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Boardroom Fitness Testing

Help sedentary office workers take their first step on the path to wellness.

Are you maximizing your potential in your health coaching business? Are you finding that individual coaching or personal training is not paying off financially or emotionally? Expand your horizons by diversifying your talents. Grow your revenue, motivation and message by bringing health coaching to corporations, executives and the public at large.

Taking fitness testing to the office is a unique strategy to reach sedentary individuals and provide them with information and education. It is also a way to establish yourself as a valuable professional health coach. Don’t confine yourself to the gym walls; you can bring your passion for health, coaching skills and testing toolbox to the workplace.

Springboard to Health

With ever-increasing job pressures and family obligations, fewer people are making the time to exercise and are becoming disconnected from their own bodies. Boardroom fitness testing was my inspiration to help reach time-challenged
office workers. Done in the office setting, it can fuel people’s willingness to begin to exercise and stimulate self-care. After
revisiting some testing protocols, I began to contact companies to implement the following program evaluation tailored to boardroom or office space.


The good news is that you can do boardroom fitness testing with just a small amount of equipment. All the tools needed for the assessments fit in a milk crate, which can be rolled on a wheeled cart. The tools and crate fit comfortably into a car. You can present these fitness assessments to several offices on one floor or in one building or in offices across town, all in one afternoon.

On the day of the evaluations, roll your milk crate into the boardroom or office provided and set up test stations. Detail risks and benefits of the tests in a consent-and-release form that you e-mail to the office days prior to the testing. Also include a readiness questionnaire or Par-Q. Invite clients, one at a time, into the testing room, and review their Par-Qs and signed consent forms. Out of courtesy to the other workers and the client being tested, close the door. Work through all the stations or the ones of each client’s choosing. Conclude the session with a
results review and allow time for questions and concerns. For any individuals who would like further clarity, guidance or goal-strategizing, encourage them to schedule a follow-up coaching session with you and to sign up to receive your
e-zine or newsletter, if you have one.

The fitness testing and results discussion can take up to 45 minutes per person. For convenience, offer a 30-minute follow-up session via telephone. Include all services as part of a written agreement between you and the company prior to your site visit. Because you can never be certain until the day of testing which workers will actually participate, you will need to bill your time in an invoice to the company after the testing is completed. I bill worksite testing at $149 per hour, which is also my 1-hour personal training fee. I also bill the company $75 for each 30-minute telephone follow-up session.

As a courtesy, schedule a telephone
interview with a company representative after the testing. This call is a means of evaluating the success of the visit. You will want to listen carefully, inquire about the overall impact of your program, get feedback on what worked well and what needs improvement and discuss any
future potential plans or support.

Finding Clients

The boardroom fitness testing work I have done came about from personal contacts with company owners or chief executive officers. I met them all through my work as a personal trainer. To keep the message of health continually alive in the minds of my clients, whether they are presently working with me or not, I send them regular e-zines. When the occasion occurs, clients or former clients are happy to recommend my services, but they need to keep being reminded of what I offer.
I have also sent letters and brochures via direct mail to a target group of professionals and run a small ad in a local paper to generate potential fitness testing clients.

Invent Your
Own Profit Center

Be creative in the services you provide to help people improve their health and fitness. You may like the idea of boardroom fitness testing or you may have a different approach. Add your own signature to integrative fitness in the workplace. Define your own way of bringing wellness home. Go beyond business as usual and take it where it has never gone before. Carry your wellness vision in your heart, and grow it one client at a time.

Sidebar: Sample Strength and Endurance Tests

1a. Muscular Strength, Upper-Abdominal Wall*
Have the client lie supine, knees flexed, with soles flat on the mat or floor, heels 12 inches from gluteals. Perform this assessment in three phases for evaluation purposes.

Initial Phase. The client moves his head and shoulders off the mat by lifting his cervical and thoracic spine while keeping his lower back in contact with the mat. In this stage, his arms are fully extended at 45 degrees to the ground. He rises until the lower angle of his scapula clears the mat. Completion of this stage is graded as fair for upper-abdominal-wall strength.

