Is Fitness Testing Right For Me?


Many athletes have questioned if their exercise program was working at some point in their training. Should they be doing more of a particular kind of exercise to enhance their performance? Is there a way they could better achieve the results they desire?

From high-performance endurance athletes to weekend warriors to recovering couch potatoes, performance testing is one way to track the results of a training routine, get advice on how to up your fitness game, or simply receive a baseline measurement of where you’re at on your wellness journey.

“Fitness and performance testing are multi-purpose ways for athletes to increase performance or even just help motivate people to get active,” says Rebecca Kurtz, an exercise physiologist at Henry Ford Health System. “It can be a useful tool for people to see where their health and fitness level is at and where it should be in relation to others of the same age and gender.”

One factor that fitness tests commonly measure is aerobic endurance (VO2max), which is the body’s peak oxygen consumption at maximal exercise and a key indicator of endurance. Fitness testing can also gather information regarding strength and flexibility.

Whether you’re a peak endurance athlete or someone who is determined to get back in shape after an exercise hiatus, fitness testing can be useful to help you outline your goals and understand your body better as you continue with training. For some athletes, undergoing fitness testing on a regular basis is what works for them as they work toward a goal like completing a marathon or making a certain time in a cycling race. For others, coming in once to get a baseline analysis of their fitness level is sufficient.

“Fitness testing is beneficial because it’s useful for all different types of athletes,” Kurtz says. “It’s helpful whether you come in for one round of testing as you’re starting an exercise program or if you use it as a continual benchmark during your training.”

Fitness testing isn’t a new phenomenon. Coaches, personal trainers, gyms and other exercise facilities, and even medical centers offer various types of fitness or performance tests for athletes.

“There are various methods of fitness testing,” Kurtz says. “A medical center may have different equipment, tests and staff than a gym, but both serve beneficial purposes for participants.”

Before starting any exercise routine, especially if you haven’t been active in a while, it’s important to see your primary care provider to ensure you are healthy enough for physical activity. Injuries, sprains and pains can happen to even the most seasoned athletes, so it’s important to know your limits to keep your body healthy.

Interested in fitness testing? The new Henry Ford Human Performance Clinic, in collaboration with the Multidisciplinary Sports Program, offers a comprehensive cardiovascular screening and performance evaluation for all athletes. Call (313) 972-1919 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

For more advice on staying active and fit, check out our MoveWell section.

Rebecca Kurtz is an exercise physiologist who sees patients and athletes at the William Clay Ford Center for Athletic Medicine in Detroit.

Categories: MoveWell