The Future of Personal Fitness
The health/fitness club industry is now positioned to take its services to a new level. By integrating modern technology with fitness and nutrition science, we can create a framework through which fitness staff can work with each client - a fully integrated testing, training, and nutrition system grounded in science, meticulous attention to detail, and quality assurance - one that will set the standard for the fitness industry in the 21st century. It is driven by technological advances, fitness science research, and a growing realization that the absence of a proactive, “ahead-of-the-curve” assessment with follow-up training and a nutritional program is one of the most noticeable voids in the industry.
Personal Fitness Profile
The most important step in this system (or any training system focused on making meaningful changes) is to ‘face the facts’ with a proactive, “ahead-of-the-curve” assessment focused on uncovering a client’s strengths, weaknesses, and individual differences. Though the system can operate in a stand-alone profit center, it is specifically designed to function as part of a total training continuum in which testing results are part of a greater whole.
The components of this ‘reality check’ are intended to start peeling back the layers to see what’s really inside - identifying exactly where clients are relative to where they should be - inside and out. This provides a means by which a fitness staff can identify barriers to super fitness, focus goals, ignite motivation, and ultimately make the individual changes needed to reach specific goals.
More than fifty highly predictive measures of health, fitness, performance capacity, and biological age, known as biomarkers, help pinpoint individual needs. These include: a CardiO2 profile (the heart, lung, and muscle energy systems response to exercise); resting metabolic rate; body composition and type based on air displacement technology and computerized somatotyping; a comprehensive blood biochemistry, muscular fitness functional analysis; extensive nutrition profile and nutrient prescription based on thermogenics, diet composition and blood chemistries; and a series of proprietary inventories to assess quality of life, stress/recovery capacity, and longevity index. These biomarkers are physiological reflections of a client’s current functional status and barometers of change over time. They’re quantifiable and predictable for a certain age and can therefore help pinpoint functional age. These biomarkers are ahead of the curve in health/fitness/aging science, and allow prescription of individual strategies to help achieve goals.
At the conclusion of each assessment, an individual profile is created. In a complete results portfolio, results are interpreted and explained. Staff will learn more about the needs of each client, identify risk factors, set goals, and custom design programs. The extent of this preliminary assessment will depend on the desires of the client, the expertise of the staff, and the equipment available.
Facing the facts is only the first stage; the groundwork must be laid for the follow-up nutrition and training programs in which each client becomes an individual case-study, which can establish baseline physiological blueprints, prescribe follow up strategies, monitor responses over time, and modify strategies based on those responses. This is not a one time, one size fits all approach, but rather a system for life based on sequential testing and follow-up over the years. The key to success is in fact the serial measurements over time which can be used to identify specific needs and direct the course of individual programming. In those instances when a particular measure starts to move in the wrong direction (whether aerobic/muscular fitness, blood lipids, or body composition) fitness staff will be able to address this issue in a timely fashion. The only limitation in the capacity to help a client will be the number of times the client accesses these services.
The benefits for both the facility and the client are significant. For the facility, the more it knows about clients, the more it can help them reach their goals, which in turn promotes (1) enhanced client retention, (2) appeal to (recruit) new clients, and (3) additional revenues. Not only does testing represent a significant profit center in and of itself; it is the lynchpin for virtually all other programming in the club, including personal training, nutrition, weight loss, clinical, sport specific, and wellness programs. Driving success in these programs will translate into a significant increase in the bottom line.
For clients, the results of these tests should be viewed as a means to an end as well as an end in themselves. That is, they not only identify individual goals but also help chart a roadmap to reach those goals. The results identify their specific physiologic blueprints to show exactly where they are relative to where they should be and, therefore, what impact their current lifestyle and genetics have had on their physiology over the years. This not only identifies individual strengths but shows critical weaknesses blocking the path. The results arm staff and nutritionists with the information needed to design follow-up training, nutrition, and lifestyle strategies and insure the safety of exercise participation.
More than that though, testing results are a powerful source fueling motivation in clients to reach the goals set and fostering reinforcement for maintenance once achieved. Most clients are inherently curious about how their scores compare with others their age and sex. Our goal is to get each and every client into the 75th percentile (very good to excellent category) for each measure, which is consistent with good health, functional fitness, and performance. This places them in the low risk category for various chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
Test results are also used to monitor progress and determine whether or not the desired goals are reached in a timely fashion and if not, why not. This will help staff address any roadblocks encountered along the sometimes winding path to reaching client goals. These tests will also make clients aware of factors that influence their overall health, fitness, and well-being and they therefore function as an important educational tool. The follow-up results presentation serves as a unique educational opportunity to discuss exactly what the results mean to them and what they have to do to reach their goals. Finally, monitoring results over time helps identify individual differences. Ultimately, it is identifying individual differences that will drive the success of the program.
There is considerable difference between what is currently being offered and this system. Virtually all current programs employ rough estimates of fitness, little precision or ‘integrity in numbers’, virtually no consistency in repeated measures, and no true follow-up based on results to specific training and nutrition strategies. This is not a one time, one size fits all approach, but is rather a systematic individualization of lifestyle needs based on sequential testing over time. Unlike the health care community which explores outside the numbers (reference ranges) to identify significant pathology, we go inside the numbers to pinpoint physiological fitness and individuality - by identifying follow-up strategies, and modifying those strategies over time based specifically on follow-up testing. This will be a most significant addition to the health/fitness industry over the next decade and will further differentiate your clients’ training and nutrition programs and results from others.