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Workout Makeover: Fitness Assessment

Now I know where I stand

Fitness Assessment

IU Bloomington staffer Nicole Roales (left) learns about her fitness level during an assessment with Division of Recreational Sports personal trainer Christy Shimp.

Editor's note: After several years of walking to stay fit, IU Bloomington staffer Nicole Roales has come to the experts at IUB's Division of Recreational Sports to find a personal trainer who can help her upgrade her workout.

How can you get motivated to exercise? Get a fitness assessment before you start working out. It has definitely helped me.

I didn't know what to expect from my fitness assessment or my new personal trainer, Christy Shimp. When I met Christy, I was not surprised that she was so thin and toned, but I was surprised she was so nice and down to earth. She's extremely interested in helping me get into shape.

Before I could begin working out with Christy, I went through a fitness assessment to determine my level of fitness. I have never had a fitness assessment, and I was eager to know what impact my walking program has on my body. I have been working out regularly for five years now, and I knew I would test better than someone who sat on the couch every night.

However, I was extremely surprised at my fitness assessment results and extremely disappointed. Overall, my fitness was rated as "well below average." Maybe I should've stuck to the gym and not bought a treadmill last fall?

A fitness assessment is important because it will allow me to track my progress and will also help Christy plan a routine that will help me meet my goals. The 60-minute session tested my:

• Cardiovascular health -- resting heart rate and blood pressure measurements

• Body composition -- body fat, height and weight

• Muscular strength and endurance

• Cardiovascular endurance

• Flexibility

The session wasn't too hard for me, but I did have some issues when it was time to do the flexibility test. I knew I was not very flexible, but I didn't know how inflexible I truly am until I took the test. I asked Christy why flexibility is important to fitness. Her response: it keeps the joints in shape, which is important so you have a wide range of mobility. Good flexibility will help me alleviate stiffness, prevent injuries and maintain a good range of motion in the joints.

Christy measured my resting heart rate and blood pressure. Then she measured my body fat, using a device that pinched the skin. It was not painful, but I was sore the next day.

Then she had me perform push-ups, crunch sit-ups and ride a stationary bike. The results of each test were recorded in a computer, which produced a specialized report about me and where I fall in the national average for women my age.

Once we had the report, the trainer consultation began. This 30-minute session allowed for Christy to go over the fitness assessment report with me. She explained what the results meant. My overall rating was "well below average."

Internally, I thought that I might as well have been sitting on the couch the last few years! However, I am sure if I had sat on the couch for the last five years, my body fat would've been higher. I have 106.9 pounds of lean weight (bones, muscles, organs, etc.) and 60.1 pounds of fat weight. Christy explained that fat tissue is necessary and based on my assessment, I should have about 20 percent fat weight. I guess I have some work to do.

I did feel good when I realized I was one crunch sit-up away from falling into the "average" category. My resting heart rate was not too far off, but I have a lot of work to do to improve my percent body fat and flexibility. I was comforted by the fact that my resting heart rate, crunch sit-up and push-ups were only "below average." I was disappointed that my cardio test on the bicycle yielded a rating of "well below average." I guess my workout intensity needs to be taken up a few notches.

During my consultation with Christy, I expressed my desire for harder treadmill workouts. We discussed what I like to do when I work out, what I am willing to try and what Christy can offer me. She encouraged me to take advantage of her knowledge by asking questions. She also offered to design workouts for me so I would know what to do each day of the week. Christy wrote me a personalized treadmill workout that would challenge me. After setting up a workout schedule, I was on my way out the door.

And how did the first customized treadmill workout go? Fabulous. I forgot what it was like to really sweat. I could feel my body working hard, and I sweat a lot more than I did just walking at the same rate and incline. I'm 100 steps closer to getting into shape.