Gadgets Gizmos and Units of Measure

The seated leg press for thighs (hams and quads) and buttocks (gluteals)

Gadgets, Gizmos and units of measure are part of gym equipment. Before I commence with this subject I thought I should briefly talk about how I am doing with my weight. After all this is perhaps the best measure of exercise, or is it?  My last article was Calories and all that we do in the gym, so there is a little bit of overlap with the subject of weight.

Flesch score = 75 reasonably easy reading

 


Keeping upbeat about weight

Cameron Evans article 2018 (Insider Information) is worth a peep if you can navigate those annoying adverts. Working to rebuild my muscles I might have put some weight on, although the food intake may need to be catered for in this equation. At least I have had no alcohol for a week so that’s good, but sad. Alcohol is good at adding weight and my muscles are not so large as to really count. But the Evans article reminds us we fluctuate daily and really if we are going to get hung up, it should be the extreme loss of weight that we should worry about. Apart from that, a weekly or monthly check won’t hurt, but it reminds us roughly where we are if we have a target. My target is around 69 kg (152lbs or 10.8 stones). As an older man I need some weight for reserve but want to keep my overall body fat down. If I can pinch that spare tyre around my male waist then I need to keep going. My expectation is six weeks but I know that weight will bounce up and down. Lack of weight loss after effort leads us all to feel a bit down. Anyway, today I am upbeat but the humidity was hard work. Not only that I forgot the water when rushing out of the house. Not a good idea when you need fluids.

Keep to one set of scales

Now those scales of course are a form of measurement and I am using the gym weighing scales to map my progress. I only use the scales at the gym and don’t vary between home scales. This keeps the measurement valid so I only compare between one instrument. If they are inaccurate or have not been calibrated it matters less. I only need to compare each period to see the fluctuation, gain or loss. So don’t let’s get hung up. If we (and I mean I) don’t make progress we can adjust. Before Lockdown it had taken me three months of concerted effort to make some real gains so I needed to be upbeat. Keeping fit also means exercise and stimulating my circulation via my heart pump, not just weight loss.

Week 3, Day 7

Finally I have access to the  cross trainer that twists.

Today I started two new exercise machines; the seated leg press (shown below) and the body lifter (not illustrated). The ‘piece de resistance’ today was that my preferred cross trainer was good to go. The kind manager of my gym put up a note for all. So, big thanks to the Manager…

“Covid-19 promise. If my buddy next door is being used, I have to be rested but as soon as my buddy is resting. I am all yours.”

I had been pushing to have this piece of kit put back into circulation as it did so much for me, especially my lower spine. However, I can record here now after several months back at the gym I use the more common cross trainer for most exercises and so have become altogether more flexible

In an earlier post I indicated that I had had 2 operations on my back, so I really like to keep this part flexible. Over the last 2 years the cross trainer has made me more comfortable as recovering from back surgery can take longer than consultants think. I measure my weight and find I have gained a 1 Kg which is 0.15 stones or 2.2lbs. Am I bothered? NO. Here are some of the reasons.


Let’s look at the gym machines and measuring

Units of measure

Your gym will have different equipment to other gyms. I have used gyms in hotels and on cruise lines and there are multi-gym units or single purpose. I prefer single purpose and these are found usually in higher quality fitness centres with plenty of space. 

Scales measure Kg (kilos or kilograms) or Stones. In the USA pounds replace stones. The latter are imperial, while seemingly British in origin, they are possibly not, but it was an olde world currency of trade. Kilograms are part of the system international or S.I which divide more conveniently. It will interesting after Brexit to see if fluid (litres) and groceries (Kg) will revert. The Prime Minister (UK) has made comment about reverting, but personally I hope not. 

Computers

For some gadgets like fit bits are a comfort. These are essentially mini computers. To others an encumbrance. The Fitbit is electronic and some have concerns of harmful electromagnetic fields. Others say they are a distraction but we all have an absolute passion for data. The problem is, like weighing ourselves, we become obsessed. I need to know and want to know my heart rate (HR) as I measure this as my cardiac output target. The units are beats per minute. That said, if you are moving along at a good pace and not out of breath, but breathing more heavily, you don’t need to know what the HR is. A recent study has just been published this month from Andersen (Aug. 2020) in Copenhagen in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. If you were not sure before about watches to measure your vital statistics, read this.

