Written by Master Coach, Kimberley Leggett
When a new client comes to you for the first time, it is ESSENTIAL to run through a pre-screening assessment! Why? By doing so, you are going to be able to develop a training program that is tailored to accommodate the clients body type, health status as well as their fitness goals. This is not only a win for you as the coach by ensuring the program covers all the clients needs but for the client this ensures that they will build their fitness levels at a safe, healthy pace whilst MINIMIZING RISK of injury and MAXIMIZING RESULTS!
Pre-screening is used to identify clients who may have medical conditions which put them at a higher risk of injury during physical activity. It is a ‘safety net’ to help determine if the benefit of exercise outweigh the risk for a client.
We pre-screen clients to:
- Assess their readiness for exercise
- Identify high risk clients who require medical clearance before they start training
- Educate the client about any health risks associated with lifestyle behaviours
- Establish benchmarks
- Reveal likes, dislikes, aptitude’s etc.
- Protect your own liability as a coach from litigation
- Maximize the benefits for the client
The pre-screening process is often completed by the client filling in a Pre-Screening Form upon their first visit to the gym which covers the compulsory clearance questions required for an adult to be allowed to exercise:
These questions are related specifically to a clients medical history which will assess their readiness for exercise and risk of injury. The next set of questions collect anthropometric data such as a clients weight, height and activity level. As seen below, this data is useful as it acts as a starting point for where the client is currently at with their body composition. This information will later be used as a reference point when the client is underway in their fitness journey.
This pre-screening assessment can be done during an initial consultation with a client. This will also be when you run through any other additional questions you need in order to put together a training and nutrition program for the client. This client assessment is individual to what you as the coach wishes to know from the client that is separate from the pre-screen that helps you understand the clients lifestyle, routine and/or their current health status that can help or hinder their progress.
Areas of interest that you can explore as a coach during the client assessment can include:
- Energy levels
- Gut health
- Hormone health
Collecting this information, coaches need to look for diagnosed diseases, signs of un-addressed metabolic disease, factors and behaviours which increase disease risk, previous or current signs of injury, and medications and prescription drugs. This helps build the bigger picture for you as the coach to examine in order to safely and effectively construct an effective training program for the client.
When reviewing any client assessments, remember that not all health risks are visible and could be taking place within the clients body (i.e. high blood pressure, scoliosis etc). It is also important as a coach to refer a client onto a professional before embarking on a fitness journey with a client who has any existing conditions which you are unfamiliar or not confident with. Both the clients health and your reputation as a coach could be compromised.
- Norton, K. And Norton, L. (2011). Pre-exercise screening: Guide to the Australian adult pre-screening system. Exercise and Sports Science Australia, Fitness Australia and Sports Medicine Australia. Retrieved from: https://bp-fitnessaustralia-production.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/uploaded_file/file/195/Australian-Adult-Pre-Exercise-Screening-Textbook.pdf