Letter: Genuine fitness

By Gus Bode

Dear Editor:

Let me start by saying I have respect for any athlete who competes in a sport with weight classes. As someone who has competed in numerous wrestling, jiu-jitsu and submission grappling tournaments, I understand having to restrict caloric intake while maintaining a high level of physical activity. It sucks! That having been said, for some reason, in this country, we’ve come to believe that the steroid freaks with fake tans adorning the pages of magazines like Muscle & Fitness are the epitome of fitness. They are not. In fact, they’re not even close.

‘ Genuine fitness should be defined by an increased physical work capacity in a wide variety of domains, not by physical appearance. Genuine fitness is having competency in all 10 physical skill sets – cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, power, flexibility, coordination, balance, agility and speed – not just one of them.

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Genuine fitness is being able to perform a wide variety of tasks in all three metabolic pathways, not being able to watch a lot of TV on the elliptical. This type of fitness is achieved through serious metabolic conditioning, learning to control your body through mastering the basics of gymnastics, learning to control external objects through powerlifting/Olympic weightlifting and fueling these activities with a proper diet.’

The people who are part sprinter, part gymnast and part weightlifter will outwork and out-perform the bodybuilders at almost every physical task imaginable. What you do in the gym should transfer to real-life tasks outside the gym. Nature requires you to use your body as a whole, not in isolated muscle groups.’ So get off the curl machine, rip through some clean-and-jerks, get off the treadmill set at 5 miles per hour with no incline and run some hard 400-meter repeats for time, and pay more attention to the stopwatch than how hardcore you think you look in the mirror.

If I’ve offended any of you Ronnie Coleman or Jay Cutler worshipers, too bad. Having only 4 percent body fat just means you’re going to get cold faster in the winter. You could have spent that fake tan money on some kettlebells. If you’re truly convinced the bodybuilder model of training will produce a fitness superior to the one I’ve described here, I invite you to prove me wrong, including any of you who just competed for Mr./Mrs. SIUC.’

David Siu

2007 alumnus in exercise science and physical fitness

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