Physical Fitness is both Talent and Skill
The longer I work in the fitness industry and engage in a fit lifestyle, the more I am convinced that physical fitness is much more than a state of being, more than a destination or journey and much much more than a way of life. Physical fitness, to me, has become many things over the years, first, a goal – a way of looking and feeling. Next it became a way of moving, functioning and interacting with my environment. More recently it has become more like a living entity, something without end that lives and evolves, ebbs and flows, increases and decreases, changes faces and creates new possibilities as we live and change at various times across our lifespan.
The one thing that has always remained the same, in my experience, is that no matter what methodology a person uses in the process of becoming more physically fit, it all boils down to doing the things that contribute to your physical fitness with regularity and consistency. It all amounts to certain behaviors and actions being done in a manner that creates momentum moving your physical fitness in a particular direction so that you inevitably improve. I’ve lived this process for over 20 years now and have actively worked at helping people do the same throughout that time. If one thing stands out to me, it is that physical fitness and the ability to improve and maintain it are as much about developing skill and utilizing talent as they are about what you eat and how much you exercise.
By talent, I am meaning primarily, the ability of a person to use their natural abilities and God-given gifts to their advantage in pursuit of the fitness lifestyle. Whether it be a naturally muscular physique that is both strong and lean or a solid mental attitude that allows you to develop nutrition habits and stick to them more easily than others, I believe all human beings have some kind of natural talent that, if used wisely, can support their fitness lifestyle and goals. One of the reasons I have been as successful as I’ve been in training clients to achieve fitness success is because I am able to look for and find their individual talents that relate to physical fitness and then use those to our advantage. I’ll give you an example. A couple of years ago I met a wonderful lady in Mandeville, Louisiana named Patty. She was about 60 years of age, 30-40 pounds heavier than she wanted to be and felt tired and sluggish. In her words, she felt old. She had never really engaged in a “fitness program” before and had no prior training with regard to exercise. What Patty did have was an iron-will to achieve the things she wanted and what I would call an O.C.D.-type personality that made her obsessed with following plans exactly as they are written. In just a few short months, Patty, having no previous understanding of the process leading to physical fitness, lost 40+ pounds of fat, gained a considerable amount of lean muscle mass, greatly improved her body’s mobility and functionality and changed her life for the better by using her God-given talents to her advantage. Her program was neither complex, nor time consuming. There were no early morning cardio sessions or zero-carb days on her plan. Her plan was simply a solid, well designed exercise program coupled with an eating program that she was fully capable of following and would follow with precision accuracy. That’s all she needed to achieve the level of physical fitness she wanted and she maintains that lifestyle to this day!
Talent is something that everyone has. Everyone has built-in gifts to do something well. For those living the fitness lifestyle, chances are they’ve discovered the abilities they have that allows them to attain their physical fitness goals.
Skill, in my mind, is something that is developed. Skill is something that a person works to improve upon when they want to get better at something. Someone may have the talent of having great depth perception and eye-hand coordination, but this does not ensure they will be an amazing basketball player. The skill development of precision timing, total body control, staying calm under pressure and recognizing opportunities are all skills that every great basketball player develops and works to improve over time. Timing the release of the ball with the right amount of force behind it ensures the ball falls in the basket. This is skill. Controlling the body as it moves around the court and knowing exactly when to drive the lane as an opening in the defense presents itself is also skill. These are things that basketball players get better at as they play, they aren’t great at these things beforehand. These skills must be developed. They are coached endlessly on these skills, by performing drills that require them to get better at these things.
Sure there is often an overlap with regard to talents and skills and it is sometimes difficult to distinguish one from the other. I actually don’t care much about their differences at all because they are both needed to be great at anything. Being good at living a physically fit lifestyle is not that different than being good at playing the guitar or playing golf. Once there is a desire to achieve an outcome, recognizing your natural talents and developing the individual skills necessary to improve your physical fitness are essential for your success just as using your natural abilities and coupling them with consistent effort and practice will improve your chances at being good at just about anything.
Becoming leaner is the result of appropriate and consistent energy expenditure versus energy intake – managing calories eaten and calories used.
Eating right is the result of consistent planning, motivation and desire coupled with understanding and education of foods and how they act upon your body – practicing time management, learning information and cultivating enthusiasm for eating well.
My message is a simple one. While just about everything in the realm of physical fitness and diet is designed to provide you with direction and education, it is important that you keep a few things in mind. These are that no matter what program you align yourself with, there are infinite ways to live the fitness lifestyle. No matter how you train, eat or rest, within certain parameters, there are an infinite number of possible solutions delivering your desired result. And no matter how hard you try to think that there is a “best way” to lose fat, get stronger and stay fit, the simple matter of truth is there isn’t a “best way” that fits all people.
The best and most certain way for you to get fit is to identify your natural talents and develop physical fitness-specific skills that maximize your natural potential just like my client Patty did. I wish you well on your fitness journey and hope you will not take my message here lightly because it is of paramount importance. If you take the time to recognize your God-given talents that relate to physical fitness and then develop the skills necessary to let those talents flourish, you’ll find yourself improving and living fit much sooner than you ever expected and what’s even better is you are much more likely to enjoy the entire process when you are using methods and skills that support who and what you already are.