Screen Shot 2020-05-15 at 9.21.30 AMWhen the internet first came into our schools and homes in the mid-90s, I used to get on that dial-up and type terms into AltaVista looking for something cool.  One of the first websites I remember becoming interested in was a punk rock site called “Praxis as Pedagogy”.  (Look those words up in the dictionary, that’s what I had to do.)

Basically, the guy’s point was that punk rock was a culture that was actually putting into practice the things that armchair revolutionaries and political theorists only talked about.  Do it yourself.  Demonstrate the culture you want to create and your actions will be a greater teaching instrument than any number of books or lectures.

In other words,

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

– Mahatma Gandhi

I became fascinated by that idea of praxis, and dedicated to this approach to life: to learning by action, not theory.  This colored my entire approach to life in all the things I did thenceforth.  This is also what attracted me to all the various movements and activities that I became involved in: punk rock, hardcore, reggae, anarchism, vegan, straight-edge, MEChA, the IWW, hip-hop, zine making, graffiti writing, working-class skinhead culture, indie filmmaking, street fighting, entrepreneurship, CrossFit, paleo, backpacking, Yoga, and eventually Rastafari, Nyabinghi, and Orthodoxy.

Fitness as Praxis

So what is Fitness?  Many definitions have been proposed, but I believe that we each need to develop our own idea of what fitness is to us and then put that into practice.  Personally, I would define fitness as:

To survive, thrive, and grow physically, as well as mentally and spiritually. 

This is a beautiful idea that encompasses both health (survival) and vitality (thriving), as well as our dynamic development and improvement over time (growth), across all the dimensions of a human individual (mind, body, and spirit).  However, it is just an idea.  It means nothing if it is not put into action.

Fitness then, is actually the practice of staying alive and being alive–with energy and purpose–while becoming better (stronger, wiser, more mature).

So, fitness is a practice.  It is putting into action ideas about health (that it is better to prevent illness than it is to address symptoms of disease), about physicality (that the body becomes more useful and vital when it is challenged regularly), and about psychological, emotional, and social dimensions of human beings (that we think more clearly, feel better, and are better to others when we are physically vital).  All of these ideas have philosophical merit and physical evidence, but they are still just ideas until put into practice.

Fitness, then, is the application and use of this knowledge about what makes human existence better for yourself and for others through the practice of physical exercise, nutrition, and a healthy lifestyle.

Fitness is Praxis.

Through the practice of a fitness lifestyle, we learn what we are as human beings; and we learn what it takes to get the most out of this human experience and be better humans.  This is not the same kind of learning that comes from books (or the internet).  This is the kind of learning that only comes through doing.  Deep learning.  You will learn things about yourself that you are not able to put into words or convey to others.  You will learn unanticipated lessons. You don’t even know what kind of things you are going to learn until you go out there and do it.

So go move.  Move because you can and because you must and because it is the right thing to do.


Published by nicnakis

Nicholas |nik-uh-luhs| n. a male given name: from Greek words meaning "victory of the people" John |jon| n. a male given name: from Hebrew Yohanan, derivative of Yehohanan "God has been gracious" Nakis |nah-kis| n. a Greek family name derived from the patronymic ending -akis (from Crete) Amha |am-hah| n. an Ethiopian given name meaning "gift", from Geez Selassie |suh-la-see| n. Ethiopian name meaning "trinity", from Geez

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