Unless you're a total stranger to MyFitnessRoad.com, you'll know that I care a great deal about trying to unveil the complex exterior of fitness – primarily where Al is concerned.

But aside from Al, the broader community who in some way 'has' or 'will' become involved in fitness – it's useful to understand that there are many inconsistencies in the terminologies used by the Health and Fitness industries.

We're going to try and clarify some of the more common examples here.

(For additional explanations, please see the FAQ.)

Making sense of the inconsistencies

Over the years, I've found fitness definitions and terms to have a fair degree of variability among their meaning and use.

You may be thinking, "why does he care?"

Because I would consider my job half-done if I didn't. A lot of the reason why I run this Site is to 'help' those in need of guidance or information – however simple or complex.

If I were to simply cherry-pick the topics I write about, I would be neglecting some very important parts about fitness. Doing the job right means going beyond merely prescribing fitness programs.

It extends to asking, listening and educating. The health and fitness industries are rather ‘noisy.‘

CONFUSION WITH FITNESS DEFINITIONS

Often, two Exercise Authorities or Fitness Trainers may use the exact same term to infer different concepts, or may mean the same thing by using two distinctly different terms.

a couple of examples:

I discovered that some regard a “Push Up” as a vertical dumbbell shoulder press, when others mean a chest exercise performed by pushing with the palms on a floor surface and raising the upper body;

I recall reading an article in a fitness magazine some years back which referred to a "Skull-crusher" as an excellent isolation exercise for the Triceps. I thought "good heavens!  What could the article be referring to by using such a horrific-sounding term? And why had I not heard of it before?" 

I was relieved to find out that it was a name for a rather commonly-done exercise but which I always referred to as the "Laying Triceps Extension with an EZ bar."

Different strokes for different folks? I think it's more a case that differences and inconsistencies will be commonplace in any global industry which is not internationally regulated. And so it calls for a commonsense approach by those who work in it.

COMPOUND TERMS

SHOULD THEY BE MADE UP OF SEPARATE WORDS, WRITTEN TOGETHER OR HYPHENATED?

Well, there are no definite rules in the English language for whether terms should be written as separate words, together or hyphenated.

It’s therefore common to see compound terms written in three different ways – though intended to mean the same thing. Let’s consider:

Well-being – Wellbeing – Well being

We generally accept this to signify happiness, health and prosperity.

But, what if I say to one of my clients: “Great job Paolo! You did well being that you’re a busy guy.” We have the words ‘well being’, but because they’re written separately, we actually have an adjective and a verb. Differently, however, well-being and wellbeing form a noun and convey a compound meaning.

So, free lesson for you, the reader. It’s usually better to make it obvious when you intend to form a compound meaning from two or more words. Life is so much easier when you read a passage and separate terms stand out.

Food-for-thought example:

“As well-intentioned as I might be, I will not be successful at wellness unless I’m in-the-know about what works and reject those to-be-avoided behaviors like procrastination and laziness. Instead, I will use my common sense to adopt a common-sense approach.”

Beware of misunderstandings :)

QUEST FOR INDUSTRY CLARITY

A little inconsistency can be tolerated, but at times it has been frustrating to operate in a field that has so many sporting bodies, authorities and standards. I often discovered that I needed to have synonyms or definitions ready on the fly when I received frowns or questions like "what did you mean by that term, never heard it before?" One of those people was me when I first learned of the term "Health-Related Fitness."

Book, Websites and journals abound – and even after much reading up and exploring, I still did not uncover much on the origin or a plausible definition for 'Health-Related Fitness' (also referred to as Health-Related Physical Fitness). And this is but one example.

Not sure why, but I like scratching beneath the surface to discover more about the meanings and intentions of terms used in the industry. The benefit is not just for my own clarity and enrichment, but for you interested readers and all those I interact with in this industry.

There is a list of fitness definitions and terms further down the page, which will be updated from time-to-time.

WHO CALLS THE SHOTS?

Who sets the gold standard and dictates what is universally accepted in the health and fitness industry?

Your answer is as good as mine.

It seems like we, as wellness coaches and health and fitness professionals, work more like the way tropical fish move about in an aquarium than synchronized swimmers would travel through water. My take is that whether independent, governmental, global or private - health and fitness will continue to have its grey areas in what the standard of excellence and degree of acceptance is.

Nevertheless, as long as the various centers of excellence and certifying authorities around the world (and there are many), A: work to high standards and B: do not conflict with one another but rather collaborate, I think we can get along. That way, we professionals can at least be recognized as experts in this universe of work.

LIST OF DEFINITIONS AND TERMS RELEVANT TO FITNESS, AND TO THIS SITE

Getting back to the specifics of the page, below is a list of common terms, fitness definitions, and their 'generally' accepted explanations. Included are some terms that I use frequently in this particular Site and in my work (the list will be updated and more examples will be added with time).

Please note, these terminologies and explanations in no way represent a universal catalogue. It would be close to impossible to distinguish and list all known health and fitness terms in use around the globe, much less standardize their meanings and applications.