You may bring your mobile ap. or a Fitbit in.  How helpful are these gadgets or are they just gizmos? If you are away from the gym you can use different bits of kit and it is now common to see runners with their mobiles strapped to their arm. More commonly these are for listening to audio books and music which is fine but spare a thought for other users of space. As a keen walker I despair a little as I like to hear and be aware of the countryside’s flora and fauna around me. Be careful about cars and bikes, the latter being less visible until they are on you. Anyway, back in the gym, you can monitor performance and set yourself goals to guide you. We can do this usually via a digital touch screen. The treadmill is probably the main piece of equipment with an adjustable lever(s) that adjust the speed of the moving platform,

Screens provide access to information

a typical screen showing various units if measure

The illustration shows the screen attached to my treadmill with the trademark, Technogym (not shown). Time (min:sec), calories Kcal, distance Km, heart rate (beats/min), moves, power (watts), effort level, whole digits, speed revs per minute (rpm) form the basic measurement unit.

Quality of equipment

Gyms purchase quality equipment as they have to stand the punishment from multiple users. The kit often has a screen of some kind, and if you wish, you can connect to the internet. There is a TV or radio option which allows you to change channels… REALLY?

Well I guess if you are pounding for 1/2 hour then maybe it relieves the boredom but I can cope without sound, without music and without pictures for 10 -15 minutes. Many users have their ears clogged with headphones and little bits of plastic. I am sure if I used these they would fall out. I’m just too busy doing my exercise and focusing. But look. If this is your method, ignore me, I’m no expert on gizmos that connect to my iPhone as I only use it for photos and texts and of course telephone calls. Now iPads are different but I would not bring mine to the gym. We return to the basics of exercise, sets and repetitions (reps).


Sets and reps A rep is the number of times you perform a specific exercise, and a set is the number of cycles of reps that you complete. For example, suppose you complete 15 reps of a bench press. You would say you’ve completed “one set of 15 reps.” A set can be any number of reps, so if you complete 10 reps of a bench press, you would say you’ve completed “one set of 10 reps,” and if you complete just five reps, then that would be “one set of five reps.” (source:link)

My sets normally take me around 10 minutes for the main machines such as the treadmill, or cross trainer, bike and rowing machine. Each of these has a screen. The units given are in time, speed in Kph rather than miles per hour, and then Kilometres for distance. I have to travel 1.6 km to reach a mile. This means a Kilometre is 0.62 of a mile, so a Km is shorter. Sensors on the handles allow your to record your heart rate. You need to remove your gloves if you use them as skin must be in contact. Let’s take a look at preset programmes or profiles. 

Exercise programme Technogym

Preset profiles allow the machines to do far more and provide a programme. Your choice is simple. Quick start and follow your own activity, or set a particular theme. This is given as cardiac, weights loss, and distance in particular. All of these programmes will provide cardiac and weight loss. The link to the technogym manual for different activities can be found to cover a wide range of different equipment. If you want a programme that is preset then each is relatively easy to follow, but do ask if you are unsure. Everyone has different goals.

Power is measured in Watts. It is easy to think of the old light bulb. The higher the watts for a light the brighter. Things move on and lumens have taken over. The more work done the higher the effort used and the brighter the lamp would burn. We would use more Watts. And so Watts = Power and implies work done. Effort is set in whole numbers, 1,2,3,4,5 etc. By the time it reaches 14 I struggle and my bike is always set low to remove strain from my damaged knee. 

Moves from Technogym

Technogym makes many of the machines in our gym and ‘MOVES’ appear as a confusing measure. I can sometimes notch up 200 moves in 10 minutes and to be honest it makes little sense to me. So I checked it out and this is one explanation.

TECHNOGYM MOVES IS A WAY OF MEASURING PHYSICAL ACTIVITY THAT UNITES ALL. BASED ON ACTUAL BODY MOVEMENT, IT ALLOWS YOU TO MEASURE AND COMPARE THE LEVEL OF ACTIVITY OF PARTICIPANTS DURING THE CAMPAIGN. THE FASTER YOU MOVE, THE MORE MOVES YOU COLLECT.

It still makes no sense to me and really for this silver surfer’s point of view, the explanation is irrelevant and superfluous. Maybe the value comes from when you are doing something perhaps with someone else.  I don’t think you should compare yourself at our age with other people and certainly I would not compare myself to the lycra brigade, who could run rings around most of us.

Next week (wk 4; session day 8 – Monday) I have planned two sessions at my gym. I will start with goals and targets when using the gym. I think I will leave my next weighing in until September

This series started with Getting back to being fit again and features the author’s experience getting back to the gym. 


A word of warning 

You can read more about me


Thanks for reading ‘Gadgets, Gizmos and Units of Measure’ by David R Tollafield

Published by Busypencilcase Reflective Communications Est. 2015

August 2020