GAME OF TONE

THE FIT­NESS WAR IS ON!

Elle (Canada) - - Front Page - BY CARLI WHITWELL

whether you were the kid who dream­ily picked dan­de­lions on the side­lines or a star ath­lete who cap­tained ev­ery game, you can prob­a­bly re­mem­ber an earnest coach telling you “Your only com­pe­ti­tion is your­self.”

To­day, that plat­i­tude is as dated as your Mys­pace page. This is Gen­er­a­tion Win, where com­pe­ti­tion is the big­gest mo­ti­va­tion. CrossFit ar­guably paved the way, en­cour­ag­ing you to throw in the soft com­pli­men­tary tow­els at your bou­tique fit­ness club for a no-frills set­ting in which you push your­self to your lim­its in a mob of peers. Now, ex­er­cise classes are be­com­ing a bat­tle­ground.

Take Equinox’s The Pur­suit cy­cling class, avail­able in Canada at the gym’s Yorkville lo­ca­tion in Toronto. As you pedal—and it bet­ter be fu­ri­ously—your dis­tance cy­cled, speed and rank in com­par­i­son to your class­mates are pro­jected onto a screen.

Fit­ness chain Orangeth­e­ory—which plans to have 50 lo­ca­tions in Canada by the end of 2016—of­fers the same catch-me-if-you-can in­cen­tive. You wear a tracker that records your heart rate, which is then broad­casted on an elec­tronic score­board dur­ing the com­bined row­ing, tread­mill and weight­train­ing work­out. Also dis­played is the time you spend in the “or­ange zone”— 84 per­cent or higher of your max­i­mum heart rate. If you stay in the or­ange zone for 12 to 20 min­utes of the hour-long work­out, the body will, ac­cord­ing to Orangeth­e­ory founder Ellen Latham, con­tinue burn­ing calo­ries up to 36 hours later. (This is called “ex­cess post-ex­er­cise oxy­gen con­sump­tion.”)

What’s the main ben­e­fit? Faster re­sults. “Meth­ods like th­ese give us a data point from which we can get con­stant feed­back and de­ter­mine if we’re push­ing our­selves or if we’re dog­ging it,” says Dai Manuel, a Van­cou­ver­based trainer and au­thor of Whole Life Fit­ness Man­i­festo. It’s also a way of flex­ing our phys­ical prow­ess. “We get peo­ple in their 50s who beat some of our 30-year-olds and they leave with their chests popped out like crazy,” says Latham, adding that oth­ers mod­ify the work­out to be lower in­ten­sity by jog­ging or walk­ing in­stead.

Seek­ing that ex­ter­nal val­i­da­tion is to­tally le­git. It’s the same rea­son we post In­sta work­out self­ies or share our runs on Face­book. “You want peo­ple to see what you’re do­ing and gain that feed­back. That typ­i­cally leads to feel­ing more con­fi­dent, which leads to en­gag­ing in ex­er­cise more,” says Cather­ine Sabis­ton, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor in the Univer­sity of Toronto’s ki­ne­si­ol­ogy and phys­i­cal-education fac­ulty.

If you’re the type who prefers to slink in the back of the class un­no­ticed, th­ese meth­ods can un­der­stand­ably make you feel vul­ner­a­ble. And Sabis­ton warns that “ev­ery per­son’s body re­acts dif­fer­ently to the same ex­er­cise. So if you look at the screen and think ‘I’m do­ing ter­ri­bly com­pared to ev­ery­body else,’ that re­ally un­der­mines your en­joy­ment.” She rec­om­mends fo­cus­ing on your­self and push­ing your­self to your own lim­its, be­cause, she says, that’s where you’ll im­prove the most.

Per­haps Coach was right af­ter all. n

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