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Pink Flamingo Challenge: Checking In

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Chris Beauchamp and Jon Roe have entered the Pink Flamingo Challenge, a U of C fitness challenge pitting old-school training against new-school techniques. Last week they went through a series of tests to determine their fitness levels. The results are in and now the real fun can begin.

Chris Beauchamp, Editor-in-Chief

Vitals:

Height:
Weight:
Body fat (skinfolds):
Body fat (DEXA):
Sit and reach:
Grip strength:
Vertical jump:
Sit up endurance:
185.4 cm
79.1 kg
9.1 per cent
17.4 per cent
Very good
Very good
Needs improvement
5 reps at level 3

By every indication Jon Roe and I have plenty of room for improvement. After a grueling afternoon of tests to assess our physical strength, endurance and cardiovascular stamina, we spent the following few days dreading our results.
Though there were a few surprises, I was decidedly unsurprised to learn I had bested Roe in most categories. One notable exception being body fat.
Our initial results were based on measurements of seven skinfolds, and pinned my body fat at about nine per cent of my total body composition. Jon came in at a portly 12.6 per cent. Although these numbers both fall within the low to mid recommended levels, after a more sophisticated test our numbers were to go up. Through a relatively new process called dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, or dexa, the specialists at the University of Calgary Human Performance Lab gave us far more precise body fat measurements. The scan uses two beams with differing energy levels to differentiate between soft and harder tissues. The test can nail down a patients exact bone density and body composition.
Erica Enevold, the exercise physiology technician who dumbed-down our results for us, explained how each person stores fat in a different way. We both saw a jump after the dexa information came in, but my own results were unusual.
We normally dont like to see a change this drastic, said Enevold, noting my body fat had almost doubled, from 9.1 to 17.4 per cent. Seeing the worried look on my face, she explained that my body likely stores fat around my internal organs. Seeing my worried look grow, Enevold stressed this is still within a safe range, noting where fat is stored on the body has almost nothing to do with lifestyle and everything to do with genetics.
Even though our total body fat isnt currently a health concern, the other test results show a very legitimate reason to carry through with the challenge. The sit and reach, grip strength, vertical jump, push-up and sit-up test results all show a need for improvement in both Jon and myself, but especially Jon. On three out of four categories his rating was literally needs improvement. Particularly sad was his dismal attempt at completing the 22 push-ups considered good for 2029-year old males. He stopped after only four, ostensibly to go get a cheeseburger, although I could admittedly only do 16 myself.
It looks like the next 10 weeks will benefit both of us, though with lower overall preliminary test results, Im confident Jon Roe will concede defeat by December.

Jon Roe, Sports Editor

Vitals:

Height:
Weight:
Body fat (skinfolds):
Body fat (DEXA):
Sit and reach:
Grip strength:
Vertical jump:
Sit up endurance:
185.4 cm
77.1 kg
12.6 per cent
15.8 per cent
Needs improvement
Needs improvement
Fair
23 reps at level 1

Though completing an aerobic test after spending 16 minutes pumping away on a bikewith your mouth as dry as Chris Beauchamps smooth skull and your legs feeling like jellyis an accomplishment, seeing how long you can keep your noodle-legs driving wasnt the point. The aerobic test actually measured how efficiently our bodies use oxygen grabbed from the air.
By graphing your v02 along with power output and heart rate, we were able to predict your v02 max, said Erica Enevold, an exercise physiology technician at the University of Calgarys Human Performance Lab. This value represents your maximal capacity to transport and utilize oxygen during exercise. Its measured in milliliters, per kilogram of body weight, per minute. The higher your v02 max value, the more work you are able to perform at a maximal intensity. Although everyone has a genetic ceiling, with specific aerobic training an individual can improve their ability to utilize oxygen and increase their v02 max score.
Anything above a rate of 49 ml/kg/min is considered superior for men between the ages of 20 and 29. A high level athlete can score as high as 85 ml/kg/min. Lance Armstrong, seven time Tour de France champion, has a v02 max level measuring between 8385 ml/kg/min.
The fitness test also measured the wattage generated at various heart rates. As the trainer increases the resistance on the bike and the testee maintains their rotations per minute, their heart rate and the amount of power they generate, measured in watts, increases.
Basically, this measures the strength of your heart muscle as you become more fit.
Perhaps of greater importance will be tracking the changes in your v02 and heart rate for a given workload, noted Enevold. As your body becomes more aerobically efficient, you will be able to sustain the same workloads with lower heart rates and lower oxygen consumption values.
Fitness training not only increases how efficiently the body uses oxygen,it will also be able to increase the amount of power generated while riding a bike. Personally Im looking forward to powering an entire hockey rink with my horse-legs after this challenge, while poor Beauchamp struggles to power his mothers oven light as she checks on the deliciousand healthyJon Roe victory celebration cookies.

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