Until now, you probably measured how in shape you were the old-fashioned way — by comparing yourself to others. You peek at the woman on the treadmill next to you or see how your side kicks stack up with the ridiculously well-toned DVD instructor's. "But that doesn't tell you anything about your own true fitness level," says exercise physiologist Suzanne Meth, who manages E, Equinox Fitness's private club, in New York City. That's why it's so important to establish a personal baseline by testing the four basic tenets of fitness: aerobic endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance. "No matter what your overall level is, having a starting point can help you set tangible goals," says FITNESS advisory board member Michele Olson, PhD, a professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama.
FITNESS's brand-new, do-anywhere test will help you determine how strong, speedy, and flexible you really are. It takes only about 30 minutes; you'll even get a mini workout just doing it! Then you can set a new goal and retake the test every six weeks to track your progress. Guaranteed, in that time you'll reach a new personal best!
Test Your Aerobic Ability
You'll need to know how long it takes you to run a mile before you take this test, which will assess your level of ability when it comes to those cardio workouts. Go ahead and time yourself on the treadmill or nearest track — we'll wait!
Here's what else you'll need for this assessment:
- A flight of stairs
- A watch or clock with a second hand
Test Your Strength
Time to put those muscles to the test! Find your level of ability when it comes to strength training.
What you'll need for this assessment:
- A 10-pound dumbbell
- A sturdy chair
Test Your Flexibility and Balance
This test is about more than touching your toes. Assess your body control with 5 quick tests.
All you'll need for this assessment is a ruler (and clothes you can move around in!)