Normal human evolution spans a lifetime beginning with
infancy passing through middle age and completing the process during old age. This
evolution reflects the "biological" rather than the "chronological"
age of every individual assuming, of course, that there is no impedance resulting from
accidents or disease. The situation currently confronting modern society is the
lengthening of the time for this birth-to-death process and its effect on both the
individual and society at large. Housing improvements, employment alterations, labor
saving devices, and modern medicine are but a few of the factors protecting humanity from
those instances which shortened the life span of our predecessors. While many of the
difficult, threatening experiences of the past have been eliminated or reduced in
severity, our bodies are now confronted with new problems which must be addressed and
solved. One of these problems concerns the quality of life as people become older
including, for example, maintaining the ability to be self sufficient. Many future
solutions will conflict with some of the beliefs generally termed "current
wisdom" as they apply to various aspects of modern western civilization in such areas
as training, dieting, exercising, aging, and many of the physical movements with which we
relate to our environment. In other words, while our society generally becomes older, the
challenge for each individual will be to strive to retain the lowest
"biological" age while their "chronological" birthdays increase. The
long held joke about women and Jack Benny remaining thirty-nine years old rather than
advancing to forty may be an appropriate target for everyone. The dilemma concerns the
best way to accomplish this task.
In order to address the optimization of human movement
and performance, the underlying philosophical premise metaphorically compares life with
sport. The goal is that everyone should be a Gold Medalist in his or her own body
regardless of age. Most people, however, do not achieve their "Gold Medal"
because their goals, potential, and/or timing are uncoordinated or nonexistent. For
example, an individual may envision himself or herself as a tennis champion yet lack the
requisite physical and physiological traits of the greatest players. Given this situation,
can his or her potential be maximized? Achieving one's maximum potential necessitates
tools applicable to everyone for improving their performance whether in tennis, fitness,
overcoming physical handicaps and/or disease. Useful tools must be based, however, on
correct, substantive scientific principles.