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Fitness Metrics: Showing Members Progress Beyond the Scale

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Brett Lato with Polar shares the importance of using other fitness metrics besides the scale to show your members their progress.

It is a relatively simple concept, better member results equal better member retention. If clients are seeing the results from the time spent in your facility, they are more likely to continue their fitness journey with you. Too often, clients seeking help on their fitness journey or clubs themselves can place too much emphasis on a single common fitness metric — weight.

So, what happens when the number on the scale just will not budge, becomes intimidating or devolves into a source of negativity?

Weight is certainly one useful metric to consider, but alone, it fails provide a complete picture. To fully understand progress for the client, we should focus on multiple fitness metrics. This strategy provides varied and regular opportunities for trainers to illustrate and celebrate client growth and helps to better understand client fitness.

While visiting with trainers and fitness professionals over the years, I have noticed one common interest — they would all like to show ‘mini wins’ or regular progress to their clients. Showing member achievements on a regular basis, as well growth over time, can be a powerful retention tool. This is where data from wearable technology can help. Using weight as a fitness metric is not necessarily bad or wrong in certain settings, but using additional data provided by wearable technology either in conjunction with or instead of what the scale is saying helps to create a more holistic approach.

Resting heart rate is one of many data metrics that can be measured and used for tracking and trending cardiovascular fitness. When recording your clients’ resting heart rate, it is best to capture it first thing in the morning. Have your clients wake up, put on their fitness watch with an optical heart rate monitor or chest strap heart rate monitor, lay down and start recording. For most people, a lower resting heart rate corresponds with a higher degree of physical fitness.  If we have their resting heart rate recorded at the beginning of a training protocol then record resting heart rate at six-week intervals, we can show growth if resting heart rate is decreasing over time or the opposite if not.

It is important for fitness professionals to help clients understand their growth and understand what fitness really means. Focusing on one single metric, like weight, is an oversight because there are so many different layers to an individual’s health and many other ways to show progress — heart rate, muscular endurance, VO2 max, how you feel during the workout, how well you sleep at night, etc. If you can highlight and showcase regular growth throughout the fitness journey, you will give your members the motivation they need to keep coming back for more.

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Brett Lato

Brett Lato, M.A., is the manager of training and education at Polar. For more information about Polar, visit polar.com/polarclub.

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