Body composition made easy thanks to egg-shaped chamber
Latest technology uses air displacement to calculate ratio of body fat to muscle
Saturday, Feb 04, 2012 06:00 am
It’s practically impossible to not make jokes about the Bod Pod until right after you emerge from the device.
There’s no denying how much the egg-shaped device is reminiscent of what Robin Williams occupied as Mork from Ork in a TV series from 30 years ago. He only travelled through space in his egg though. The Bod Pod, on the other hand, helps men and women to answer that age-old question: what am I really made of?
The $40,000 capsule replaces previously popular measurements involving water displacement and callipers. Sturgeon Valley Athletic Club manager Christine Rawlins says that the pod does essentially the same job as the water displacement test (using what she calls “the dunk tank”) but without so much spillage. It is modern, cutting edge and takes hardly any time to work its magic.
“We felt it was an excellent opportunity to bring a piece of state of the art diagnostic technology here to the club and to St. Albert, and to provide our members with an advanced and highly accurate way to measure their body composition,” she stated, adding that it does what typical scales can’t even dream of achieving.
“It just provides you a measurement of the total mass,” she says of the scales. “That number is fine in itself but it really doesn’t give you a true picture of how healthy the body is in terms of how much of that total mass is composed of fat tissue versus how much is composed of lean tissue.”
The Bod Pod uses air displacement plethysmography technology that measures the ratio of body fat to lean muscle. Essentially, the participant, wearing as little as possible, sits inside the magnetically sealed capsule. The computer – already programmed with the age, height, weight and sex of the person inside – measures the volume of the air surrounding the person and compares it to the volume of the empty capsule. It takes less than a minute but the operator does it twice just to double-check the results.
The body composition test results are then printed off and are reported to be as accurate as 98 to 99 per cent. Along with the summary is a body fat rating that ranks the results along a scale from risky – high body fat (over 30 per cent for men; over 40 per cent for women) through several levels of leanness, all the way to risky – too low body fat (under five per cent for men; under 15 per cent for women). According to the Bod Pod info pamphlet, excess body fat can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other “lifestyle illnesses” and ailments. Alternately, lean mass is the “major metabolic engine” of the body and determines the number of calories that you burn, even at rest.
Club employee Lissie Faulkner was surprised at her results. She thought she was pretty healthy and had been working out more, but the Bod Pod had the cold, hard truth for her.
“It was just out of curiosity. I really didn’t think my results would be as bad as they were,” she laughed. “I was a little shocked.”
She discovered that she was in the excess fat category, the one that comes right before ‘risky.’ After a few days to absorb the information, she was thankful for the experience.
“I decided this was more of an education. Putting myself on a scale will tell me what pound I am. The Bod Pod showed me a clear picture of what was going on inside of me.”
The club has the only one of these devices that is publicly available throughout northern Alberta. Anyone can call 780-460-9999 to set up an appointment. You can also visit www.sva-club.com to find out more information.