One of the most difficult things for any trainer or physician is to keep their clients engaged. After all, a client who comes to you is looking for a solution to a problem they have: they’re overweight, they’re not feeling well, or whatever it may be. Your worth as a specialist depends on your ability to help your clients find solutions to their problems, and if you’re not able to deliver, well, your clients have choices, don’t they?
This is especially tricky in health and wellness. Change can be slow to come, and progress can be hard to reliably measure.
That’s why body composition data is the best, most underused, data you could be using to track, report, and show the value of your work to your clients. It will give you a whole new, readily understandable approach to helping your clients reach their goals; giving them a way to measure real changes in their bodies and you an avenue to prove your value.
What Do We Mean By “Body Composition Data”?
Body composition analysis is a method of breaking down body weight into its constituent parts. Body composition analysis has been around for quite some time, but in recent years has become more much specialized and useful for everyone to use as a health and wellness metric.
Although there are many form of body composition that can break down body weight and group it in different ways, using advanced body composition devices, you can break down a client’s weight into:
- Body Fat Mass: how much weight is made up of body fat
- Lean Body Mass: a combination of everything that isn’t fat, including Skeletal Muscle Mass
- Body Fat Percentage: body fat mass divided by total weight
That last one, body fat percentage, is crucial. There are many reasons why you would want to know your body fat percentage, but chief among them is this: body fat percentage gives a much clearer picture of overall your client’s overall health. It confirms that an athlete is not obese (like BMI falsely does) and outs “skinny fat” clients – people with normal weights but excess body fat – who have similar health risks as the obese.
What’s the Use For You and Your Clients?
Body composition metrics will open up a whole new world of tracking and analysis for you, and will help you connect with your clients in new and meaningful ways.
Here are some major ways:
1. Break a client’s obsession with weight and weight loss
This might seem counterintuitive at first. After all, weight-related issues are the reason they are coming to you in the first place, at least in some part. Why would you want to get your clients to stop thinking about their weight?
Because tracking weight can be incredibly problematic due to daily weight fluctuations related to body water. Weight can increase/decrease several pounds throughout the day. People who are trying to get in shape are accustomed to assessing their weight – as nearly everyone is – with a scale, and for that reason, it can be agonizing for them to see their weight fluctuate even just a couple pounds.
Body fat percentage is a much better, more reliable way for your clients to understand their weight, and an easier way for you to talk to them about it. If a client gains weight because they’ve put on muscle, body fat percentage goes down – and that’s a good thing, even when their overall weight increases.
Body fat percentage gives you a simple, singular answer to questions about weight change when you’re working with a client. For example, a client may come to you frustrated and confused because they’ve been working with you for 2-3 months, but weighs the same as they did when they began with you.
But what if they’ve actually been successful but just don’t realize it – gaining 5 pounds of muscle, say, while losing 5 pounds of fat? Both your clients and you can point to the change in body fat percentage and be confident that the program is working.
It’s one thing to simply say to a client, “You’re probably gaining muscle and losing fat, so it’s normal not to see much change in weight,” but it’s quite another to show them visually with hard data and say, “Look, your body fat percentage has dropped by 2.5%. Great job!”
2. Get deeper insight into your client’s nutritional plan
Any good health and fitness program will contain a focus on both exercise and nutrition. Your clients may already be logging their food intake with some type of food diary or calorie counting app, and that’s a good, important first step. Perhaps you’ve encouraged them to do this; that’s great.
However, some types of programs, especially those that are focused on simple weight loss, run the risk of causing muscle loss along with fat loss, especially if the diet is not controlled.
If you’re tracking body composition data, you’ll be able to see decreases in Lean Body Mass and/or Skeletal Muscle Mass as they’re happening, allowing you to intervene before these muscle losses become too great.
Apart from the obvious losses in strength and musculature, why is it important to monitor Skeletal Muscle Mass? Skeletal Muscle Mass (and Lean Body Mass) are critical types of tissue that influence the size of the metabolism. Put simply: more muscle means more calories needed. Less muscle mean less calories needed.
This is incredibly important to monitor because it helps mitigate a situation where a client “gains it all back” the second they achieve their fitness goal and stop working with you. If they’ve unknowingly lost a bunch of muscle with you and they return to their normal diet after a period of rapid weight loss, they could potentially regain weight. How will that reflect on you and your guidance if your client doesn’t maintain results?
There are many nutritional recommendations you might give, but one could be recommending that your client takes casein supplements before sleeping since it has been shown in clinical trials to be effective at discouraging muscle loss during significant caloric restriction.
3. Help your clients make changes that truly impact their health
Having your client’s body composition data on hand also helps you and your client understand their risk for future health problems, even before they appear. This relates to excess body fat mass, and this can be a real eye-opener for clients who fit the “skinny fat” profile: what the medical community refers to as sarcopenic obesity.
Yes, obesity – the same obesity that you’re probably familiar with and hearing about in terms of high BMI scores. Skinny fat people won’t have the large waistlines and the high BMIs that signal their health risks, but they will share the same risks as the high BMI group, and if you’re tracking body composition numbers, you’ll be able to have additional insight for these people.
Excess body fat can cause all sorts of health complications, including Type 2 diabetes. Excess body fat also puts your body in a constant state of inflammation – meaning that the immune system is perpetually “triggered.” Over time, this can lead to heart disease, among other problems.
Using metrics like body fat percentage and body fat mass with your clients will help you guide your clients beyond simple weight loss goals. Now, by looking at fat mass as something that can impact long term health, you aren’t just offering fitness help – now you’re offering guidance for a healthy lifestyle that can last a client a lifetime if they take your guidance to heart.
How’s that for value: when a client works with you, they get results not just for now, but for the rest of their lives?
Making the Connection with Mobile Health
However, to get all these benefits for your clients, they need to be able to get their body composition assessed, and you need to be able to have access to it. That easier said than done, but there is a solution: mobile health.
Reaching a client via mobile health (mHealth), like with the NudgeCoach platform, is rapidly becoming one of the best ways to engage with and develop long-term relationships with your clients. If your clients have a fitness tracker that measures body composition, such as the InBody BAND, you will be able to able to remotely monitor your client’s body composition whenever they upload their data.
They’ll also be able to track their body compositions themselves, without needing to come in for regular tests – thus making it far more likely they’ll hold themselves accountable for their results while generating the data you need to offer your service.
What’s great about using an mHealth platform like NudgeCoach is that it allows you to be much more responsive to changes in your client’s health and fitness than before. Your clients can only come see you in person from time-to-time. mHealth allows you to be much more proactive.
Start using mobile health with clients today with a 14-day free trial!
By using an mHealth platform to keep track of your client’s body composition, you’ll be able to ensure that your clients are getting the results that they’re coming to you for.
If your clients are getting the results that they want by getting exceptional guidance and care from you, then really, they won’t have many choices out there, will they?
Their only choice will be: you.
. . .