Preparing Your Fitness Clients for Physical Assessments

Health and physical assessments are integral to the personal training experience. When working with clients, it is not possible to overcommunicate or overprepare — especially for a client who is new to a gym or personal training experience. While clients may have a basic understanding of what they will do during a session (move), they can benefit from clear, specific instructions. Here are two ways to better prepare your clients for their work with you, especially with regard to physical assessments.

Preparing Clients for a Physical Assessment Session

The assessment process and protocols you select will vary based on a client’s goals, intentions, and health status. However, preparing your client for any assessment, physical or resting measurements (BP, HR, BIA, etc.) requires more than just telling them to show up in comfortable workout attire and athletic shoes. For my clients (and myself), I like to use a checklist. Checklists provide structured reminders about important tasks and organizational requirements needed to run a successful session.

The following checklist is what I use to help me structure my “before the session” communication to my clients. As I create the written communication, I include detailed information about each of the following points.

Client Checklist

Client Communication PointsExplain the testing protocol(s) and purpose of each to my clientCompletedExplain when the tests will be terminated (presence of signs, symptoms, or form deteriorates)Instruct my client to be:

· Well-rested

· Fueled

· Hydrated

· Free of illness or injury

Confirm if my client is on any medication or has used any stimulantExplain the warm-up procedureRemind client to wear comfortable workout attire, shoes, and to bring a water bottle.

The Professional’s Checklist

On the day of the assessment session, I ensure the following tasks are completed before my client arrives.

Personal Trainer Assessment PreparationOrganize equipment and assessment stationsCompletedCalibrate and test equipment where necessaryProtocol and recording sheets are in orderAssessment environment is:

· Clean

· At the appropriate temperature and humidity

· Quiet/free of distractions

· Private for any body composition measurements

Timing and sequencing of tests are in orderEmergency protocols and contact information are readily availableAsk client if they have questions or concernsRemind clients that they can stop any tests at any point

When conducting assessments, it’s a good idea to have a Plan B if you find a piece of equipment is not functioning adequately. Ideally, if you are conducting multiple assessments, schedule them over a couple of sessions. For example, you can conduct resting measurements, a cardiorespiratory fitness test, postural assessments, and flexibility/mobility tests on a single day. This would be followed by muscular strength and endurance assessments on a different day.

However, in most cases, you and your client will select 2–3 assessments to conduct. It’s rare when a client needs or wants a full battery of assessments unless they are highly interested in multiple benchmarks and/or the client has a performance-based goal.

Being adequately prepared and adequately preparing your clients for what any session will entail before the session begins is a high mark of professionalism, efficiency, and effectiveness.

Originally published on the NFPT Blog Site.

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Erin Dollison Nitschke

Passionate college educator, writer, and health and fitness professional. I am an NFPT-CPT, NSCA-CPT, ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist, ACE Health Coach, & Pn1.