Analyzing Where You Are Now

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It’s one thing to vow to “get in shape” or to “lose some weight” but to be successful, you need to set specific goals and make a real plan. The foundation on which any plan should be built is an evaluation of where you are now, both fitnesswise and healthwise.

“set specific goals and make a real plan”

Because you certainly don’t want to harm yourself more than help yourself, pay a visit to your doctor before you start your program. He or she might even have some specific workout suggestions for you or point you to a suitable health club or trainer where your needs will be addressed appropriately. In addition to a medical assessment, there are two basic categories of evaluation:

♦ Where you are now (body weight, body-mass index, and so on)

♦ What you can do (strength, endurance, and flexibility)

If you begin your fitness quest by joining a gym or a health club, your current health and physical condition will be evaluated. At the very least, you will be asked to fill out a questionnaire about your age, weight, medical history, tobacco use, eating and drinking habits, and the amount and type of exercise you do. Generally, when you join a gym, you will be offered a fitness test as a routine or optional service for new members. A fitness or spa vacation generally starts with a baseline assessment and gives you and any fitness professional you work with a starting point. Remember, to judge how far you’ve come once you’re on a program, you need to know where you started.

Typically, the tester will put you through several steps. You may have to lift weights to evaluate your strength or use a treadmill or do a step-up, step-down test for a specific amount of time to assess your cardiovascular conditioning. You will be weighed on a medically accurate scale and perhaps be measured for body composition (that is, the percentage of fat mass in your body).

If you decide to embark on your own program, you still can have a professional fitness assessment. If that’s not possible, you still should become knowledgeable about areas of concern and should definitely seek medical advice if necessary. No matter what you want to achieve, it is good to get a sense of your starting point. This is true whether you have some identifiable risk factors or are perfectly healthy. Professional fitness testers evaluate several major factors, and you can do some yourself, too.