Blog: FITGirl Training

Fitness Age Calculator

On November 3, 2013, an article was published on how to calculate a person's "fitness age" by simply entering a few measurements and exercise data. Too good to be true/accurate?

Read the article and find out New York Times: What's Your 'Fitness Age'?. (Please share your responses.)

What’s Your ‘Fitness Age’?


Illustration by Ben Wiseman

This article appears in the Nov. 3, 2013 issue of The New York Times Magazine.

Trying to quantify your aerobic fitness is a daunting task. It usually requires access to an exercise-physiology lab. But researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim have developed a remarkably low-tech means of precisely assessing aerobic fitness and estimating your “fitness age,” or how well your body functions physically, relative to how well it should work, given your age.

The researchers evaluated almost 5,000 Norwegians between the ages of 20 and 90, using mobile labs. They took about a dozen measurements, including height, body mass index, resting heart rate, HDL and total cholesterol levels. Each person also filled out a lengthy lifestyle questionnaire. Finally, each volunteer ran to the point of exhaustion on a treadmill to pinpoint his or her peak oxygen intake (VO2 max), or how well the body delivers oxygen to its cells. VO2 max has been shown in large-scale studies to closely correlate with significantly augmented life spans, even among the elderly or overweight. In other words, VO2 max can indicate fitness age.

In order to figure out how to estimate VO2 max without a treadmill, the scientists combed through the results to determine which of the data points were most useful. You might expect that the most taxing physical tests would yield the most reliable results. Instead, the researchers found that putting just five measurements — waist circumference; resting heart rate; frequency and intensity of exercise; age; and sex — into an algorithm allowed them to predict a person’s VO2 max with noteworthy accuracy, according to their study, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

The researchers used the data set to tabulate the typical, desirable VO2 max for a healthy person at every age from 20 to 90, creating specific parameters for fitness age. The concept is simple enough, explains Ulrik Wisloff, the director of the K. G. Jebsen Center of Exercise in Medicine at the Norwegian University and the senior author of the study. “A 70-year-old man or woman who has the peak oxygen uptake of a 20-year-old has a fitness age of 20,” he says. He has seen just this combination during his research.

The researchers have used all of this data to create an online calculator that allows people to determine their VO2 max without going to a lab. You’ll need your waist measurement and your resting heart rate. To determine it, sit quietly for 10 minutes and check your pulse; count for 30 seconds, double the number and you have your resting heart rate. Plug these numbers, along with your age, sex and frequency and intensity of exercise, into the calculator, and you’ll learn your fitness age.

The results can be sobering. A 50-year-old man, for instance, who exercises moderately a few times a week, sports a 36-inch waist and a resting heart rate of 75 — not atypical values for healthy middle-aged men — will have a fitness age of 59. Thankfully, unwanted fitness years, unlike the chronological kind, can be erased, Dr. Wisloff says. Exercise more frequently or more intensely. Then replug your numbers and exult as your “age” declines. A youthful fitness age, Dr. Wisloff says, “is the single best predictor of current and future health.”


Partner Core Exercises

During each Core Boot Camp class, I normally incorporate a partner exercise in which two people work together. Since it has been a popular concept in past classes, we had a mostly partner exercise class last night.

Working with a partner can be a positive experience if both participants understand the exercise, its objective, and how to properly execute the move(s). It is when two people are poorly matched in experience, height, and/or strength that may create a challenge to complete the move(s) without undue strain.


A partner squat is best completed when participants vary in height by facing each other.

Power Slam

Most participants of Core Boot Camp class enjoy power slams. When done correctly, this plyometric move recruits several muscles, which increases the heart rate and encourages maximum caloric burn. For the novice exerciser, start with a stability (or Swiss) ball to master the move before moving on to a weighted medicine ball.

When using a partner (instead of wall or floor) to catch and return the ball, it increases the FUN factor and kicks up each person's strength and endurance during the exercise.

Wood Chop/Hay Bail

This exercise sequence recruits upper back, arm, and core muscles. When completed by two people using resistance bands (instead of a medicine ball), each person works to move in a consistent, fluid motion to keep from jerking their partner to one side or off their feet.

