The fitness tracker industry, valued at $18 million in 2016, is expected to grow to a whopping $62 million by 2023! Increased health awareness by young and old are driving up sales. As are higher standards of living across the world. Great compatibility and plenty of interactive features also make the fitness tracker a popular ‘must have’ gadget. Anything that encourages people to be more active has to be a good thing. More physical activity equals improved fitness and health. This is a good thing! However, the fitness tracker boom inadvertently creates a superficial view of exercise and fitness training. Effective fitness sessions go way beyond calories spent. In this latest blog, expert Ascot personal trainer Nathan Kelly explores the many ways in which to evaluate your fitness sessions.
Bodyweight and Calories
A constant challenge for many personal trainers is making clients open to the idea of more than just bodyweight and calories. For the majority, the bottom line comes down to losing weight. That number they see on the weighing scales is King. Bodyweight is one marker of health. Used in conjunction with height it predicts Body Mass Index and Obesity by health organisations the world over. But it doesn’t tell the whole story. Bodyweight alone says nothing about an individuals body composition, their relative proportions of bone, muscle and fat. Therefore, a person who see’s their weight going up may wrongly interpret this as a bad thing when in fact they have grown more muscle tissue.
A similar thing happens with calories. This is where the fitness tracker comes in. Recognising that controlling bodyweight and body composition is linked to calorie balance. Judging the success of your training session on calories alone is short sighted. In fact doing so can lead to some poor decision making when it comes to exercise. In a bid to burn more calories and ‘shift weight’ quicker people can exercise excessively or inappropriately. Doing too much or the wrong type of exercise leads to injury. For example, obese clients will burn plenty of calories going for a run. However, the excessive impact going through joints, tendons and ligaments means that running should be strictly controlled in obese populations.
Switching attention away from the fitness tracker
So what does make a good fitness session? What should people be looking for? Before answering this question it’s important to realise that calorie expenditure and bodyweight are good markers of fitness. Also, the fitness tracker is a useful tool. These factors simply need to be put into perspective. Improving aspects such strength, cv fitness, mobility, and movement skills are also useful markers of getting fitter! For the general population, developing fitness across a broad range of domains is important. We therefore spend a lot of time highlighting improved movement, as being able to move better on a daily basis represents an improvement in health and fitness.
Moving better is quite often linked to have the requisite strength and control through a good range of movement. Therefore, recognise improvements in strength capacity and range of movement as wins! Developing the body’s ability to generate and use energy should be an important part of any session. The most common approach is to improve cardiorespiratory endurance. In addition to your CV fitness though there are other markers of what we call ‘metabolic capacity’. For example, improving your maximum number of push ups or ability to keep working through a 3 minute interval both indicate an increase in work capacity and fitness.
Todays Takeaway message? Reflect on each and every session across a range of variables. Doing so will ensure that your programme remains balanced and you avoid the February fitness dropout!