Health Testing Reviews for Fitness Genes

From £90.30 £129.00

At a Glance

Editor's Rating:
5 out of 5 stars
Customer Service:
5 out of 5 stars
Clarity of Results:
4.5 out of 5 stars
References Cited:
4.5 out of 5 stars
Value for Money:
5 out of 5 stars

Summary

The Fitness Genes ‘DNA Analysis’ test provided a brilliant range of insights and support that helped me take practical steps towards improving my lifestyle. The workout planner was a particular highlight and I was impressed with the demonstrations that made it easy to implement. Although the link between these exercise recommendations and my DNA results wasn't as clear as I thought it might be, the 'What your genes say' sections in my Nutrition guide highlighted these connections well.

I also felt that the scientific evidence behind each result was well explained, though it was a shame I wasn’t able to access the citations documents to further explore. Overall, I thought this was an excellent test, that not only provided me with information about myself, but ways in which to use these insights to improve my lifestyle.

Full Review

Dr Dan Reardon, Dr Sam Decombel, Dr Stuart Grice and Mark Gilbert founded London-based company Fitness Genes in 2013. The company’s range of genetic tests focuses on helping customers reach their health and fitness goals by providing genetically-personalised information and advice. In addition to the results included in the genetic reports, Fitness Genes offers a range of workout and diet programmes to help individuals use their results to improve their lifestyles.

The tests provide recommendations for those aiming to get fitter, leaner, build muscle or lose weight. Whilst Fitness Genes doesn’t claim that genetics is the only answer, the company believes that personalised diets and exercise programmes are key tools in reaching these goals.

Product Expectations

The Fitness Genes website was easy to navigate and provided plenty of information about the products. The ‘Store’ page was split into four sections, each dedicated to one of four goals, ‘Get Fit’, ‘Get Lean’, ‘Lose Weight’ and ‘Build Muscle’. For each of these goals, there were three testing options which mainly seemed to differ by how many weeks the nutrition and workout programmes lasted for. All of the options included the ‘DNA Analysis’ product, accompanied by programmes specific to the goal. The DNA Analysis test was also available to buy alone, which is the option I went for. As well as the analysis itself, this included one-week trials of the ‘Workout Blueprint’ and ‘Nutrition Action Blueprint’.

A ‘How it works’ page explained the testing process in three steps, ‘Order’, ‘Spit’ and ‘Send’. It seemed like it would be pretty straightforward, but there was still plenty of detail provided about it. For example, I learnt that the sample would be stored in a special buffer that would preserve it while it travelled back to the lab. I was also pleased to read that return postage would be included, so I wouldn’t have to arrange sending it back.

Ordering Experience

To order the test, I entered my name, email and shipping address. When it came to payment, I was able to checkout using PayPal, Visa, Mastercard or Amex. I was pleased that shipping had already been included in the price.

Before completing the order, I took a look at the Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy. Most of what I saw was easy to understand and I appreciated the fact that Fitness Genes had emphasised important sections with the line, “THE ATTENTION OF THE SAMPLE PROVIDER IS PARTICULARLY DRAWN TO THESE RISKS AND CONSIDERATIONS”. Although the section that described how they would use my data didn’t contain anything I found particularly concerning, I was a bit confused by the line that stated, “Some of these activities may result in commercialisation with a third party”. I wasn’t quite sure what this meant, but was a bit worried that Fitness Genes could use this clause to sell my genetic data to third parties.

I was relieved, therefore, to read that I could contact them to opt out of allowing my genetic data to be used for anything other than my personal results. I could also request the destruction of my sample.

Once I’d completed my order, I was sent an email to confirm that it had gone through, and another once the kit had been shipped. When it arrived, it looked exactly like the one I’d seen on the website and the sample was simple to take, using the saliva collection tube. I registered the kit and took a survey about my lifestyle, which only took around five minutes to complete. I then put the sample back in the box, sealed it and popped it straight into the post-box.

The Results

It only took three days for my samples to reach the lab, which was all the more impressive considering that postage had been free. I received an email to confirm this, which also informed me that I could track the progress from my account. The results arrived four days before the date that had been estimated, which was a bonus.

The email I received provided a link to the login page. When I logged in, I was asked to fill in a few more details about myself, including my weight, height and health goal. This only took a couple of minutes and I was then taken to a dashboard. It showed the three sections of results, ‘DNA results’, ‘Workout plan’ and ‘Nutrition plan’.

Results Section: DNA Results

I looked through the DNA results first. There were 48 in total, shown in a table with three columns, labelled ‘Gene name’, ‘Associated with’ and ‘Result’. The top of the table is shown below.

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The top of my DNA Results table

The top of my DNA Results table

At first, I was a bit overwhelmed by the gene names and letters used for the result, but appreciated that this level of detail had been included. It was slightly frustrating not being able to see any of the outcomes in the table, meaning I had to click each individual one to find out what my result actually meant. However, I thought this was a good way to provide an overview of the results and I appreciated knowing what each was about before looking at it in more detail.

I had never heard of hypertrophy, so was particularly interested to find out more about this result (shown below).

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The explanation and global distribution of my A Gene for Hypertrophy result.

The explanation and global distribution of my A Gene for Hypertrophy result.

I was surprised to read that my result was quite rare, occurring in only 11% of the population. It was associated with low levels of body fat in response to resistance training. Although I was familiar with the phrase, I wasn’t actually sure what resistance training was. When I looked it up on Google I realised it was to do with strength-type exercises. Other than taking ballet lessons when I was at school, I haven’t done much of this type of exercise. However, this result definitely made me consider focussing more on these kinds of activities in future.

