Sol Gilbert, owner of Underground Gym and spokesperson for Tanita, outlines how gym professionals can use body composition to ensure clients aren’t doing damage through their workouts.

As fitness professionals, our clients trust us to make sure they are working out the right way. But the rise in people taking inspiration from fitness influencers, workout challenges and online forums, has led many to design their own routine and this can sometimes cause more harm than good. This goes beyond merely not achieving the desired aesthetic results - it can critically endanger clients’ long-term health.

Take HIIT for example. While the benefits of high intensity training are impossible to ignore, any more than three sessions a week can place unnecessary stress on the nervous system, joints and muscle groups.

In worst case scenarios, this can lead to rhabdomyolysis – where muscle begins to break down and leak into the bloodstream. More commonly associated with military bootcamps, this can begin to show symptoms in those who aren’t used to such intense workouts after only one HIIT session, according to a recent study by the American Journal of Medicine. Popular programmes like CrossFit are often blamed for causing a rise in this syndrome, by encouraging many to replicate this level of intensity and seek muscle failure unsupervised.

And while the likes of Instagram have been fantastic at changing perceptions towards strength training - particularly for women - there are also still many who believe a purely cardio-focused routine is the best route to weight loss.

Conversely, others may focus training on only one area such as the upper body – ‘never skip leg day’ hasn’t become a meme without reason! This approach makes it easy for clients to overwork certain muscle groups or neglect others. Without a balanced, tailored programme of cardio and strength training, true fitness can never be achieved. As gym professionals, we have a duty to advise those who may be falling into this trap.

We don’t want to dampen our client’s enthusiasm however it’s important that we give them as much support as possible and take them in the right direction. Body composition scales are a great way to pinpoint any damage to muscles or joints. These provide a reading that goes far beyond a BMI - giving limb-by-limb measurements of muscle mass, body fat, water levels, bone density and metabolic rate. Any damage or stress caused to muscle groups can be easily demonstrated to your client – for example, inconsistencies in leg muscle mass can indicate one is having to work harder than the other.

But while body composition is becoming increasingly prevalent in gyms, there’s a lack of understanding in the industry towards how it can be used to support fitness professionals and their clients.

To help upskill the health and fitness industry, Tanita will soon be launching the UK’s first Tanita Training Academy. A CPD accredited training programme that has been designed to teach fitness professionals about the benefits of understanding how body composition works and how it can benefit clients and gyms alike. The Tanita Training Academy will be held on 26th September in London and the 24th October in Edinburgh, with registration open now.

To learn more and sign up for your place on the Tanita Training Academy by clicking here: Sign up