Fitness can mean something different to everyone. You may feel “fit” if you can wear a smaller clothing size. To someone else, it may mean winning a 5K running race. Or reaching a target weight on a scale. Or simply feeling strong and full of energy.
But all of these personal accomplishments are the result of reaching a level of fitness in five measurable categories. When I first meet with clients, I evaluate their fitness level in these five ways, then I design workouts to help clients turn their weaknesses into strengths.
When you score well in each of the five areas, the impact on your life is amazing, and your personal goals can become a reality!
So, how “fit” are you? Grade yourself in these five goals of physical fitness and see what you need to improve.
Do you get winded easily? Or is breathing easy even when you’re doing strenuous exercise? The ability of your heart and lungs to fuel your body with oxygen is a key part of physical fitness.
To improve your cardiovascular capacity and endurance, focus on exercises which increase your heartrate, like brisk walking, jogging, swimming, and cycling.
Everyone should get a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio each day. If you don’t currently exercise, consult your doctor before starting. Begin with just a few minutes, then slowly work your way up to doing 30 minutes. As you progress to an advance level, you can go for one hour, 3 to 5 times a week.
Here are some of my favorite cardio exercises:
Beginner and Intermediate-Level Exercises:
- Elliptical machine
- Walking uphill on a treadmill
- Active dancing
- Aerobics classes
- Jumping rope
- Racquetball or squash
- Climbing stairs
- Ultimate frisbee
- Kickboxing class
- Basketball (full court team play)
The more fat you have, the higher your risk for illnesses like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure. I encourage my clients to be in the lowest health-risk category!
Men should have less than 20 percent fat out of their total weight, and women should have less than 27 percent, according to the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America.
If you’re overweight, you must burn your fat through exercise and by eating small portions of lean foods. If you don’t know your body-fat percentage, please ask me to measure it for you.
Muscle strength refers to the amount of force a muscle can exert in short bursts. I want you to feel strong and invincible!
Grade yourself on how easily you can perform everyday movements like lifting objects and moving your own body. If you’re an athlete, you’ll need to develop the strength to perform a specific task, like hitting a powerful tennis serve.
To improve your strength, you’ll need to do resistance exercises using dumbbells, barbells, cables, and even your own body weight. I help clients gain strength by loading their muscles with enough resistance to cause fatigue in 8 to 12 repetitions using good form.
Muscle endurance refers to your ability to perform a continuous effort without fatiguing. I want you to have enough endurance to enjoy your favorite activities or excel at your sport.
In everyday life, you’d know if you lack muscle endurance if your legs get tired walking up a few flights of stairs or carrying bags. If you want to perform well in sports, you need a high endurance level to outlast your competition.
To improve your muscle endurance, practice moderate-level exercises, gradually increasing the duration of your training. If you’re an athlete, focus on movements specific to your sport. Each time you train, go a bit longer and allow your body to adapt.
Flexibility is the ability to move your joints easily through their entire range of motion. I want you to be able to move freely, without tightness and pain!
Grade yourself on how freely you can move your body. Do you feel stiff and tight just bending over to reach for an object? If you’re an athlete, do you lack the range of motion to perform a specific movement well? Tightness not only restricts the activities we want to do, but, I believe, causes the mind to feel tension too.
Flexibility training should be included in all fitness programs to prevent the loss of joint mobility and injuries. Stretching at the end of your workout is preferred, since the muscles are warm and pliable. You don’t want to stretch cold muscles.