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Fitness (for Dummies)
[ Issue 148 Page 6 ] Thursday, November 24, 2016, 13:09:59 Agar Omondi agar@kaist.ac.kr

Working out is the current “in-thing” in Korea. Whether it is the morning jogs or the monotonous sprints on treadmills at the local gym, everyone seems to be keen to shed a few extra pounds. Korean society is one that, frankly speaking, has some very well-defined standards of what most of its people define as beauty. This is driven partly by the hugely successful K-pop and K-drama industries in which stars tend to have more or less the same look. Thanks to humanity’s less than perfect genetics, most of us have some extra body fat in specific places that we want to get rid of in our pursuit of that elusive, slim K-pop physique.

It is thus not uncommon to hear harrowing tales of people spending hours sweating it out on a treadmill or embarking on rigorous diet regimes in an attempt to attain that ever elusive figure that has become such a hallmark of what Korea considers to be attractive. But instead of talking about beauty, I will talk about fitness as I believe it is less abstract than beauty and thus much easier to talk about thanks to the much more concise vocabularies associated with it. We can all agree on whether or not someone is fit. Whether one is beautiful however, can escalate into a very polarizing debate.

In the world of working out, there are many definitions and sentiments with regards to the term fitness and thus the term fitness strikes lots of different chords in different people. A quick Google search of the term fitness yields images just as varied. The sentiments associated with the word “fitness” include a slim figure, speed, endurance, low body fat percentages, etc. For the purpose of this discussion, we will use “increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains” – a definition given by my first professional rugby conditioning coaches a so many years ago.

With regards to sports specific fitness (conditioning if you will), there are different standards. The type of action that an average rugby fifteens player, for example, sees in 80 minutes of full contact rugby is completely

different from that which a soccer player sees in the 90 minutes they are playing. Yet in order to compete effectively, both players have to be considered to be “fit.”

Despite these and numerous other yawning differences in physique and abilities, there is a general consensus on what the various aspects of fitness are. They are:

Strength : This is application of force to move or to resist movement of an entity

Endurance (muscular and aerobic) : The ability to sustain work over a measured time period, with the amount of work being the determining parameter.

Speed: The ability to move an entity over a certain distance in the shortest time possible, affected by acceleration and endurance.

Power: This is the ability to do work at a certain speed. It can be seen as strength and speed combined.

Agility: The ability to change direction of movement, with the speed of do so being the main determining factor.

Flexibility: This is a measure of how wide a range of movement one can achieve at their joints.

In essence, a fit person should be able to perform consistently in various activities say running, rowing, swimming, jumping, lifting, etc. Fitness is holistic; it should not be looked at as an isolated aspect. All factors of fitness are directly, or otherwise, interrelated. In order to be truly fit, one needs to address and incorporate each aspect in their training. As goes the ancient African saying, “Whoever wants what got lost under the bed, has to get on their knees and search!”

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