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Functional screening: no two zebras look alike! by Elizabeth Leeds, DPT

A colleague once told me, “When you hear horses coming, think zebras!” This phrase is an excellent way to remember to question our assumptions before planning an exercise program. As therapists or personal trainers, we may see a client who is older and assume the person is unfit, only to find out that she or he is an avid exerciser who could be categorized as "athlete." That’s a perfect example of why it pays to hold off from making instant assumptions about a person’s capabilities.

With each client that you see, an initial consultation is needed to understand the client’s goals, lifestyle and abilities. There are multiple subjective, anatomical, postural and cardiovascular assessments available to therapists and trainers. These are valuable tools for determining the exercises and intensity levels appropriate for each individual. In addition, finding out more about a person’s lifestyle habits and activities can be just as important.

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