When clients begin working with a new trainer, they tend to have a range of goals in mind: Feel fit. Get stronger. Many have goals that seem difficult to measure, like higher energy levels, improved sleep, or overall better health.
What all of these goals have in common: they can’t be captured by a number on the bathroom scale. In today’s world, personal trainers are able to take advantage of better body composition tech to help their clients meet those less straightforward and more subjective goals–beyond simply “losing weight.”
Body composition analysis (BCA) goes beyond a one-number weight measurement by analyzing an individual’s internal makeup. Instead of focusing on their overall weight, trainers can help their clients achieve more nuanced goals by tracking changes in their muscle mass and body fat.
How does it work?
Instead of methods like scales and calipers, newer body composition tech uses scanners and other non-invasive tools to track key measurements, such as skeletal muscle mass and body fat percentage.
One of the most common and effective technologies is Bioimpedance Analysis, often known as just BIA. Electrodes are placed on an individual’s hands and feet; then a low-level and painless electrical current is transmitted through the body. Because different types of body mass–water, blood, fat, muscle–resist electricity in differing amounts, it’s possible for the scanner to register highly accurate measurements of an individual’s overall body composition.
For trainers, body composition analysis can offer a more detailed portrait of health at the beginning of a client’s journey and further on into a program. It’s also a special “event”: using body composition technology can be more motivating for clients than the more typical act of stepping onto a scale.
Body comp: What does it measure?
Everyone wants their body fat mass to go down and skeletal muscle mass to go up,” Amanatidis said.
These two measurements are key to showing clients and trainers how their efforts in the gym are changing their bodies. Skeletal muscle mass represents the total amount of an individuals’ muscle–the parts of their bodies that can be strengthened and developed through exercise. Body fat mass represents an individual’s total weight of fat–a more specific number than one’s overall weight.
Other popular, useful BCA measurements include accurate percentage of body fat measurements and body water analysis. Visceral fat levels inform clients how much visceral fat they carry (fat that is deeper in the body and, when excess, is linked to adverse health outcomes).
BCA measurements such as segmental analysis allow clients to “see” their bodies in greater detail. Segmental analysis shows the weight of an individual’s lean body mass across different body parts–their arms, torso, and legs, for example.
BCA and Goal-Setting
The highly specific measurements made by BCA can help trainers to track their clients’ progress towards individual goals–such as toned, even development across the body and muscle growth as opposed to simple weight gain.
For Vana Amanatidis, the benefits of BCA are twofold: its measurements help her clients make targeted changes in the behavior to reach their goals, and it also helps them stay motivated and energized throughout their fitness journeys.
Detailed BCA measurements help give clients “roadmaps.” If an individual isn’t gaining as much muscle as they’d hoped, for example, they know to eat more protein and lift. They can make sure they’re training both sides of the body evenly, and can learn the exact number of calories their body burns while at rest.
“When [clients] have the full picture of what’s going on inside, they can then tweak very specific things in order to obtain the results they’re looking for,” Amanatidis explained.
She recalled one client who exercised diligently throughout her training program, but was dismayed to see that she only lost two pounds. After her body composition analysis, the client learned that her transformation had actually been much more significant: she had lost 11 pounds of fat and gained 9 pounds of muscle. Amanatidis recalled how her client’s face lit up when she saw the real changes she had made–information she couldn’t have learned from her bathroom scale.
To take advantage of the motivating aspect of BCA, Amanatidis recommends that trainers incorporate BCA into time-constrained “challenges.” By using BCA at the outset, middle, and end of her 45-day challenge, Amanatidis helps clients stay on track and measure the results of their exercise and effort–helping them to understand their health better in the long term.
BCA-based challenges can encourage clients to pursue their goals. They can also drive up incremental revenue for your facility or personal training studio–clients can gain better value when they can more efficiently pursue their specific fitness goals.