Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Perspectives on fitness

Yesterday at the gym I met with my three teammates in the Biggest Winner challenge. It was our penultimate meeting and we were going to do two of the three post-tests. We were going to do the 2 minute squat challenge and the 45 pounds, 2 minute, bench press challenge.

While we were getting ready to start down in the free weight room, we got to see some truly dedicated athletes/body builders. There were two young men down there lifting weights. I see them every week at the same time. They are there mostly for bulking up - bigger upper body strength. They probably don't do cardio or run, just the weights to get bulked up.

Then there was a man there who is  HUGE, but in the athletic way. Not an ounce of fat on him.

Lastly, there was a young, petite woman who was throwing a kettle ball around and jumping up on high platforms and doing reverse pull-ups. She looked like these women here:

This second image could be her body... No, I think she had even more definition. She was probably no more than 5 feet tall and a hundred pounds, but she was solid muscle and what she could do with her body with seemingly no effort was amazing. Here we were, these four overweight middle aged and older women with pudgy tummies and relatively little strength while this woman could do amazing things.

Our trainer said she could be ready for Cirque de Solei. With a quick look at some images. Yep. She has that level of fitness and coordination:

It was such a funny dichotomy. As newbies at fitness and people who had spent years on their fitness. My group is always telling me how strong I am and powerful. Fortunately, I know that it's perspective. To them, who are older than me and at it for less time than me, it seems I'm strong and fit. For these people in the gym who already are super fit and trim? I look like a complete newbie dabbling at fitness.

Now, I have no desire to get to the fitness level of a professional athlete or even a professional personal trainer. I just want to be fit and healthy and to be able to maintain that fitness with a reasonable amount of effort. I would be perfectly happy to look like this:

And to put body fat percentages in perspective. Here's a woman with 25% body fat, 20% body fat and 15% body fat. My attainable ideal is 25%. Though I will never look this good.  I have age, saggy skin and stretch marks too:

The woman we saw yesterday was below 15% body fat - for sure.

But, how did we do yesterday with our post-tests? Well, the squat test was really telling. When we started I did 108 in 2 minutes which is actually quite good. All those months at bodypump have helped. The other gals did 50-60 as complete beginners. Yesterday I did 130 and they did about 80. So, we had all gained quite a bit in strength. I pushed myself so hard yesterday that I was breathing so heavy that my larynx was on fire afterwards and was irritated for the rest of the day. I don't think I've ever pushed myself to that level before. Interestingly, I'm not sore from those this morning. I guess it wasn't the number we did, but how fast we did them.

The bench press was only a sort of post-test. We had used the wrong weights the first time and one of our members was out with the flu. So, this was the first and only time we did the test with the right weight. I did 90 in 90 seconds. I ran out of steam/strength to complete the last 30 seconds. All of us ran out of steam before we ran out of time. We had 22, 50 and 50 and my 90. 

Other teams will blow us out of the water and that's OK. It's us comparing ourselves to where we were 6-7 weeks ago (depending on the test). Our last test is the 1 mile run/walk. I got 11:25 last time and had to walk a quarter mile (going too fast). My hope is to run it all this time and to get under 11 minutes. I haven't been practicing running, but I have been pushing myself at the gym, so we'll see. That test is Wednesday.

Now we are trying to decide if we want to continue with another 8 weeks for 2 times a week with a new challenge or to just hire our personal trainer for an additional 6 weeks at once a week. Pricing will be a big part of that decision for all of us.

OK... now off to clean my stinkpot of a house. Starting with more laundry. I just heard the washer bing.

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