Much Ado About Fitness

There will always be debates, mostly harmless, about what athletic pursuit is the best, most adaptable, etc. The problem that I see developing is that ego is getting into it and people are getting very cocky.

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Sports Illustrated issued its list of 50 fittest athletes, in which, among other things, it assigns greater endurance to a basketball player than to the winner of the Tour De France.

“We claim to title the Fittest on Earth, and we can do that because we as a fitness methodology have defined fitness. At this point, no one else can make a claim.” Dave Castro, Director of the Crossfit Games.

Sorry to say this, but fitness already has a definition. From the Oxford dictionary:

1. The condition of being physically fit and healthy

2.The quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular role or task

3. An organism’s ability to survive and reproduce in a particular environment

Crossfit grabbed on to definition 1, and in simple terms decided that fitness=power, emphasizing intensity over volume. Now let’s look at the other two definitions.

Being suitable for the task at hand and able to survive. Okay, we can work with that, how have people gone about checking that? For people who need to handle the task at hand and stay alive, I like to look to the military.

The Roman Army’s fitness standard was a 25 mile march, carrying 80 pounds of gear, in under 5 hours.

The French Foreign Legion required its troops to be able to cover 28 miles during the hours of darkness and be strong enough to fight at first light.

The US Army (as well as the British and Australians, among others) require a 12-mile ruck march in under 3 hours.

All of these require long-duration movement under load without rest, which is an aspect sorely missing from the Crossfit Games, but available in abundance at events such as the Ultimate Suck and the Death Race. I am also yet to see a military that requires its troops to be able to walk on their hands.

I give the athletes their due for excelling at their competitions, will even give them the title of “Capable of producing the most power in a given timeframe.” But fittest? I need to see one of them knock out something lasting more than an hour or two before I am willing to give them that title. 

How can this be fixed? Easy.

Put all of the events of the Crossfit Games back to back. Knock out one event, run to the next, knock it out. One finish time to rule them all, total time something over 12 hours, total distance at least 40K. 

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