By Karyn Gallivan, MS, ATC, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, NASM-CPT
Contributor, Sports & Fitness Network
In the last installment (The Health & Fitness Assessment, Part III – Cardiovascular & Strength Testing), I discussed the heart rate, blood pressure, body composition, cardiovascular endurance, strength, and flexibility assessments as part of the fitness evaluation. This time, I’ll follow up with my thoughts on assessments in general. The assessments that I’ve discussed are only a fraction of what is available and, while all of these are not necessary, I would urge you to consider some version of an assessment. In my experience, it takes a long time for some folks to finally get started with a fitness program. Many years and life events have gone by and it is not uncommon for injuries and illnesses to accumulate. An assessment is nice because it give you a few points of comparison for a client who often doesn’t see their progress. Being able to see improvement with a few simple measures is often the motivation a client needs to continue.
Exercise testing is not an end in itself, but, rather, should be integrated into the assimilation of new members and their overall exercise program design. Assessments can be performed in a time-efficient manner that is safe and practical. There are numerous ways to use the testing experience to help educate your clients. For example, determining a client’s 10 RM as part the familiarization process to learn and practice new exercises as you design a circuit-training program. Through testing, you can maximize your ability to tailor a safe, effective program for each individual member. Further, by establishing a performance baseline, tangible evidence is gathered that can later be used to document fitness improvements attained through training. Such individual attention to your client’s initial fitness level will not only aid in exercise programming, but also will smooth the assimilation process, and increase overall client retention and fitness center profitability.