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July 02, 2014

Learning Your Fitness Age at Canyon Ranch

By Ingrid Skjong | Fitness

Learning Your Fitness Age at Canyon Ranch
Courtesy of Canyon Ranch

Age might be nothing but a number, but when it comes to where you stand fitness-wise it can be a powerful indicator of the work that needs to be done. The Determine Your Fitness Age program, developed by exercise physiologists at wellness resort Canyon Ranch, does just that—in motivating (though still humbling) fashion.

Based in part on Canyon Ranch founder Mel Zuckerman’s wake-up call with a similar test nearly 40 years ago (then 49, he received a fitness age of 75), the new assessment, which launched in June, puts participants through a five-part circuit. Each element is weighted according to its contribution to total conditioning: aerobic fitness performed on a rowing machine (30 percent), body composition determined by skin-fold measurements (20 percent), upper-body strength via a bench press (15 percent), lower-body strength via a vertical jump (15 percent) and balance (20 percent).

The results are compared with a range of averages and voilà: a physiological age is revealed, both overall and for each of the five categories. “There’s no real hard-and-fast science out there for this type of thing,” says Mike Siemens, an exercise physiologist at Canyon Ranch’s Tucson location. “But this is just our professional knowledge combined with an educated attempt to estimate how these different areas impact fitness age.”

The results are eye-opening for better or worse (we came in ten years younger than our actual age, which was a nice surprise) and allow you to retool your workouts to address neglected areas. Ideally executed over two days, with 50 minutes of testing and health history done on day one and analysis and exercise prescription discussed on day two, the offering allows for plenty of quality gym time with trainers who help recalibrate goals, whether, based on your results, you need to incorporate interval training with prescribed heart rates or more intense strength training. “It’s proving,” says Siemens, “to be a great motivator and discussion starter for how we spend our exercise time.”

Currently available at the resort’s outposts in Tucson (600 E. Rockcliff Rd.; 520-749-9000) and Lenox, Massachusetts (165 Kemble St.; 413-637-4100), the program might also prove to be utterly irresistible to those eager to turn back the clock—and perform better for it. Rates start at $370 for two 50-minute consultations; canyonranch.com.