The (De) Evolution of Fitness Part 1: Training
Fitness has certainly changed throughout time. Beginning as a necessary part of human life for survival in hunting and gathering cultures, evolving to physical training for warfare and weapon mastery, bringing us to where we are at our present time of recreational activity and competitive sports. In theory each generation has passed on skill sets and tools to the next, for improvement and refinement.
So we are at the peak right?
The short answer is maybe. Yes we have technology far beyond our caveman and medieval ancestors that allow us to examine and optimize the human machine. We now know what stimulates muscle growth, aids in fat loss, and even have the ability to repair and replace parts on our bodies that are no longer functioning at their peak levels. The future has most certainly arrived. You would think with all this knowledge and tech every person would be operating at the absolute top of the performance charts, right? Sadly this is not true at all. Obesity, cardiovascular disease, and injury continue to plague our society and are on the rise every year. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey more than 2 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight or obese. Where are we going wrong?
I have a theory. Through the human timeline there seems to be a pattern. When something is gained, something is also inadvertently lost. It’s like purchasing anything in the grocery store…you exchange money for a product. You’re out your cash but you do have bananas. It’s balance. So in the evolutionary exchange from being “fit” in order to survive, to being “fit” in order to thrive we have given up a lot along the way.
One of the most essential things we have given up is our spine. Hear me out. While our ancestors didn’t have Google or a car with a backup camera…they did have proper posture. The average modern person spends a majority of their day at a desk, behind the wheel of a car, and in compromised positions staring at our electronic devices & cell phones. Improper or misaligned spinal structure has been shown to cause a host of conditions from poor gut health to raised cortisol levels. Both huge red flags to the nervous system to store fat in the body. Our Nomadic brothers and sisters had to maintain their spines to ride a horse, walk from home to the fields, and once at the fields, protect their spines and themselves because if they missed a day…they didn’t eat. Today we sit stagnant for a majority of the day until we make it to the gym to exercise. When we do workout we often forget to focus on mobility and decompressing ourselves properly, further weakening our spine health. We can only play that game for so long until we experience constant inflammation or worse injury…then we are back to a very discouraging square one.
What about the type of exercise? Actual physical fitness methods or routines didn’t develop until the Egyptian and Roman empires preparing their youth for war. Most of these training regiments where based in fundamental skills like running on even and uneven ground, lifting and carrying heavy things, unarmed fighting with weight loaded weapons and so on. No 3 sets of 10 calf raises for Achilles (although he actually could have used that....see the movie Troy). Because in battle if these men didn’t have optimal physical training they took a spear in the belly by their enemy that did. Fast forward to today where the modern goal for most is to look “fit”. We find exercise programs and machines that do just enough to spike endorphin's for a half hour…but what are we gaining? Does your dumbbell complex help you with your short game? Does the stationary bike give you the mobility to change directions when running down your child? Can your boot-camp provide you the energy to spend the day planting flowers in the humid Florida Summer? Does a bag of groceries weigh exactly 25lbs and do you need to lift it 12 times in a row? See where I'm going here?
The advantage, I believe, our ancestors had was the way they integrated fitness into their daily lives. Exercise was not just moving an object through space, exercise was a way to refine the body movements and improve skills that directly impacted mobility in everyday life. Now I am not here to discriminate on modern routines, exercise equipment or even training philosophies. Don't go turning in your gym key cards just yet. You don't at all have to put down the barbells...Lord knows I love a heavy Bench Press day just as much as the next bro. But to truly understand where we are going we must look at where we have been. The beauty of the times we live in is we have the technology and the historical evidence with the ability to combine them both. Ultimately when we know what we are training for and how to do it properly, exercise (paired with a healthy natural diet) can be the single greatest thing we can do for our bodies... our one and only true commodity.
The body and mind where designed to work together. Overcome tasks. Exist in synergy. Think of your life, what you enjoy, where you are, and where you would like to go. Personally I want to be as mobile, functional, and strong as I can be until my last breathe here on earth. And that is what I am training for. What about you? Leave your thoughts, comments, questions below!
Feel free to comment below on any of our ideas or post questions that you may have. The professionals at Warrior Fitness Jax are always available for quotes or questions regarding functional fitness, steel mace training and body flow movements. Contact Us for more info on joining the warrior tribe!