With the new year around the corner also comes the rolling out of New Year’s resolutions. Masses of people will set goals for themselves in 2015, many of which will have to do with their health and fitness. However, it’s important to know where the starting line is before a finish line can be determined.
The trainers and staff at Chicago Athletic Clubs are helping their members find that start with their KORR VO2 Max Testing system. The new system, which has a significantly improved testing than past equipment, helps determine the current fitness range of the user and when correctly combined with a fitness expert can help design a workout routine. That routine can be any level of fitness from a first timer looking to get back in shape to an elite triathlete.
The CAC invited me out to test the new equipment and put it to work to see my results. Going in, I must admit, I had very little idea what I was in store for. I knew there would be some sort of fitness testing, but that could include just about anything. When I arrived at Lakeview Athletic Club I was met by Stephanie Steiner, a trainer with CAC and ACSM Health Fitness Specialist. Steiner brought me upstairs and in a corner separated from the rest of the cardio machines was a treadmill with a computer next to it. I was asked a handful of informative questions, specifically height weight and a general running background. She also took my Resting Metabolic Rate as a baseline before the workout began. Then came the cool part, Steiner strapped on a mask connected to a breathing tube that fed right in to the computer. It felt like a combination of a Gatorade commercial and Darth Vader.
The tests started out with a slow, baseline test. I was still able to have a conversation with Steiner as the test started at a leisurely walking pace if not for the head gear. As time progressed, the speed would be amped up, slowly building to a good paced jog if not a full run. Once we reached the peak speed, which Steiner calculated using the questions I answered earlier, elevation was increased instead of speed.
At this point, I was supposed to run until I felt like I couldn’t anymore. This was an odd feeling, to say the least. The computer continued to measure my progress and I had already found my peak performance level, now it was just a waiting game. Finding the point at which you can no longer run is difficult, especially for a runner or anyone competitive. I struggled more than once with making the decision. Should I call it off now? No, hold on a little longer, you can take it. All of these thoughts crossed my mind while also having the image of not making the decision in enough time and being shot off the back of the treadmill like a cartoon.
When I finally did call it quits Steiner lowered the speed and lift on the treadmill to a walk before turning it off all together. I was pretty gassed, and the mask wasn’t exactly helping. I wouldn’t say that it gave a claustrophobic feel to the experience, but it is definitely a strange feeling when trying to catch your breath.
Now came the interesting part. While it may be a little hard to follow, especially for those less math inclined like myself, Steiner walked me through the print out of all of my test numbers including my VO2 Max, measuring my cardiovascular fitness. She was able to show me exactly where I ranked for other people, but the more important part was she could take my test numbers and show me what levels I would need to work out at for different results. Steiner showed what rate I would need to be at for a weight loss program, where to be for a cardio workout and everything in between. While on my own this information would be interesting, but less than useful. However, when combined with a trainer it would be essential to building a program.
The entire process took roughly 15 to 30 minutes and while taxing was less than even a full training run. Steiner said that when working with a customer on a training program she would use this test at various points throughout their work together to track the progress.
While intimidating at times, the KORR testing is anything but. Instead, it’s a crucial tool for any level of athlete who wants to get serious about their training and set goals, however difficult they may be. The testing is available at all of the CAC gyms with experts on hand to administer them. The tests combined cost $250, separately they are $100 for the RMR test and $275 for the VO2. For more information on KORR testing and Chicago Athletic Clubs services, click here.