A phrase I can never understand, but I do find amusing is “I’m not fit enough for a personal trainer”. The dictionary description of fitness can be described as the state of being physically healthy and strong. It doesn’t say you must be able to complete 10 burpees in 30 seconds to be considered ‘fit’.
Fitness is different for everyone. How fit you are depends on your age, your perception of fitness and your goals. An 80 year old male who walks everyday, takes the stairs, doesn’t need walking aids and feels healthy in himself would consider himself at peak level of fitness. However if you asked a 21 year old woman who did the same as the 80 year old if is she was at peak fitness, she would probably be described as ‘average’.
Furthermore, you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to class yourself as optimally fit. If you can go about your life without pain, discomfort and with a feeling of health, you would be optimally fit for your life. You may consider yourself a fit person which is great, but can sometimes be difficult to know what to work on. If this is you, rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 on the following fitness categories:
Cardiovascular (the ability to continuously exercise without tiring)
Strength (the ability to carry out work against a resistance. It is the maximal force you can apply against a load)
Power (an amount of work done in a particular time. To measure maximal power is to measure how much strength they have at the fastest speed they can exert it)
Agility (the ability to change direction rapidly)
Mobility (the ability of a joint to move actively through a range of motion)
Flexibility (the ability of a muscle or muscle groups to lengthen passively through a range of motion)
Mentally (is having the natural or developed psychological edge that enables you to cope better than your opponents with the demands)
Sometimes my clients forget how fit they really are so I show them a photo, video or a session plan from months back and it reminds them of how far they have come. It is very powerful to try and remember your journey and how far you have come, particularly when you notice something which previously was challenging is now just a warm up!
I find people generally like to have a baseline to work towards, to measure improvements overtime. This can be both motivating and will help to keep you on track with your exercise routine. The best measure of improvement is against yourself, no-one else. But sometimes it’s nice to have an idea of where your stand against your average Joe. Below are 3 exercises to test your body on how well your fitness levels stack up against ‘the average person’.
The Plank world record was recently broken by George Hood who managed an incredible 8 hours, 15 minutes and 15 seconds. George is an ex-marine and at the time of the record, 62 years old. Remember the phrase ‘age is just a number’? The plank uses your whole body, but mainly focuses on your core strength. Hold your body in a straight line on your forearms and tip toes. Your body should stay braced and straight without your hips sagging or pushed above the line of your shoulders. Here is a good indication of your ability to perform a plank:
Over 2 minutes - Excellent
75 seconds - 2 minutes - Good
45 seconds - 75 seconds - Average
Less than 45 seconds - Needs work
Every time you sit down and stand up, you are perform a squat. The squat is a fundamental movement in everyday life and also features in most sports. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and toes ever so slightly turned out. Lower (sit) until your thighs are parallel to the floor with your knees in line with your middle toe. Push back up through your heels and repeat. This test is performed without stopping until either physical or technical failure.
50 or more - Excellent
30-49 - Good