Assessing, Programming and Progression Methods for Clients

Erik Johnson Fitness, Mindset, Programming, Science

As the New Year begins, many people are in a mindset that there is no better time to get in shape and be healthy than right now.  That’s awesome! Unfortunately, we also see how many of these people fall off the train within a month or two. How do you avoid that pitfall? Here at NAKOA Fitness & Physical Therapy, we believe in the importance of properly assessing individuals, safely programming to their needs and wants, as well as safely progressing them on a continuum in order for them to achieve, and then set new goals for the future.  This philosophy is obviously important for the private coaching client but needs to be administered for the group members as well in order to ensure adherence to the program and for safely advancing to new goals.

At NAKOA, we believe in the importance of a proper and thorough assessment before beginning any program.  This encompasses a basic medical and injury history, goal setting, movement assessment screens, and benchmark tests.  If your facility or coach does not perform this type of thorough assessment with you before you begin, you should be concerned.  There is so much information that can be gleaned from this type of assessment, plus it begins the relationship between the client and the coach and enables the coach to begin to formulate a plan that the two will undertake in order to reach those goals.  

Goal setting is an important conversation to have and in most cases takes more than a few prying questions to get to the heart of a client’s goals.  Simply saying, “I want to lose weight and feel fit” is not a valid goal.  As a coach, you must dig deeper.  How much weight does the client want to lose?  What does “feeling fit” really mean?  Does feeling fit mean fitting in a size smaller clothes, or does it mean feeling how you felt when you were in the best shape of your life?  Those can be very different goals, so we need to get SMART.  Every individual needs to have a SMART goal.  SMART goals are:

Specific,

Measurable,

Achievable,

Realistic, and

Timely

This concept is what sets the foundation for developing specific programs for clients and ensures that results can be tested to determine the efficacy of the program and how to further progress.  At the end of the program were the desired results achieved?  If not, why, or what could have been done differently?  If a coach does not keep detailed records of training sessions by recording weights and intensities used and adhering to sound and proven scientific rationale for prescribing certain exercises and variables, then there is no way to determine why you did or did not achieve your goal.  This makes it almost impossible to determine what needs to be changed in future programs to elicit the desired results.  

This should be a journey that involves both client and coach, constantly working together and communicating to stay on the same page.  There is no such thing as the perfect program, every individual is just that, an individual.  Some days people won’t have their best and from time to time they can come in with nagging injuries or aches causing you to have to adjust the program day by day.  You may take proven principles and apply those to your other clients, but you still must have some way to individualize a program, whether it be adjusting acute variables or slightly modifying exercises based on ability and biomechanics.  

This individuality is just as important in the group setting and needs to be monitored closely, albeit slightly differently.  The group fitness program at NAKOA is based on the same proven and tested theories that we apply to our individual clients.  We have a program that can be tailored to address most individuals needs within the group setting.  This is where relationships and communication become incredibly important towards maintaining a safe and effective program.  All group members undergo the same NAKOA Experience as private clients to highlight any issues that could be a concern.  Goal setting is still discussed and movement screens are imperative.  All group members are told during their assessment that they should freely communicate with their coaches and not to withhold information, no matter how minor it seems.  Whether it is making them aware of a previous injury, or that a certain exercise causes discomfort, this information is used by the coach to tweak the program to enable that member to safely participate without causing further discomfort or injury.  In extreme cases, we can refer them directly to one of our on-site physical therapists for further treatment and evaluation.  

Progressing clients follows similar protocols as mentioned above.  It is important for a coach and client to have constant communication so that they are both working towards the same result.  After each program is complete, which can be anywhere from 4-8 weeks or more depending on individual cases, clients and coaches should talk to address results of the program, administer any testing to determine efficacy of the program and then to determine if the goals were achieved or not.  If the current goal was achieved, it is time to set new SMART goals and program accordingly to work towards accomplishing them.  If the current goal was not achieved, the client and coach should discuss what needs to be done differently to make that a reality.  If a coach takes diligent records and programs using sound strength and conditioning protocols, it should be clear what variables need to be changed to make this goal a reality in the future.  Again, if your coach is not having these discussions with you constantly and doesn’t monitor and record your progress consistently, you need to find out why and don’t hesitate to give us a visit!

Here’s to a safe and prosperous New Year and hoping you achieve all of your SMART goals for 2017!