Katelyn Sander

InBody Assessments, Part 1: Why InBody?

Living Well

By: Rob Coates, Personal Training Director, Toronto Athletic Club

Once upon a time, a young man went to College to learn about Health & Fitness. After dodging a Triceratops and T-Rex or two on his way to class, he was told the following: “Those fancy Bio-Electrical Impedance Machines aren’t accurate enough… We’re going to teach you how to measure body fat with calipers.”

Back in the Jurassic Era, that was probably true.

One of the next things the teacher offered in that Assessment class: “There’s a flaw to every test”.

That’s relevant here because while calipers can be VERY accurate, there are a few issues:

  1. Ability of the tester:
  • I did A LOT of caliper measurements in between waiting for Brontosaurus eggs to hatch, but it’s a skill that if you aren’t practicing, the accuracy of landmarking and pinching properly, will go the way of the Dodo Bird (expecting a dinosaur reference?).
  1. SAME Tester each time:
  • Despite being diligently and stringently marked on the accuracy of our caliper measurements, they tend to differ from tester to tester.
  1. Using the SAME Caliper Protocol:
  • We tried 3 different Caliper Protocols in a lab. In the same 3-hour window, our body fat fluctuated drastically - from 8% to 12% to 18%. I wasn’t experiencing sudden and drastic changes in body composition. Instead, a 3-site test missed some of my leaner areas. As the number of sites measured increased, the measurements got more accurate. So, always do 10-site protocols with the same tester who’s well-trained…?
  1. Ideally you wear as little clothing as possible to do a proper caliper test:
    • I love interacting with the Members at the Club. But nothing makes an initial meeting a little more awkward than having to ask someone to strip to their skivvies so I can pinch them with my fancy calipers.

So why InBody? Partly because we can mitigate or eliminate most of the limiting factors outlined above. Every test can be performed with consistency and accuracy as long as you follow the instructions the InBody unit provides. Any variance of who administers the test is nullified and you only need to remove your shoes and socks for the test.

But what about the wise words of your teacher: “There’s a flaw to every test”?

The InBody does have some flaws. It tends to struggle with people who are at extreme ends of the bell curve of body composition (lots of muscle, taller than average, people who are obese, and those who are extremely lean).

For most of us, there’s a high level of accuracy and a ton of VERY useful data provided from a health and biomechanical standpoint.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I outline what the InBody tests, and Part 3, where we’ll cover how to ensure you get the most accurate results.

If you'd like to book an InBody Assessment at the Club, please contact:

Lauren Neal, Adelaide Club
Rob Coates, Toronto Athletic Club
Sean O'Neil, Cambridge Club

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