There are menacing spirits about tonight. Truly horrifying, ghastly ghouls in shiny, enticing packages. Resting ominously in bowls, baskets and bags, they await their jolly little prey. With the power of the Pied Piper, they will lead all manner of small witches, scarecrows, Spidermen, vampires, princesses, cowboys and gypsies toward ebullient, screeching glee, then sugar shock and moody mayhem this evening. Dastardly little devils, aren’t they…?
Yesterday, we explored the multitude of modern fitness standards spanning a variety of professions – soldier, cop, firefighter, Olympic athlete, pro athlete. We discussed the amorphous, free form standards held by pure fitness methodologies like CrossFit, as well as the simple but starkly delineated physical benchmarks a “real man” must satisfy as laid out by Earle Liederman. And though I didn’t even get into all the other fitness markers of the various athletic subcultures (ultrarunners, mountain bikers, soccer players, body builders, kayakers, backpackers, etc.), I’ve concluded that modern fitness is, by and large, incredibly splintered and heavily specialized. If you were to take a cross-section of examples of ideal athletes from every sport or activity imaginable, you’d get a veritable motley crew of different shapes, sizes, musculatures, and body types. Each would have wildly different capacities for strength, power, speed, endurance, agility, balance, and precision, and you’d see a wide range of resting heart rates, inflammatory markers, chronic injury rates, stress levels, and immune systems. And, if you had X-ray vision, you’d probably see an assortment of liver, heart, kidney, and other organ sizes.
Organizations whose members are expected to engage in physical activity as an essential aspect of affiliation – the various branches of the military, law enforcement agencies, fitness methodologies like CrossFit – necessarily impose standardized fitness benchmarks, minimum requirements which every prospective member must satisfy. When a significant portion of your professional identity is predicated upon your ability to catch (or kill) bad guys (bad guys, mind you, whose primary objective is to avoid capture), you’ve got to be able to run, jump, support your own body weight, and adequately perform all the other physical activities that might come up in a day’s work. The various fitness standards are an attempt to ensure candidates are up to par in their respective areas.
Yesterday, I explored the malleable meaning of fitness, including how our ideas of fitness (both reproductive and physical alike) have drastically changed over history. What began as a reliable indicator of a person’s ability to survive and provide for his or her family or tribe has lost its urgency, and becoming fit in the modern world is now a choice, rather than a necessity for reproductive survival.
Or is it?
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