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Q&A with K & A

Fun and Fit: Are You Fit Enough to Horse Around?

Advice for those who want to measure their fitness levels while avoiding the gym

Dear Fun and Fit: I want to know the best way for me to determine my fitness level without going to a gym. What kind of tests or guidelines can I use to test myself? (Background: I’m 50(!), run a horse ranch with my husband and have daily exercise, but not a set routine or cardio).

Fun and Fit:Q and A with K and A, aka Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA, and Alexandra Williams, MA
Fun and Fit: Q and A with K and A, aka Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA, and Alexandra Williams, MA

— Dana, Santa Ynez

Dear Dana:

Kymberly: I’ll meet your question and raise you one. What do you want to do with the information you get from a fitness test? For instance, you could ask, “How do I know if I am fit enough to keep these hossies of mine in good condition and still have energy to plow the fields, till the land and ride off into the sunset?” Then your fitness level is defined by your ability to function and continue doing the activities you love.

This kind of fitness is called “functional” or “real-life fitness.” Well, I call it “real-life fitness” anyway, and I think my sis will back me up on any terms I make up. Hey, I went along with her new word “plumpers” back on the posting “Perky, Not Saggy — Push-Ups or Push-Up Bra?”

For determining your functional fitness level, you have an easy job. Can you do the ranch work and other daily activities with relative ease, comfort and range of motion without getting exhausted or injured at the end of the day? Can you keep doing that until you or your horses head out to pasture? Easy, shmeasy to measure, so I hope you go for that definition of fitness.

Your question might also be coming from the perspective of, “How do I measure percent of body fat, lean muscle mass, flexibility and endurance without actually taking those tests, which are the standards for defining and measuring fitness?” That question is a horse of a different color entirely. Oh, two points to me for getting that in! I have to cut to Alexandra for a moment while I contain (or applaud) myself.

Alexandra: I have to say that Kymberly is not containing herself at all; she is just horsing around! Oh, neigh it ain’t so! For all those measurement tests Kymberly mentions, you will need to go to a qualified personal trainer. Since you are a horse rancher, not a gym rat, get the trainer to come to you. Click here to find one in your area.

Real-life fitness can be defined by the ability to function and continue doing the activities you love, such as tending a horse ranch
“Real-life fitness” can be defined by the ability to function and do the activities you love, such as tending a horse ranch.

But since you say you want to test yourself, go in your closet and try on all the stuff you haven’t worn in a year. If it fits, you know you are the same size.

Next, count how many push-ups you can do with good form. Make a record. Count your push-ups again in three months. Compare the numbers. Burst out in tears of joy. Same with lunges or squats. Gotta say, in all my years, it’s rare to see someone perform a lunge, squat or push-up with good form right out the gate (oooh, another horse reference). So we are back to that personal trainer idea.

Since you need at least one good chuckle from this blog, I’d say ask your husband to check you out first thing in the morning before you get dressed. If he says you look hot and exactly like you did at 30, you are fit. And he gets points for dodging that set-up. If he says you don’t look quite the same, throw a horse at him. If you can do this, you are fit enough!

Readers and horse lovers: Who else wonders whether you are “fit enough”? And fit enough for what? Do tell.

— Identical twins and fitness pros Kymberly Williams-Evans and Alexandra Williams have been in the fitness industry since the first aerobics studio opened on the European continent. They teach, write, edit, emcee and present their programs worldwide on land, sea and airwaves. They co-write Fun and Fit: Q and A with K and A. You can currently find them in action leading classes in Santa Barbara and Goleta. Kymberly is the former faculty minor adviser at UCSB for its fitness instruction degree offered through the Department of Exercise & Sport Studies; Alexandra serves as an instructor and master teacher for the program. Fun and Fit answers real questions from real people, so please send your comments and questions to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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