How Fitness Evolved
Fispiration, fitness blogs, The Biggest Loser TV show, Women’s Health magazine, tones of sport appeal and more, more, more… It is some sort of fitness worshippers’ invasion. Several gyms per one suburb, swimming pools, marathons and fun runs each week and this especially annoying social media fitness status updates and check-ins. The world has changed. Social media enables fitness fed to spread across the world quicker than ever; and it is starting to feel like an alien invasion thriller movie.
Although fitness now appears to be more of a luxury activity rather than a necessity, it in fact is crucial for us to be active as much as we can.
However, is this modern obsession with gyms, boot camps and personal trainers so modern? Well, it all started from Olympic athletes almost 3,000 years ago. Doesn’t sound as modern anymore, does it?!
So, how fitness has evolved from sweaty buff men running around ancient Greece’s arenas bear handed fighting with wild animals to sweaty buff men taking selfies in the gym’s mirrors?
Primitive men of the pre-10,000 BC era lived nomadic lifestyles which required continual hunting and gathering of food for survival. No cars, planes or trains were taking them from one area to another but their legs. Tribes moving from one place to another inevitably had to fight with each other for the territory, food or women. When befriending neighboring tribes, the members of the tribes participate in dancing and cultural games which lasted several hours. Clearly, primitive men were not interested in signing up for an expensive gym or joining a fancy boot camp.
When agricultural revolution came which enabled tribes to hunt and gather their food while staying in the same area. Unfortunately, farming and gardening gave foundation to sedentary lifestyle. Who could have thought that such a physically active profession started our horizontal-on-the-couch lifestyle?
Stronger Muscle = Bigger Empire:
With increased amount of tribes conquering world, wars become an important part of many cultures especially on the East. This is when the importance of exercising became a matter of death and life. Persian Empire is in fact a good example of a growing interest in fitness in around 4000- 250 BC. Persia implemented mandatory tough training programs to expand its domain. Aggressive invasions required great endurance and strength.
The Fittest Survive:
The importance of being stronger, faster and last longer whether during the war fight or while farming eventually switched to the understanding of how regular exercising can prevent disease. Exercising to improve your fighting skills was transformed into exercising to improve general health. With most of the territories conquered, humankind was now less interested in fighting and more focused on prolonging living.
Chinese culture was the first one to recognize fitness’s healing powers. Interestingly, China was the first country to introduce gymnastics in order to feel better and live longer by keeping our bodies in a good working condition.
The Invention of “Union”:
On the contrary, some cultures were discouraging people from getting engaged in physical activities. For example, Buddhism and Hinduism (India) have always placed spirituality before physic. However even they had to eventually come up with something to keep them moving. We know this “something” as yoga which means “union” – yes, spiritual and physical.
The 300 Spartans:
No other civilization like Ancient Greece has influenced our fitness perception. Along with Spartan soldiers, Greek medical practitioners, including Herodicus, Hippocrates and Galen understood the importance of physical performance very well. Gymnastics were in fact considered one of the vital subjects in everyone’s education at the time.
The Ancient Greece:
While Sparta was imposing a compulsory physical training for all the males in order to become good soldiers, Ancient Greece and neighboring cities also paid a lot attention to their male citizens. Women were also required to be fit in order to produce healthier offspring.
Be Ready To Always Strike:
Somewhere between 500 BC and 400 AD Roman civilization obliged everyone to keep good fitness in case war occurred. As I am sure we all know, back in the ancient world you never certain when your enemy will strike; therefore it is crucial to be prepared at all time.
The Beauty of The Body:
Somewhere in 1500 humans’ body became a common interest for everyone in the society. People learnt that regular exercising improves intellectuality including thinking and learning. The Renaissance in fact glorified a human body. Thus, all the exposed and controversial literature pieces, naked sculptures and often odd paintings blossomed during this era.
The colonial period, WWI and WWII clearly were the times of fitness flourishing. The need was no longer in improving lives but literally preserving them. Similarly to ancient world, humankind yet again had to exercise in order to survive at war.
A Fad or a Trend?
With technological progress going forward, human’s activity is clearly decreasing; however the importance of it is only growing. Although sedentary lifestyle has never been solidly encouraged it has been taking places in the times after wars where people tend to relax more and exercise less.
Therefore, if you still think that fitness obsession is a fed and serving businessmen’s greedy purposes, think again. Although businesses are clearly taking advantage of people’s need to exercise, it does not spoil the fitness main function – to help us sustain our good health and live longer. By the way, there has never been fitness obsession in the history as per se; however always a healthy interest in one’s own health.
ABOUT THE WRITER:
Anna Kochetkova is a freelance writer and a research enthusiast interested in a wide range of topics including several areas of psychology and psychotherapy. Anna also writes about fitness and sports science, keeping up to date with business, marketing and international studies’ topics. Anna is a Russian decadency living in Australia author whose cultural difference inspires her to investigate more into different cultures, traditions, believes and behavioral types. Feel free to say hi to Anna on Facebook or visit her http://annablogia.wordpress.com/. Speak up and share your story & opinion. In difference is our greatness as a kind.