A Measured Visit: Body Composition
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A Measured Visit: Body Composition

Joining the gym is a scary prospect if you have never entered one ever. As a newbie at the gym and then a personal trainer in the gym, it can be an awkward experience for you. Although all gyms are different in what they offer, you can benefit from having your body composition done. It's pretty painless and it gives you a real-time view of where you are physically while the information can be used to help you set realistic goals. This is scenario is a composite of what happens for new gym members in full-service gyms:

Walk right this way, please. The tour is great because they show you what you wanted and built up the dreaded areas as if they were made of gold. You join, sign the contract, then the moment of shock hits: They want to set an appointment for you with a trainer. All they want to do is body composition and give me an orientation to the gym. All you really wanted to do was, well, what YOU wanted to do. Hmmm. Reluctantly fumbling with your smart phone, you pull up the calendar app and much to your dismay, the date is OPEN. So you set the appointment anyway.

The grand day comes and so do you in whatever you have that looks remotely like workout clothes and shoes. A trainers walks up to you and calls you by name, shakes hands with you with a smile, invites you to a separate room to get your body composition, whatever that might be. Feeling intimidated because your trainer looks "perfect" in your mind. "Ugh! They're going to judge me." you groan. Up on the dreaded scales to see a number you didn't want to see. "Can we skip this stuff?" you ask. They smile and explain that by getting this information, they can help you figure out your goals and give you what you need to make it happen.

Next is the TAPE MEASURE. You close your eyes, peaking slightly as they measure your neck, upper arm, chest- No! Not the WAIST!!!- yes, the waist, hips, and thigh. No harm, no foul. That clipboard is getting a lot of writing on it. Not good!

Then these pincher things come out- CALIPERS. What is THAT for? Now they grasp the fat on the back of your arm as you wince expecting that pinch. "Okay, where is the pinch? Hmm. No pinch, no pain. This is good!  But I don't like the fat they are finding!" Next is the area by the hipbone, then the front of the thigh.

Plugging numbers into the computer, almost like a magician, the trainer types away. The moment we all waited for,.. drum roll or Taps? Voila! The verdict isn't nearly as awful as you originally thought. Yes, you have fat to burn, but the scales didn't whimper and run away like you expected. The trainer had plenty of measuring tape to spare outside of the circumference of your midsection. That wasn't so bad!

So what do those numbers mean? Your body weight is the pull of gravity on your body. It means this how much the earth's gravity pulls you toward the surface. The scale is a measuring tool, but it isn't always honest with you about how much or how little fat you have.

The measuring tape is helpful because, when the scales are confusing about your progress, you will see the difference in the circumference of the areas measured. It will also help you see progress when your scale number stays the same or goes up contrary to your clothes fitting better. Some gyms only measure the waist and hips for the risk factor for type 2 diabetes, heart attack, and stroke. It's a good idea to have areas measured where you carry the most fat to see your progress.

The calipers, or in some cases a bioelectrical impedence device will measure how much fat you carry compared to lean muscle mass. There are varying amounts between men and women in difference age ranges. Men are measured differently from women with calipers because women's fat distribution is different from men. You have to have body fat to live. The question is how much is appropriate for good health and calculate your goal weight. Knowing these numbers will help you compare your progress over time. It will also reveal what a trainer needs to help you adjust your workout for maximum results.

I highly recommend taking advantage of having these numbers taken the first time and setting regular intervals to compare. Some gyms offer the first one free. Others don't. Definitely get the first one to know more accurately where you are. There is nothing on these tools marked, FAT, VERY FAT, and HORRIBLY FAT. Not at all! Just numbers.
If it fits in your budget, I would also recommend paying for an initial 6 personal training sessions to get off to the best start.You can learn so much in those initial sessions to keep yourself headed the right direction. If not, at least consider having your body composition done every 3 months for the first year, 6 months the second year, then annually. Should you be unable to work out or have a major change causing you to gain weightand start over, at least get new baseline measurements. As you see your progress, you will have a realistic view of where you really want to be. You'll be glad you took that first step.

May God bless you!


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