What is Physical Freedom? And Why You Should Care
Everyone so obsessed with defining what it means to be "fit." Honestly, I think this pursuit is a huge, steaming pile of horse crap.
Most fitness standards are arbitrary. "If you can't do 20 pull-ups you're not fit!"
Oh really? I'm going to run 50k trail races on back-to-back weekends and I can deadlift 600 pounds. Tell me again that I'm not fit?
I've always sucked at pull-ups. I won't lie. I want to get better at them. I won't lie about that either. But with that said, one arbitrary standard shouldn't trump my other physical abilities.
Instead of trying to define physical fitness, I want to discuss a new concept.
Physical freedom is a phrase I coined, so if anyone tries to rip me off smack them down. The concept, in my opinion, frames physical fitness in a more personal and appropriate way.
Here's my definition of physical freedom:
Physical Freedom - The ability to wake up each day and tackle any physical task you enjoy, within reason.
It's really that simple.
If you enjoy swimming and want to swim a mile today, can you? That's physical freedom.
If you enjoy running and want to run three miles today, can you? That's physical freedom.
If you enjoy indoor rock climbing and want to spend the day playing Spiderman, can you? That's physical freedom.
If you want to smash 100 push-ups, 100 burpees, and do some hill sprints, can you? That's physical freedom.
As you can see, physical freedom is a very vague and highly personal concept. If you love running but hate resistance training, you can still enjoy physical freedom. Just know that a little strength brings with it the potential to amplify your physical freedom.
If you love resistance training but hate conditioning work, you can still enjoy physical freedom. Just know that improve conditioning brings with it the potential to amplify your physical freedom.
See where I'm going here?
The overriding point is to take care of yourself; to put yourself in the best position to be free to effectively do what you love to do.
If you love morning yoga but also enjoy evening binge drinking, there is a conflict of interest. If you enjoy running and having strong and healthy legs but also refuse to at least consider the possibility that resistance training may help, there is a conflict of interest.
At the end of the day though physical freedom will always remain a highly personal concept.
What you really want to avoid are the things in life that steal your freedom:
- Lack of strength
- Lack of conditioning
- Lack of sleep
- Excessive stress
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Food abuse and addictions
At the end of the day, the question should be: Can you wake up today and do the things you love to do?
I encourage you to ignore arbitrary fitness standards. Instead, focus on taking care of yourself with food and exercise. We are meant to be strong, agile, reasonably conditioned, mentally focused, and generally in control of our bodies.
If you huff and puff walking to the mailbox, you are not free. If you struggle to lift your 45-year-old body out of a chair, you are not free. And it is not from "old age.
Physical fitness is a journey to improve and maintain your body.
Let's return the concept of taking care of ourselves to the discussion of fitness. Let's focus on self-improvement through exercise and food rather than telling someone they suck and aren't fit just because they can't do 21 pull-ups.