable. We need to remember why we are training, we are not just working hard at fitnessing, because a lot of what can be seen in strength and conditioning communities these days resembles modern day body building. You know those guys, t-shirt off, taking selfies, it’s all about the ego. It isn’t about the application of that fitness towards something else. It can be confusing, with the use of elements like gymnastics, power lifting and olympic lifting as these are all sports, however we seem to have forgotten we are using those tools to become better skilled movers in the chaos of life.

This is coupled with the fact that we are doing a pretty poor job of down regulating. We need to continue to refine our skills, not just identify ourselves by the extra plate added to the bar or the extra pull up completed, they are important metrics of course but we must not forget equally as important practices like breathing techniques and down regulation practice so that all of this can be sustainable.

There has been a big shift in the focus of our training, 10 to 15 years ago people had a much bigger aerobic capacity but were weak and poorly skilled and now we are seeing that people are much much stronger and much more skilled, but they have forgotten their need for aerobic capacity, consequently people are having to go back and retrain that base aerobic capacity. We don’t want just mindless 5k’s but a more precise system with time and energy put back into that practice. A recent study found that one of the key metrics of longevity is VO2 max, making this an important element of training that must not be neglected if we are looking for longevity.

I must say, whilst listening to this interview, I spent the majority of my time nodding my head and having lightbulb moments.

We should always bring our training back to the ‘why’. Why am I doing this, what is it really all for? And be honest, it’s not about the next competition or the next heavy training session, it’s about making a better version of you?

Humans beings pay a price for being a specialist, we need to be ready for sport and life.

So get the hell out and go be a human being!


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