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Is Your BMI Really A Good Measure Of Your Health?

Is Your BMI Really A Good Measure Of Your Health?

What is BMI, and is it a good measure of your health? BMI—body mass index—uses your height to weight ration to determine the amount of body fat you have. The more body fat, the more potential there is for poor health. However, it’s not always a true picture or the final verdict. For instance, people with a great deal of muscle mass might appear on paper to be overweight, since a cubic inch of muscle tissue weighs more than a cubic inch of fat tissue. However, that’s simply not true. BMI also doesn’t take account bone density or the composition of a person’s body.

With BMI, it’s all about height to weight ratio.

BMI is a shorthand way of a doctor assessing your fitness. However, it’s only one tool. If your weight is 120 pounds and you’re at your ideal weight, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re fit. It simply means that at your height, your weight is the same other healthy people your height. Your gender and frame makes a difference. The height to weight ration is converted to a number and anyone with a BMI that’s between 18.5 and 24.9 is at an ideal weight, while higher up to 29 is overweight. People with a BMI of 30 or higher are obese.

Another flaw with BMI is the role bone structure plays.

You’ve heard of people being “big-boned.” That’s really a thing. Some people have a smaller bone structure, which means their bones don’t weigh as much, so they don’t either, but they may have more fat than someone who has bigger bones does. Even the difference between having a longer trunk and shorter legs can make a difference in your weight and how you look. Men have more muscle mass, so they’ll weigh more than women. Even if people are exactly the same height and weight won’t look alike, since one may have more muscle tissue.

The use of BMI is a quick way to help physicians, but not the last word about your health.

It only takes a second to check your height and weight and convert that to a BMI on the chart, but it definitely isn’t the last word about your health. Physicians use it to identify potential problems, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, breathing problems and sleep apnea, which are face by people with higher BMI. Doctors use it as a starting place, with their personal observation as another factor.

  • One important factor that’s being used more frequently is waist circumference. People with a higher waist circumference, even when their BMI is normal, face more potential for illness, like diabetes. For men, 40.2 inches and for women 34.6 inches has the greater chance of diabetes.
  • Another new technique that works well is called RFM— relative fat mass index. It uses a ratio of waist measurements to height. For men the formula is 64 – (20 x height/waist circumference) and for women 76 – (20 x height/waist circumference).
  • A very accurate way, but quite costly way also, is an MRI scan. Underwater weighing also gives a clearer picture, plus identifying bone density, fat and volume.
  • One reason more muscular people often show as being overweight, when they aren’t, is because a cubic inch of muscle mass weighs more than a cubic inch of fat. It’s one of the biggest flaws in using BMI.

For more information, contact us today at Habitat Health and Fitness


Why Kettlebells Are So Good

Why Kettlebells Are So Good

We use a lot of different types of equipment at Habitat Health and Fitness in Lakeland, FL. For strength building, one of our favorites is kettlebells. Not only does working with kettlebells make the workout more intense, so you’ll get more benefit in less time used, it also works the whole body and addresses other forms of fitness besides strength, such as balance, flexibility and endurance. Kettlebell workouts are great for people all fitness levels. It’s all a matter of choosing the right weight of kettlebell and learning the proper form.

When you workout with kettlebells, your center of gravity is constantly changing.

Unlike dumbbells and barbells, the center of gravity in a kettlebell is about six to eight inches beyond your hand’s grip. That makes it more difficult and also causes a constantly changing center of gravity. Whether you’re doing daily activities or on the field or court of your favorite sport, that action is more like the functional experiences you’ll have. That not only makes kettlebells good for sports training, but for everyday living.

You’ll get a full body workout and burn tons of calories in the process.

One simple kettlebell move, such as a swing, can work as many as 600 muscles before you’ve completed it. Because of it’s off center nature, you’ll work your core muscles, both the movers and the stabilizers. Working all these muscles at once burns tons of calories. That changing center of gravity causes stabilizer muscles to go into action and burn more than you would just using dumbbells. You can burn between 15 and 20 calories per minute working out with kettlebells.

Increase all types of fitness when you workout with kettlebells.

