Bupa fitness assessment: review

bupa-logoSlightly overweight, that’s what the health adviser said. I didn’t take this news well. I felt so numb he might as well have told me I had cancer. Pathetic.

I’d put off my first fitness assessment after Warriorwoman said she’d had to cycle with her tits out. Am I bollocks doing that, I thought. Actually, I didn’t just think it, I said it publicly on Twitter and the Bupa man saw it and emailed me and said ‘keep your shirt on’; not in a ‘get over yourself you stupid bint’ way, but a literal ‘it’s ok, you can keep your shirt on’.

I wasn’t convinced and so I waited for Fairweatherrunner to have her assessment and she made it sound ok, so I emailed the Bupa man back and said ok, sorry for being a wimp, I’ll do it after all. He said yay (or something like that).

The health adviser came to get me from reception on time and after showing me to the changing room (no toilet in there and I was BURSTING), we went into another room and he talked me through about what was going to happen in the assessment. Then he weighed me and measured my height and that’s when I found out that I had got heavier (I’d reached the dreaded double figures) and shrunk (Shaun will be pleased he is now officially a quarter of an inch taller than me). I then had my waist measured and I thought, that’s not fair, it’s 4:30 in the afternoon, it’d be waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay smaller at 8:30 in the morning.

He then showed me into another room where he said I could have something to eat and drink while I waited for him to set the lab up.

A couple of minutes later he returned and took me into the lab which was a room with a bed/couch thing and a stationary bike in front of which were some monitors.

He took my blood pressure and said it was slightly high but said it could be due to ‘white coat syndrome’ (I was probably looking at the bike and thinking I’m not cycling with my tits out and you can’t make me, so there).

Then I did a lung capacity test which involved putting a mouthpiece in your mouth and breathing in as deep as you can and then exhaling as hard as you can for as long as you can. Surprisingly, after 25 years of smoking (not any more though, I stopped six years ago), my lung capacity was fine. Ha!

Next he measured my body fat percentage by placing a bit of foil on my wrist and foot (it was probably more hi-tech than I’m making it sound).

After this he asked me to go behind the curtain and take my bra and top off and asked me if I wanted a female to come and attach the electrode thingies. Wanting to keep up my sophisticated-woman-of-the-world image I squeaked out that it was ok for him to do it. After attaching ten electrode thingies to various parts of my upper body, he said I could put my t-shirt back on. This took quite a while trying to get it on with wires hanging off from all over me.

I got on the bike and he said some people only last 45 seconds and others can make it for 20 minutes. I thought just how high do you have the resistance if people can only manage to sit on it for that long? But then I thought, ha, I do spin, I know about resistance, I will sit on this bike all day and show you.

The hardest bit about being on the bike was the mouthpiece. Oh my god, my jaw was aching so much I wanted to rip the bloody thing out. Cycling was easy. I had to cycle slowly, keeping my heart rate at about 60% of the maximum (he’d done the 220-age thing to get my max heart rate, which I actually think is a rubbish way to get someone’s heart rate – if they want to get someone’s max heart rate they need to stick them on a treadmill for some intervals involving hills, says me the creative writing student serious health professional).

After I’d finished cycling he showed me the graphs and charts and things and said I was good at burning fat. Yay. I was allowed to go back behind the curtain then and remove all the wires.

Then he asked me if I could touch my toes. Yikes, I could in my 20s, but haven’t actually tried to for years. Why would I? Still, I said I thought so and so he asked me to do it. HA, YES, RESULT, I CAN TOUCH MY TOES, WHOOP. He was impressed and said that runners are usually stiff and can’t touch their toes.

Next I had to sit on the floor with my legs outstretched and push a wooden thing along a bench to see how far I could push it. I pushed it about 14cm or so which he said was about average.

(I should mention here that at some point during all of this the doctor came in to say hello and to make sure I wasn’t going to die. He also said my blood pressure was slightly high and that I should get it checked out but it was probably nothing to worry about and I was fine to do the assessment.)

Then it was all over and we went into another room so he could tell me how fit I was. He said I was fit and that he could tell that just by looking at me on the bike but that there was room for improvement. He said I should run more often and do other forms of exercise.

THEN HE TOLD ME I WAS FAT. Well, not exactly. ‘Slightly overweight’ were his exact words. I have no idea what he said after that as I was too shocked. I’ve always wanted to be smaller (I liked being 8.5 stone even if people said I was too thin) but didn’t think I was actually officially overweight. Fuck.

I took immediate action and went off to meet my mates and drink champagne, wine, lager and eat garlic bread and pizza had a salad and some tap water.

A week later I got a full written report. This blog post is already long enough so I won’t go into detail about what it says but there’s a ton of information in it, far more than what was said at the assessment (although I suppose he might have said some of it after saying I was fat).

It contains a summary, suggestions for exercise and healthy eating and lots of graphs showing where on the scale I was today for things like body mass index (normal), body fat (above average), waist-height ratio (caution), activity level (ideal), lung function (normal), blood pressure (slightly raised), flexibility (moderate) and strength (moderate).

So, in conclusion, the Bupa fitness assessment was thorough and, if after following their advice, you were to go back after six months and have another one, it would be interesting to see what (if any) improvements had been made.

If you want to know your fitness levels, I’d definitely recommend going along for an assessment. You can find out all the details on the Bupa website.