Fit the fit lab into your schedule

Aeryn Kauffman, Staff Reporter

Students can sign up for comprehensive fitness assessments in Purser Hall, free of charge. Qualified exercise science students conduct the assessments, and all Fit Lab staff are trained in this area.

CWU Master of Exercise Science Hillary Conner oversees Fit Lab. Conner said Fit Lab is of particular importance to athletes.

“For athletes, a fitness evaluation serves to measure their readiness for sport-related activities. For example, a higher cardiorespiratory fitness level would translate to improved cardiovascular sport performance like running or cycling,” Conner said.

Fit Lab offers two kinds of assessments, full fitness and body composition.

The full fitness assessment takes about an hour to complete. It evaluates cardiorespiratory fitness, body composition, flexibility, muscular strength and endurance. Students start by signing a waiver, filling out medical information and then answering a health questionnaire. Weight, height and blood pressure are recorded.

An optional underwater weighing is then conducted. Students must wear their swimsuits, then step into a small, 4-foot water tank. The water tank contains a floating seat attached to a rope and scale which measures buoyancy. A staff member instructs you to hold your legs to your chest in a tight “cannonball” posture and to descend into the water, blowing out all the air in your lungs. Fit Lab staff consider this a very accurate way of measuring body fat percentage.

Alternatively, if a student does not want to participate in the underwater weighing, they can get the skinfold test. Three areas of skin are pinched and measured with a special device. The skinfold test will also measure your body fat percentage.

After the body fat measurement tests, the participant moves onto cardiovascular testing, where they must ride a stationary bike for several minutes at multiple intensities. Fit Lab staff measures the participant’s pulse and blood pressure multiple times during the test and assesses the participant for fatigue levels. A flexibility test is conducted, followed by a push-up test.

The body composition test takes roughly 30 minutes to complete. Participants get their vitals checked and then complete one or both body fat measurement tests. Conner said Fit Lab staff evaluates all results using researched standards for the participant’s age group.

“Typically, a more fit individual has lower risk for developing disease or disability, improved quality of life, and the ability to complete activities of daily living with greater ease.  The results from a full fitness assessment can help to establish a baseline [determining the student’s current fitness level and a starting point for exercise programming] and if repeated after an exercise training program, can show progress made toward health or fitness related goals,” Conner said.

According to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, cardiac arrest is a leading cause of unexpected deaths in NCAA athletes. Getting the cardiovascular test done can forewarn against health issues.

“[Fit Lab] can … identify areas in need of improvement to optimize sport performance,” Conner said.

Fall quarter hours are Tuesdays from 3-7 p.m., Wednesdays from 5-8 p.m. and Thursdays from 4-6 p.m. Students sign up at the reception desk in Purser Hall 101 or call 509-963-1912.