Feature: 'My three-month journey towards fitness at St Albans' Nuffield gym will make me or break me'
PUBLISHED: 19:00 12 December 2017
A guilty secret: I have never been to the gym. Ever. Never owned sports clothes, never caught a quick class before work, and definitely never completed a single rep of anything.
Like some kind of exercise-adverse vampire, I imagined I would shrivel up in a cloud of disgusting ashes in the presence of a rowing machine. (Or for all you twi-hards, anti-climatically sparkle).
So when the Herts Ad was offered a three month trial at Nuffield Health, Fitness and Wellbeing Gym with personal training sessions and Health MOT, it sounded like a good idea. A terrifying idea, but a good idea.
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, right?
I would (read: try to) hop to the gym four times a week, try out all the classes, and see real fitness progression.
After meeting lovely personal trainer (PT) Rebecca Masters, first things first - an overall 12 point health assessment. Hopefully improvement will be seen at the end of the three months.
The Heath MOT can be completed by a PT, a health mentor or a wellbeing advisor and includes a blood test, BMI check, resting heart rate count, and aerobic fitness gauge.
Although it is not medical or diagnostic, and does not replace GP check-ups, it can be an indicator of overall health and flag up warning signs - such as high cholesterol.
For best results, no food should be eaten for at least two hours before the test.
Rebecca explains its purpose: “It’s really good for new members as it gives them a picture of their current health and because it can be reviewed when they rebook every three months.
“We encourage people to rebook and use it as a tracking system.
“It enables us to do our job better because if we are aware of any issues it means we won’t send them down the wrong path.”
The results are collated and compared across the board, ranking you alongside a sample size of the gym-going population. They are not distributed and are only anonymously used for analytical purposes at Nuffield.
It starts with a questionnaire covering sleep patterns, smoking and drinking habits, water intake, and family health history.
All good so far but I’m feeling apprehensive. This could go sharply south.
BMI as expected: I am slim, tall and misleadingly healthy looking. The hidden inside bits worry me, like high blood sugar levels.
I was right to be anxious. My maximum Vo2 level, which measures aerobic fitness, is embarrassing - off the scale. Anything lower than 27 is categorised as “very poor” and I am a measly 23.
No wonder I pant like a dog after climbing the stairs.
Rebecca is very encouraging, pointing out that results were all good for the rest of the analysis and it is something we can work on.
My hip to waist ratio also flagged as “moderate risk” of chronic diseases such as diabetes, but Rebecca is reassuring that all the results need to be considered with outside factors in mind, such as my straight figure.
The big reveal. My overall health score is 74 and I am in the top 40 per cent of people in my age group at Nuffield. The test flagged areas needing massive improvement and will inform my training going forward.
At the first PT session Rebecca walks me through the right way to use some of the machines while I try not to look too obviously terrified or goggle gym-goers too obviously awestruck.
It is important to be positioned correctly on the apparatuses otherwise there is a risk people do not work out the right muscles, or more importantly, becoming injured.
Some of the exercise machines we try include rowing and running, Wattbikes, and the sledge - by the end of an hour my bum is involuntarily clenching and my shoulders are pleasantly flexible after a day hunched over an office computer screen.
Can’t wait to get properly started. Next stop, exercise classes. The only way is up (I hope).
Nuffield Health, Fitness and Wellbeing Gym offers PT, physiotherapist, physiologist, nutritional therapists, and squash coach services.
It has a swimming pool, spin studio, rehabilitation gym, sauna, steam room and offers about 30 fitness classes at various times. It is on Highfield Park Drive.