Two divisions of fitness

I classify modern fitness into two primary divisions; aesthetic fitness and functional fitness.

Aesthetic fitness relates to how one looks – to the aesthetic flow of a person’s body.

Functional fitness better describes how the body functions – its capacities and abilities to function and perform.

To achieve any degree of success in aesthetic fitness is less likely. Despite the immense internal desires, most people never fulfill their ambitions in changing the shape of their body. They fail to do this for two primary reasons:

  1. Effort. People fail to realize and accept just how much effort is involved in daily exercise, effort in the grocery store, effort in the kitchen, and effort at the dinner table when it comes to changing the landscape of the body.It takes work – hard work if the body is going to change. Not just effort in pushing and pulling weights, but effort in pushing the wrong foods away from you and pulling the right foods toward you. Just going through the motions of exercise won’t get it done. Nor will a massive change in the body take place by simply putting Aunt Jemima Lite on your waffles each day. A superior level of commitment in eating and exercise is required to change the human body.
  2. Time. People fail to realize how long a process it might be to change the shape of one’s body. If a person was never in shape to begin with, or a person took years to get out of shape, it is reasonable to expect that it may take months if not years to gain or regain an improved body shape.

In the technically advanced age that we live in, where instant results are the norm, and instant gratification is a daily requirement by us all, our patience for things which take more time runs far too thin. A person who begins a fitness program will likely be looking for tangible results within days, if not hours of their first workout and that just won’t happen.

As a point of fact, the tangible changes one seeks from exercise often don’t manifest and become visible for weeks or even months. And for the person seeking instant gratification, months of exercise with few or no visible results is usually not worth their efforts, and that’s too bad because we all have the potential to change. Thus, the workouts and better eating end, and the rocky road to fitness success becomes a person’s exclusive path to rocky road ice cream and no exercise at all.


Achieving success in functional fitness is different. Functional fitness itself can be divided into many subdivisions; balance, flexibility, strength, endurance, the intrenal fitness values of lower blood pressure, increased stroke volume, improved cholesterol and so-on.

To site two diverse examples of functional fitness, I suggest one as trying to run a mile in 7 minutes rather than in 10 minutes. Many people would not relate well to that because many people do not run. A better example of functional fitness would be possessing the ability to tie your shoes – without having to sit down in order to do so. Everyone can identify with that.

Unlike the chase for aesthetic fitness, those pursuing improvements in functional fitness need not spend lots of time in the gym. In fact, to increase your level of functional fitness, a gym is not even necessary. Nor is the typical 30-60 minute workout. With just a little knowledge of a few basic exercises practiced in spare moments throughout the course of a day, progress in functional fitness can be attained and noticed within 2-3 weeks, if not sooner.

Keep in mind that while exercising to improve functional fitness is important, and will help influence the quality of your life, exercising in this fashion will do little, if anything, to change the shape of your body. Functional fitness is just that – fitness to improve the way one’s body functions.

In an era when science, medicine, and technology enable us to live longer lives, the curve of human functionality is sliding in the opposite direction. With obesity, diabetes, heart disease, lethargy, etc., on the rise, people are functioning at a lesser lever earlier in life – just look at the people around you to confirm this.  We seem to be living longer, but a lesser quality of life often ensues sooner; a dichotomy worth avoiding.

Former Colorado Governor Dick Lamn once said that older people, who can’t function well in society, have an obligation to die. Though I don’t totally disagree with him, I will suggest that younger people have an obligation to never become older people who are unable to function well in society.

We all want to look better. We all want to function and feel better. In the end, nobody will be judged at the gates of heaven by the shape of their abs or the size of their jeans. We may be judged though, by how we contribute to others in this life and how we contribute to the world as a whole. I’m not a master of the social sciences, but I believe if we are better able to function within this world, then we will be better able to contribute to this world – and ultimately be judged accordingly.

I believe that regular exercise should be practiced by every man, woman, and child in the Western world, and the sum of those who fail to maintain themselves as functional human beings, are a complex drain on society; a drain on governments, a drain on families, a drain on schools, a drain religious institutions, communities, et al.

Those who fail to keep themselves aesthetically fit are  nothing more than a huge drain on the unnecessary expectations popular cultures thrusts upon them,  and that’s not okay.  Love who you are, and remember that what you look like is not a reflection of who you are, but only reflects the misguided values of those who see you.  Be well. 

Will be taking two weeks of to travel, recharge, explore, contemplate, and live.  Will begin posting again in August.

5 responses

  1. Wonderful post, Roy!

    Functional fitness, as you say, is so very important! I wish more people followed your suggestions. There improved cosmetics would just be the icing on their fitness cake 🙂

  2. Great post, as usual. A genuine push toward functional fitness with a healthful (and sustainable) dietary habit will net improved aesthetics. I’ll even say aesthetic is mostly a function of dietary intake, with physical training providing the wire work.

    Have a great two weeks! Hope you’ll bring back a lot of good stuff to share.

  3. Dr. J and John, thank you both — agree with both.

    Form follows function; a fundamental rule of engineering. Workout with intent of improved function, and an improved form can follow — only so long as dietary concerns are addressed.

    Off the woods of Nebraska, and yes, Nebraska actually does have some beautiful woods, and rivers.

  4. Bon voyage, Roy!

    “Form follows function,” has been a surgical mantra of mine for a while, not surprisingly 🙂

    With the powers of healing, that principle has done wonders from what I’ve seen!

  5. People who don’t workout are a waste. :p

    Out of the two you mention on “achieving any degree of success in aesthetic fitness”, I’m the first one. I have devoted lots of time to Training and this part never changes. I love working out too much to ever just stop. My clean-eating part, not so much. 😀 The Diet/Nutrition I can handle for what seems like 6-8 months out of the year. I lose all 30lbs. I gain it back over time, never maintaining the critical point of keeping it off for a full year or over. It’s a horrible cycle. But I never quit. I just try harder again every single year. I’m a professional yo-yo dieter like Janet Jackson. (Not something I’m proud of.) 😉

    I’m not sure why I over-complicate clean-eating as much as I have throughout the years. Lately, it’s gotten easier as I can eat a bowl of veggies, at times without meat, no salt or other seasonings and I’m okay. It helps when I visualize the veggies the night before and before I eat at every meal. I don’t feel as deprived or like I need to have it today mentality when it comes to food I desire to eat. Plus I like eating with company. Eating alone, I hate it. It takes me forever just to put anything in my mouth. Not sure why I’m blabbing so much? Okay, I’m going to stop now.

    As always, I enjoy your writings and all that it peaks within me.

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