In chapter 8, we describe the evolution of human performance and the factors that influence it. We show how the modern fitness industry came to be plagued by extreme ideology, persuasion, and isolation. Andy provides context for this conversation with the history of training from the ancient Greeks to the birth of bodybuilding.
– Kenny and Andy
The evolution of fitness
Kenny opens the episode with a macro timeline of the history of fitness, highlighting the major events and turning points that shaped our current perception of “fitness”. Then Dr. Galpin takes over, stepping back to the time of the Ancient Greeks, discussing perspectives on physicality prior to our known timeline starting in the early 1800’s. Andy talks about GIH, the initial study of gymnastics developed by the Swedes and discusses the impact it had on fitness going forward.
Andy moves on to explain exercise physiology, and how the foundation was laid for the relationship between exercise and health. The paradigm underwent a shift from “just move well” to “what is the biology and chemistry of exercise?” At the Harvard Fatigue Lab, they began to run studies on this relationship using applications of extreme altitude and temperature, including sitting in chambers at 40 degrees F to see how long humans can survive.
The episode continues with describing various schools of thought and practices and how their demise is the failure to evolve. Ideally we should pick and pull pieces from a wide range of sports and modalities to apply them to overall fitness.
“What can we pull from weightlifting that’s good? What can I pull from powerlifting that’s good? What can I pull from American football, to help me land in a sport where I have the body I want, the performance I want, and make it sustainable and lasting?” — Dr. Andy Galpin
- The Environment — We commonly hear that we are a product of our environments. Equally as true is the point that our environment is a product of us. Each and everything we do will have some sort of impact on the environment in which we are in.
- Broaden the lenses — We often manipulate information to fit our own perception. If person X is training for football, perhaps a training machine is not the first stop as a training modality. That does not mean that there is no benefit for a training machine, ever. Stop viewing information through your personal lens, and try to view modalities and philosophies objectively.
- Ideologies consume themselves — Typically fitness modalities will adopt the “I’m right, you are wrong approach.” to the extent that they shut out all other ideas aside from their own. This is why so many people loved the original CrossFit applications, but are not a fan of its evolution.
- Balance — How well balanced is your program? A program should be keeping people moving sustainably while growing over time. Humans undulate, and so should the training program.
- The 4 domains of gymnastics — At GIH in Sweden, they came up with four categories of gymnastics:
- Educational gymnastics: What we know as sport gymnastics.
- Medical gymnastics: Physical therapy.
- Military gymnastics: Combative training.
- Aesthetics: Movement quality.
“Who is the most fit? Who has the best fit of the current environment? ” — Dr. Andy Galpin
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