Second Phase. Perform this phase exactly like the initial phase, except the arms are now folded across the chest. Completion of this stage is graded as good for upper-abdominal-wall strength.

Third Phase. Perform this phase exactly like the initial phase, except the arms are now behind the head. Completion of this stage is graded as excellent for upper-abdominal-wall strength.

1b. Muscular Strength, Lower-Abdominal Wall*

Have the client assume a supine position with arms extended at sides. Ask her to maintain a slight pelvic tilt where the lower back keeps contact with the testing surface. Assist her in raising her legs fully extended to a right angle from the ground (slight knee flexion when necessary). Position your hand in the space between the mat and her lower back. Instruct her to keep her lower back pressed to your hand. When she is no longer able to maintain pressure on your hand, end the test and record the angle. See the arc illustration.
Use the following numbers as a measurement guide.

  • Legs at 30 degrees or less when contact with trainer’s hand is lost is graded as poor.
  • Legs at 30-45 degrees or less when contact with trainer’s hand is lost is graded as fair.
  • Legs at 46-60 degrees or less when contact with trainer’s hand is lost is graded as average.
  • Legs at 61-75 degrees or less when contact with trainer’s hand is lost is graded as good.
  • Legs at 75-100 degrees or less when contact with trainer’s hand is lost is graded as excellent.

*Note: Both tests are Progressive Fitness Training School 1995.

2. Muscular Endurance, Push-Ups
Ask the client to perform push-ups to failure. For men, I use the Canadian Physical Activities Appraisal for male comparisons (Progressive Fitness Training School 1995). For women, I use the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research modified push-up for females (Progressive Fitness Training School 1995).

Additional Sample Tests
3. Flexibility: Sit-and-Reach Test
From the sit-and-reach position, your client should warm up by making slow, gradual movements toward the end of a yardstick placed between his legs. Place a piece of 12-inch-long duct tape across the yardstick at a right angle at the 15-inch mark. Instruct him to set shoeless heels at the tapeline, 12 inches apart. Ask him to reach forward along the yardstick with both hands together. Select the best of three trial measurements. Use the YMCA Sit-and-Reach Test norms (Ca├▒ada College 2008).

4. Body Fat Test
I use Lange skinfold calipers and the Jackson/Pollock equation to calculate body fat (for methodology, see National Strength and Conditioning Association 1994; for norms, see Jackson & Pollock 1985). However, I will often use BMI as an alternative to determine body fat with people who are uncomfortable with the caliper method. I also like to offer a hip-to-waist assessment, as it gives me an opportunity to educate people on its significance.

5. Aerobic Endurance: 3-Minute Step Test
Using the traditional Forestry Step Test is not practical in an office setting because it means carrying two different step heights, one for men and one for women. Instead, I bring a 12-inch-high equestrian mounting block, along with a metro­nome set at 90 steps per minute (for protocol and norms, see Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology 2003).


Cañada College 2008. YMCA Sit-and-Reach Test. http://canadacollege.edu/fitnesscenter/assess/sit-reach.html; retrieved August 4, 2008.
Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology. 2003. Norms for muscle endurance using the standard push-up test source. In The Canadian Physical Activity, Fitness & Lifestyle Approach: CSEP-Health & Fitness Program’s Health-Related Appraisal and Counseling Strategy (3rd ed.). Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology: Ottawa, Ontario.
Jackson, A. S., & Pollock, M. L. 1985. Practical assessment of body composition. The Physician and Sportsmedicine, 13 (5), 76–90.
National Strength and Conditioning Association. 1994. Testing protocols and procedures. In T. R. Baechle (ed.). Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Progressive Fitness Training School. 1995. Canadian Public Health Association norms for pushups and modified pushups, table #5–8. In Progressive Fitness Personal Trainer Study Guide, San Pedro, CA: Progressive Fitness Training School.


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