The Meaning of Fitness

By Lauren Archer
Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and ACE Certified Personal Trainer

Are you getting ready to start a new fitness routine?
Before you set your personal fitness goals,
I invite you to answer this important question:
What are you getting fit for?

The concept of fitness is so much more than physical.
Fitness is a state of mind – it’s an understanding of your personal reasons for living.
As you define your goals, it’s essential to think about your own meaning of the concept of fitness.

Here are some questions to try on for size…

  • How is your life “fitting” you these days?
  • What do you choose to “fit” in to your schedule?
  • How well do your choices “fit” your objectives?
  • Do you “fit” in your world?
  • Is your life too big, or too small? Too loose or too tight?
  • Does your life have the right amount of color and style for you?
  • Is it comfortable or uncomfortable?
  • Is your life “fitted” with the tools you need to succeed?
  • Are you a good “fit” for the role you have cast yourself in?
  • Are your thoughts and ideas serving you well (still a good “fit”), or are they outworn and outdated?

Consider the various meanings of the word “fit:”

  • be the right size or shape: to be of a suitable size or shape for something or somebody; “see if this shoe fits.”
  • be appropriate: to be appropriate or suitable for something; “does the consequence fit the action?”
  • be compatible: to agree or be in accordance with something, “no one fitting that description.”
  • equip somebody or something: to provide somebody or something with equipment of a particular kind; “fitted with extra security features.”
  • suitable, acceptable, or appropriate for a purpose: “fit for everyday use,”
    worthy: worthy or deserving of something; “not fit to serve as an officer”

  • well in health: in good health, physically strong and healthy, especially because of taking regular exercise; “feeling fit as a fiddle”
  • sudden outburst: a sudden occurrence of a physical activity or an emotional mood; “a fit of laughing,”

Other related meanings include:

  • by fits and starts – starting and stopping repeatedly; fit to be tied — informal
  • fit in – 1. conform well: to conform harmoniously to other members of a group or
    other things in a setting; “she’s been able to fit in well at her new school.”
    2. find time for: to find a time or place for somebody or something that does not
    disturb other arrangements; “the dentist can fit you in at three.”

    If your goal includes achieving “physical fitness,” it’s important to spend a few moments thinking about your inner reasons for achieving fitness in all of its forms. Otherwise you may find yourself
    treating a symptom and missing the cause.

    My Story…

    There was a time in my life, believe it or not, when I thought that getting physically fit was unnecessary, since I experienced so much of my world through my mind. Maybe you’ve had the similar thoughts. It’s amazing that these days, so much of our work and play is sedentary and intellectual. It can seem that the main purpose of our bodies is merely to get us to and from our computers! Much of our energy expenditure is primarily mental. It reminds me of scenes from those science fiction stories where humans have evolved into computer-like beings – only brains whose experiences are virtual! At that particular stage of my life, my stress level was very high, my moods were out of control, and my energy level was low.

    When I sought help at my doctor’s office, she asked me the obvious question: Are you exercising?
    I wasn’t. I had lots of excuses for why I wasn’t exercising, but in retrospect, I realize that I didn’t have
    a personal reason TO exercise. Fitness didn’t have a personal meaning for me. Having a great body just wasn’t a priority in my life. I didn’t identify with being athletic, and I had no desire to dress up in a little matching sweat suit like a perky aerobics instructor.

    But what the doc said next surprised me – “you’d better start exercising or one of these days you’ll
    wake up and wonder where your body went.” Yikes! I realized that she was right, and started slowly
    getting back into a moderate exercise routine. But I still didn’t have a personal meaning for fitness – I was exercising because of something I did NOT want (I didn’t want to wonder where my body went), yet I still didn’t have a clear vision of what I DID want. (When setting goals, it’s always helpful to focus on what you are moving TOWARD, in addition to what you are moving away FROM.)

    One of the miraculous side effects of exercise is the myriad ways it changes your energy. After I
    slowly got back into regular exercise, I began to pay more attention to how having a healthy body
    positively influenced absolutely every aspect of my life. My mind was clearer, my attitude was lighter, my energy level was higher than it had been in years. Every day, I felt more connected with my body, and understood through direct experience how mind and body is intimately more connected than we can possibly realize. It finally sunk in that all of those reports I had heard for years – that diet and exercise reduce stress, increase energy, and are basically the key to health and happiness – are really true. (I guess I had to prove it to myself!) I came to understand that physical fitness really did help me to “fit” better into my life, and to be more “fit” for my goals and dreams. Because of this understanding, making exercise a priority in my life became effortless. Exercise became a way of nurturing myself, because it is helping me to achieve my dreams.

    What are YOUR dreams for this year and beyond?
    What could you do if you were “fit” for the challenge? What obstacles could you leap over if you
    were in better shape? If you have forgotten or given up on your dreams, perhaps you’ve also given up on achieving the level of fitness it would take to achieve your goals. Often, we have had our dreams dashed, our hopes squelched, and the hard, cold ‘reality’ of life replace the idealistic visions of our youth. As a result, we’ve given up on our dreams, and we seek to nurture ourselves in whatever ways are left – through comfort. We try to anesthetize our pain and disappointment with food and drink. We hypnotize ourselves by escaping with television and movies. We have lots of excuses for not exercising, but just as importantly, we have also lost our reason TO exercise.

    I challenge you to remember some of your old dreams – to allow them to reignite a fire within you. At first, you may think your dreams are impossible or impractical. But try looking for the essence of your dream — perhaps there is some small piece of it that you can begin to incorporate into your life. For example, if you wanted to be a ballerina as a child, the grand version of that dream may not be practical, but the essence of your dream may simply be about experiencing the power of moving your body to beautiful music. Ask yourself how you can still accomplish a piece of that dream. Perhaps it’s by taking a dance class. If you wanted to travel the world but your finances look as though that won’t be possible, think of the essence of that dream – perhaps it’s about meeting and learning about people from other cultures. What ways can you think of to accomplish a piece of that dream? Perhaps through volunteer work. If you wanted to be a movie star, perhaps you can experience the essence of that by joining a local community theater troop. The magical gift you will receive is this: The very act of taking a small step in the direction of your dreams, even a tiny piece of your dream, will have amazing positive influences in all aspects of your life. You will begin nurturing your Spirit. You will begin to find your personal meaning of fitness, by “fitting” your dream back into your life. And these small steps can have a cumulative effect that, over time, can completely transform your life.

    So before you set your fitness goals, think about your personal meaning of the concept of fitness in your life. Decide what YOU are getting fit for! Think about fitness in terms of creating a life that fits who you are, and who you want to become.

    I welcome your feedback, success stories, and personal discoveries related to this article.
    Please email me at

    May you discover your own meaning of fitness!

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