In 'Addressing the Basics of Client Assessment: The Intake Wizard' we discussed how critical it is to complete the Medical “Intake Wizard” with each client. Doing so raises any red flags a fitness professional needs to be aware of to best optimize a client's program design. Read 'Addressing the Basics of Client Assessment: The Intake Wizard' and download the Client Intake forms here.
This article focuses on the initial measurement and long-term tracking of body composition and why it is a critical aspect of the training and education process. Download this complimentary Body Comp Tracker to help you streamline the body composition process, making it more applicable to your training practice, not to mention making your life easier by organizing it all for you.
- Understand the rationale for collecting baseline Body Comp Data and tracking a client’s progress. AKA: The future “Standard of Care.”
- Download and learn how to use The Body Comp Tracker.
- Learn how to leverage database technology to inform and educate all clients of their progress, and to help grow your personal training business, regardless of your training style or business model.
Leveraging Technology & Body Comp Skinfold Tracking
Working smart and tracking progress keeps clients active in our programs. Technology makes this easy.
When building a business, there are so many things we need to organize and track, many times we miss half of them. The half we miss just may be preventing the growth of our business. Technology makes it easier to track anything with the click of a button, and Body Composition is only one of these things. So start putting this tracker to work!
Nothing validates our effectiveness as a trainer better than hard evidence of progress. Trainers can’t track what they don’t measure, which is exactly why running body comp measurements is an integral part of our initial consult and should continue through the lifecycle of our clients.
“Do you think I’m fat?”
Objective information is the facts.
Subjective information is always slanted by the client’s thoughts, and is oftentimes laced with drama and opinions. For instance: How a client THINKS they are doing. “Do you think I’m fat?”
Dealing with facts is much easier than dabbling with drama. When we hold clients accountable to the facts it makes our life easy, as well as the clients'. Plus, we give our clients something upon which to focus…instead of their drama.
This is Objective Feedback:
Data Points Are Facts Collected over Time … They Are Powerful
Successful businesses leverage technology to organize and streamline standard procedures, and that is why we are smart to do so in ours. Database technology simply organizes data points for us so we don’t have to…which saves us time and multiple headaches. The more data we have and manage, the more money we will make as fitness professionals.
Why do you think Google, Facebook and Amazon make so much money?
Because they are database driven businesses. And guess what? They are literally dominating the world. Now, imagine if we as trainers could add full-blown, cloud-based database technology to our training businesses.
You can get started on this road by using what could be considered a “mini-database," which tracks client body comp measurements and graphs the progress. That's what the Body CompTracker is for (see link at beginning of this article). This is a small step in leveraging technology, but will make the body comp tracking process easier.
When trainers are ready to invest in some additional technology, there are online, database-driven companies that have a complete system to which the Professional Trainer can subscribe. This type of "advanced" service puts an incredible amount of information at the fingertips of any Trainer. Never having to worry about back-ups, or upgrades, data will never be lost. This technology automatically organizes and generates reports at the click of a button, allowing the Professional Trainer to keep an accurate pulse on each client. The Data will always be available through any internet connection, on any device. Even if disaster strikes, all the data is secure.
Do clients want to be pinched? "My Doctor is going to do WHAT to me?"
This is often said, but is it true? What happens when we go to the Doctor? Talk about invasive… yet, we all accept the pokes, prods, and turn our heads and cough, and that’s just the guys.
I mean, they are the Doctor right?
The news is, as Trainers we are on the front lines of the health care industry. The “Standard of Care” … Body Comps and the collecting and tracking of progress as a means to inform and educate should be high on the list of priorities. If clients are apprehensive about tracking their results, it is probably because they don’t want to face the facts. Quite frankly, facing those facts head on is exactly what needs to happen to get them to start taking control.
Much like an Ostrich with its head in the sand. How long are we going to let our clients keep their heads in the sand?
Stepping out of Your Comfort Zone and Upping the Game
Sometimes it can be the Trainers who are apprehensive about running body comp numbers because THEY feel uncomfortable. Being nervous and uncomfortable at first is normal. The best thing to do? Practice on friends and family.
Growth is never done in a comfort zone. That is how we grow professionally. By embracing body comp techniques and technology, you can build a very sustainable training practice.
Using Data To Inform:
A few scenarios you may encounter:
- The client is killing it in the gym - getting stronger and more conditioned - but is gaining weight. You measure the client's body compostition and show them they gained some lean mass (Good) but also gained fat (Bad). Maybe it’s time they start addressing their diet/nutrition plan.
- The client's weight remains the same and they’re working out hard. Two months later, you run the body composition numbers and show them they gained 4 pounds of muscle and lost 4 pounds of fat (AWESOME).
- The client loses 8 pounds. You run their numbers and show them they gained 3 pounds of muscle and actually lost 11 pounds of fat (WOW).
- The client loses 8 pounds. They are doing a ton of cardio, but not enough strength training. You run their numbers and show them they’ve lost 2 pounds of fat and lost 6 pounds of muscle (Horrifying). They are metabolizing lean tissue. Time to address strength training needs, plus work on their protein and fat intake.
There are countless ways the numbers can manifest themselves. The numbers tell a story and that story is worth talking about as a means to inform and educate them through the training process.
If there are no numbers, there is no story.
Don’t Lose Out by Not Knowing What Is Really Happening
The Excel spreadsheet (Body Comp Tracker) will get you started. You may not be ready to take the plunge into hardcore simplified technology, but this is a huge step in the right direction. It is unbelievably useful, but it is only one aspect of what is now available in regards to client data.
The future of client assessments and addressing the basics in tracking client information and progress have been seamlessly integrated into more advanced online databases. These advanced databases allow clients to login from their own home to view the measurements/results you've gathered with them. You want your clients to play a more active role in their health / wellness program and implementing this technology makes that possible.
Don’t Cheat Your Clients of a Learning Opportunity
If Trainers don’t have objective information, they’re only guessing at what is happening. The more conscious our clients are, the more progress they will make. If we choose to be unconscious as Trainers, we get in the way of our client's progress.
Here’s what to do next …
Put the Body Comp Tracker spreadsheet to work. You will love it, your clients will love it (particularly, when they start making progress). View the video link on the spreadsheet to learn how best to use it. It isn’t the latest technology, but this "mini-database" is a great start … and it is free!
Heyward, V., Stolarczyk, L. (1996). Applied Body Composition Assessment. Human Kinetics.
Roitman, J. (2001). ACSM’s Resource Manual. Philadelphia. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Clark, M., Scott, L., and Rodney, J. (2008) NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training. Philadelphia. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.