My hope is that the list will contribute towards the integrity of this Site, as well as provide the necessary clarity for you to better understand and enjoy your sojourn here with me.

(Keep in mind that – unless otherwise indicated – these are my definitions.)

Al

Previously coined by me as the ‘average everyday person’, this is the namesake of the typical individual I advise and work with. Al belongs to both genders.

Al struggles to balance healthy habits with a livelihood, family and social commitments, and almost always ends up forfeiting fitness at the cost of failing health.

Al invariably rationalizes this by pointing to a lack of time and/or know-how.

All-round Fitness

Diet

Eating Plan

Fitness

A desired or improved state-of-health and well-being with increased stress-coping skills and the ability to efficiently perform aspects of physical activity, sport or leisure occupations.

Is there a difference between ‘Fitness’ and ‘Wellness’?

Although they’re certainly related, fitness focuses on the nuts and bolts of your physical condition and capacity. It fits within the larger realm of your lifestyle – your existence. In practical terms, the Sensible Fitness Program (SFP) was conceived to deliver a sustainable lifestyle of superior wellness.

Health

A general state-of-being or condition associated with freedom from disease and illness.

According to the WHO: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Health and Fitness

Health and Fitness industries

Health-Related Fitness 

According to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness (PCPFS), "Health-related physical fitness consists of those components of physical fitness that have a relationship with good health." Physical fitness, within the realm of Health-Related Physical Fitness, is therefore a set of 'measurable' characteristics, or Components.

Broken down, the 5 Health-Related Fitness Components are:

  1. Cardiorespiratory Fitness

  2. Body Composition

  3. Muscular Strength

  4. Muscular Endurance

  5. Flexibility

These terms and components are covered in more detail on the pages: Definitions of Health-Related Fitness and Health-Related Fitness Components.

Holistic health

Physical Fitness

A physical state with the ability to perform sporting activities, occupations and other daily activities generally supported by appropriate nutrition, physical exercise and sufficient rest.

Physical Health

A physical state whereby an individual is free from illness and is able to perform habitual daily activities without restriction.

Note that physical health is but one of several components which make up the ‘enviable’ state of wellness or well-being. Among the relevant dimensions of physical, cognitive, spiritual, emotional, social, intellectual and environmental health – physical health (or absence thereof) is the most visibly noticeable.

Before modern medicine, we might have considered someone physical healthy if they were not ailing from an illness or disease. In modern times, however, definitions can range between the absence of illness all the way through to a specific fitness level.

Physical Fitness Program

An integrated regimen of physical activities catering to one or more specific need/s such as functional, skill-related and/or health related fitness.

The Sensible Way

Living a guilt-free, fulfilled, meaningful and giving life – with body, mind and spirit in harmony.

In fitness-specific terms:

The sensible way = real food and simple workouts = a sustainable lifestyle = overall happiness and well-being.

The Sensible Fitness Program (SFP)

A lifestyle program which sees fitness as a permanent part of 'normal' living.

It employs efficient physical exercise strategies and eating plans which include nutrition-dense food and favorite meals. It does not substitute or supplement them.

The aim is a sustainable solution, enabling fitness on all fronts – efficiently.

By definition, the program is not intended for those who opt for a one-dimensional life devoted entirely to fitness or extreme sports.

However, it's perfect for Al.

Skill Related Fitness

Sustainable Wellness

Total Fitness

Wellness or Well-being?

Good question! I’ve lost sleep over the years splitting hairs over this.

The health and fitness industries use these terms interchangeably, and with uncoordinated vagueness. And I’m probably also guilty, using the term ‘overall’ or ‘360-degree’ wellness and intimating a condition which I should probably be calling well-being.

Having carefully (over several years) considered my own modus operandi, contributions and areas of expertise, here’s my take:

To broadly distinguish the terms, I guess you could say that wellness is more practical, where well-being would be more idealistic or utopian.

So for purposes of completeness and accuracy (because I tend to be painfully perfectionistic), I am going to settle on using these terms to mean s-l-i-g-h-t-l-y different things. Because if you think about it specifically, wellness is a partial overlap or subset (if you like) of well-being, which is probably more holistic.

  • Wellness is the desired and deliberate state of being physically and mentally fit and healthy.

  • Well-being is the perceived existence of a condition of complete health, prosperity and contentment.

Generally, I see the two existences as similar. But whereas wellness relates more to the work, well-being is the prize.

The take home message on fitness definitions and terms

To be cautious and not to assume that we, as Coaches, Exercise Authorities or Fitness Trainers, have a standardized lingo with globally accepted fitness definitions and exercise terminology. We also need to keep in mind that although the industry is mostly US-pioneered and influenced, that we read widely and assimilate knowledge on our subject from all relevant sources and subject-matter experts.

Finally, we should adopt an element of common sense and dig a little below the surface when unsure, in order to properly understand what we’re learning or talking about. Ours, or more importantly, our clients’ wellbeing depends on this.