How do you keep your clients motivated?  With your enthusiasm?  With proof?  Keeping notes is one way to show the client what’s changed in their workouts over time.  Another method is with fitness assessments.  For those that like goals and achievement, it’s helpful to have numbers as proof.

Measurement for motivation

You could set up a spring incentive program for those that want to participate in friendly competition with themselves, their peers or the norms.  Call it “Spring Ahead”, “Spring into Summer” or “Spring into Shape”.  Offer measurement options to your clientele once a month during the next couple months so they can track progress and see how they’re doing.

Let’s review some of the fitness assessments you can use and what they measure.

Strength is the heart of personal training

Push ups, sit ups, planks, squats and wall sits are all exercises that have specific protocols and strength norms you can compare your client to.  Or, you can just compare the client to themselves.  This works well for those who are above the average norms or shy about comparison.  Some tests measure repetitions per minute, others measure time.

It’s important to follow the protocol if you want to compare to the norms.  You can measure any exercise progress by recording it, which was covered in this article.  If your client can hold a plank for 85 seconds, challenge them to make it to 90 next time.  Then, have them do it with one foot in the air.  The key is to have records.  Some people need to see the improvements to keep them going.

trainer and clientBalance is under-estimated

People often chuckle at this test, writing it off as simple – yet don’t usually perform very well at it.  Perhaps it’s the shoes we wear or the nature of our desk jobs that have weakened the foot muscles.  Standing barefoot with one in front of the other (tandem) for 30-60 seconds with arms across the chest and eyes closed is the standard for balance.

I hate to say it, but many personal trainers struggle to do this themselves!  Give it a try.  You can also measure single leg balance and time how long someone can hold it.  Have them come up to their toes if it’s too easy to stand flat footed.

Body Composition

Everybody knows that measuring weight loss on the scale is the least effective method for body composition.  This article covers the topic of measuring fat and size thoroughly.  Check it out.

Are they burning fats or carbs?

The Talk Test (Ventilatory Threshold 1 test) is usually done twice on different occasions to identify the heart rate in which a person crosses over from using fats for energy to using carbs.  Everybody wants to know when this happens!  When you initially challenge the cardiovascular system you take deeper breaths.  At a certain point (VT1) you take more frequent breaths.  This signals the threshold.

This can be measured by putting someone on a treadmill at a steady pace and small incline.  Ask them to recite something from memory.  Every 2-3 minutes increase the speed and incline very slightly and have them repeat their phrase.  Listen carefully and you’ll hear when they need to take more pauses in their speaking.  Note the heart rate when this happens and repeat the test again on a different day to double check.

Now, you can set up their cardio program more specifically.  Depending on their goals you might have them doing more cardio above VT1 or below it.

Recovery Heart Rate

The good ol’ step test!  You’ll need a bench that’s 12 inches high, a metronome, skills monitoring heart rate (or a monitor) and these directions.  This test measures how fast the heart adapts to a change in demand.  After three minutes of intensity the heart rate will be high, but should come down quickly once rest begins.

Keep it personal

Not all people like competition, which is why it’s important to know your client and what motivates them.  Some people have intrinsic motivation and love working out, while others need to see progress.  Even within the group that likes to see progress there are individual differences.  Some only want to be compared to themselves and others thrive off knowing how they match up to others in their age group.

Ask your clients if they’d be interested in measurements, tell them about the options and choose 3-4 assessments for them to monitor.  Or create a fun incentive program and let us know how it goes!

Beverly Hosford

Beverly Hosford, MA teaches anatomy and body awareness using a skeleton named Andy, balloons, play-doh, ribbons, guided visualizations, and corrective exercises. She is an instructor, author, and a business coach for fitness professionals. Learn how to help your clients sleep better with in Bev’s NFPT Sleep Coach Program and dive deeper into anatomy in her NFPT Fundamentals of Anatomy Course.