Thoughts on a Word: Fit

Quick Note: My Thoughts on a Word series is blatantly stolen — not even just “inspired” — from Autumn Whitefield-Madrano over at The Beheld. With Autumn’s knowledge, I will be adapting this idea to words that fit me and this blog, probably including those related to fitness, fatness, pain, and femininity.

I think I picked a hard one to start with: fit.

Hard because it has many functions in speech. To make it easier on myself, just for now, I’m going to limit it to fit used as an adjective.

Currently, I most often hear or read it in reference to someone who fits (pun not intended) the aesthetic ideal, namely, someone appears thin and well muscled. While the term does imply strength, flexibility, and endurance, I’ll be the first to admit that those concepts surface secondarily in my mind.

However fit as an adjective first appeared in the mid-15th century to mean “suited to the circumstances, proper”. It reminds me a lot, actually, of Leslie Kaminoff’s clip on flexibility:

In other words, fitness, like flexibility, is relative to what it is I intend to do. Being “fit” to run a half-marathon, if that is my goal, is different from being “fit” to participate in bi-weekly vinyasa classes, which may in turn be different from how “fit” I need to be to take my dogs for a walk every day. None of these goals is inherently more or less worthy than the others — and indeed, it’s probably possible to mix and match in accordance with various physical fitness goals.

But in all of them, intent matters.

Being “suited to the circumstances” is only anchored in relevant context if there are circumstances. And the circumstances need not be limited to Photoshopped media images, which is the mental picture to which my brain automatically defaults.

However, in the actual circumstances of my life, I spend exactly zero minutes per day looking at my airbrushed self in a magazine — nor do I really have any desire to do so. Same goes for running marathons, body building, or learning how to bend and twist myself into a pretzel. I do, on the other hand, have substantial interest in conditioning my body to be suitable for running lesser distances as well as to strengthen it and improve its flexibility to expand my asana practice — but only to the extent that these activities are fit for my own physical, mental, and emotional health.


I'm here. I like stuff. Some other stuff, I like less.

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Posted in non-asana, swadyaya
One comment on “Thoughts on a Word: Fit
  1. Autumn says:

    I’m so pleased you’re doing this series! I never cease to be amazed at what looking at a word’s origins can teach me about a broader application of a word. Because if “fit” is about circumstance, then yes, intent matters. I’m reminded here of something a photographer said to me when I asked if she ever had a hard time working with slim models; she said she didn’t, because she was like, “Who’s going to pay me to be a size 2?” She understood how much intent mattered. In all my battles to accept my body and not feel as though I had to be unnaturally thin for my frame, I’d never asked myself what I thought the *purpose* of being thin was. I imagine this will stick with me here: What is my intent for fitness?

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