What does it mean to be “in shape”?

I’ve been thinking about the idea of being “in shape” a lot lately, especially as I’ve begun training for my first Tough Mudder in May. When I was running in college, I always considered myself to be in the best shape of my life. Considering by my senior year I was running 75+ miles a week, it seemed to me that my level of “in shape”-ness was at an all time high. Now, as a college grad and self-proclaimed real person, I’ve developed an entirely different definition of what being “in shape” actually means. I recently started a 3-month training program to prepare myself for my upcoming Tough Mudder event. This training program includes running, but it also includes a lot of other types of exercises that I have neglected to even think about the past couple years of my life. The beginning of my Tough Mudder training involved numerous burpees, commandos, mountain-climbers, push-ups, …mountain-climber-push-ups, tri-cep dips, weighted walking lunges, squat jumps, etc…. you get the idea. Needless to say, I’ve spent the last couple weeks stretching, icing, and re-evaluating my idea of what being “in shape” really means.

Being an athlete who consistently runs and enjoys pushing myself in workouts, I always thought that I was “in good shape.” Changing the types of exercises I was doing completely took my body by surprise, and I’ll be the first to tell you that my first 2 weeks of circuit training KICKED MY BUTT. A lot of my friends would classify me as an “in shape” person, due to my attentiveness to living an active and healthy lifestyle. However, after performing some workouts that felt really hard, and realizing that I had to resort to girl push-ups after my first set within my circuit training, I would say that I was definitely “out of shape” for where I felt like I should, and wanted to be. This made me realize that being “in shape” is completely subjective and everyone sees it a little bit differently.

That being said, I think it’s important to remember that “in shape” for you might have an entirely different meaning than it does to the person next to you at the gym. Example… For someone that previously couldn’t run a mile without stopping, training to run a 5k and successfully doing it would definitely make them feel like they were “in the best shape of their life.” This is obviously very different than an Olympic runner being “in the best shape of their life” while preparing for an Olympic race. Just some food for thought. What do you think being “in shape” means and how does it play a role in your training and outlook on fitness?