As I sit here writing this, listening to Black Sabbath, it occurs to me that whilst I appreciate Ozzy’s voice and the dark sound of Iommi, Butler and Ward, many would dismiss it as tuneless noise and instead turn to the latest throwaway pop sounds or the classics of Mozart, Handel and the like, and so it is with the varied world of fitness. Many practices come under the umbrella of fitness, each with their own band of devoted followers who claim it to be the best or only way to get results , but the fact is that we are all individuals and as such will have our own personal preferences and styles that we chose to undertake. If we stick with the analogy of music for a moment, personally I prefer heavy or classic rock, but as a lover of music am not confined to one genre and may find myself listening to anything from old school hip hop to cheesy 80s tunes at certain times. Day to day, it will be heavy rock, on occasion maybe some old school rap and other days I have to take other peoples’ likes into consideration and listen to 80s pop. To relate this to my lifting, I love to utilise heavy, compound moves to build strength (rock music), but appreciate that I also have to work the smaller, stabilising muscles to assist the prime movers (rap) and also at times undertake cardio, which I don’t like, but realise is necessary in order to maintain overall fitness (80s tat!)
All of this comes under the general heading of fitness, and for the average fitness enthusiast, it is important not to limit oneself to one specific methodology, but instead to vary training to include things that perhaps you do not enjoy as much, but which will contribute to overall wellbeing and good health. It is easy to get into a rut and become blinkered to other methods of training, doing similar exercises session after session, but by widening our fitness horizon we may be able to achieve additional results or make quicker progress towards our initial goal. Even the so called hardcore trainers often turn to other disciplines in order to better themselves or help maintain progress towards their ultimate goal. Professional bodybuilders have been known to take yoga classes to help with flexibility; two disciplines that could not be more different, but combining to benefit overall fitness, and isn’t that what we all want? Sure, we may want bulging biceps and six packed midriffs, but these are of little use if we get out of breath climbing the stairs or are unable to pull a sweater over our heads due to tight shoulders, and so the importance of overall fitness cannot be ignored and hence we may need to expand our repertoire in order to attain peak fitness.
The body utilises a number of energy systems, muscle is composed of two different fibre types, and the various organs and connective tissues must also be kept in condition in order to maximise health, and so it becomes clear that a multitude of disciplines should be undertaken if peak health is to be attained. Health is defined by the World Health Organisation as “ a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”, hence in order for health to be maximised it makes sense to employ a variety of training modalities. Whilst heavy lifting (rock music) is great for strength and improving connective tissue, cardio (cheesy 80s pop) is also important for the heart and cardiovascular system, whilst other forms of exercise from aerobics to cross fit all play their part in contributing to overall health. Mental well-being cannot be ignored either, with the benefits of exercise to mental health being well documented, and by choosing an activity that is fun and enjoyable, the benefits to both mind and body cannot be underestimated.
As long as we are ‘doing fitness’ does it really matter in which form? Performed safely and consistently any movement will be beneficial and by using just one method (or tune), we may be missing out on many benefits offered by a method that we have never considered, so it is important not to become blinkered and too set in our ways. Of course a cross fitter would not want to become too bulky or a sports person may have a strict training regime that is proven to work, but for the average person looking to improve their health and fitness, utilising a wide range of disciplines may prove to be the best way to train.