I believe that it’s the mind. After all, much of how we feel (physically), how we view ourselves, how we motivate (or not) ourselves to achieve optimum ‘physical’ fitness, and our general approach to life is directed by our thoughts, our minds.
I recently produced a short documentary film on the benefits of strength and conditioning for female athletes, and while the primary focus was on the physical benefits, a very interesting (and expected) additional benefit was the building of mental strength, confidence and positive outlooks that came from this as well.
I could write much more on this subject, but will leave it with my simple answer that in my opinion, it’s the “mind” that is the first area to optimum fitness and health from a holistic point of view.
I hope that this helps.
That’s an admirable response Larue. The mind is so important whether you are active or resting. When I’m not mentally prepared to work out, I feel like I’m just lolligagging and going through the motions. If I wait for the right time of day when I’m more alert and maybe even meditate before the session I get so much more out of it and I seem to recover better. During the session I want to be using my brain as well. One way to do this is by combining muscle groups for compound movements whether you are doing cardio or resistance training. Anything that requires coordination or balance like intensely playing a musical instrument or a sport can make exercise more interesting and also more effective for the body as a whole. Whatever gets you moving from the inside out. This type of training makes us more functional for whatever we want to do in life.
Mind, mental preparedness for the task and journey ahead. I practice and teach balance, stability, range of motion and strength to all my clients on a daily basis. Balance training requires concentration and breathing, focus, constant mental and physical adjustments and most important, breathing. It requires the client and exercise to become one, for the moment, corny, well….but true, once they concentrate and begin focusing on the task at hand, your job is just about complete for the movement, you have allowed them to create the mind/body experience.
All of the answers are excellent. Optimum fitness isn’t just muscles (strength), connective tissues (flexibility), or the cardiovascular system. It’s a lifestyle that also includes a sensible nutrition lifestyle….eating sensibly most of the time. And it’s also an attitude that suggests that “I want to live my life this way,” not “I have to live my life this way.” Because the latter won’t persist.
As Kurt suggests it’s a question of balance. Your client is the only one who can ultimately answer the question of how he/she wants to live the rest of his/her life.
Where to start? That’s determined by you expertise as a trainer. What I’ve found is that if you can address one aspect of a healthy lifestyle that your client seems to track into, it opens the door to addressing the other aspects of optimum fitness.