|From One Busy
ALL ABOUT FITNESS
One viewing of late night TV and you'll develop a sufficient grasp of the fitness marketplace.
Fitness Celebrities: Billy Blanks, Kathy Smith, Arnold Swarzenegger, Jane Fonda, Jack La Lane, Body by Jake, Richard Simmons, John Blasdow, Charles Atlas, Windsor Pilates, Kiana Tom etc... There's quite a few!
There are thousands of fitness centers and heath food stores across our nation today. Don't forget the countless exercise videos, or the fitness and nutrition magazines! Our marketplace is replete not only with some few workable items, but with a great deal of 'junk'. Stuff that will never provide the results we seek. Rubs and lotions to eliminate cellulite? Suits that squeeze our bodies into uncomfortable compliance? So called nutritional tonics and potions fabricated from contrived ingredients and the leftover dregs of other food processes. One vendor even suggests we can improve our health and lose weight by 'breathing'! Another by bouncing. Let's face it, there is no substitute for pressing the flesh or to quote Cher:
"If a good body came in a can, everybody would have one."
Primitive man had little knowledge or interest in the dynamics of diet and exercise. They received essential workouts from hunting and gathering. Those activities involved a great deal of walking and fresh air... still valuable fitness ingredients. With civilization came domesticated plant and animal life. The hunter/gatherer regimen gave way to plowing and construction while providing better dietary control along with improved food preparation and storage techniques.
Confucius [circa 480 BCE (before the Christian era)] was among the first to recognize that inactivity was associated with issues of poor health. He began to encourage a ritualized communal workout. These were basically stylized 'range of motion' type movements that mimicked various animals. Buddhism and Hinduism value spirituality and prefer forms of fitness such as yoga. Yoga literally means 'union' (mind, body and spirit).
With larger populations came war and conflict. Early kingdoms and cities wanted well trained armies and began to require their soldiers to become accomplished warriors through weapons practice and exercise. Greece established the Olympic games (circa 776 BC) demonstrating themselves to be great proponents of fitness. It was they who likened athletic prowess to the grace of music and dance. They even proposed an early form of fitness trainer referred to as a
'paidotribe'. By way of contrast, it was indolence that led the Roman empire to eventual defeat by the barbarian hordes. Curiously fitness and health received something of a boost during the middle ages (200 AD to 1200 AD) as humanity returned to the hunter/gatherer lifestyle. There was great cruelty and abuse to be sure but the effort it took to find acceptable food resulted in an improved physique.
Fortunately came the renaissance (1400 AD to 1600 AD) and the concept that a fit body could better support a healthy mind. Physical education programs appeared at large and influenced the way people regarded their bodies. This concept blossomed throughout the 17th century. Hence the renowned Swedish phrase: "A sound mind in a sound body." Sweden and Germany would both design fitness programs and equipment. In early America there was no particular interest in a fitness ethic where colonists continued to labor in the fields.
President Jefferson once proposed 2 hours each day for fitness regardless of the weather! The future of fitness in America had begun despite the lack of public schooling. The industrial revolution provided some small freedoms from drudgery allowing many citizens to invest in themselves. Swedish and German style gymnastics came into vogue shortly after the Civil War. It was actually President Theodore Roosevelt that first motivated Americans to pay better attention to their health.
Today health and fitness have become synonymous with sex appeal. Stamina, endurance, vitality and presumably the capacity to embrace all that life offers is attainable through health, fitness and wellness. It is a burgeoning if controversial industry. Diet and fitness remain inseparable pursuits.