Learning About Me – From the Inside Out
It’s day three of the first week of Switch 360 and we’re off to an early start with a trip to Up And Running on Al Wasl Road.
The aim of the day is to learn more about ourselves and so we are doing two different things. The first is a measurement of our body composition and is painless and calm whilst the second is a metabolic V02 test, which is sweaty and hard work!
The body composition test is done using a nifty piece of kit from Bodyo called My Bodyo. The reader, is placed against the back of our ankle and after a few seconds the results of our body composition are transferred to an app which shows the breakdown of our body in terms of fat percentage, bone mass, muscle mass and hydration.
The My Bodyo provides some useful information for me with my stats as follows :
BMI : 38.8 a painfully bad and high number which I know I can improve on
AN overall Fitness index of 10 – which is Poor
BMR : 1609 (Rate your body uses energy when resting just to live)
Energy : 1931 (Total daily energy expenditure)
Muscle Mass 12.9kg + (this is good)
Fat Mass 20.1kg + (this is bad)
The information is transferred onto an app, which then allows data to be measured and monitored over a period of time which is fantastic for tracking.
Update : I was initially measured with the entry level assessment tool, My Bodyo, a few weeks later I met the Bodyo team and was measured with the top tool called the Body Expoert which provides additional measurements and actually looks at seventy seven different measurements as well as to compare your actual results against reference values, it’s much more meaningful in terms of the amount of inofmration provided.
I can already see some progress with my stats as follows :
BMI 37.9 (still too high but reducing)
Energy 2935 (looks like my training is working)
Muscle Mass 13.71 kg +
Fat Mass 17.56 kg +
Whoop, whoop! I’m stealing some pleasure on this as it shows some positive progress, of course it’s not the same machine so I know there might be some slight variances, but I’ll take good news in any shape or form. PS the team will be monitoring me regularly so it will be good to see how this moves forward over time.
The second part of the morning is less comfortable to say the least, but Dr Ramzy makes it fun in his own way!
The first thing to tackle is the treadmill. Most of the team choose to have their tests done on this, but I ask if I can change to a bike as a I have a bit of a love/hate sort of phobia with treadmills ever since I came off of one quite badly a few years ago. Skinning the front of your leg against the treadmill rubber when it’s still running is painful to say the least and I still have bad memories about the actual event and the couple of weeks it took to recover whilst on painful antibiotics since it turns out that treadmill dust and crap in your leg is not a good thing! Anyways, I still have a bit of a thing with treadmills and try to avoid them if I can, although I do realise sometimes they are a necessary evil.
The aim of the test is to get an extremely accurate measure of our fitness which will be calculated based on our performance as we exercise. This isn’t a race or anything, more of a carefully controlled test which is done with the help of some high tech wizardry which measures how we perform as we exercise. First we are given a heart rate monitor then we have a face mask type contraption strapped to our face which is hooked up to a small computer. First bit done, we then start exercising. As time progresses the intensity or speed increases as does our heart rate. During the time we are exercising Dr Ramzy makes adjustments to the intensity of the exercise as well as monitors our V02 output and heart rate. Once we reach a certain point of complete breathlessness (it kinda feels like you are close to having a cardiac arrest and can’t get any breath in), Dr Ramzy stops the test and once you are recovered gives you feedback on your performance.
My test whilst feeling like it was hours long to me, is shorter than the others from the team since I reached my maximum heart rate and V02 output quite quickly. To be honest I’m surprised not to hear alarms buzzing based on how I felt, it was hard work on my legs, actually I wanted to stand up as typically during a spin class you get to add ‘more power’ by standing up and pushing harder, but since these was a test for something else this was not allowed. The lactic acid pain in my legs is not pleasant and I can certainly feel the burn during the test and afterwards, don’t you just love the feeling of jelly legs after exercise? Lols. Seems like finishing the test quickly is not the prize in this case! Reaching my maximum heart rate and V02 max quickly is not a good thing as it means that I’m not as fit as the others are, but then to be honest I knew that as I have not exercised for at least two years.
