Yesterday I had to go for a fitness test with my new therapeutic personal trainer Ricardo (with one “C”).
The worst bit wasn’t the investigation into my vital statistics or my body fat percentage. No the terrible ordeal was not being able to drink any coffee or tea for twenty-four hours before the test.
I warned Ricardo that I might not be in the best of tempers after such an impossibly protracted time without my last real addiction but he seemed OK with the idea of a ravaging wolf turning up for our meeting at the gym this lunchtime.
I am sure that my blood pressure far from being lower without caffeine was raised through the stress of cold turkey but it came out OK anyway as did my resting heart rate. I was kept from immediate insanity by the thought that back in my locker was a vacuum flask of very strong French coffee.
Apart from that there was no hiding place. Stripped of my track suit and trainers, I had to undergo the most probing of physical tests and measurements. So much now for any traces of vanity or any illusions that may have lingered on after a year of forced and frustrating physical inactivity as I recovered from my major brain haemorrhage of just over a year ago.
First of all I had to stand against a wall to have my height recorded. I had dreaded this because I know that after the fractured spine that I suffered during my brain haemorrhage, I have lost height and I was anxious to find out that it wasn’t so much that I would now qualify as a short arse. The moment came when I had to find out the horrible truth and yes, I am shorter than I was a year ago by one whole centimeter. I wonder if I should buy some of those high heeled shoes that small round operatic tenors wear.
No time for self pity though and on to the next test. My blood pressure and resting heart rate behaved when it was monitored but then I had to step onto a dreaded machine that tells no lies…the scales.
I weigh myself once a month so I was not too surprized to find that I am a respectable 72 kg which for a wolf of my dimensions is not at all bad. Ricardo was happy with this but my statistics were not to rest with him alone as I was being submitted to an unforgiving machine called a Bodystat.
With electrodes attached to my right hand and foot I had to lie on the floor and try not to think about plumbers or about all that fluff from the washing machine that decided to come up through my bath’s plug hole this morning. In case you are wondering the illustrations below are not of me – I would never wear such vulgar nail varnish.
Unlike some of my old school reports, this appraisal was full of good things. OK there was a touch of “could have done better” and a few “satisfactory progresses” but amazingly there were more than just a few declarations that I was either “good”, “average” or even, wait for it, “above average”. Wow!
This is for the wolf who has never felt so unfit in his life.
Maybe a lifetime of trying to stay fit pays off. Certainly my neurologists think so. I was told if I hadn’t been as fit as I was when I had my brain haemorrhage then I probably wouldn’t have survived.
It was the “could do betters” though which were important. I was one percentage point of body fat short of being declared “fit” instead of “average” and two kilograms off what the machine considers to be my ideal weight. I should be able to correct this if I persevere over the next couple of months.
More tests followed. I had to hold a metal grip tester above my head and then pull it tight bring it down to my side. Initial results showed that I was average but when Ricardo showed me how to do it correctly, the competitive side of my nature insisted on re-doing the test and then I came out at above average….yay!
I did the same with the so-called Peak Flow Meter which is a tube that you blow through with the same sort of force that you need once you have more than 10 candles on your birthday cake. I came out as average first time round but then, just like I did when I insisted on those childhood candles being re-kindled, I did it again and got a “good” result.
I got into a bit of sneaky training too before the flexibility test…a few preparatory back and hamstring stretches were all I needed to impress Ricardo with the exercise where you have to sit on the floor with your feet against a box and stretch as far forward as you can beyond your toes. I had my biggest triumph here and Ricardo even said that I could stretch further than he could so I won the coveted award of “Above Average” again. I have always been a firm believer in flexibility – both physically and mentally.
Ricardo said it was obvious that I did kung fu training because martial artists were the only guys in his experience who could stretch like that. For the record, I went much further than the man in the photograph. So much for that fractured spine so please forgive me bragging.
Finally I had to strap a heart rate monitor to my chest at the sternum to test my aerobic capacity on a bicycle machine where I would be encouraged to build up my heart rate to its safest maximum over a period of some five minutes and then to measure my recovery time. This was assuming that I would recover of course which I did with what Ricardo described as a “good” result especially as I had not been allowed to do any aerobic exercise for a year until only a couple of weeks ago.
So I passed the test….in fact I did well and gained a lot of confidence in the thought that I really am recovering from my brain haemorrhage and that my body might even return to full fitness sooner than I expected.
I have been taking key body measurements now once a month since 1996 – a fact that Ricardo said he found impressive but I suspect he really meant obsessive. He did say though that everyone should try to do this because it really does add up to a valuable record of your health and helps you to maintain your weight and fitness by showing you just when you start to go off the rails. I showed him some of the graphs I had taken from this record and it was obvious to anyone looking at them that something pretty drastic happened a year ago. That will always be there of course but now it looks like that blip on the chart was just that, a blip in my life.
I am now preparing to get back to serious fitness training convinced that before long now I will be returning to my kung fu classes full time.
I owe my life to my obsession with fitness so forgive the nerdy statistics – don’t knock them, they are the facts of life.
Then it was time for coffee which was, by the way, delicious . Soon I was smiling again before heading back to the gym for an hour and a half going through my new training circuit feeling optimistic with caffeine levels returned to normal.
As for that snow…..this was my back garden yesterday with the white covering on my table gradually slipping to the ground.