Originally published in The Catholic Times, March 24, 2016
When I made the career change from Marketing to Fitness five years ago, I knew I was entering a field that had a focus on how the body looks.
However, my intent as a strength and movement coach was to help people become more functional with strength and movement, more range of motion in joints and improved cardiovascular endurance.
What we do in the gym is designed to support what we do in our daily lives so we practice reaching, bending, lifting and carrying to develop more grace, ease, mobility, stability and strength for everyday tasks.
I had to be honest with people. The focus for us is on moving well and getting stronger, not on changing how the body looks. Many people don’t realize that how the body looks is 70-80% what we eat and how much we eat. It is also impacted by genetics, lifestyle and activity level.
It has been exciting to watch people come into the gym with aesthetic goals begin to develop functional goals. This may include improved balance, getting up and down off the floor with ease, lifting and carrying heavy weights, doing pull-ups, pushups, jumping on a box, or pushing something heavy.
Some of the physical changes they see right away are not what they expected; they have more energy, improved mental clarity, feel happier and sleep better. Their musculature does change too, but it takes consistent, moderate and patient training over months and years.
I am always encouraged by what St. John Paul II said and wrote about the human body and spirit as it relates to athletics with the potential for character development and improved self-knowledge.
“Sport, as you well know, is an activity that involves more than the movement of the body; it demands use of intelligence and the disciplining of the will. It reveals, in other words, the wonderful structure of the human person created by God as a spiritual being, a unity of body and spirit. Athletic activity can help every man and woman to recall that moment when God the Creator gave origin to the human person, the masterpiece of his creative work.”
Please share St. John Paul II’s powerful sentiment with others because it could be life-changing for someone you love. Thanks be to God for the holy wisdom of the saints!
JOHN PAUL II, Address to participants of Athletic Championship: Be examples of human virtues, “L’Osservatore Romano” Weekly English Edition, n. 36, September 7, 1987, 5.