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Mad Positivity | Fitness Is Not a Competition: An Introduction

By Shana Johnstone

A competition is a contest in which there are winners and losers. At its core, competition is a comparative exercise. Someone comes out on top.

Sport is competition. Fitness is not.

Let’s look closer.


In sport, we determine a winner or a ranking of the top few. Someone is identified, as objectively as possible, as the fastest, the strongest, or the most skilled. Validation comes from others; it is external to the self. The point is to win.

The pursuit of sport and the pursuit of fitness are fundamentally different. In fitness, there is no finish line, no award ceremony, and no gold star. Validation is found internally, from meeting your own needs. The point of fitness is to be able to participate.

This doesn’t mean that fitness is easy. In fact, it’s often harder than sport. Without the clear parameters of winning, how do we know when we achieve it? Without agreed-upon rules of engagement, how do we know we’re doing it right? And perhaps most confusing, without competition, what drives us?


In this series, we’ll explore fitness from a mindset perspective, because so much about the body is really about the mind.