The second half of the result provided a more detailed ‘Personal Analysis’. I learnt that the gene was related to levels of something called ‘myostatin’ and that, as well as low levels of body fat, my result was associated with significantly higher muscle mass. Whilst I understood some of this, I found that quite a lot of the words used were unfamiliar to me and weren’t explained. Luckily, I later found a glossary that helped me to better understand these terms. Considering how helpful it was though, I was surprised that it hadn’t been easier to find directly from the results.

That said, there was an impressive amount of information included and I especially appreciated the ‘Research status quo’ section. It explained that more research was needed to work out why this result was associated with this response and suggested where future research might focus. In this case, I read that efforts were moving towards finding out why this result seemed to be associated with an opposite effect (loss of muscle mass and strength) in old age.

Beneath my Personal Analysis explanation was a ‘Learn more about MSTN’ section, again with lots of information. This started with more about the gene itself and how it’s association with hypertrophy had been studied. It then went on to answer some questions, such as ‘How can I keep my myostatin levels low?’.

I was pleased to see a citations document at the bottom of the page, though when I clicked to open it, I was shown an error message that said, “The resource you are looking for has been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable”. Unfortunately, this was the case for all of the results, so I hoped that it was just a temporary problem. I knew that Fitness Genes had recently upgraded their Members Area, so guessed that this might have been why.

Most of the results were formatted in the same way and, among other things, I found out that I was likely to be good at both speed and endurance activities, a fast metaboliser of caffeine and lactose intolerant. I was surprised by the last of these results, as I have never had problems eating dairy. However, it explained that as well as the gene tested, other genes and ‘colonic microflora’ were thought to have an impact on this trait. This made sense to me and I was pleased that it was explained so thoroughly.

The two results at the bottom of the table (‘Folate Levels’ and ‘Testosterone’) showed ‘See details’ in the Result column, rather than the letters provided for the rest of the results. I clicked them to see why this was and found out that these were based on the analysis of a number of genes, whereas the rest were based on just one each.

I didn’t actually receive a testosterone result. The explanation revealed that there wasn’t enough research on its effect in women for Fitness Genes to provide an accurate result. Whilst this was disappointing, I appreciated that, rather than using male-focussed research that would likely provide me with an inaccurate conclusion, they had been honest and explained why a result could not be provided.

Results Section: Workout

Once I’d had a look through my DNA results, I wanted to find out how they could be used practically. Fitness Genes provided both a workout and a nutrition plan, based on my survey data and genetics. Looking at the workout section, I was impressed with how easy it was to use, even for a complete beginner like myself. I was able to pick my skill level (Beginner or Intermediate) and whether I would just use my ‘Bodyweight’ or ‘Free weights’. I picked ‘Beginner’ and ‘Bodyweight’, which further personalised my workout.

The workout plan was split into seven days, with one ‘Home Workout’, one ‘Combi Day’, one ‘Cardio’ and four rest days (shown below).

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My Workout Plan.

My Workout Plan.

I was pleased that it included a variety of activities and that there were days without exercise, as this made it much more likely that I’d stick to the routine.

Looking at the detail, I was initially a little intimidated by the names of the various exercises. However, I soon realised that each could be clicked on to bring up a video demonstration and written explanation of how to do it. An example is shown below.

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One of my workout demonstrations.

One of my workout demonstrations.

I thought that this was an excellent feature. In addition to the clear instructions on the duration and intensity of the exercise, it made the workout simple to follow and, again, easier to stick to.

Results Section: Nutrition Guide

The final section to look at was the Nutrition Guide, which was bright and user-friendly. It started with a summary of the relative amounts of fats, proteins and carbohydrates I should be eating, as well as the number of daily calories to aim for (shown below).

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My Nutrition guide summary.

My Nutrition guide summary.

The pie chart was particularly useful, as it clearly showed the proportions of protein and carbohydrates I should be eating. As a pasta and bread addict, I was delighted to see that carbohydrates took up more than half of this chart!

The rest of this part of the report was split into two sections, ‘Daily Meal Planner’ and ‘Nutrition recommendations’. The first of these sorted my calories into meals and snacks. I was interested to see that breakfast was given the highest number of calories, and that I was advised to have three further meals. I thought it was a shame that this section couldn’t be edited, as my work schedule means that I can’t really add another meal to my day. However, it was useful to have a guideline and something to aim for in terms of how I was spreading my calorie intake across the day.

The Nutrition recommendations section provided an explanation of why my calories had been split into four rather than three meals. According to this, eating more frequent, lower calorie meals would help me to overcome my genetic predisposition to overeating. I was also recommended to include lots of protein in my breakfast, as this would help me to avoid over-eating later on in the day.

I found the snack advice helpful too. It clearly recommended that I snack as little as possible, but also provided practical ways to do this, such as drinking plenty of water and adding glutamine to it. I was also pleased to see that a post-workout snack was suggested.

The rest of this section provided advice relating to the main components of my diet (Fats, Protein, Carbohydrates, Lactose and Caffeine). The information about each of these was split into general descriptions and advice, then some suggestions based on ‘What your genes say’. I was also pleased that the lactose intolerance section recommended I could carry on eating dairy if I had no problems with it, despite being genetically intolerant.

Summary

The Fitness Genes ‘DNA Analysis’ test provided a brilliant range of insights and support that helped me take practical steps towards improving my lifestyle. The workout planner was a particular highlight and I was impressed with the demonstrations that made it easy to implement. Although the link between these exercise recommendations and my DNA results wasn't as clear as I thought it might be, the 'What your genes say' sections in my Nutrition guide highlighted these connections well.

I also felt that the scientific evidence behind each result was well explained, though it was a shame I wasn’t able to access the citations documents to further explore. Overall, I thought this was an excellent test, that not only provided me with information about myself, but ways in which to use these insights to improve my lifestyle.

Please note that we were invited to take the test free of charge.

See a description of this DNA test from Fitness Genes >