The Ari Schwartz Not-So-Expert Guide to Fitness

So, here's the honest truth: I am not an "expert" on fitness. I'm not a trainer. I don't even really know much about the science of fitness. But I'm interested in fitness from the perspective of someone who enjoys fitness as a hobby. So, these weekly articles on fitness will be written in part from the perspective of someone who knows more than average, but also as someone who is still learning a lot.

In other words, this is a discussion, not a sermon. However, let's start with my foundation in fitness.

Firstly, let me make something clear here:

I have no notion of fitness as a single concept

Fitness is hard to define as far as I'm concerned. There's no singular notion of what a "fit" person looks like. Forget all that bullshit in the media and all that crap you read online from self-loving "fitness" buffs. Here's a gallery of people who are "fit" in what they do:

The Ari Schwartz Not-So-Expert Guide to Fitness

Power lifter

The Ari Schwartz Not-So-Expert Guide to Fitness

Power lifter

The Ari Schwartz Not-So-Expert Guide to Fitness

Football player

The Ari Schwartz Not-So-Expert Guide to Fitness

Football player

The Ari Schwartz Not-So-Expert Guide to Fitness

Marathoners

The Ari Schwartz Not-So-Expert Guide to Fitness

Martial artist (and one of my former teachers!)

The Ari Schwartz Not-So-Expert Guide to Fitness

Gymnast

The Ari Schwartz Not-So-Expert Guide to Fitness

Gymnast

...and so on. Did I forget your sport? Don't fret! Because it doesn't matter. If you're kickin' ass in what you want to do, then you're fit. Being fit isn't being skinny, or muscular, or tall, or thin, or short, or fat, or anything. It's being able to use your body as a means to an end.

The end.

So, what else?

I believe in an open mind in fitness

That isn't to say that I'm a heterodox, but I don't believe that there is one "right way" to achieve any fitness goal, other than form (more on this later.) When someone says, "x or y is the right way," they're probably blowing smoke up your ass. Fitness as a science is constantly evolving. Always keep an open mind to new fitness knowledge. Challenge your own beliefs, try new things, and don't let anyone tell you they have found the gospel truth.

It's never too late. EVER.

There's no such thing as "too late." I didn't get serious about fitness until my mid-20s. I meet people who train with me who started in their 30s and 40s. One of the senior students in my karate dojo is 48, and he started with his daughter almost 8 years ago. He regularly hands me my ass when we spar. You're never too old, never too out of shape. Everyone starts somewhere. Which brings up another topic...

Don't be ashamed of yourself

Remember how I said everyone starts somewhere? So did that person who you think you'll never match. They started at the bottom. Everyone did. Don't feel badly about being behind others. Instead, feel inspired that maybe one day you will be standing there with them. Which brings up another topic...

Don't feel badly about not being the best (also, remember that someone will always be better)

Even if you're a gold medalist in Olympic Starcrafting, one day some young upstart will come by and beat your record. And even if the best you ever achieve is "pretty okay, but just average," then so what? Your goals should be YOUR goals. Fitness is about you, and only you. Just be glad to live in a world where we have so many people to learn from and emulate.

Eat, Drink, and Sleep

Fuel up with good food (I will get into food in the future, but I have opinions... most of which are "stop worrying and stop trying to find the perfect diet.") Drink lots of fluid. Sleep as much as you can. The body needs all three.

Find something YOU enjoy and enjoy the hell out of it!

Finally for today, find an activity that YOU enjoy and make it yours. If you hate running on a treadmill, then why are you running on a treadmill? Stop doing that. Find another cardio activity. Do you love climbing? Then join a climbing gym. Do you want to shoot some hoops? Then why aren't you playing basketball?

Do what YOU enjoy. In my case, martial arts became my focus, so everything I do is geared toward being better in that. In other words, make this about you and what you want, not about what others want for you. Be the best you that you can be, and fitness will naturally follow.

And with that, I'm off to train! Next week, next topic!