Why do we assess clients when 90% of Gyms and Trainers Don’t?

Can you imagine going to the mechanic for car trouble and having them immediately tell you what you need to do to fix/improve the situation with absolutely no diagnostic process on their part? As in you walk in and within 5 minutes, without even knowing which car is yours, they have the solution/prescription. No conversation with you about where the car came from, how you drive it, last time it was serviced, what year it is etc.?

Not that your fitness goals are exactly analogous to car problems :).

There would be a disconnect right? If it really happened literally like that you would immediately be suspect of the situation and probably not pay them money to work on your car.

Well how about your body?

In the fitness industry this is par for the course. Why? Here are some possible reasons:

  • The coach or trainer has never received instruction on how and why to do a comprehensive client assessment. I would argue this is the MOST common scenario with many of the well known fitness certifications.
  • The pre-packaged business model of move em’ in move em’ out simply does not permit for that kind of time, care or level of competency. To really assess clients and begin to come up with a well thought out, informed program for them takes a lot of experience and effort. The vast majority of the fitness industry is based on image, gimmicks and anyone and everyone calling themselves a coach or trainer in order to do business.
  • The paradigm or methodology does not permit for true individual considerations. IE everyone is going to do 5 Rounds of 5 Muscle Ups and 7 185# Squat Cleans and if you can’t then you’ll just fake it or go lighter. Or, everyone just needs to train at a HR of such and so beats per minute for so many minutes over so many intervals and that will be the answer to your fitness journey.

So… why do we do assessments at Balance Athletics?

  • We work hard to do it better. We have put in the time and money honing our craft over the years in order to deliver QUALITY.
  • How can I call myself a coach and in good conscience give someone a fitness program without knowing ANYTHING!? Maybe that person is a night shift worker. That actually affects my advice for them in terms of their training. What if they are a power field sport player and I am giving them a bunch of long aerobic exercise because I simply don’t have the tools or knowledge to give them the kind of program they need? Even for our group classes we have an interview period where we take some time to learn about the client.
  • What if they have significant shoulder/thoracic issues. If I don’t expose that what might be the consequences of having them do a shitload of overhead repetitions over the next 6 months of their training?
  • If over the course of a preliminary assessment the client presents clearly lacking in upper body strength, and wants to pass the physical test to be a firefighter, their training needs to SPECIFICALLY address those shortcomings.

I get it that if you are going to a spin class to lose 10 lbs that you will in all likelihood be just fine, not get injured and not require any kind of real coaching or expertise. That’s fine.

In fact we are getting ready to roll out a very simple, no nonsense, no learning, no commitment group exercise class at our gym. However, we are going to be very clear in communicating what it is and what it isn’t. So that those who will be served well by it will know they came to the right class and those that want something more will clearly understand they need to choose a higher order of service.

If you are going to make the commitment and pay for small group classes, semi-private instruction, personal training or education on higher skill work and movements you should be asking some questions of your prospective coach. And they shouldn’t be answering them without a reasonably thorough investigation into your person and function first.

So when you are searching for the solution to your fitness needs make sure and take the time to look beyond appearances and make sure that your coach/facility has competency and a product that is on par with your needs and expectations.