Functional Training Institute

WEDNESDAY WISDOM: Assessments – who, what and when?

assessment client fitness
 Wednesday Wisdom is back, and I’m pumped to be taking the lead on these weekly posts for a while! If you haven’t seen me around… I’m Kim, Master Presenter for FTI, based in Melbourne.


This week’s post is all about client assessments – WHO you’re assessing, WHAT you’re assessing and WHEN you’re assessing.

As FTI-educated coaches we always complete an initial movement screening with our clients to assess their joint mobility and health, as well as their movement biomechanics.

A well rounded initial screening should involve:
– Assessment of ankle, hip, thoracic and shoulder mobility
– Observation of key movement patterns – squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull, rotation and gait.

The phrase “if you’re not assessing you’re guessing” rings true! Getting this information is vital to ensure you can prescribe drills and exercises to work with your client’s current movement technique and addresses any mobility restrictions, postural issues or pains they are experiencing.

If you’re not gathering this data as a starting point how can you possibly be doing the best job you can to create a program that will improve their body and help them progress forward? If you’re currently not practicing a well rounded initial screening with clients, ask yourself… am I helping my clients or am I blindly compounding their dysfunctions?

Depending on your gym, style of training and your client-base you may also assess fitness and strength when first beginning to work with someone too, but the decision on whether to assess fitness and/or strength at the initial stage should be made with the client’s training experience, mindset and goals in mind.

For example, the client-base I work with is largely general population men and women who haven’t exercised for a while, have had negative experiences with exercise/gyms, or have never really been “gym people”. Many of these people walk into the gym feeling apprehensive, nervous or overwhelmed. On top of that, many of them also carry niggling pains, previous injuries or fear of some types of exercise. For these people the concept of putting their fitness and strength to the test in week one is terrifying! And the last thing we would want to do is make training a negative or scary experience, right? In these cases, it can be beneficial to build a foundation of movement, let them settle into a training routine and feel comfortable working with you as a coach before you add in fitness and/or strength assessments.

However, if you work with more experienced trainers who are coming to you specifically to improve their strength then it make sense to assess their starting point so you know where to take their programming, weight targets for exercises etc.

Always consider the people you’re working with and the bigger picture for them when formulating your strength and fitness testing practices.

So, we’ve considered initial assessment processes… but what about ongoing assessments?

It’s very common for us coaches to complete an in-depth movement and mobility screening when we first start working with a client, but the key question is… how often are you re-screening mobility?!

For many coaches, the answer is (unfortunately) never!

It’s common-practice to regularly test strength and fitness, and while we should be assessing movement patterns/technique in every session as we coach them though their exercises, it’s essential to also check in on mobility too!


Because mobility is FLUID – it will change as your habits, lifestyle and movement routine changes…

… If a client’s job changes to be more desk-bound, it’s likely to have an impact on mobility and posture.

… If a client undertakes a heavy training load and isn’t balancing that out with enough recovery and mobility practices, it can lead to tightening of joints.

… If a client has to carry a toddler around on their hip on a regular basis, it’s bound to affect mobility and posture.

By checking in on mobility as a structured component of an assessment you can ensure your client’s mobility and posture is improving (or is holding steady if already at an optimal level) as their fitness and strength is increasing, and you can even set mobility-focused goals to help clients prioritise mobility and recovery training.

Do you have a structured, regular mobility assessment procedure in place?
I would love to hear all about it in the comments!

If you don’t have a structured, regular mobility assessment procedure in place… Now is the perfect time to create one so you can start assessing and stop guessing when it comes to mobility

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