Most people are motivated to begin an exercise regimen in an attempt to change their aesthetics not necessarily to improve their physical performance. However, it is imperative for a professional trainer to provide a process for discovering a client's performance needs in order to effectively design their exercise and therapy programs. The primary purpose of any fitness assessment should be to determine a person's true exercise needs, which are quite often not related to their goals for exercising. But remember, "If you are not assessing, then you are only guessing."

 

AIM Assessment Plan

            In the last three years, the TELOS Fitness Center has captured three IHRSA Nova 7 Awards, one of which was in the fitness assessment and prescription category. The measurable success of our Advanced Integrated Movement (AIM) plan can be seen through the profitable results we have found thus far; and the importance of a comprehensive assessment can be clearly seen in our business as a whole. The AIM assessment not only provides a comprehensive process to provide our professional trainers with the critical anatomical and biomechanical information needed to design the most efficient, corrective and performance-enhancing exercise programs out there, but also helps to educate members on the value and benefits of utilizing an integrated approach towards fitness which often includes not only our professional trainers, but also dieticians, clinical massage therapists, MAT (Muscle Activation Technique)

specialists, chiropractic care and possibly could extend outside our network to physical therapists, doctors and surgeons. The assessment helps to determine which combination of these services would best help each member overcome joint limitations, reduce pain, correct postural deviations and eliminate muscular imbalances that impede optimal performance. 

            My original motivation began with the realization that the fitness industry had traditionally lacked bio-mechanically based assessment systems that legitimately helped the trainer to determine postural deviations, movement deficits and muscular imbalances of the individual. Without access to this type of information and training on how to utilize it, I find it virtually impossible for a trainer to be empowered to design or implement a truly effective exercise program. The AIM program was created through years of assessment experience and research that combines the contributions of several top experts and scientific authorities on such areas as anatomical design, muscular physiology, joint structure and function, neuro-mechanics and motor learning.

 

"Assessing" the AIM Process

            The AIM assessment begins with a comprehensive interview to determine the individual's medical and health history, dietary and present lifestyle habits. This personal interview is followed by the measurements of the client's height, body weight, body fat and circumference. This data identifies a starting point that is used for future comparisons to gauge portions of the exercise program's effectiveness for changing the body's shape. The assessment can also include metabolic testing and dietary analysis to determine the proper caloric intake and nutrient percentages necessary to provide optimal health and to improve aesthetics. However, this information has the least impact on the direction and design of the initial exercise program as it is the performance of the body, rather than its look, that is the priority of the AIM assessment. Our process combines the results of several detailed assessments including a postural analysis, core function tests, joint-by-joint mobility and stability analysis, general movement pattern analysis, gait analysis and cardiovascular testing.

 

Postural Analysis

            Our postural analysis requires hours of hands-on practical training and repetitive practice in order for our specialist to become skillful with this tool. With a skillful practitioner, a postural analysis can identify structural deviations that relate to specific muscular imbalances, predict general movement pattern deficits and prognose gait compensation. As such, we are now able to immediately begin mentally designing a person's corrective exercise program by simply, but thoroughly, examining their posture. However, no actual conclusions are finalized, and the program is not finished until all assessments have been completed. 

 

Movement Pattern and Gait Analysis

            The general movement pattern and gait analysis is based on motor learning and human development science. Research has supported the theory that the human body, though complex in design, operates primarily from simple, yet efficient, general movement patterns that help us to best interact with our environment. These general movement patterns are typically developed by age two and then further refined as we grow and learn to better coordinate our movements. Over time, injury, joint deterioration, muscular imbalances, exposure to repetitive inefficient movement patterns, age and disease all contribute to a loss of general movement pattern efficiency and induce compensational movement. The AIM assessment is designed to help the trained professional identify movement pattern deficiencies and compensations that can often be corrected through a properly designed exercise program.

 

The Joint mobility and Stability Assessment

            The isolated joint analysis is conducted primarily on a table as the trained specialist carefully assesses active range of ' motion and stability strength of each joint, moving from the toes all the way to the cervical spine leaving no joint untested. This process includes in-depth assessment of core muscle control and detailed spinal movement analysis. Assessment protocols that attempt to test core strength by simply performing certain trunk movements will fall short of discovering the factors that may be inhibiting optimal spinal movement. Once completed, the trainer can piece together the numerous combinations of joint restrictions and instabilities discovered that correlate with the postural deviations and general movement pattern compensations. This now enables the specialist to draw conclusions as to what key joint movements and muscular imbalances need to be addressed to provide for improved function and overall enhanced performance.

 

The Business Rewards of AIM

            The AIM assessment takes a minimum of three sessions to complete and is the primary feature we offer, complimentary, as part of our new member integration system. This assessment is also a standalone product that is available for existing members as well as non-members for a fee. The AIM assessment has also been key in developing a physician and therapist referral program that provides a constant trickle of new potential members for TELOS. As of the last two years, we have averaged almost an 80% conversion rate of new and existing members who complete the AIM process and then choose to continue to work with their professional trainer on a regular or periodic basis throughout the year. Simply stated, what started out as the desire to efficiently assess the needs of our members and clients in order to best help them achieve optimal fitness has quickly become our number one member marketing, professional training sales and member retention tool we have to date. The results in every way have far outweighed the efforts and expense it took to develop the AIM assessment.  

 

            Everett Aaberg is a co-owner and the Director of Education and Fitness Services for TELOS Fitness Center. He has served as a Director of Personal Training for International Athletic Club Management. For more information on Everett or his assessment program, visit www.telosperformancecenter.com or email him ateaaberg@telosfitnesscenter.com.

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