With a new year comes new opportunities for those who are committing or recommitting to fitness goals. Gyms offer sales on memberships, personal training and other ancillary services to help entice those who are thinking about prioritizing exercise and health. What’s more, trainers and gyms offer challenge opportunities to keep engagement and dedication high and provide a way for people to reach their goals.
A quick scroll through the Instagram fitness stars and you’ll find lots of fitness challenges in progress from the Sweat app to Lyzabeth Lopez’ TWL program there is no shortage of competitions out there for people to take before and after pictures and show real progress with their personal goals. I’ve participated in the Hourglass Challenge a couple of times in the past but as a hard gainer, I really struggle with making visible progress in a short period of time (usually these challenges are about 12 weeks). Despite my previous experience I decided to enter a different challenge this year – one that is only six weeks! But, to me, it’s worth it.
Athletic Apex New York, a gym located in Syracuse, New York, is sponsoring a fitness challenge beginning Jan. 21 and running until early March. Despite the short time period, this challenge offers something I haven’t had an opportunity to do before. It includes full body scans at the beginning and end of the challenge so you have real, hard data to use toward meeting your goals.
Understanding Full Body Scans
The scans, a DEXA and a Fit Body 3D scan, will help take the guess work out of results and progress, according to the gym. The DEXAS scan, which stands for Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry, assessment gives specific and reliable data so you can see how your body is responding to training and where you are gaining or losing muscle and fat. This helps focus and optimize your efforts!
Known as the most accurate body composition bio-marker in the world, according to Athletic Apex, it’s a custom calibrated machine that measures bone mineral density, as well as body mass down to the gram in each part of your body.
My results were pretty cool, if I’m being honest. The scan showed that I have 15.2 percent body fat, the rest is lean muscle. A quick Google search shows that this is in the athlete range for women, which is pretty cool since I’m not an athlete, just a fitness enthusiast. In my arms, that percentage was more pronounced; I only have less than a pound of body fat on my arms. Most of my fat is concentrated around my middle and legs, which is normal for women.
The scan also provides a bone density assessment; in my case I’m doing well, but could be slightly better. In the color-coded chart below, you will see that the green area is the desired outcome. The manager who performed my scan, Joshua Haan, said that the best way to increase bone density is to lift heavy weights, which I will be doing! Because in order to change my body composition, I’ll need to build lots of lean muscle while minimizing fat gain. Now, that’s a challenge!
In addition, I did a Fit3D scan that includes an assessment of my full body posture, from eyes and ears to feet. A posture analysis evaluates your shoulders, hips, knees and ankle positions when you are standing. It also provides posture Wellness Metrics on body shape, waist circumference, waist to hip and trunk to leg volume ratios, and more, allowing me to see whether I truly am changing my body shape from what many call a “banana” to what I’m hoping for – an hourglass!
This was a fun scan for me because up to now I’ve been measuring on my own and who knows if that’s been accurate. This validated some of my measurements but showed that I was off in other areas. For the most part, the hourglass shape I’m striving for is slowing coming through. My measurements are shown below:
What’s interesting here is that you can see where you are “uneven.” For example, I want my biceps/arms to be the same or as close as possible, similar to my thighs. So, that is something to work on. In addition, the FitScan results tell you what your body ratios are, letting you know where you need to improve. For me, I am ideal except for my trunk to leg ratio, which could be improved to move into the ideal range.
These scans will serve as a baseline for me to use with the challenge and I will do them again at the end to see how far I’ve come. In between, I will work my tail off on the areas I need to grow or diminish to create the shape and muscle I want. Along the way, I also plan to work with a personal trainer for at least three sessions to assess my form and get some pointers to help with progress.
To me, this challenge is unique because of the access to the scans, which normally can run upwards of $125. But, I’ve never had this kind of data about my body before and as a type A, detail-oriented person this will likely focus my efforts, helping me get to my goals that much faster.
I had my scans done on a Friday evening after a long week, which included the first classes of the semester. I teach public relations writing at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications in addition to my full-time job as a public relations and marketing director for the Martin J. Whitman School of Management there. So, I enjoyed a glass and a half of a Cotes du Rhone aptly named 100%.
In the coming weeks, I’ll post check-ins so you can see how I’m doing on my quest to positively alter my body composition. Challenge accepted! Cheers!