Why we assess at CrossFit Athletic

by Christian d’Astoli
When we first opened the doors at CrossFit Athletic in April 2010, we were so excited to get people in the door and train. It was simply, come down and do a 1 week trial and at the end of the week we can see if it is the right fit for you. We had all walks of life come down which was great and you could tell they loved the training.
However, coming from a personal training background, we were always sticklers for technique and doing things right. Not sacrificing technique for weight and ensuring that we maintain the full range of motion when performing certain movements. We noticed quite a few things when we simply let prospective members just jump into our classes. First, we could see a bit of dysfunction in how these people moved when training in our gym. But this is not evident when they walk in off the street as many of them looked fit and healthy.
After they joined up and got into our program, we noticed that certain injuries and niggles were becoming prevalent in our gym, in particular shoulder and lower back issues. Now, this was a combination of the programming that we were doing – random and too much volume – but also not having a good understanding of how our clients moved and what they needed. Programming for your community is an art and it takes years of experience to get it right. That is however, another conversation for another day.
In late 2010, we attended a course run by James Fitzgerald from OPEX Fitness (formerly OPT). James is a genius when it comes to fitness and health and a large part of this course was learning how to assess an individual prior to them joining any sort of fitness program. This was an absolute game changer for us and our business has never been the same again. We went from just throwing people into a high intensity class and hoping they would sign up and get some results, to really setting up our clients for success. Now, after we mastered the assessment process, we began to see amazing results with our clients.
The assessment is a 3-step process. We want to get a better understanding of your lifestyle and exercise history/experience, do a physical movement assessment and see how you move and then assess you mobility from head to toe. We manage to do all of this in one hour.
When assessing your lifestyle, we like to know more about the following:

  • Exercise history – what gym experience do you have? Have you done strength training before?
  • Exercise experience – what type of activity have you been doing for the last 12 months?
  • Lifestyle – what has it been like over the last 12 months? How often do you go out, drink, and stay up late? How is your sleep?
  • Stress – how are your stress levels? How do you manage them currently? Exercise is a stress so we need to understand how this will fit into your stress continuum.
  • Nutrition – how is your daily diet working for you? Is it fairly clean? Is there much inflammatory food in it? How often are you eating and when
  • Previous Injuries – we want to know if you have had any surgeries and/or injuries in the past that may affect your ability to complete certain movements. These could be things such as a C-section, ACL re-construction, or back surgery/issues.

When assessing your movement patterns, we want to see how your body moves both loaded and unloaded. We want to compare your left to your right sides to see how balanced you are; for example, is one leg stronger than the other and what implications will that have on your progress. Sure you can do a squat, but we want to see how your knees and hips track when you squat with a 20kg bar. How is your upper body push and pull – is it balanced? And what about your lower back? We take 10 minutes to assess the strength and endurance of your back muscles to ensure you are safe to enter our program and not be at risk of injury.
When assessing your mobility, we start with the feet and work our way up. After all, your feet are the base for everything you do so we want to see how mobile your ankles are what implication that will have on your squat technique. It’s important that we assess the critical junctions – the ankle, hips and thoracic – to see how they move and what type of mobility is in these important areas. Many of our clients sit down at a desk in front of a computer all day, so there is a very good chance that the thoracic and hip mobility is limited.
Once we have all of this information, we can then make an educated recommendation on what path you should take before you become a member at CrossFit Athletic. This could be Personal Training to get you up to speed to join our Classes, our Beginners Program which builds you up over 3 weeks or straight into our CrossFit Classes.
So as you can see, by investing one hour in assessing you as a potential member, we gather vital information on how you move prior to joining in any Classes. Sure, we have lost a few clients in the past as they wanted to jump straight into the class, but the ones that have joined have been set up for success as they have been through our assessment process. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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