Defining Fitness

When I start working with a new personal training client, one of the first things we do is go through a baseline fitness assessment.

A fitness assessment is a series of measurements to help determine a person's current level of fitness. Common assessments might measure cardiovascular endurance, body composition, balance, flexibility, and muscular strength.

From my perspective as a trainer, a fitness assessment is a great tool that helps me:

  • Identify a client’s current level of fitness and design a program that will keep them SAFE
  • Gives us benchmark data that is useful for later comparison
  • Helps me identify a client’s weaknesses, strengths, balance, and flexibility
  • Allows me to develop a training program ideally suited to that client’s needs and goals

Over time I’ve come up with my own opinions on what a truly fit and healthy individual can do. And it has nothing to do with weight or how good you look in a bikini. 

With that in mind, remember that the following “self-assessment” is my own opinion of what the average woman in good physical health should be able to do.

So what do I consider “baseline”? What should a healthy human female be able to do? 

Assuming you are in relatively good health and don’t have joint problems, answer "yes" or "no" to the following statements:

  • I am walking at least 5,000 steps every day. 10,000 steps is even better.
  • I can run a mile without stopping. (Pace will be very dependent on the individual. In my opinion, if you are under the age of 30, you should be able to run a mile in 10 minutes or less. If you are under the age of 60, you should be able to run a mile in 15 minutes or less. If you are over 60, you should be able to walk at least one mile at a very brisk pace without stopping.)
  • I can hold a full plank with near-perfect form and without pain for one minute or longer.
  • I can hold a wall sit with near-perfect form and without pain for one minute or longer.
  • I can perform at least 5 full pushups with near-perfect form and without pain.
  • I can safely lift at least 10 pounds overhead with one arm (or 20 pounds with both arms). Fifteen pounds per arm is even better.
  • I can stand on one foot with my eyes closed and maintain my balance for at least 20 seconds. You should be able to do this standing on both your dominant and non-dominant foot.
  • In general, I am happy. I am happy with my life, with my fitness level, and I'm happy with my body.

To how many did you answer yes? No?

I don't have a formal scoring system for this test, but after working with many female clients I have noticed certain trends (i.e. poor upper body strength, low cardiovascular endurance, and low self-esteem), and these are my "non-scale victory" benchmarks.

Ideally, you will be able to answer yes to all of the questions above, assuming you don't have outstanding health issues that would prevent safe engagement in exercise (i.e. joint problems, heart disease). 

If you have more no's than yes's, that's okay! Don't be hard on least now you have a pretty good idea of where you might want to focus your efforts!

Use the information constructively and take the opportunity to be better tomorrow than you are today...

and CELEBRATE your successes! 


But not before doing one last assessment...perhaps the most important assessment tool I've recently begun using – and the one you’ve probably never heard of – The Sitting-Rising Test (SRT).

Can you sit down on the floor and stand back up without using your hands, arms, knees or any other support?

This test will reveal a lot about your strength, balance, and flexibility – three things that become very important as we age.

Brazilian physician Claudio Gil Araujo developed the Sitting-Rising Test because he noticed that his older patients were having trouble doing normal daily tasks like bending over or squatting down to pick things up, which indicates lack of strength and flexibility.

In fact a study published in the European Journal of Cardiology found that those scoring low on the SRT (below 8) were twice as likely to die in the next six years as a person scoring 8 or above!

How to do the Sitting-Rising Test:

  1. Find a clear and level space.
  2. Without leaning on anything, lower yourself to a sitting position on the floor.
  3. Now stand back up trying NOT to use your hands, knees, forearms, or the sides of your legs.



Score it:

  • Scoring is on a scale from 10 to 1, with 10 being a perfect score and 1 being the lowest.
  • The test assumes a person is starting at 10 and then subtracts points as follows:
    • On the way down, subtract one point for each time a hand, knee, forearm, or side of the leg is used for support.
    • On the way up, subtract one point for each time a hand, knee, forearm, or side of the leg is used for support.
    • Subtract ½ a point for each time you lose your balance.

How did you do?

A score of 10 is perfect, so if you were able to sit on the floor and get back up without assistance, bravo! You have good balance, and good lower body strength and flexibility! 

A score below 8 indicates a lack of strength and/or flexibility and is cause for concern.

If you didn't score well on the SRT or the Yes/No quiz, don't be down on yourself! 

Use this information to EMPOWER yourself!

With a positive and constructive mindset you can use what you've learned as an opportunity to be better tomorrow than you were today...

and don't forget to celebrate your every non-scale success!


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Thanks for reading!

Did you fail the SRT or Yes/No quiz?

This is the part where I tell you to seek the help of a qualified trainer who can create a program to help you regain strength, balance, and flexibility…and I’d be more than happy to help you do just that!

Contact me today!