Sunday, June 26, 2011

How "Fit" Are You?

CrossFit has long defined "fitness" as, among other thing, proficiency in 10 general physical skills (a concept borrowed from Jim Cawley and Bruce Evans of Dynamax):
  • Cardiovascular / Respiratory Endurance: The ability of body systems to gather, process, and deliver oxygen.
  • Stamina: The ability of body systems to process, deliver, store, and utilize energy.
  • Strength: The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force.
  • Flexibility: The ability to maximize the range of motion at a given joint.
  • Power: The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.
  • Speed: The ability to minimize the time cycle of a repeated movement.
  • Coordination: The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.
  • Agility: The ability to minimize transition time from one movement pattern to another.
  • Balance: The ability to control the placement of the bodies center of gravity in relation to its support base.
  • Accuracy: The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.
As the CrossFit Journal declared, "You are as fit as you are competent in each of these ten skills."

Most people work on just the first five or six items on the list above. Marathoners (who haven't yet discovered CrossFit Endurance) grind out long workouts to build up a "base" of endurance, and sprinters devote their time to generating maximum power and speed. But everyone wants to get stronger and faster -- and some even squeeze in some flexibility and mobility work on occasion.

But imagine how mind-blowing it would be if everyone spent more time on the back-half of this list, and worked rigorously on developing greater speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy.

And the best part? We don't even have to practice these skills in the gym. Here are a few ways you, too, can get more "fit" while on the job:

Restaurant workers can practice throwing and catching pancakes like Frisbees!

Retail workers can bag merchandise with kick-ass flourishes!

Ice cream vendors can amaze customers (and make them feel strangely inadequate)!

And baristas and bartenders can strap on a pair of Heelys and dazzle people with their beverage preparation abilities!

Seriously: There's a lesson here. (I think.) I'm not saying these guys are the fittest people around; for all I know, their Fran times are crappy and they can't front squat worth a damn. They're specialists -- not generalists.  But given their apparent mastery of at least 4 or 5 of the 10 General Physical Skills, these people are arguably just as -- if not more -- "fit" than you or me.

[Thanks to @oldskoolboarder for the Turkish ice cream video!]