Today, the term “high-performance” encompasses an amalgamation of lifestyle choices that benefit both physical and mental wellbeing. Modern innovation is drastically changing what is achievable and making high-performance living possible for more than just an elite few.
New York Giants wide receiver, Victor Cruz, currently works with Furthermore From Equinox, a brand that reframes fitness and wellness from a modern perspective. They understand it encompasses everything from physical and mental wellbeing to personal style and motivation. We spoke to Cruz, to discuss the changing nature of fitness and how anyone can get into elite physical and mental shape.
Physical fitness, one aspect of a high-performance lifestyle, once appeared intimidating. It implied testosterone-loaded weight rooms, joggers up at the crack of dawn or colorful spandex. “Protein shake” was a taboo term conflated with steroids and dieting meant swapping meals for apples. Two opposing camps existed, the fitness elite and the fitness-phobes, with little casual space in-between.
The divide was understandable when the poster child was seven-time Mr. Olympia and former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the 1977 bodybuilding documentary, Pumping Iron, he even compared working out with sexual pleasure: “It’s as satisfying to me as, uh, coming is, you know?” Hardly a relatable sensibility.
Due in part to greater access to information, today there is a less extreme perception of what physical fitness means, and gym bro and Barbie stereotypes are disappearing. Cookie-cutter approaches to working out are outdated and there are diverse methods for getting physically fit. “People thinking that what worked for one person can work for them is a fitness myth,” Victor Cruz explains.
Additional avenues into physical fitness are making high-performance living more accessible. It could mean lifting weights or running, but it could also mean doing yoga, boxing, gymnastics, pilates or many other physical routines.
Today, there’s a digital community for every possible hobby and interest which make picking them up easier. Health and fitness are no different. Rather than buying an expensive magazine with an intimidating cover star, there are thousands of websites, blogs, and forums catering to all levels and needs. Victor Cruz agrees how vital these resources are, “my favorite reads often come from fashion, lifestyle, and culture websites.”
YouTube personalities offer digestible and accessible advice, tutorials and motivational videos. They build online communities as their audience grows, which work as further motivation. The CrossFit community is an excellent example; they’ve maintained an ethos that welcomes anybody of any fitness level. Each year thousands of people spur others on during the CrossFit Games Open tournament, helping one another reach new levels of performance. They post a “Workout of the Day” online every day for the entire community to attempt, and the CrossFit YouTube channel is a hub of how-to’s and motivating stories.
Society, in general, is making fitness simpler. 24-hour budget gyms are affordable and always open, they’re not intimidating, and group classes help initiate beginners in a fun environment. Nutrition can be taken care of by meal-subscription services and online personal trainers are available at beck and call.
Technology simplifies high-performance living, too. Advancing activity-tracking apps and wearable devices make short and long-term goal setting simple, which in turn provides a motivating sense of achievement. Cruz uses Nike Shutter Glasses, which he explains, “leave your vision impaired in short spurts so that you can train your eye to focus on the object being thrown to you, in my case, a football.”
While a specialized example, it illustrates how technology has the potential to make a high-performance lifestyle available to everyone. Amongst a frenzy, it was recently reported Pokémon Go got people performing more physical activity, revealing augmented reality’s capacity to enter the fitness space.
We live in an age of convenience, excuses and fears are growing increasingly redundant. “You can train anywhere, equipment isn’t necessary,” says Cruz, “even when busy or traveling, you can use local resources.” Calisthenics tutorials, for example, show you how to workout using only your body weight. He adds, “if I could only do two physical exercises for the rest of my life I’d do pushups and crunches.” It’s easier than ever to integrate physical exercise into one’s lifestyle.
The renewed approach taken by Victor Cruz and Furthermore is about preparing for life, not competitions, which is part of a broader trend encompassing mental performance, too. Cruz suggests meditation, “my meditative practice is a 20-minute breathing routine to clear my mind for the day ahead.”
In recent years a host of high-performing successful people have been cited as meditating daily including Steve Jobs, Rick Rubin, Kobe Bryant and Oprah Winfrey. Meditation, slow-living, and mindfulness have become hot topics, and they’re all part of improving mental wellbeing.
Cruz stressed an important component of this lifestyle is routine, “staying fit needs to become a habit, as familiar to us as eating or sleeping.” Technology is helping here too. Apps such as Headspace help perform 10-minute daily mindfulness and meditation exercises; Coach.me helps you track and celebrate habits and goals.
It’s often assumed that our modern world, particularly technology, is making us lazier. However, Victor Cruz’s approach suggests it’s easier today than ever before to take responsibility for one’s mental and physical wellbeing. There’s endless valuable content and innovation making high-performance living possible for all. Personal responsibility remains essential, though. “Consistent work is key,” Cruz closes, “pushing yourself in areas that need improvement a little each day.” Without effort and dedication, you won’t succeed. Technology won’t do all the work for you – not just yet.
- Lead Image: Tim Tadder