What is your fitness quotient?
Dr. Edgar Michael T. Eufemio (The Philippine Star) - January 28, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - We have all heard about the intelligence quotient (IQ) and how test scores can be used as predictors of educational attainment, performance at work, and even income.  Various classifications have been used to categorize individuals.  With a median score of 100 implying average, you can be considered a genius (140 and above) all the way down to an idiot (24 and below). Then there is also the concept of an emotional quotient (EQ) started in the late 1960s with the famous Stanford Marshmallow Experiment.

What do these tests have in common?  They serve as forecasts into life outcomes, like a crystal ball looking into the future.

However, when it comes to sports, we have yet to encounter an examination that can predict who among our young wannabes will be the next world-class athlete like Manny Pacquiao, Paeng Nepomuceno, Caloy Loyzaga, or Lydia de Vega.

Currently, there is also no test that measures one’s fitness level by quantifying it with a numerical score. This is why as an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist, I, together with Peak Form Sports Medicine Center, devised a series of fitness challenges that can assess not only an athlete’s current fitness condition but also gives him/her a numerical score just like an IQ test or exam. With this kind of test, we can now hopefully narrow down the list of athletes who may, one day, achieve world-class status. The test is called Peak Form’s Fitness Quotient or FQ Test.

Where do you begin?

The first thing is to determine and identify the different components of fitness that should be part of a valid FQ Test. Believe it or not, excelling in one aspect does not mean you are completely fit. For example, a marathon runner may have endurance, but what about the other aspects of fitness like strength, coordination or balance? In Peak Form’s FQ Test, there are 10 components of fitness that will be analyzed: strength, explosiveness, speed, agility, coordination, balance, flexibility, endurance, recovery, mental.

Topend Sports Australia (www/topendsports.com) also describes 10 factors — the first eight are similar to Peak Form’s FQ Test, but the last two are body composition and motor skills. Peak Form replaced the former with recovery. We wanted all elements to be measurable and test-able, and we feel an athlete’s ability to recuperate quickly is important. Motor skills can fall under coordination so we substituted it with mental — the proficiency to plan and strategize, the capability to maintain composure and the knack of information recall under physical duress.

The next task was to come up with the stations or the particular fitness challenges.  Since we started out with 10 aspects, we decided also on 10 fitness challenges, each with a mean score of 10 points.  A total of 100 will mean a participant is average.  One can score more — or less — than 10, depending on how they perform in each station.

What’s an ideal fitness test?

An ideal fitness test:

• Measures the different components. Each situation must be able to evaluate different body parts as well as the multiple facets of fitness. It’s not just counting an isolated and artificial body movement like bicep curls.

• Can be standardized. Most fitness assessments put the test subjects under the same conditions, regardless of height and weight.  Peak Form’s FQ Test adjusts the tasks to one’s physical dimensions — the amount to be lifted and the distance to be covered being a fixed percentage of their height and weight. This is to level the playing field.

• Has a scoring system. After completing the FQ Test, an athlete’s report card will not simply state that he is “fit” or “not fit,” it is not a matter of pass-or-fail. Having a numerical grade enables the athlete to determine if he/she is better, equal or inferior to someone else.  If two or more students are told they are the best in their batch, there must be an objective basis (a digit count) for the tie.  The more diverse the criteria and the more elaborate and strict the tallying scheme, the less likely that there will be more than one class valedictorian.

• Is reproducible or can be replicated. If the same investigation will be conducted at an alternate time or place, the methods of assigning points must remain the same.  The equipment and the conduct of the trial must be constant. Every single time.

• Can compare results. At any given moment, scores of different athletes can be matched up against each other.  Not only that, the same athlete may compare his own results with himself at a later date by taking the FQ Test again, and the FQ Test will be an impartial way of determining if his conditioning has improved or deteriorated.

• Uses functional movements. Not everybody can do a chin-up.  Or jump rope.  Are we to say somebody in the pink of health who cannot perform these movements is not in shape?  Furthermore, if we ask two contestants to do as many chin-ups as they can in one minute, the first challenger tries with all his might but is unable to do one repetition while the second is a couch potato who does not even bother to try, do they both deserve a zero?  The parameters of the FQ Test are limited to functional movements, basic daily normal activities that almost anybody can do — pushing, pulling, throwing, walking, running, jumping, bending, and twisting.

• Can be done in a short period. You want your analysis to take less than an hour.  Each of the 10 stations will take one minute.  Then there will be a two-minute interval in between stations — for the athlete to rest and recover, and for the marshals to prepare the equipment for the next athlete and calculate the totals.  Thus, it will take less than 30 minutes to complete the FQ Test.

Other tests have been designed to measure overall fitness.  There is the SPARQ Rating System, which stands for speed, power, agility, reaction, and quickness.  There are also the Athletic Standard Index and the RealFit Test.  Criticisms are that they either have too many stations (23), too few (three) or use arbitrary formulas to calculate the scores.  More importantly, all these tests use the same conditions for everybody, whatever the height or weight.  In addition, not all components are tested.  Peak Form took all of these into consideration when they devised their own FQ Test.

The testing procedure has been designed to be like a move-system type examination in an anatomy class.  Ten subjects will occupy a place each and will move to the next station after the bell, until they accomplish all 10 fitness challenges.  Each station is equally taxing so it does not matter where one starts.

To provide more challenge to the athletes, especially when the FQ Test is presented in a competition-style fitness challenge, the stations are laid out such that they are not necessarily beside each other.  After being briefed, the participants will be given 20 minutes to walk through the course so they can try them out, attempt to remember the locations and to strategize how to approach the challenge and pace themselves.

Basis for the scoring system

A pre-test was done and the highest and the lowest 25% of scores per station were eliminated.  The mean of the remaining 50% was then obtained (Peak Form kept tabs of the top and bottom numbers of the surviving 50%).  Point equivalents were then added or subtracted for each repetition above or below the mean.

The participant with the highest total score is crowned the fittest athlete, similar to being the valedictorian.  The top marks per station will also be noted, like being best in Math or English.

Once all the figures are in, we will be able to classify them into categories ranging from hanep (meaning elite), astig (above average), puwede na (average), pasang awa (below average) and lampa (poor).

Why do we need an FQ test?

At the very least, individuals may check their fitness levels before and after starting an exercise schedule.  Different workout routines can now be pitted head-to-head to settle, once and for all, who among athletes in different sports can produce the best results in an FQ Test.

In the long run, the data generated in a long-term study using the FQ Test can benefit the country’s sports development program.  If we apply the FQ Test to all grade school students in the country, hopefully we get to identify the ones that are “physically gifted” and enter them in a more advance sports program (just like a genius student who is identified while young is often transferred to a special school for the gifted). Or, doing the reverse, in the future, elite athletes can be evaluated based on their FQ Test results taken when they were younger, and maybe a correlation can be established between a particular station wherein the athlete excelled or had a high score and the sport, discipline or skill that the elite athlete developed. Then, the FQ Test can truly be a scientific predictor of future star athletes. The challenge is simply to monitor as many athletes as possible to have significant results.

* * *

The Peak Form Fitness Quotient Test will be launched on February 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Xavier School High School Gym  during the Mythos School Fair.  Celebrity athletes will participate to see who is the fittest-of-them-all.

For details and inquiries, call 478-9408 or 09163534485. You may also get in touch with Dr. Gar Eufemio at 726-1696 or 09178135740.


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