I love the team work involved in this exercise because it encourages people to communicate for maximum success.

Be sure to properly warm-up the muscles to be used prior to completion of exercises. Enjoy!

Lovely Lady Legs

Getting bored with your leg routine?? Me, too!

Searching for an improved leg routine, I found Lovely Lady Legs: Jen Jewell's Leg Sculpting Workout.

Jen Jewell - BodyBuilding.Com Jen Jewell - BodyBuilding.Com

The approach Jewell takes on legs is incorporating heart pumping cardio after each set of 10-15 reps with a 30 second rest between sets. While my personal workout incorporated cardio, it was after the entire lifting workout.

What I like about Jewell's approach is the ability to mix up your routine to prevent boredom with maximum gains in a shorter length of time.

This was my workout:

1) Plie Kettlebell Squat - 12 reps x 4 sets
Speed Skater's - 1 minute
Rest 30 seconds

2) Romanian Deadlift - 12 reps x 4 sets
Side to side BOSU shuffle - 1 minute
Rest 30 seconds

3) 1 Leg Press - 12 reps (per leg) x 4 sets (each)
Burpees - 1 minute
Rest 30 seconds

4) Sumo Deadlift - 12 reps x 4 sets
Jump Rope - 1 minute
Rest 30 seconds

5) Reverse Leg Curl - 12 reps x 4 sets
Speed Skater's - 1 minute
Rest 30 seconds

I add core exercises to every workout.


V-Sit Up with 10 second hold - 12 reps x 2 sets

Hyper Extension - 12 reps x 2 sets

Ball Rotations - 12 reps x 2 sets

This approach really kicked up my heart rate, while putting a new spin on my current leg routine workout. Because I wanted to get a feel for what Jen was suggesting, I stuck to her recommendations on the leg routine. All I can say is by the end, I'm a shaking, sweaty mess. Can't wait to see how my body responds!!

Shoulder Smash Workout

Since I love lifting heavy, I'm always looking for ways to increase strength and checking various sources to find out what's new. Running across this article on, I love the concept of sticking to tried and true exercises in the gym.

Jessie Hilgenberg is an IFBB Figure Pro, Team Athlete, Fitness Model, Competition Coach, and Graphic Designer. Her philosophy is close to my own when it comes to women's bodies and lifting heavy.

Check out the article or video here: BodyBuilding.Com Jessie Hilgenberg's Delt Workout. 45-Degree Overhead Barbell Press

In sharing this article, I hope you find inspiration in sticking to your weight lifting routine or delve into a (not so) new approach to rounding out your shoulders. The tips Jessie shares about why women lift heavy and the expected outcome are true and mirror past posts.

Cheers to a great day!

BOSU Burpee Push-up

Surprise, a leading contender of favorite exercises in Core Boot Camp class last week was the BOSU Burpee Push-up!

Keep in mind this exercise can be modified by completing the push-up on the knees.

The most important function of this move is strengthening deep muscles of the abdominals and spine that make-up the "core." Focusing on pulling the belly button in toward the spine, while maintaining even breathing, and keeping the spine in-line is essential to protect yourself from creating pain issues or re-experiencing old pain issues.

Anyone with (unmonitored) high blood pressure, shoulder, or joint pain should check with their doctor prior to giving this exercise a go!

V-Sit Exercise

Who would've thought the V-Sit exercise would be so unpopular at Core Boot Camp Class? It's a difficult exercise targeting deep abdominal and low back muscles, but, Ladies, it's PRECISELY what we need to minimize the baby pouch!

Embracing the V-Sit Up

As I've said many times, the average couch-potato may not be able to get up and run a mile in one day, so learning to modify a difficult exercise is a great way to get started toward reaching the goal.

There are several ways to modify the V-Sit Up. Notice the image below: hands supporting low back muscles, knees bent, chest up, head in a neutral position (in-line with the spine), and belly button pulled-in (engaging abdominal muscles and protecting the spine).

Once this move has been mastered, modify by slowly extending each leg with toes pointed. Work toward holding this position 30-60 seconds while maintaining even breathing.