Not only is a kettlebell workout created to boost your strength, it also improves flexibility and gets your heart pumping fast to improve your cardiovascular system. It’s the Swiss Army knife of workouts, making it good for almost any goal, level of fitness and useful even for people with special needs. The swinging motion builds muscles during the lengthening phase and the shortening phase, which means you’ll get results faster.

  • While strength building will improve your joints and prevent injury, kettlebells add to that by working the smaller muscles that keep your joints aligned and makes them stronger. The stronger they are, the less resistant they are to injury.
  • Even though you get a great cardio workout, unlike running, kettlebells workouts are low impact. Your feet never leave the floor and there’s no jarring motion during kettlebell swings.
  • Kettlebells are great workouts for athletes. They help develop explosive power. Sports like gymnastics, track, cycling, basketball and football, to name a few, require explosive strength and power if you want to do your best.
  • People love kettlebell workouts as an alternative to traditional workouts. They’re fun to do and can be done almost anywhere. You don’t need a lot of space to store the kettlebell or do the exercise.

For more information, contact us today at Habitat Health & Fitness!


Good Workouts Without Using Your Knees

Good Workouts Without Using Your Knees

Have you recently had an injury or suffered from an overuse injury? Does arthritis or bursitis cause pain when you move your knee. If you’ve already seen your doctor, and he gave the okay to exercise, finding movements that are kind to your knees is important. In some cases, your doctor may even suggest physical therapy where you’ll get a list of exercises that not only build strength and provides a cardio workout, also can build strength around the knee muscle and help relieve pain.

Is a cardio workout what you want?

What can you do that will build your cardiovascular system and also strengthen your lower body? How about a swim? Your buoyancy in the water takes the pressure off your knee, yet provides resistance so you can get your heart rate up and strengthen the muscles. Just walking in water can build muscles, while providing cardio. You can walk forward, backward and even side-to-side to work all the leg muscles. Check with your doctor to see if water aerobics might be a good option.

A step style exercise can improve your cardio and leg muscles.

You’ll work your legs and even your cardio with level step touches, where you step to the side with one foot and bring the other in to meet it, tapping the ground lightly and then moving back to start position. As you get stronger, stepping up a stair with one foot, then bringing the other from below to tap next to it, then back to the original position, moving up and down, is another simple workout. Keep it gentle. It will work muscles and provide lower body strength.

Do jumping jacks without the jump.

Modify your jumping jacks to get the workout without the stress. Stand in jumping jack position, feet together, arms parallel to the ground. Do traditional jumping jacks without the jump. Simply step to the side with one foot as you raise your arms overhead and then step back. Switch sides halfway through your workout. Add a slight pivot when you’re stepping to the side if your knees can handle the added pressure.

  • Do knee lifts. You can march in place or use a prop like a medicine ball that you hold in your hands, raising it with feet down, then lifting one leg with knee bent as you lower the ball and touch your knee. Alternate sides.
  • Lay face down on your stomach and do a hamstring curl. Lay flat and slowly bring one leg up, bending your knee, bringing your heel toward your buttocks. If you’re ready, do the same movement as you stand.
  • Use a chair for support, standing beside it. Flex your foot and lift your leg out to the side of your body. Lift your leg, keeping your body straight and then lower. Do a few times on each leg.
  • If you’re working out with our trainers, don’t forget to tell them you have a special need, such as knee problems. The trainer will modify every exercise to prevent injuring your knees further or cause pain.

For more information, contact us today at Habitat Health & Fitness!


Best Workouts For A Flat Stomach

Best Workouts For A Flat Stomach

If you want great looking abs and a flat belly that tells the world you’re fit, it takes work. At Habitat Health and Fitness in Lakeland, FL, we help you achieve that goal. We provide workouts for a flat stomach, but it takes more than that. Great looking abs start in the kitchen and continue in the gym. It doesn’t matter how fit you are, if there’s a layer of fat covering that flat tummy, nobody will know. You may have the best abs, but won’t have a flat stomach.

Bodyweight exercises are a great place to start.

One of the toughest exercises that looks so simple is the plank. You can do a forearm or the more difficult straight arm plank. The more difficult straight arm plank starts in push-up position with your hands directly beneath the shoulders, pushing against the floor and body straight. Just hold the position for at least twenty seconds, or longer if you can. If you’re a beginner, start with the forearm plank. It’s the same as the straight arm, but you bend at the elbow, putting your forearm on the floor and weight on the forearm not the hands. Your elbows should be in line with your shoulders and forearms parallel to the body.

