While acquiring new clients isn’t much of a problem for many PTs, data suggests that retaining them is. High client retention is a desirable benchmark for personal trainers and can lead to a steady income, a reputation boost, an increase in referrals, and the opportunity to work with clients long-term.
For clients, various factors can prove obstacles to committing to working with a PT long-term, including cost, motivation, and the perceived value of the service being offered.
Structured progress testing and tracking through fitness testing offers clients concrete “proof” of their hard work, boosting motivation and increasing the psychological appeal of sticking with a program.
If you’ve considered integrating fitness testing into your personal training programs, then this article is for you. In this blog, we’ll consider the benefits and limitations of fitness testing for personal trainers — what can fitness testing offer your clients?
What is Fitness Testing?
Starting a client relationship with a fitness assessment is a great way to assess your client’s current fitness level.
There are a variety of types of fitness tests available that can assess:
- Body composition
- Cardiovascular endurance
- Muscle power & strength
- Muscular endurance
- Flexibility & functional movement
- General health
- Sport-specific skills
It won’t always be necessary or relevant to your client to complete all of these; rather, it can be beneficial to select a couple of baseline tests that relate to your client’s fitness goals.
Best fitness tests for personal trainers
If you’re looking to offer your clients tangible progress tracking, the best tests to offer are those that directly relate to your clients’ fitness goals.
RMR testing allows you to accurately measure your clients’ resting metabolic rate, taking the guesswork out of meal planning for weight loss, maintenance, or muscle gain.
Cardiovascular capacity is best tested using the VO2 Max test (or FatMax test for clients with health contraindications or a lower overall fitness level). These tests can assess aerobic endurance and identify optimum training intensities for carbohydrate and fat burning.
A DEXA scan for bone density can identify the level of risk of osteoporosis or oestopoenia, a particularly useful testing option for mature or post-menopausal clients.
Blood tests can be a quick way to assess your clients’ overall health and identify any areas of potential concern, such as high cholesterol or diabetes risk. If warranted, this may involve a prompt to follow up with a GP or practitioner.
Finally, a functional movement assessment can quickly identify any muscular or strength imbalances which may be affecting your clients’ athletic performance.
Progress begins with knowing what to work on!
Why is Fitness Testing Important for Personal Trainers?
Benefits and limitations of fitness testing
If you’re interested in expanding your personal training to include fitness testing, it’s worth considering the pros and cons of fitness testing within the context of personal training.
First, let’s take a look at the benefits of health and fitness testing:
Assess general health
At a basic level, it’s a great idea to complete a basic fitness evaluation prior to starting a training program with a client to assess their general health. Ask your client about their medical history, especially any medical conditions or injuries that might impact their ability to train. You might also choose to take baseline measurements of:
- Resting heart rate (RHR)
- Resting blood pressure (RBP)
Establish baseline measurements to track progress over time
The next benefit of fitness testing for personal trainers is the ability to establish accurate baseline measurements.
Having a concrete understanding of your client’s health, fitness, and strengths and weaknesses not only lets you build a personalised training program that will maximise their results, but it also gives you the ability to use objective measures to track their progress over time.
For clients with a goal of weight loss or body recomposition, body composition testing, in particular, can give clients motivation to focus beyond the scale, and offer insight into more “hidden” metrics such as visceral fat, muscle mass, and fat distribution.
Identify strengths and weaknesses & establish training goals
Fitness testing can be massively helpful in providing clients with a well-rounded view of their health and fitness.
Understanding your clients’ strengths and weaknesses can help you optimise their training time by focusing efforts on areas that will maximise their progress.
Taking baseline measurements can help you devise a program that meets a client where they’re at, maximises their strengths, and builds on their weaknesses.
Customise metrics based on client goals
Fitness testing isn’t a one-size-fits-all assessment.
Depending on the fitness level, training goals, and timeline of your client, you might choose to offer a variety of fitness tests, a specific test, or none at all.
While monitoring measurements such as weight and body fat can be a useful strategy, fitness testing opens the door to monitoring that reflects a more diverse range of goals, from body recomposition to improving cardiovascular endurance, training for a specific event or competition, or improving longevity.
Maintain client motivation and morale
One of the most powerful benefits of fitness testing is that insight into fitness level and progress can keep client motivation high. Being able to view and quantify progress can be incredibly validating of the hard work put in, and drive clients to keep showing up.
Schedule fitness tests at intervals to keep morale high, create accountability, and gauge the efficacy of a fitness program.
Limitations of fitness testing
While fitness testing can be a fantastic tool for personal trainers, it isn’t without its limitations. Fitness testing isn’t able to:
- Offer a medical diagnosis
- Replace professional medical care
- Identify the root cause of a test result (such as low bone density)
- Identify the cause of low metabolism
For this information, clients should seek advice from a medical professional.
Offer Your Clients the Gift of Fitness Testing with My Vital Metrics
Want to increase the value you offer your PT clients, at no additional cost?
Affiliating with My Vital Metrics gives you access to the highest quality of fitness testing equipment, including DEXA testing for body composition and bone density, VO2 Max and FatMax testing for aerobic endurance, and RMR testing to accurately determine caloric requirements.
Diversify your programmes, broaden your client base, and boost your revenue through fitness testing with My Vital Metrics.
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