The fight to get fit

PUBLISHED: 11:21 26 January 2006 | UPDATED: 09:30 06 May 2010

Hannah is stretched to within an inch...

Hannah is stretched to within an inch...

COMET reporters Lizzy Seal and Hannah Gray have decided that 2006 is the year to get fit, and have taken on a three-month challenge to get in shape. Under the expert guidance of staff at Odyssey Health Club in Knebworth, they will be following a speciall

Lizzy on a treadmill

COMET reporters Lizzy Seal and Hannah Gray have decided that 2006 is the year to get fit, and have taken on a three-month challenge to get in shape.

Under the expert guidance of staff at Odyssey Health Club in Knebworth, they will be following a specially devised programme to improve their fitness ready for the charity fun run in aid of Garden House Hospice, in Fairlands Valley Park on May 1.

The Comet will be following their progress in regular features and you will also be able to read more frequent updates in Lizzy and Hannah's on-line diaries at www.thecomet.net. This week the pair of intrepid reporters went along to Odyssey to have a range of fitness tests carried out to see just how much how work they need to do...

LIKE two wary deer, Hannah and I entered the land of the fit, where calls such as Jeet Kune Do, Chi-ball and Tai-chi were flying around the health club lobby.

Our journey into new realms had begun.

We were at Odyssey health club at the daunting beginning of our get-fit challenge.

Having toured the hotel-like changing rooms, we took to the gym floor, crowded with computerised equipment ready to work out our every individual muscle.

During my brief encounters with gyms in the past, I have adopted a policy of keeping my head down and quietly going about my measly attempt at a workout, hoping not to be noticed.

Not this time.

Uniformed in our Comet T-shirts, Hannah and I met our fitness expert Norman Brown (aka Normski), blindingly identified by his COACH T-shirt.

He was there to discuss our aims, see what level of fitness we were currently at and help us devise a suitable plan of action.

What we hope to gain from our regime is an idea of how our bodies have changed through exercise and essentially how much fitter we get.

Feeling spoilt, we were beginning to enjoy the personal attention of a coach and the sophistication of the high-tech facilities.

For unguided fitness-phobes, they play an effective and reassuring role, greatly increasing the chances of sticking to an exercise regime.

Firstly Norman measured and weighed us, no surprises there, we're both of average weight and Hannah is a couple of inches taller than me.

He then measured our blood pressure and heart rate, both of which were fine and in line with what one would expect at our age.

A further gadget estimated the percentage of fat in our bodies. We are both very close to average but Hannah was one per cent over the upper threshold for recommended body fat.

This is minuscule but does provide some room for improvement.

Odyssey Health Club has installed the TechnoGym System which allows each machine to be programmed with your individual fitness profile.

Every member is provided with a "smart key" which is inserted into each exercise machine and automatically sets the equipment to your individual measurements and workout requirements.

Norman programmed smart keys for us and started us on an induction test.

He also fitted us with heart rate monitors and after a few minutes of wondering whether our hearts were beating at all, the running machines cleverly picked up our pulses.

We then completed a brisk 10 minute walk, controlled by the machine, and took our smart keys back to Norman for a debriefing.

An important gauge of fitness is your VO2 Max. This indicates the efficiency of your heart and lungs and we were both on the lower end of the scale, illustrating our relative poor fitness.

Hannah's was the lowest, but this may be attributable to her suffering from asthma.

Norman also tested our flexibility by seeing how easily we could bend our legs in various directions.

We both came away with the conclusion that we weren't very flexible at all but our coach assured us this would improve with exercise.

Using this data and knowledge of our aims, Norman has devised a plan of action for us both.

We will be doing work in the gym to improve our cardiovascular fitness while also doing one session a week of Pilates to strengthen our core muscles.

We aim to visit the gym at least twice a week so we won't be going crazy or being over-optimistic.

This will hopefully be a level of exercise that will be sustainable, by being realistic to time constraints and motivation levels, and we hope to show that we can get noticeably fitter by doing a sensible, achievable number of workouts.

"Unfit" measurements in hand, we will keep them safe to gleefully look back at when we repeat the fitness induction in just over three months time, to see how much fitter we have become.

That's assuming all goes well...

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