Strength training can help build strong abs and burn off the fat that’s hiding them.

Studies show that when you use strength training as part of your workout program, it is far more effective than just using endurance training alone. Strength training builds muscle tissue and the more you have, the more calories you burn. While endurance/cardio training burns calories, but those calories come from both muscle tissue and fat tissue. Why is this important? The more muscle tissue you have, the more calories you burn even when you’re resting, so you lose weight faster.

Combine strength training with HIIT—high intensity interval training.

What is HIIT? It’s not a type of exercise, but rather a way of doing any type of exercise. You simply do the exercise at peak intensity with your heart rate high, then reduce the intensity for an equal or longer time with a recovery period. You can do it with any exercise, but when you combine it with strength training, you’ll build muscle and burn calories so your strong abs will show. Not only is getting rid of belly fat great for showing off your abs, it’s also important to your health. Visceral fat, fat around your middle that covers the stomach, is the most dangerous type of fat to your health.

  • Try an isometric exercise that’s often called a vacuum. Stand up straight, inhale deeply and then as you exhale, pull your stomach in as tight as possible, as though you’re trying to touch it to your backbone. Hold as long as you can.
  • Find a group of tummy exercises you can do at home and do them throughout the day. A bridge is a good tummy tightener. Lay on your back but pick your hips up off the floor until your body forms a straight line. Hold for as long as you can.
  • Do traditional circuit training. Circuit training is a way to combine strength and cardio training. You can do almost any type of exercises, just take no breaks or shorter ones in between exercises.
  • At Habitat Health and Fitness we help develop a program exclusively for you and your goals. We create workouts that flatten your stomach, as they build your strength, flexibility and endurance.

For more information, contact us today at Habitat Health and Fitness


Weight Training For Beginners

Weight Training For Beginners

There are a lot of reasons to start weight training. Training with weights help build strength, it also burns more fat and not lean muscle mass like cardio does. That’s important, since the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn 24/7. You’ll benefit your bone health, lower your cholesterol, lower your blood pressure, reduce pain and ease symptoms of arthritis as you also make yourself stronger to avoid injury. Most people start strength training to help lose weight, which is why so many people want help with weight training for beginners.

You can do weight training at home without equipment.

Even if you can’t come to Habitat Health and Fitness, you can still start weight training. Using every day objects like soup cans or water bottles instead of dumbbells is one way. The whole focus should be on form and increasing the amount of weight you lift safely. Do bodyweight exercises, rather than using weights. You can do those anywhere. Push-ups are probably the toughest ones to master, so if you’re a beginner, start with the knee bent modification of push-up.

Start with the basics.

Always warm up first. In order to avoid injury and maximize your benefits, start with five minutes of warm-up. Warm up can be as simple as taking a brisk walk, doing jumping jacks or skipping rope. When you first begin, always use lighter weights. You should be able to lift them at least ten to 15 times per set for two sets without compromising your form. Progress slowly and add additional reps or sets as you progress. You can increase weight as you get stronger.

Don’t do strength training every day.

The length of time you workout will vary based on the exercises you do and level of difficulty. You can overwork your muscles, so for the first week or so, take it easier. Nothing is more deterring than sore muscles and nothing can set you back as quickly as an injury. Giving yourself a day or two rest between workouts gives your muscles a chance to heal, recover and replenish your stores of energy.

  • Do you have dumbbells? Dumbbell single arm rows, shoulder presses, chest presses, tricep extensions and bicep curls are upper body strength exercises that can help get you into shape. Holding extra weight as you do squats, lunges and other lower body workouts aid in building muscle.
  • Slow down your workout and focus on each move. Form should always be top priority. Don’t forget to cool down after your workout. Just walking around for five minutes can help.
  • Make your workout more fun. Strength training doesn’t have to be done with weights. You can use kettlebells, resistance bands, battle ropes and TRX, for example. Make cleaning day your strength training day and move your furniture to clean.
  • We develop programs for people of all fitness levels. Get help with your weight training program either in a group setting or with private sessions.

