Life Time Fitness’ Secret Sauce: Lab Tests and Metabolic Assessments
In a typical fitness club, there are a few tools members can utilize to measure their progress — the scale, 3D body scanners and general fitness assessments are just a few examples.
But at Life Time Fitness, members have access to far more than just a scale or BMI measurement. They can also take advantage of a number of lab tests and metabolic assessments that provide a deep dive into their health and fitness as it stands.
Here, we spoke with Life Time Fitness’ experts to explain the benefits of each test to the company’s membership:
Metabolism rates vary from person to person. With this in mind, members of Life Time can purchase metabolic assessments such as the “Resting Metabolic Assessment.” This allows them to get a clearer picture of how their body works, in order to make fitness more efficient and optimize weight management.
According to Steven Milkovich, M.Sc., the assistant program manager for Metabolic Assessments & Health Technology at Life Time Fitness, metabolic assessments allow Life Time Fitness, “to determine how your body makes energy. Specifically it allows us to determine how efficient your body is at burning fat and what intensities are ideal for your body. It’s available to all Life Time Fitness members and allows you to work smarter, not harder. Having these tests in the comfort of their own club makes it easy to use and easy to schedule.”
Through the tests, Life Time Fitness identified a common problem being its members over-training. “The old adage, ‘All-out, all the time,’ can have some negative effects on the body,” said Malkovich. “When we get people who have trained like that to do an assessment, we can explain the importance of lower intensity exercise and balancing high intensity work and low intensity work. Often once they start using low intensity work again, they start seeing results again.”
But on the flip side, Milkovich said they often see other members who aren’t changing up their workouts enough or working at high enough intensity. “Some members do get caught in their ‘usual routine’ and don’t progress their workouts to keep adequate stress on the body,” he said. “Using an active metabolic assessment, we can see what intensities are ideal for their unique metabolism and help fine-tune and progress their workouts based on the results of their tests.”
Ultimately, Milkovich said these results can be beneficial to members and are a unique differentiator for the company. “These products are very unique and difficult to find outside of Life Time Fitness,” he said. “They really allow us to get to know our members and what drives their unique metabolisms. This allow us to create a specific plan for them, individualized to their body’s needs.”
Life Time Fitness offers a number of lab tests to members, including a foundational panel. This test provides an in-depth assessment of a member’s metabolism and assesses 45 markers to determine their ideal activity levels and food intake.
“Lab Testing is the ‘why’ behind how your body is functioning,” said Samantha McKinney, the program manager for Lab Testing at Life Time Fitness. “Not only can it give insight into potential imbalances in the respiratory metabolic testing for an expanded view of metabolism, but using blood and saliva testing can help you pinpoint nutrient status, specify supplement needs, give insights on how well you’re recovering from workouts, and expose your hormone levels and how they might be impacting results. Customized nutrition and exercise programming should start with a combination of these objective assessments, and they should be done regularly throughout your programming to track your internal fitness and health from the inside-out.”
According to McKinney, one benefit of lab testing is that it can reveal food sensitivities, shedding light on specific foods members should avoid. In addition, the lab tests can reveal underlying issues that may have gone otherwise unnoticed.
“We have countless stories of members who had laboratory markers within medical reference range, but outside of what is often considered optimal range for the highest levels of vitality and fat burn,” explained McKinney. “For example, a lot of participants may report feeling lethargic, having difficulty losing weight, and perhaps struggling with constipation and/or feeling cold all the time. These are hallmark signs of thyroid dysfunction. However, these individuals may not meet the requirements to receive a medical diagnosis of overt hypothyroidism. When they choose to complete more advanced testing, we often find that their more active thyroid hormone is below what is considered optimal, although it may be in medical reference range. We can from there make some targeted tweaks to their lifestyle, nutrition, exercise and supplement protocol for their specific needs, run re-tests, and often have them see better results — not just from a fat loss perspective, but from an overall symptom perspective. They have the opportunity to feel better and see the scale move. It’s a win-win.”
Through this approach, McKinney explained Life Time Fitness is able to truly help optimize its members’ health.
“By working on fitness and health from the inside-out, we’re passionate about supporting your journey of fat loss, improved athletic performance, increased strength and skyrocketing energy levels,” continued McKinney. “Using objective internal assessments to constantly tweak your program and approach is our secret sauce to getting you to be the most optimal version of you.”