Happy members are lifelong members. As mentioned last blog, a large percentage of a gym’s customers want to lose weight. What’s more frustrating for this type of member than seeing weight gain on a scale? How many of these members do you think get tired of poor results, then leave for weeks, months, or forever? Imagine if you had the tools to make weight gain a positive, or even an educational, experience.
As a personal trainer, I am aware of how essential it is to do proper measurements on clients to track progress. When it comes to weight management, measuring weight is only part of the picture. It is beneficial to do circumference and body fat measurements. This is beneficial because if they gained a pound, yet lost percentage of body fat off their waist, their mood may go from sad to joyful! To measure body fat, I’ve been trained in skinfold calipers, hydrostatic weighing, and bioimpedance machines, just to name a few.
Skinfold calipers, according to ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription 8th edition, can be +/- 3.5 percent accurate. This is great, except this is assuming the test was done correctly with well-trained AND experienced personnel. Skinfold calipers may also not be accurate on the overweight population. More issues: they are invasive, and can be extremely uncomfortable for one with the goal of weight loss. Biggest issue: some calipers may not even be big enough to measure an overweight individual!
The gold standards of body fat percentage estimation include hydrostatic weighing or dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). These are not only extremely costly and require well-trained personnel, but you’ll normally only see these in clinical or research settings. If you have the budget and feel like it’d be beneficial for your business, perhaps it could be a good option to research. Unfortunately, for most gyms, this isn’t an option. As a result, I’d like to share a scale I’ve been using for a while: the Tanita!
Tanita’s FAQ mentions that the machine “produces very accurate results that are highly correlated with both DEXA and hydrostatic weighing.” The FAQ also mentions that the body fat monitor scale, in clinical settings, is within +/- 5 percent of the DEXA, with a repeatability of +/- 1 percentage when under consistent conditions. Not as accurate as the gold standards themselves, but without calipers, what other options exist?
This is an easier option for overweight clientele, as long as they don’t exceed the machine’s weight limit (no more than 600 pounds for the SC-331S). It is not invasive, is quick, and can tell you more than a standard scale, such as estimation on muscle mass, water weight, BMR, body fat percentage and fat free mass. The company Omron also does scales.
Sound off in the comments if your facility has assessment equipment that is weight management friendly! Has it been beneficial for you?
Jamal Thruston is a certified personal trainer in Louisville, Ky., who specializes in weight management, behavioral change and health coaching. For questions, e-mail Jamal at firstname.lastname@example.org.