Oliver Mansfield, 25, is one of the UK’s most qualified fitness trainers. Apart from being an American Sports Medicine Health Fitness Instructor, his expertise also includes holding a Masters in Active Sports Massage and being a CHEK practitioner (Corrective High Performance Exercise Kinesiology), Mansfield is also a keen video gamer. Sam Fisher – to whom Mansfield bears more than a passing resemblance – is one of his on screen heroes.
Mansfield has been given a sneak preview of the new game Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Double Agent which was released on 20 October on the Xbox 360, with PC, Xbox, PlayStation 2, and Nintendo GameCube versions following on the 27th. Mansfield gives us some tips on how you can get a mind and body like Fisher’s, and how - while playing a video game - you can get some exercise too.
In his latest role Sam - for the first time ever - has to become a double agent. He has chosen to take on one of the most dangerous missions in his career and must infiltrate a terrorist cell intent on carrying out catastrophic attack on the world.
According to Mansfield, “The key is being optimal - having a balanced body, mind and spirit. The body isn’t just a simple structure of muscles and bones. It’s a system of systems. You have a hormonal system, a digestive system and a muskeletal system. If one system is unbalanced, it can overflow into another system. The key is to balance them all to an ideal position”.
Sam Fisher’s training in the gym would require a vast array of integrated exercises. Movements which could, if used correctly, make the difference between a mission’s success or failure - perhaps even death. Lifting a hostage onto your shoulders would involve a squat and shoulder press, which could be made into a fluent exercise - testing his body as a whole, including balance and the nervous system.
He would also need to focus on his breathing and energy. In Double Agent, Sam needs to make the correct decisions without letting his surroundings affect or bother him. When using his sniper rifle he must be able to slow down and stop his breathing for total accuracy. Mansfield believes that correct breathing - taking deep calming breaths and being able to hold your breath - is a real skill which people in every walk of life should learn to use to help their systems remain calm and collected.
With his staggering range of movements, such as twisting, lunging, squatting, pushing and pulling, Sam must also have good alignment of the spine. If the spine is too rounded it can’t rotate properly, taking out half of its range of movement. This is also important for us in our everyday life as it impacts every movement from walking to sitting while playing a computer game.
People are spending an ever-increasing amount of time at computers - either at work, on the Internet or playing games such as Double Agent, meaning that posture is particularly important. Often, we just slump or slouch, bad habits which, according to Mansfield, not only induce laziness but also cause muscle imbalances which can lead to injury and headaches, and restrict blood flow to the lungs and the heart.
Making the effort to sit up on a chair - not using the back rest - as well as lifting the chest and drawing the shoulders back can make you look much better, with a long stomach, lifted chest and impressive stature. The hunched back look has to go, both to improve appearance and general fitness. Proper posture allows the lungs to supply the body with fresh oxygen, which in turn helps the brain. So, not only do your in-game reactions speed up, but you begin to balance out your system of systems when the mission ends.
Mansfield says: “Just making these simple changes will make a real difference, ensuring that you will be able to accomplish your missions - just like Sam Fisher”.
Alternatively, you might decide to join the Army.