There was a fitness challenge up for grabs. And I thought, this one I cannot lose. After all, I stand a little more than 5’5’’ tall and weigh 55 kg. My BMI (Body Mass Index) is perfect and I am in shape. I have no reason to believe that I am not fit. I don’t get tired easily – I am one of those people who like to lug their backpack at the airport instead of taking the trolley. I like walking down to the market instead of driving. I eat with no restrictions. I drink with no worries. I love swimming and I think I’d be bloody good at any sport (as long as it does not require hand-eye coordination). I have always been ‘fit’. So, I jumped at the opportunity of taking up a fitness challenge as I secretly drew a picture of envious expressions from people around me when I would not only ace the test but also set new standards in fitness. I was very confident.

Description: I have never seen the inside of a gym, never touched a treadmill and never lifted a dumbbell. But how difficult can it be?

I have never seen the inside of a gym, never touched a treadmill and never lifted a dumbbell. But how difficult can it be?

The only effort I have ever made towards the cause of fitness is to drink enormous quantities of water. I think since all is so perfect with me, all I need to do is flush out the toxins (that, too, is a favour I do to my body). I have never seen the inside of a gym, never touched a treadmill and never lifted a dumbbell. But how difficult can it be? So, when Prandeep, the instructor at Fitness First, New Delhi, asked my purpose of visit, I boisterously said, “none”. I just wanted to get over with this whole challenge business.

When I look back at the next 30 minutes that followed, I feel like I had survived a near-death experience (see box). I was informed that 30 per cent of my body weight was fat, as opposed to the maximum permissible limit of 24 per cent. “Where is the fat? I don’t see it!” I thought to myself. But machines don’t lie. I was also told that my BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate: the rate at which the body normally burns fat) is 1,267 kilocalories as opposed to the average of 5,302 kcal! I will not go into the details of the other readings, since they are far too depressing, but the bottomline is that I am not fit. In fact, I am far more unfit than an average person usually is. I was told ‘thin’ is a body type and as you age, your genes are no longer able to support your callous lifestyle and give way to lethargy, fat deposits and lack of stamina. For example, ‘thin’ does not mean your muscles have strength. A flat stomach does not mean your abs are strong. Toned thighs do not indicate good body balance and being a good dancer is no measure of flexibility. Basically, no matter how ‘inshape’ you may appear, it takes regular effort to stay strong, agile and healthy.

So, the next time you are giving your friend a lesson on weight loss, you might want to stop and think where you actually stand. For all you know, they may be able to perform all the tasks you cannot with ease and comfort. As I write this, I humbly apologise to all those people who have ever had to go through one of my lectures on fitness, and can’t feel more sorry for those who actually took me seriously. And trust me, there are many!

Description: Description: http://knoji.com/images/user/thin%20not%20in3.jpg

Thin is not fit

The five-step challenge

1.    Treadmill

This exercise measures the condition of your heart and stamina levels. You should at least cover 2 km on a treadmill in 10 minutes. A good reading would be 3 to 4 km, though. Alternatively, you could do this on a stationary bike.

2.    Push-ups

To get a rough idea of your strength, count the number of push-ups you can do in one minute. Try and achieve anything above 25, to hit average. Remember, incorrect posture and incomplete strokes are not counted. If you feel your shoulders are not strong enough, you may want to take up the half push-up (with knees rested on the floor). The target remains the same.

3.    Plank exercise

This exercise measures the condition of your back and abdomen. If you are able to hold your body in the plank position (body and face down, parallel to the floor, rested only on elbows and toes) for more than a minute, you have hit the average rating. A fit person manages about four minutes or more.

4.    Star position

A good sense of balance is essential to be able to exercise effectively. If you have poor balance, then you can safely assume that most of your exercises are not yielding as much result as they were designed to. Stretch your arms out sideways, tilt to one side, and try balancing yourself on one leg while the other is stretched out in the air. Hold this position for at least a minute.

5.    Sit and reach

A great way to measure the flexibility and agility of your body is to put your ligaments and tissues to the test. Sit down with your legs stretched out straight and try touching your toes. It is not good if you reach only a little beyond your knees and it is great if you are able to touch the base of your feet and hold on to them for at least five seconds.

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