Fitness professionals rely on quantitative data for motivating clients and tracking their progress. Without data and information, all results would be subjective. While not every aspect of health can be quantified, a large proportion can. When possible, we should be regularly tracking and evaluating our client’s progress. In this article, we’ll be discussing why and how we track and evaluate different aspects of health.
What Are the Benefits of Tracking Client Progress?
Numbers aren’t just for your clients. They help you monitor your plan too. Data is also commonly used by investors. So, if you’re looking for external investment and/or funding – having quantitative data could determine the fate of your practice as a business. Here are our top benefits of tracking client progress for yourself, your client, and your business:
- It can show you if the plan is working: No plan should ever be set in stone. We should never fear changing a plan once it’s been created. Our clients respond on an individual basis, what’s worked for one person might not work for another. Of course, we shouldn’t be making drastic changes in our plans if our clients aren’t making drastic progress in their training. We’re looking for smaller, sustainable changes over time. But, if our client has reached a point of stagnation, that’s when we need to think about reevaluating their plan. This point of stagnation can only be observed with data.
- It provides clients with a structured, sustainable plan: Our clients begin a plan with a clear goal in mind. Maybe it’s to lose weight, reduce blood pressure, or improve their overall quality of life. While these are great things to strive towards, they are all fairly vague. To increase their achievability, it’s recommended to create SMART goals. Goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. Applying SMART goals provides a clear path from start to finish. They know what needs to be done, how they’re going to do it, and when they need to do it.
- It helps engage the client and gives them a sense of autonomy: Following a plan should be a learning experience. We can tell people exactly what to do to achieve their goal, but if they’re not learning the ‘why’ they’re going to struggle once the plan has come to an end. For example, if your client wants to improve their blood pressure, we might recommend increasing cardiovascular exercise, reducing stress, and making dietary changes. Without learning what affects blood pressure, there’s every chance their progress will be reverted once the plan is completed. Allowing your client to monitor their data helps them understand what aspects of their lifestyle influences their goals.
- It helps with funding and career development: While our goal is to help people improve their overall health and wellbeing, many of us run self-employed businesses. Therefore, we need to consider the effect data has on our financial and professional development. Funding is driven by numbers. You could have the best client testimonials, but if you don’t have numerical data to back it up you can wave goodbye to that elusive investment.
What Data Should You Collect?
We’ve discussed why we should collect data, but we haven’t mentioned what type of data. What type of data you collect will depend on a couple of things; your client’s goal, what measuring tools you have available, and what measures investors are interested in. Let’s break each one down:
- Your client’s goal: Measures need to be specific to your client’s goal. If your client wants to focus on body composition, you’ll want to focus on anthropometric measures such as weight, body fat percentage, and waist to height ratio. Things like body composition, cardiorespiratory health, and athletic performance are very physical measures. Blood pressure, resting heart rate and peak flow are other examples. If we want to measure unquantifiable factors such as mental health and wellbeing we can take a look at health questionnaires such as EQ5Q.
- What measuring tools you have available: Ideally, we want to measure data using gold-standard equipment. However, this isn’t always practical. Therefore, we need to use what we’ve got. Some equipment may not be 100% valid, but if we keep conditions consistent we can ensure reliability remains high. Thus we can use the measure as a comparative tool.
- What measures investors are interested in: For investments, some investors require specific data measures to fit their specific requirements. If you’re looking for a specific investment, identifying this early will save you a lot of time and effort in the long term. For example, some investors will use the IPAQ questionnaire to compare physical activity across different populations.
Data isn’t everything, but it is a great tool to help motivate your clients, track your plan’s progress, and help secure funding. Qualitative and quantitative data used together is the best way to ensure the success of your client and your business.