Why Client Screening and Assessment is Necessary

There’s a detailed process that personal trainers follow to screen, clear, and assess a client’s readiness to participate in physical activity. Depending on the certifying agency’s protocols and principles, that process may vary, but most likely includes the following steps:

• Gathering an Informed Consent
• Administering a PAR-Q
• Collecting health history information (Health Risk Appraisal)
• Lifestyle/Behavior Inventory
• Medical consent (if necessary)
• A battery of client-appropriate biometric measurements and physical assessments

Performing a client screening and assessment accomplishes several things:

• Educates the client about health risks associated with lifestyle, behavior, & genetic predispositions
• Identifies a health risk stratification level compared to “norms”
• Provides necessary data that informs the needs analysis and exercise programming design
• Establishes benchmarks
• Reveals likes, dislikes, aptitudes, etc.


When collecting this data and information, personal trainers need to look for diagnosed diseases, signs of un-managed metabolic disease, factors and behaviors that increase disease risk, previous or current signs of injury, and medications and prescription drugs. Together, this data builds a larger picture for the trainer to examine in order to safely and effectively prescribe an exercise regimen for the client.

It’s important to review the data more than once before taking the next step. Remember, health risks are not always visible and could be taking place inside the body (i.e., unmanaged diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.); if a trainer misses or skips a step in the screening and assessment process, the client’s health and the trainer’s reputation become compromised.

As a trainer, never skimp out on the assessment. Cutting this corner puts your livelihood and your client’s health at risk.

About the Author:

Dr. Erin Nitschke, NFPT-CPT, NSCA-CPT, ACE Health Coach & Fitness Nutrition Specialist, and Pn1 is a health and human performance college educator, fitness blogger, mother, and passionate fitness professional. She has over 14 years of experience in the fitness industry and college instruction. Erin believes in the power of a holistic approach to healthy living. She loves teaching her clients and students to find an equilibrium between all dimensions of wellness with focused skill development. Erin is a regular columnist for The Sheridan Press, LiveWell and ACE. Visit her personal blog at belivestaywell.com