The Other Kind of Fit

Let’s begin by questioning our ideas of fit and fitness.

Images abound demonstrating the cultural value of a fit body. At its simplest, to be fit is to be active, healthy, nourished by whole foods. Extensions of this idea include the fit body as one that pushes its limits, values, power, strength. One who surrenders to the addicting feeling of accomplishment that comes with an hour-long sweaty workout 3-5 days a week.

Where does this idea begin?

From doctors who look only for pathology, to trainers who push us to our limits, magazines and blogs that tempt us with the “simple ways to get the body we want”.  We form the belief that fitness comes from high-intensity, highly-muscled, repetitive movement that shatters our physical limits and propels us further.  Forceful exercise becomes an an exhilarating way to feel alive, powerful and strong.

There is a shadow side to this perspective on fitness. By shattering limits,  ignoring the body’s warning signs, and forcing an Adrenaline rush to get you to the finish line,  I see many injured bodies walk through my door. And not because these everyday bodies are doing anything out of the ordinary. What elated joy arises from a brisk bike ride or a run through the park. How exhilarating to indulge in a game of basketball or a swim or to train for a marathon. However, without listening to the body’s needs as it performs high-intensity activities, we can easily take our delight to extremes, push beyond our limits and weaken our bodies’ structural integrity.

I propose another kind of fitness. It’s not a finished idea, but an invitation to further inquiry…

Imagine a world where fitness denotes the art of replenishing the whole body. Sometimes that could mean subtle shifts in the body that help unravel inhibitive patterns.  Sometimes that could mean fluid, rhythmic movement.  It never requires a forceful effort that compresses and restricts functional movement for the sake of isolated strength or flexibility.

It always begins with foundational movement — the basic movement patterns that make up our complicated three-dimensional movement. With the foundations firmly rooted, we can add additional challenges to the body’s concept of space, weight, breath, control, and rhythm.

The challenge follows the mover’s ability, not the other way around.

I work with the hypothesis that the body knows best.  Each individual is an expert in her own body needs.  Its divine wisdom reveals itself in responsive, integrated movement that requires the whole body to participate. 

This approach strengthens intuitive knowing—the human superpower—and leads to stronger relationship to self, others, and one’s environment.

The other kind of fit is the kind that takes all aspects of the moment into account. It’s the kind that notes how your body feels that day and within a given exercise. It’s the kind that surrenders Ego to the service of Intuition and Curiosity, for the sake of Balance and Ease.


Imagine your body moving to its own rhythm.

Imagine understanding your body’s unique calls for its needs.

Imagine enjoying your physical world without injury.

How do you imagine your fitness?


Amy Baumgarten