A fitness assessment consists of multiple components that, when analyzed concurrently, allow for improved ability to design programs suited to the client’s individual needs.
Medical history is important for laying a foundation of the client’s present state either as-diagnosed by a medical professional or presented by the client themselves. These may include conditions, surgeries, medications, and other physiological health status indicators.
General history reveals the client’s lifestyle conditions which impact their level of fitness. This is important to understand which physical activities may lead to improved program adaptation and includes details such as occupation, repetitive movements, recreation, and hobbies.
Sources for the above subjective information at a minimum include a PAR-Q or Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire. The literature provides a sample that includes 7 questions; however, these client-answered surveys are a great resource to use to address all of the aforementioned points.
Physiological assessments, which include heart rate and blood pressure both during exercise and at rest, are valuable in determining the client’s overall cardiorespiratory health. They can be used to establish baselines as well as to measure progress. One such assessment of this is to measure the resting heart rate by checking the radial pulse gently while the client is calm. The maximum heart rate can then be roughly estimated using the straight percentage method.
Body composition testing compares the mass of fat versus fat-free tissue which can identify health risks and be used to monitor changes throughout the program. Perhaps the most common way of obtaining these values, albeit discounting the amount of visceral fat, is through the skin fold test. Other methods, such as bioelectric impedance, air displacement, or even x-ray (DEXA) are possible at varying levels of cost and accuracy.
Cardiorespiratory assessments are important to set a baseline for safe and effective levels of intensity based on the client’s current state. The Rockport Walk Test is one such method during which the client walks a distance of 1 mile as fast as is controllable on a treadmill. The duration and client’s heart rate are then used in conjunction with their age, gender, and weight to calculate the VO2 score as an indicator for suggested heart rate zones.
Static assessments reveal what the body’s starting point for any movement will be as all movement stems from a base position resulting from neuromuscular relationships, joint mechanics, and possible injuries. The most consistent way to assess this is by utilizing the Kinetic Chain Checkpoints; Foot and ankle, knee, lumbopelvic-hip complex, shoulder complex, and head. This should be viewed from the anterior, lateral, and posterior perspectives.
Dynamic assessments partner with static assessments in that they may further reveal the body’s present functional state. The OHSA (Overhead Squat Assessment) is a powerful way to achieve this. Again viewed from both anterior and lateral perspectives, the OHSA allows the trainer to view any arches, pronation, leans, or otherwise that could potentially increase the risk of injury without addressing through visual and other cues.
Performance assessments allow the trainer to understand the client’s level of stability, agility, strength, and endurance. These are more often used for clients looking to achieve greater athletic performance but are not without their benefits for general use under the right circumstance. The Shark Skill Test is one such method that involves hopping in a defined pattern through a series of 9 squares.