The next time disaster strikes, will you be able to handle whatever the world throws at you? Think about the last big storm to threaten your state. You probably collected emergency supplies—canned goods and a flashlight and more D batteries than you’ll ever need—but if you’re like most people, you overlooked one crucial aspect of preparation: Physical preparation. The physical demands of any emergency should not be ignored. From the simple, tedious chore of bailing out a basement in a flood to the strenuous task of helping someone out of a burning building, when will you be called upon to rise to the occasion?
Modern life has made being active a challenge. By using our brains, we’ve become the dominant species on this planet. Instead of hunting for our food and fighting for survival, we sit all day (quick, stand up while you’re reading this). We tap a few buttons on an app and our dinner comes to us. Now, I’m sure our ancestors would have been thrilled to summon a deer directly to their bonfire. I’m not advocating for a return to the days of shorter life expectancy and higher infant mortality. But when humans were resilient and vigorous out of necessity, they were better equipped to survive lethal threats.
We’ve created a society that doesn’t demand activity unless it’s a job requirement. Most people have to make a conscious effort to hit 10,000 steps in a single day. It’s just too easy to get trapped in a sedentary lifestyle and go from car seat to desk chair to couch to bed, spending your time staring at a screen.
I think this is not just unhealthy, but actually dangerous. Not because sitting is killing you (although it is—it’s now the fourth-highest global risk factor for death). But because this way of life leaves you incapacitated at the worst possible moment. It leaves you vulnerable to injury and at the mercy of a world that’s still dangerous and unpredictable, even though we’ve tried our best to file off its rough edges. But all we’ve done is make ourselves smooth and soft instead.
My mission with Max-Level Fitness is to help clients achieve not only their fitness goals, but also a more self sufficient, independent state of being. After all, fitness boiled down to its most basic definition is your ability to accomplish a task. What if that task was keeping yourself and your family alive? Are you ready for that? In an emergency, are you prepared to take on the physical demands of doing what is necessary to maintain your and your family’s life and health?
Think of the worst-case situation. In an emergency, you might not have time to find a trained professional to help you. You only have yourself and whatever you have on you at that exact moment. You need a SHTF (shit hits the fan) plan. If you have trouble climbing a single flight of stairs without gasping for air, how will you handle having to get down to the ground safely—and without using the elevator—when you work on the top floor of a high-rise building? Strength and fitness should be as much a part of your emergency preparedness plan as waterproof matches and an AM/FM radio.
Strength creates independence and security. Being prepared to handle any situation is the job of every responsible citizen. We should all strive to maintain our fitness in such a way as to not be a burden on others. And not only should we be primed to help ourselves, we should be physically capable of helping those not able to help themselves.
Of course, any extra activity above your normal exertion can put you at risk. But building work capacity far above what you need to accomplish your daily routine can help ensure you’re still standing when the dust settles. Would you rather pull a muscle at the gym, or escape a riptide only to have a heart attack when you get to shore?
You’re going to need to do work if you want to be capable of doing more work. Physics defines work as the change in energy of a system resulting from the application of force over a distance. The ability to do work is fluid throughout our lifetime and can be modified through force: in other words, purposeful training. Training specifically designed to increase your strength and endurance.
One last definition: work is exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something. Being capable of doing more has its own rewards. Your ability to do work can directly influence not just your chances of survival but your quality of life. Staying alive isn’t as fun if your quality of life is low. Obesity is the fastest-growing cause of disease and death in America. And in many cases, it’s preventable. Heart disease and diabetes are among the leading causes of death in the modern world, and appropriately prescribed and applied exercise can help keep these mortal afflictions at bay.
So do you want to just survive, or do you want to thrive? I know what I want. I want to help everyone who works with me acquire the tools necessary to rely only on themselves when all hell breaks loose.