Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Dear Fun and Fit: Kymberly and Alexandra:
Q:I want to know the best way for me to determine my fitness level without going to a gym. What kind of tests or guidelines can I use to test myself? (background – I’m 50 (!), run a horse ranch with my husband, have daily exercise, but not a set routine or cardio).
Dana, Santa Ynez, CA
K: I’ll meet your question and raise you one. What do you want to do with the information you get from a fitness test? For instance, you could ask “how do I know if I am fit enough to keep these hossies of mine in good condition and still have energy to plow the fields, till the land, and ride off into the sunset?” Then your fitness level is defined by your ability to function and continue doing the activities you love. This kind of fitness is called “functional” or “real life fitness.” Well, I call it “real life fitness” anyway and I think my sis will back me up on any terms I make up. Hey, I went along with her new word “plumpers” back on the posting “Perky or Saggy: Push-Ups or Push Up Bra.”
For determining your functional fitness level, you have an easy job. Can you do the ranch work and other daily activities with relative ease, comfort and range of motion without getting exhausted or injured at the end of the day? And can you keep doing that until you or your horses head out to pasture? Easy, shmeasy to measure, so I hope you go for that definition of fitness.
Your question might also be coming from the perspective of “how do I measure percent of body fat, lean muscle mass, flexibility, and endurance without actually taking those tests, which are the standards for defining and measuring fitness?” That question is a horse of a different color entirely. Oh, two points to me for getting that in! I have to cut to Alexandra for a moment while I contain (or applaud) myself.
A: I have to say that Kymberly is not containing herself at all; she is just horsing around! Oh, neigh it ain’t so! For all those measurement tests Kymberly mentions, you will need to go to a qualified personal trainer. Since you are a horse rancher, not a gym rat, get the trainer to come to you. You can find one in your area at acefitness.org/findanacepro/default.aspx. But…since you say you want to test yourself, go in your closet and try on all the stuff you haven’t worn in a year. If it fits, you know you are the same size.
Next, count how many push-ups you can do with good form. Make a record. Count your push-ups again in 3 months. Compare the numbers. Burst out in tears of joy. Same with lunges or squats. Gotta say, in all my years, it’s rare to see someone perform a lunge, squat or push-up with good form right out the gate (oooh, another horse reference). So we are back to that personal trainer idea.
Since you need at least one good chuckle from this blog, I’d say ask your husband to check you out first thing in the morning before you get dressed. If he says you look hot and exactly like you did at 30, you are fit. And he gets points for dodging that set-up. If he says you don’t look quite the same, throw a horse at him. If you can do this, you are fit enough!
Q from K and A to our readers: Who else wonders whether you are “fit enough?” And fit enough for what? Do tell.