"You want me to do what?"
These are the responses I often get from new clients when I explain my assessment process. I don't blame them though. Typically the screen is awkward and uncomfortable and can seem complex to some one who has never performed the movements before. Plus who the hell likes to be evaluated? In anything? It just isn't the funnest thing you could do with your time. (These problems though can be overcome with creating a comfortable, fun, and accepting atmosphere.)
You add all that with the fact that a large portion of fitness professionals including every single trainer I have personally ever worked with fail to perform any level of quality assessment. In fact most of the time the only thing that gets assessed is how much does the client weight and how much of that weight is body fat. While these metrics can be used to evaluate progress and determine the effectiveness of a program, especially one oriented towards body composition, they really don't tell a trainer anything about the client and how to create a program individualized to that person's needs.
It's because of this failure by the fitness industry that many individuals end up at my door with little to no idea what a movement screen is, why it is important, and why it is so valuable to both me and them.
For this reason I wanted to take up a few minutes of your Friday to give you my explanation for doing a movement screen, why it's important, and why it adds value to the programming.
I personally use the FMS in my own practice as my formal movement screen. This screen consists of 7 movements and is designed to provide me with information about how the person functions in the most basic movement patterns and whether or not this person is ready to train those movement patterns or if we need to do some up front work to fix some pre existing dysfunctions.
This screen provides me with the most valuable information for designing a program as it will allow me to decide on what exercises to put in the client's program and which exercises to hold off on. This ensures that I put my client in a position to be successful and to build confidence.
The last thing you want to do as a trainer is to write a program for someone who is just beginning their health change and make it so difficult that they walk out of the gym feeling like they failed and that they just aren't cut out for lifting weights. In addition to putting clients into a position to succeed the screen also protects me from placing a client in a high risk for injury situation and hindering their progress toward a goal.
When trying to explain the purpose of a movement screen I always default to the explanation that a movement screen is like a tryout for a sports team. I have never seen this client move. I know nothing about them. There is no way in my right mind that I could write a program that is individualized to them without knowing what they can and cannot do. This is what a movement screen does, it gives the client an opportunity to prove to me that they can do "stuff".
The screen may feel awkward, uncomfortable, and foreign, but it is the single most valuable thing a trainer can do for a client if they are wanting a program that wasn't written for the masses.
In addition to a movement screen I also take static posture photos while standing, perform passive range of motion testing, collect a complete medical history, and discuss goals. All of these things are important to add value to the program and increase it's effectiveness, but the movement screen is what allows the foundation of the program to be established.
I hope this might give you a bit of insight into why your current trainer makes you do a bunch of weird and funky movements every four weeks or so in order to write a program for you. Or why your current trainer sucks because he can't determine why no matter how much he tells you to keep your back flat while squatting you just can't do it. If your in the latter situation I recommend finding a different trainer. One who appreciates that everyone has unique needs when it comes to exercise selection as well as movement dysfunctions that could improve your quality life or enhance your health change process.
Happy moving and heavy lifting!
Practical, Purposeful, Effective Training