For many centuries, perhaps as far back as man’s ascendance on this planet, man has recognized himself as a dichotomous being. This ancient self-awareness saw that part of us which is visible as comprising the natural man, and, that part of us which is invisible as comprising the mind. Somewhere along the evolutionary path, the concept of man possessing a spirit entered into the equation, giving rise to the notion of man being a “mind, body, spirit” trichotomous being. Contemporaneously, a heated discussion rages among theologists whether man is di- or trichotomous.
Before I progress with this discussion, I want to make it clear that I am quite aware of the myriad views on creation vs. evolution, theism vs. atheism, religiosity vs. spirituality and the often-bitter disagreements among the Abrahamic faiths. Indeed, I have some rather pointed views on these topics myself. I would invite you to fight the urge to howl in protest should the points of view I express diverge from yours. Instead, keep the point of this discussion in mind, namely, “why fitness”.
What Is Man?
Two thousand years ago, Jesus, the Christ, brought man the message of the Kingdom of God (also called the Kingdom of Heaven), pronouncing that it was within men. His apostle Paul spoke of the “inward man” and the “outward man” as being spiritual and carnal respectively. James, the brother of Jesus, made it very clear that the outward man was constantly at enmity against God (e.g., "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak"). This theme is repeated in many ways throughout the New Testament. So, the message of Christianity is quite clear on this point, that God would be King of your life, and that “self” must die in order that God may rule.
Now, there are two obvious parts to the natural man, the body and the mind. The body is your material being, that part of you that you can see. Your body and mind are intimately connected via sensory mechanisms. Of course, your mind is the seat of self-consciousness, of your personality. It embraces your will, intellect, emotions, and desires. In biblical references, it is often referred to as the “heart”. It is also referred to as one’s soul. In the soul, SELF sits on the throne. Man’s spirit, on the other hand, is the seat of God-consciousness, and only there (in His Kingdom, which is Heaven) will He sit.
Fitness for the Whole Man?
This whole inward and outward man concept may seem irrelevant to fitness on the surface, but there are some fundamental questions that beg to be addressed. Namely, which takes precedence? Which become subservient? Or, are they equally important? How do you nourish each, and to what end? Indeed, must each be nourished in the first place? These questions beg the greater question, "Why Fitness?" After all, if getting fit is naught but a carnal endeavor to glorify one’s SELF, wouldn’t this constitute enmity against God? Is fitness more than just an ego trip? Or, can we conclude that fitness and the activities which promote fitness are just plain “fun”?