Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Penn SHAPE Assessment + CrossFit WOD

Penn SHAPE Challenge Initial Assessment

Today I had my initial assessment for the Penn SHAPE Challenge.  I had my weight and body fat/BMI recorded, my grip strength measured for both my left and right hands, and my push-ups counted (we had to do them on our knees).  I applaud GAPSA (Graduate and Professional Student Assembly) for promoting this health initiative, and I thank my good friend/labmate for passing along the word to me!

In April, everyone who registered will undergo a post-test.  In the meantime, we all exercise and practice good health habits with the goal of improving our pre-test scores.  Penn SHAPE is even partnering with other programs to provide free or reduced cost workshops and fitness classes.  Prizes are given to the men and women with the top scores as calculated using their formula.  And everyone gets a free t-shirt and water bottle!  While I don't expect to win any prizes (the changes I expect to see will be minimal based on their grading scheme-- I don't want to lose weight or reduce my body fat), I will try to improve my strength.  

A couple interesting things from today's pre-test:
- My right hand grip strength was noticeably higher than my left.  (I'm a righty.)
- By the time I had my assessment, the men's push-up record was 53 (update: this record was set by Steve, my own labmate!  Here's to total lab dominance!), and I set the women's to 48.  While that may sound like a high number, it's not even half what I used to be able to do, and these were even on my knees, not full push-ups... slightly disappointing when you look at it that way.  
- After I got back, I looked up the body fat percentage chart from Wikipedia:



I want you to take away 2 things from this chart:
1) Men and women have different standards.  We have different body types for a reason.  Women, you should NOT be comparing your body fat percentage to that of a man's.  What is considered athletic for a man would be unhealthy for a woman (too little body fat).  
2) If you are trying to lose weight, you must create a reasonable goal, keeping in mind the minimal amount of body fat that you must have.

I'm looking forward to the next few months of workouts to see what I can do to improve my pre-test strength score.


CrossFit WOD

Inspired by my SHAPE pre-test (gotta work on my strength!), I decided I needed a workout with an impact today.  And so... I looked up today's CrossFit WOD (workout of the day).  For those of you who haven't heard of CrossFit before, I urge you to look it up, watch some videos, and get inspired.  I don't belong to a box (CrossFit gym), but I am mildly familiar with the basic CrossFit concepts, thanks to a good friend of mine who just so happens to be the 2012 CrossFit Games Runner Up, aka 2nd Fittest Woman on Earth.  

I was lucky that today's WOD was something I could do at our own apartment gym:




A quick search around the CrossFit website will tell you the specifics of each of these exercises and offer substitutions.  I ended up doing 10 handstand push-ups against a wall, but I could only go about halfway down, so I switched and did the remaining 20 with my legs up on the seat of a chair.  I used a 30 lb dumbbell for the kettlebell swings (no kettlebells in my gym, and 1.5 poods = 54 pounds, but I'm not to that level).  Pull-ups I did with a kip motion (which if my gymnastics coaches were watching, they'd be yelling at me like crazy for cheating and I would have to do extra rope climbs... eek!).  For sit-ups, I put a 15 lb dumbell on each foot to hold my feet down.  And burpees... oh, burpees.  I did full ones with a push-up and took breaks so often. If you look on the CrossFit website, one of the elite athletes did this whole workout in only 8 minutes 15 seconds.  Let's just say it took me more than 3 times that amount of time.  I'm not disappointed; instead, I'm proud of myself for getting my butt to the gym and working hard! 

Regardless of your fitness level, remember that there are modifications for everything.  Don't let a workout intimidate you because you can't do one of the exercises yet.  Work on it, do what you can do, improve, and believe in yourself that one day, if you work hard enough, you will be able to do it.      

What's your favorite CrossFit WOD?   

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