Definition: Total Fitness

In 2010, the Joint Chiefs declared Total Force Fitness as:  “The state in which the individual, family, and organization can sustain optimal well-being and performance  under all conditions.”

They published the definitions of each of the 8 domains & suggested the metrics to measure them.

Then, they set out to train 1000’s of Drill Sergeants to train ALL of the troops – how to help each other – to be Totally Fit!


Time to Make it Happen

How about the rest of us?    Don’t you want to know …

 …   What does psychological fitness look like & how do I get there?

 …   What does social fitness look like … how do I get there?

What are we waiting for?

Building Total Fitness for ALL

My passion is to build Total Fitness for ALL. That is, to transfer & adapt the military’s ‘technology’ to train the rest of us – to help each other – to be totally fit.

Bill Shore, a social entrepreneur, accomplishes such large goals – like ending poverty.  He likens it to cathedral building. After all, how did 1000’s of people actually complete such massive projects that could take over 100 years?  Studying cathedrals, Shore saw 5 principles:

Meaning:  The vision of the cathedral fueled the sense of purpose of each builder, no matter how menial the work. Even if they never saw the finished product, they knew that if they followed the blueprint, their everyday effort would contribute to its grandeur.
Shared Strengths:  Everyone had something to contribute from all sectors. And, government, business, religious institutions couldn’t do it alone.
Evidence-Base:  Built upon solid past foundations (literally), cathedrals were made that much stronger.
Wealth Generation:  Cathedrals were built, maintained, and sustained by producing new community wealth, not just on handouts or donations.
Education:  Cathedrals taught best practices and values, not just by words, but also through design – in stained glass windows, statues, & paintings. They spoke without limits of language or literacy.

The spark for Total …

Why Can’t We ALL Learn to be Totally Fit?

Patients often lament, “I wish I would’ve learned these resilience skills earlier.”  Indeed, what if we ALL learned them earlier?

If we’re ever going to bend the healthcare cost curve, we ALL need to learn how to prevent unhealthy habits (e.g., diet, exercise, smoking) or stop them once they start. That requires having the skills and support to manage thoughts, feelings and behavior – right when we’re stressed! Truth is, we’re not taught these skills anywhere and community support is, at best, patchy.

That’s changing, at least in the military. Recently, the Army began its Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) program. They use a train-the-trainer format to teach & spread resilience skills to ALL the troops. Now thousands of young adults, within their cohesive units, are learning to help each other get Totally Fit.

I’ve taught these skills for decades, using simulations with medical & clinical psychology grad students (at USUHS) and service learning with nursing undergrads (at Georgetown University). As a school psychologist (in Fairfax County Schools), I’ve worked in Pre-K to secondary schools. As a learner myself, by far, the best skills course I’ve taken was Dr. Seligman’s distance learning course – along with …

Can’t civilians be Totally Fit too?

Dr. Kreps and others at GMU believe that we could change campus norms to make it cool to compete to be Totally Fit – using a media campaign (we piloted).

We could make it easy to join peer-led Total Fitness Teams – that train in resilience skills.  Dr. Seligman, when he keynoted at a GMU Conference, suggested that if his Lab could train 1000’s of drill sergeants to be Master Resilience Trainers, then why not test the hypothesis that we can train students to LEAD?

Click on the title to see a short related video.


Would campuses compete to be the Most Totally Fit?

In fact, the idea of a media campaign, using a curated Directory, to help people know and find ‘what works’ for Total Fitness has attracted many faculty, staff, & students. Forty-two Directors of University Clinical Psychology programs agreed they’d like to participate.    

We believe we can leverage social media so that ANY student on ANY campus could find a Total Fitness Team to compete in a Mason-led March Madness for Total Fitness.


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