For more information, contact us today at Habitat Health and Fitness


Small Steps To A Healthier Future

Small Steps To A Healthier Future

It only takes making a few changes at a time to get big results. At Habitat Health and Fitness in Lakeland, Florida, FL we help you make those changes and identify those small steps to a healthier future. It can start with getting more exercise. You don’t have to become an Olympic athlete overnight. In fact, it can be as simple as walking a little further by parking at the first spot you find when you shop, rather than circling the parking lot to find the spot closest to the door. It might mean getting up and moving a bit every hour if you’re at a sedentary job or taking the stairs for a floor or two rather than the elevator.

Cut back or eliminate added sugar and build from there.

You don’t have to make all the changes at once, you can start by cutting back on added sugar for a day and build from there. Start with easily identified sugar, like candy bars, donuts or pastries or soft drinks. Stick with it until you have that one area conquered. If you’re a true fan of cola, switching out isn’t easy. Don’t go for the diet substitute, since it can be just as unhealthy as the real version. Opt for water or infused water if you want a flavorful option. You don’t have to give up cola entirely, limit yourself to half the amount you drink each day, then a few weeks later, cut that amount in half.

Schedule a walk every day.

Put a 30-minute walk in your schedule every day. If 30 minutes at one time is tough to schedule or you don’t have the energy for that long of walk, break the time up to three ten minute sessions or start with a 15-minute walk if you’re really out of shape. You can even march in place in your living room for ten minutes while you watch television. Just keep moving. You’ll be surprised at how much better you start to feel. When you feel comfortable walking 30 minutes, start extending your distance, so you’ll have to walk faster.

Increase the amount of vegetables you eat.

Look for ways to increase the servings of fruit and vegetables you eat each day. If you love mashed potatoes, keep them in your menu, but substitute a fourth of the potatoes with cauliflower when you boil them. Try making red potatoes and leave the skins on when you mash them. You’ll still get the mashed potato taste, and even the creamy feeling of potatoes in your mouth but with more nutrients from the skins and the cauliflower. You can experiment with other additions, such as switching out regular spaghetti for spaghetti squash, add to omelets at breakfast or make smoothies with a few extra vegetables.

  • Have fruits and vegetables prepared and ready for snacking in the refrigerator. Take healthy snacks with you, so you won’t be tempted to grab unhealthy ones.
  • Switch to whole grain bread. Just like most highly processed food, white bread contains far fewer nutrients than whole grain does. Whole grain not only adds more vitamins and minerals to your diet, but also more fiber.
  • Grill or bake your food, cut out frying. You can steam or boil, too. You’ll cut the calories significantly and will probably love the taste of food more. Often, it’s the grease and breading that keeps us eating fried food.
  • Get adequate sleep and drink plenty of water. Sleep is often neglected, yet both the body and mind need it. Lack of sleep triggers the production of the hunger hormone, making you feel more hungry and less satisfied. Drinking more water can also fill you up, while maintaining a healthy body.

For more information, contact us today at  Habitat Health & Fitness


How To Bike In The Heat

How To Bike In The Heat

It can get pretty hot around here, even in the fall and spring. That makes exercising or being active outside a little more dangerous or uncomfortable. Whether you walk, run or bike in the heat, you need to do it safely. While the summer is the hottest, those unusually hot days in the spring and fall can give your body a shock, since it isn’t acclimated to the heat. It can be challenging to ride in the heat, but here are a few ways to make it safer.

Stay hydrated and carry extra water with you.

When it’s hot, you sweat, and it’s even more obvious if you’re active. Dehydration is dangerous. Your body sweats as a means of cooling yourself, but it’s often difficult to gauge how much fluid you lose. If you’re taking a route that has several places to stop for more water, it’s not as urgent that you carry several bottles with you—based on the length of your ride. However, go supplied with extra fluid for longer rides in less commercial areas. Freeze a bottle of water or two and carry them along. Have one unfrozen bottle handy to sip on frequently. Take enough water along you can pour some on yourself to cool off if you become overheated.

Dress appropriately.

If you’re starting out early in the morning and it’s cool, layer your clothes. The layers should be lightweight and made of wicking material that breathes. Wicking material won’t leave soaked and sticky at the end of your ride. The color of your clothing is important, too. It should be light colored to reflect the sun. Make sure your riding clothes fit well and avoid shorts or tops that can cause chaffing. A pair of fingerless gloves created to use on hot days is important to have.