While the arms are positioned straight in the photo above, notice the legs are extended, chest up, head in neutral, and belly button pulled-in to the spine. From this position, slowly work toward extending one arm and then the other. Maintaining this position for increments of 10 seconds and working toward 30-60 seconds is the goal.

Go ahead, give it a whirl - may find yourself with a flatter mid-section and stronger core!

Core Boot Camp

Last night's Core Boot Camp class was small, but effective! Each exercise focused on various positions to engage and strengthen the muscles of the core, increase balance, coordination, agility, and stability. Based on client comments, below are their reviews:


Single-Leg Squat with Upward Jump is a plyometric exercise focusing on power, balance, and stability.

Singe-Leg Squat


Medicine Ball Walkout is a low-impact core strength move designed to increase the heart rate, strengthen the upper body, and muscles that make-up the core.



Core Boot Camp Class

As you may know, I've put together a Core Boot Camp class in Hopkins, MN.

Working in a group setting has its challenges because it opens the door (wide) for people to get hurt - Ouch!

To remedy this, I spot customer's one-on-one to be sure proper technique and form is used the entire time. Another component is teaching modifications. So far, this class consistently produces a challenging workout for each customer.

Sample exercises from last night's class:


Squat to Overhead Ball Throw



Failure: You Stop Trying

No matter how busy life gets, it's important to keep getting your workouts in. It isn't until you stop trying that you've failed. Keep trying - you're worth it!

tumblr_you havent failed

Don't Skip Dinner - Keep it light!

Reading an article from, it seems skipping your evening meal may not be the best solution - just keep it light! I thought the entire article was interesting:

Fewer, larger meals key to weight loss?

You've probably heard that eating multiple small meals throughout the day is a good way to stave off hunger and keep your metabolism revved up while trying to lose weight. But a new study could change your diet strategy.

Eating two large meals early and skipping dinner may lead to more weight loss than eating six smaller meals throughout the day, research presented at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions conference this week in Chicago suggests.

"Both experimental and human studies strongly support the positive effects of intermittent fasting," lead study author Dr. Hana Kahleova told CNN in an e-mail.

The study

Researchers from the Czech Republic followed 54 patients with Type 2 diabetes for 24 weeks. The study participants were split into two groups at random. Both groups followed a diet that reduced their energy intake by 500 calories per day and contained 50 to 55% carbohydrates, 20 to 25% protein and less than 30% fat.

For the first 12 weeks, one group ate three main meals - breakfast, lunch and dinner - and three small snacks in between meals. The other group ate a large breakfast between 6 and 10 a.m. and a large lunch between noon and 4 p.m. The two groups then switched for the second 12 weeks.

Researchers asked the patients not to alter their exercise habits during the study.

The results

Although both groups lost weight and decreased the amount of fat in their livers, the group that was eating only two larger meals lost more during each 12-week session. Eating fewer, bigger meals also led to lower fasting blood sugar levels, meaning that the body's insulin production was working more efficiently.

The timing and frequency of the groups' meals did not seem to have an effect on the function of beta cells that produce insulin or on the glucose metabolic clearance rate - i.e. how fast their bodies were able to process and get rid of sugar.

Our expert's take

"This is interesting," says CNN diet and fitness expert Melina Jampolis. "But the first thing I think of is that it's not really liveable, telling people to skip dinner every day."

Jampolis is also concerned that the two groups did not end up eating the same total number of calories. "Eating six times a day, it's very hard to control calories," she says. The researchers admit that while they did their best to ensure both groups consumed the same amount, the group that ate two larger meals may have eaten less.

While the study was small, Jampolis agrees that there's research to support eating a lighter meal later in the day. Most of us consume the majority of our day's calories late at night when we're the least active, she says. And when we're not active, our insulin sensitivity drops. A recent study showed that walking for just 15 minutes after dinner can help lower your risk for diabetes. Fasting between lunch and breakfast may have a similar effect, she says.

The takeaway

Don't skip dinner altogether. Focus instead on eating a hearty breakfast and lunch, and keep your last meal of the day low in calories.

Post by: Filed under: Diabetes • Diet and Fitness • Weight loss