I could not help but notice in the fitness industry that there is a common misconception that physical fitness equals the beachbody. This is unfortunately such a widespread belief touted by many who don't know the science behind fitness training and to my surprise, even some fitness professionals adding to the myth "If you don't look like a male or female model, then you are not fit"

First off, not everybody's fitness goals is to look pretty at the beach, be a bodybuilder, or go work in a fitness model magazine. For some people, their goal is raw strength which in this case, gaining extra fat actually helps. for other people, it could be sports performance where body fatness depends on what sport is the athlete is playing. In the sports performance goal, looking pretty is not the goal (the beach body).

Another myth is the claim, "If you don't have washboard abs, then you are not fit". Well many American football players don't have abs either but they are plenty fit. So are many power lifters too. Many power lifters are fatter then average but that didn't stop them from performing just right. My fitness goals have never been to have washboard abs either but for strength and power in the past, and now speed, endurance and agility for martial arts performance as well.

While having way too much body fat can effect health and performance (obesity) having a small gut does not always mean your sports performance sucks, or that you can't function normal as well. I still remember the one time I competed in a clean and jerk contest (with a small gut mind you) and I did plenty good in the contest WITHOUT a beach body and looking pretty.

Another true story that is recent. I just restarted training with the barbells after a year and a half (I was still doing stretching, bodyweight exercises, and swiss ball exercise during this time.) due to several major life changes I was going through at that time. After a month and a half of barbell training, I went from being sore for days just lifting 90lbs to deadlifting more than my bodyweight at 165lbs. Alot of my strength came back quick because of previous experience at weightlifting and that is not including my martial arts practice, power/explosiveness training or the endurance, speed and agility training I also do because my goal is not to be a model or bodybuilder, my goal is martial arts performance.

Another thing to point out is just because you have a beach body does not mean you are in good health. There is a difference between a goal for better health and a goal for looking pretty. Many female health nuts I know don't look like bikini models and there does exist bodybuilders with chiseled biceps who nearly died of a heart attack using a McDonald's diet. (This actually happened btw.) There is also a big difference between a goal for weight loss for a obese person and a goal for six pack abs or looking like a model.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) There are five basic health related fitness goals as follows:

1-Strength
2-Flexibility
3-Cardiovascular Endurance
4-Muscular Endurance
5-Body Composition

Then ACSM categorizes the performance-related components of fitness as follows:

1-Agility
2-Balance
3-Coordination
4-Speed
5-Power
6-Reaction-Time

So as you can see, "physical fitness" is far more involved than just the looks of a person. You can be unfit in one way but completely physically fit in something else. It all depends on the specific person and his or her fitness goals. Not everybody desires to look like a super model and to be honest, not everybody has the body structure or metabolic function to have six pack abs so this is not a realistic goal for everybody out there. Finally, the only people that the beach body/ physique goal applies to is people who really want that as a goal.

Till next time,
Ricky, NPTI-CPT

Author's Bio: 

Ricardo Negron NPTI-CPT is a certified personal trainer under the National Personal Trainer Institute and the Athletic Certification and Training Commission (ACTION)teaching and educating people on fitness, strength training, and health for over a year. He also holds additional credentials in other fitness, personal development, and self defense fields. For more info visit www.healthylifestylesandselfdefense.weebly.com