Choose the time you ride wisely.

Plan your trip around the weather. Avoid riding in the hottest part of the day if the weather forecast record highs. Get up early and start your ride or plan it in the evening, where it’s warm, but you aren’t fighting the rays of the sun. The roads are often less busy early in the morning or right at sunset, so you’ll have fewer hazards with traffic. Early morning and early evening are also quieter, making your ride more pleasant.

  • If you’re riding your bike in the early evening, take along a lightweight windbreaker or jacket, just in case the weather cools dramatically. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • While the summer heat is a danger, so is overexposure to the sun. Liberally apply a sunblock or sunscreen to the front of your legs, face, arms and any other exposed areas.
  • Know the type of road you’ll ride and watch out for slick areas. Rain isn’t the only thing that makes roads slick, melted road surface can get slippery and tar gets sticky.
  • Always, leave an itinerary if you’re going off the beaten path, are riding by yourself or will be gone longer than a few hours. Email your itinerary to a family member and call them when you get home to let them know you’re safe.

For more information, contact us today at  Habitat Health & Fitness


Reasons You Should Log Your Workouts

You don’t have to take a lot of time to log your workouts, but you should do it. There are a lot of reasons for doing it and a lot of ways to do it. You can keep it simple, by creating a workout schedule that includes the exercises you do each day, the number of repetitions and number of sets of each. Just duplicate that for each week and adjusting the number of reps and sets as your fitness level improves. You can also make it more informative by including measurements and weight once a week and how hard or easy the workout was, so you know when to ramp it up and make the workout harder.

You’ll save time when you have a workout log.

Have you ever started to exercise and had to stop and think about what to do next or finished and realized you forgot an exercise? It happens to everyone at some time. Even if you’ve done a workout for a long time, it can happen. However, we don’t recommend doing any workout for longer than six weeks without changing it. Having that log can remind you what to do next and how many of each exercise to do.

You can track your progress easier and ensure you make progress.

Even if you start simple, such as doing a set of ten exercises and three sets of each, you may not progress at the same rate for each type of exercise. You might find some are easier for you to do because that particular muscle group started out more toned. Increasing the difficulty by increasing the number of reps and sets becomes more difficult the more accurate you are at challenging yourself. Logging your workout helps you even on those mornings you’re not quite awake.

Keeping extra notes can help you look for alternate ways to address an issue. If a regular push-up is continuously too hard, opt for an easier version, like a knee bent push-up until you’re strong enough for traditional ones.

Saving those logs and periodically looking back at where you started can be a big boost no matter what your goal. If you are disappointed in your ability to do a workout or shed a pound, seeing the progress can keep you motivated.

If you switch your workouts periodically, as you should, keeping old logs can give you a go-to plan months later. You can use some or all the workout but adjust the reps and sets upward.

At Habitat Health and Fitness, we track clients for a number of reasons. One of those is to ensure the workout is giving the best results. If you’re not seeing the changes you want, it’s time to take it up a notch or switch out some of the exercises.


Stay Active While Sheltering In Place

Stay Active While Sheltering In Place

During these uncertain times, staying at home can often be the safest option in Winter Haven or Lakeland, FL. Even if you stay at home and don’t come to Habitat Health and Fitness, you need to stay active while sheltering in place. Whether you’re staying at home as a precaution to protect you from a virus or staying home because of weather, keeping active keeps you healthy and prevents loss of the progress you’ve made on the road to fitness. You don’t need any equipment at home, just the determination to continue on your fitness regimen.

Use the bodyweight exercises you’ve learned at Habitat Health and fitness to stay fit.

You don’t have to do anything fancy to stay fit, just make sure you get approximately a half hour to forty-five minutes a day of exercise. Some of the best exercises are those that have been around for a long time, such as bodyweight workouts. Do a combination of exercises that include flexibility, endurance and strength training. Push-ups, pull-ups, planks, lunges and squats are a few that can be combined to create a circuit training workout.

Turn any type of workout into circuit training or HIIT—high intensity interval training.

