Trainer Corner: Power of Assessments in a Fitness Program
Jul 24, 2019
While the thought of taking a test can be intimidating to some, the fitness assessment is actually an incredibly beneficial tool that Fitness Together utilizes to help clients see the value of their efforts, as well as ensure that clients are progressing toward their goals. To get a better idea of why we do assessments and how they work, we spoke to Craig Garkie, owner of Fitness Together Lake Forest in the Chicago area, all about fitness assessments.
Garkie, with a background in wrestling, sports performance and strength training, began his career with Fitness Together as a trainer and fell in love with the personal feel of the studio and how trainers are given autonomy to help their clients be successful. He worked his way up to become a manager and eventually purchased his location and now serves as the owner — still working with clients of all levels each day.
According to Garkie, the Fitness Together fitness assessment process is what really sets the brand apart …
What is the Fitness Together assessment?
He said …
While different studios use different tools, the fitness assessment is a standardized set of tests that gives a client a big-picture view of their fitness and physical progress, beginning at the starting point and all along the way regularly during their journey of working with a trainer. It’s an essential part of the process.
In fact, based on the initial assessment that we complete when we start working with a client, we are able to put together a customized training program for them, taking into account goals, movement patterns and even contraindications. Moving forward, we follow up with ongoing assessments to check progress and adjust the plan as needed — utilizing both science and a bit of art to continue getting results.
How often are clients re-assessed?
Depending on the studio, most clients are assessed, or retested, every 6 to 8 weeks at Fitness Together, as part of our ongoing assessment program.
How long does the assessment take?
To complete a full assessment, it may take a whole 1-hour session. However, our trainers also offer the option to their clients to sprinkle the tests within the workout sessions during a whole week — and that’s best done with clients who train with us multiple times a week.
What exactly does the assessment entail?
The assessment includes some health and body measurements, as well as performance and fitness measurements.
We usually start by sitting down in a private office and checking a client’s blood pressure, heart rate, bodyweight, circumference measurements of the neck, shoulders waist, hip, thigh, calf, arm and forearm, as well as skin-fold caliper measurements to assess body-fat percentage.
Once those measurements are taken, we move into the performance part. We usually do a strength test, which includes bench pressing for 3 to 5 repetitions, then a squat test or a leg press test, a push-up or pull-up test (whichever is most appropriate for the client’s fitness level), and then we look at functional fitness. We may do some functional movement screens of the overhead squat movement pattern, flexibility and more. Finally, we conduct a cardio assessment, which may be a 1-mile run, a 5-minute incline walking test or something that is well suited for that individual client.
We repeat the same tests during each assessment to see the progress made.
How do you coach clients to deal with positive or negative results?
We love to discuss fitness assessment results with our clients. Not only are we are experts in the field and trained to do this type of thing, but we also know there is always something positive to share and something to work on too. Typically, we start out by pointing out the positive aspects, then we discuss how we can address the areas that are not moving forward in the right way. Clients always leave the fitness assessment discussion with actionable steps on how to proceed — and we give them all the tools they need to keep going.
In addition, we can occasionally find underlying issues based on assessments and can direct clients to speak with their doctor if they need care that goes beyond our scope of work.
How can someone do an assessment on themselves if they aren’t currently working with a trainer?
Everyone should be assessing themselves or working with a trainer who is assessing them — otherwise, you are just taking a stab in the dark at making changes in your life. If you don’t have a trainer, you can schedule an appointment with a doctor to do a physical on you. Then, you can ask a friend to help you with your circumference measurements. You can also log your energy levels and whether your clothes are fitting differently. Keep track of everything and revisit in 6 to 8 weeks down the road. It can be hard to see the changes you are making when you look at yourself every single day, but assessments will not lie.
Why are assessments important in a fitness program?
The assessment is the tangibility of working with a trainer. You may like the way you feel while working out and you may like the relationship you have with your trainer, but the assessment really serves are the scorecard that you can take away with you. In addition, the initial assessment is how your trainer creates the program and workouts that you will do, based on what you really need — so it’s incredibly important.
Also, we know that working with a trainer is an investment of time and money, and looking at key performance indicators (just as you would do in any business), is how you know you are investing in the right place. We use the tests to make sure what we are doing is working, we rely on science to make adjustments as needed, and we find that clients begin to trust us even more once they see the results on paper.
Finally, I think the regular assessments show how we are different from other gyms. There are no other gyms that give you this time and personalize it so much. This shows you how you get the whole package and why it’s worth the investment — and having that data from the assessments will make it that much easier to get where you are going.
To find a Fitness Together studio near you, visit here … https://fitnesstogether.com/personal-trainers-near-me