During a personal trainer’s fitness assessment, multiple questions are asked and short tests are done. These check a client’s current level of physical activity, general state of health, and possible injuries sustained, which each help the trainer be assertive to what the client’s physical capabilities are. These specific assessments also can make a trainer aware what limits they may have and which muscles are under-worked or overworked, so that they can then base the given workout routine on their client’s individual needs.
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Subjective information involves specific questions being asked by a personal trainer. Questions include medical history, occupation, hobbies, past injuries, chronic conditions and even medications they are on. Trainers are not just being nosy -- all of this information, as personal as it can seem, is critical for meeting the client's fitness needs and keeping their well-being. Medication use can have different physical effects on people, altering their abilities. For example, beta blockers, which are sometimes used to treat high blood pressure, can contribute to making a client feel easily lightheaded, which a trainer would need to be aware of in order to plan a routine accordingly and make adjustments for the client’s well-being.
Keeping the Heart in Check
The rest of the assessments done by trainers are considered objective-based information. Physiologic assessments include testing a person’s heart rate, pulse, and blood pressure. Resting heart rate is often checked to see the level of cardiovascular activity a client can safely endure and what intensity they will be able to start at. Pulse readings are checked on the inside of the wrist and also on the neck, to the side of the windpipe. On average, resting heart rates vary from 70 to 75 beats per minute in adults, but if yours is higher or lower, this will affect your fitness routine and can give a trainer information, such as disease risk.
Body composition assessments are also often completed, which involves measuring body fat, which is crucial for tracking a client's progress. It can be measured in a variety of ways, although some ways are considered to be more accurate. The most common ways that personal trainers calculate a client’s body fat is by skin-fold calipers, where specific areas are measured for the amount of fat that lies beneath their skin. Circumference measurements also provide feedback to a client looking to change their body composition and lose weight. Another way to measure body fat is underwater weighing, where a person’s overall density is measured, giving an accurate measure of their body weight to body volume ratio. This technique is often less easily attainable however, but considered very accurate.
Posture and Alignment
Posture and movement assessments are also common. These check for the alignment of the musculoskeletal system, which maintains your center of gravity. Observing posture by assessing basic functions, such as squatting, pushing, pulling, and balancing tells a trainer right away what areas of the body are overworked or under-worked. If the area(s) are overworked, this means the muscles need to be stretched and elongated. If the muscles are under-worked, they would need to be strengthened.
Depending on a client’s goals and abilities, further testing may be done, but these are considered more advanced and not generally done when a client initially starts a workout routine with a trainer. These assessments include testing upper body strength, typically using the bench press. Another type of advanced assessment tests lower-body strength, and is commonly done with a weighted squat. Each of these test what the client’s one repetition maximum is, meaning the most amount of weight they can lift to complete just one repetition of the exercise, usually for strength training goals. General fitness assessment can also include flexibility assessment and the client's performance of various exercises.