You can make it a cardio workout by making it circuit training and shortening the time between exercises or create a HIIT workout by varying the speed of the workout. Just walking around the house or going up and down stairs can be a HIIT workout. You workout at your top intensity for a few minutes to get your heart rate at 70 to 89% of maximum rate and then workout at a recovery rate of 60 to 65% for an equal or slightly longer period. It has many healthy benefits and can get you in shape more quickly than a steady state workout.

Sheltering in place doesn’t mean you can’t go outside.

Unless the winds of a hurricane are blowing and it’s raining cats and dogs, or the temperature is soaring, you can still go outside and enjoy the vitamin D boosting sun while you workout. You can also use the time to improve your home and get exercise at the same time. Painting a house, washing windows, doing yardwork and even working inside, such as vigorously cleaning the home can substitute for some of the exercises you do. Turn on music and dance your way to a cleaner, more organized home and better body.

  • If you’re stuck at home, it’s time to experiment with a healthier eating plan. Create weekly menus, shopping lists and cook while you’re at home, freezing meals for the week or month.
  • Make homemade gym equipment. Soup cans and water bottles filled to the weight you desire are great barbells. A broomstick can be a barbell with a backpack on each end as weights. A laundry detergent bottle with a handle filled with sand to the appropriate weight substitutes for kettlebells.
  • If you have children, they can help you get and stay healthy Create a family workout time or active play time and stay fit together. You’ll create memories, encourage fitness and have fun together.
  • Create a workout schedule and stick with it. Don’t just put your workout on the schedule, put all daily activities on it. You’ll be less apt to spend time eating snacks in front of the TV, stay fitter and get more done.

For more information, contact us at Habitat Health & Fitness


Foods That Are Good For Your Heart

Foods That Are Good For Your Heart

When you come to Habitat Health and Fitness in Lakeland, FL, you’ll notice we focus primarily on exercise, but that doesn’t mean we don’t encourage people to eat healthy. That’s especially true if you have a condition, such as diabetes or heart disease, which responds well to healthy eating. Many of the healthy foods are also foods that are good for your heart. They’re whole foods that contain heart healthy nutrients, such as Omega3 fatty acids, magnesium, vitamin D, folic acid, CoQ10 and potassium. You don’t have to have a heart condition to benefit from eating these foods, they provide other benefits, particularly for those who want to lose weight.

The American diet is too high in Omega 6 fatty acids.

The body can make all types of fatty acids but two, these are essential fatty acids and derived from foods that contain Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. The ideal ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids is one part Omega 3 to four parts Omega 6. The average American diet today is one part Omega-3 to twenty-five parts Omega-6. That’s bad for heart health and can also increase agitation and other problems. One study in a violent prison, showed that by increasing the amount of Omega-3 and reducing the amount of Omega-6 it cut the amount of violence in half. Sources of Omega 3 are fatty fish such as salmon, herring or flaxseeds and other seeds and nuts. They can provide heart healthy nutrition and other benefits.

Sunshine is healthy.

You might worry about getting too much sun and that’s a possibility if you don’t sun safely. However, the right amount of exposure to the sun is important. It helps the body create vitamin D. Vitamin D helps regulate blood pressure and provides other healthy benefits. Smart sunning may not be an option, especially on overcast days. Luckily, many foods are high in vitamin D. Egg yolks, cheese, beef liver and products fortified with vitamin D can help you get the required daily amount you need.

Are you getting enough magnesium?

If you have high blood pressure, maybe you lack magnesium. A lack of magnesium not only causes blood pressure to rise, it causes muscle cramps—which includes the heart muscle, osteoporosis, mental disorders, irregular heartbeat and asthma. What should you eat? Avocados, raw spinach, soybeans and a favorite, dark chocolate all contain magnesium.

  • Eat Brussels sprouts, lentils, broccoli and asparagus to get heart healthy folic acid. It lowers homocysteine levels in the blood and reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke by 20%
  • Are you getting adequate fiber? Fiber not only helps you lower bad cholesterol, it also helps you lose weight, which also reduces the risk of heart disease.
  • Organ meats like liver are high in CoQ10. Low levels of CoQ10 are linked to high blood pressure and heart failure.
  • The more colorful the food on your plate, which means including all colors of vegetables, the healthier your heart, since different colored vegetables contain different phytonutrients. Don’t forget about a program of regular exercise to boost your heart health either.

For more information, contact us today at Habitat Health and Fitness