So what’s V02 Max Testing
VO2 max is the measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen that you can utilize during intense, or maximal exercise.
Why is it important?
An athlete’s VO2 Max score is generally considered by exercise physiologists as one of the best indicators of the athlete’s cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance.
How is it measured?
VO2 max is typically performed in a sports performance lab, that’s why we are at Up And Running and under strict protocols, that’s where Dr Ramzy comes in. The protocol involves specific increases in speed and intensity of the exercise, thanks again Dr Ramzy, whilst also collecting and measuring the oxygen inhaled and exhaled – hence the mask that we were wearing.
What are you measuring?
The mask determines how much oxygen we use during the test. Essentially when training there should be a linear relationship with exercise intensity and oxygen consumption until you reach what is called the the plateau point. This is where oxygen consumption plateaus even if exercise intensity increases – this is the place referred to as V02 max.
What is V02 Max?
V02 max is where a person moves from aerobic metabolic (burning sugar, fats and proteins to provide energy) to anaerobic metabolism (burning carbs for energy only in the absence of oxygen). Anaerobic metabolism means that the lungs cannot put enough oxygen into the bloodstream to keep up with the demands for the muscles and the muscles fill with lactic acid which is painful. Once you reach anaerobic level, it’s not long before muscle fatigue forces you to stop exercising.
My Results : The Good, The Bad and The ‘Room for Improvement’
Sitting down to discuss the results with Dr Ramzy after the session is interesting and embarrassing at the same time. I’m annoyed that I let myself get so unfit, but equally, I can’t go back and fix the past, so I focus on the here and now and plan to put in place positive behavior changes to move forward.
My overall rating is Below Very Poor (eek) and I’m given a score of just 22.2 for my cardio fitness. There’s little correlation between my oxygen consumption versus effort so my chart is what I would describe as ‘a bit all of the place’ obviously my words here not Dr Ramzy. Dr Ramzy points out that the two lines need to come closer together and that its very possible to increase my rating from very poor to poor and even good in a quick period of time. This is good news and I see it as a bit of a challenge to at least move up one point before the programme is finished, and hopefully two. Fit athletes, have it harder since it’s harder to increase V02 Max the fitter your are, not only is this related to athletic performance, but there’s also a genetic component to your V02 Max threshold.
Learning About Me!
One of the great things about the testing that I takeaway with me is that I now have some very specific information about me which I can use for training and throughout the programme.
I now understand my Body Composition so know I need to reduce weight, but more specifically I need to focus on fat loss and also to focus on my hydration – apparently it’s an issue for most of us in the UAE. I personally am going to throw ‘caution to the wind’ with regards to BMI – it’s very outdated, very generic and doesn’t take into account body frame and weight of our inner organs etc, but I can shoot for targets which are more based on my actual measurements and composition, so I have a target to reduce my body fat and to increase my hydration.
Firstly I have a measure of my actual cardio fitness performance – it’s not good, but it can be improved on and I intend to do this.
Secondly I have personalized heart-rate targets which tell me exactly what heart rate I need to train at to reach specific goals – rather than average numbers which are programmed into the gym equipment.
So for me these are the numbers :
Fat Burning 144-154
V02 Max. 182-183
Using the information is going to be really helpful, I know exactly how hard I should be working to achieve specific goals and equally Phill can use this to brief the training providers during our training sessions.
For the first time, I feel like I can understand my body a bit more and this is one of the aims of Switch360. It begins to make perfect sense. For instance, I find it hard to train in the fat burning mode, as the music I play whilst training (typically 180 bpm) makes me train faster which in turn pushes me out of the fat burning mode and into the endurance and even threshold rates easily which obviously mean I can’t sustain them for too long before tiring.
Want more information?
You can get more information by clicking on the links for Bodyo and First Performance Consultancy. Both of these assessments are available to you as individuals, they are not just reserved for Sports Professionals or Athletes. Put power and knowledge behind you BEFORE you embark on some form of body change and transformation.
Read about Switch DXB here
[photo credits : Switch DXB]