Body Fat vs. 3D Imagery

In the world of physical assessment, what do trainers and members rely on for feedback?

I spoke with some of our customers that own a body composition machine and Fit3D’s ProScanner technology and asked them about the relevance each has to the member and to their business. Body fat percentages puts the user into a fitness level based on the their total mass of fat divided by total body mass. Fit3D’s ProScanner produces a 3D, 360 degree image of the user’s body, collects measurements from those images, and allows you to compare progress over time by tracking changes from each set of data.

As a fitness professional, it’s vital to the success of your business and your client’s program that they stay motivated to come back for more. The tools that are essential for the success of your client’s program are the tools that are going to be essential for the success of your business. I want to understand how fitness professionals use feedback from body composition and 3D imagery technology to motivate their clients, and if their clients interpret the data in the same way they do. How valuable is each set of data, and why would I want to own one over another?

When I spoke to Esteban Lutz, Owner of Kore 7 Fitness in Sunbury, OH, he spoke about how different machines gather body fat percentage. “In the professional fitness world, the difference in accuracy between a machine like a bod pod and a hand held impedance machine is huge,” he explained. Typically, the variance between hand held impedance and more high end machines like Bod Pod stay within a few points - a big deal to high caliber athletes and fitness professionals looking to fine tune their craft. “However, my average member trying to get rid of some belly fat does not care much about that number. There’s is no emotional tie in to it.”

Marc Cohen, Director of Private Sessions for BFX Studios in NYC, believes the data from both 3D imagery and body fat machines are valuable for understanding a client’s progress, but he has concerns about the validity of body fat machines. “It’s really difficult to ensure that the client takes their body fat scan in the ideal scenarios every time,” he says. “Different variables have an affect on the body fat results; time of day, water consumption, if they’ve worked out recently etc.”

Cohen explains further about the differences between the two sets of data. Initially, both sets are used to create a complete picture of the member’s health status to begin. But as the member progresses in their program they’re less concerned about their body fat number and more concerned about what that number looks like in real life. “Clients that have been around for some time see more value in the Fit3D ProScanner imagery and measurements. If their body fat number is decreasing, great, but they want to make sure that change is reflected in how they look.”

Cohen also went on to talk about the great feedback he’s received from his clients about the Fit3D ProScanner. “The Fit3D ProScanner was not available for a week and clients were concerned we had done away with it for good. That, to me, means they see value in the type of data the machine provides. I don’t see the same reaction when our body fat machine isn’t available.”

Lutz shared Cohen’s sentiments and explained that during a new member orientation, members are eager to gather all the data that trainers can find. However, as the client continues to exercise, none of the body assessment technologies out there matter unless they’re presented in a way that speaks to the user. “I can show members data from all sorts of machines that say they are improving, but members want to see a picture that shows what all that work has done to their bodies,” he says. “Imagery speaks to everyone; fitness professionals, professional athletes, weekend warriors and everyone in between. It’s a common language, unlike body fat numbers, which are relevant to a smaller piece of the fitness population.”

Many of Fit3D’s customers own body composition machines in addition to a Fit3D ProScanner because, together, they allow for multiple points of engagement between member and fitness staff. However, 3D imagery is powerful in a way that other tools aren’t - it speaks to users in a way that everyone understands without need for translation or explanation.  The Fit3D ProScanner’s imagery interprets all the work the user has been doing with the goal of fueling them with the motivation to keep going. No other machine fills the void that asks, what is this exercise program doing to my body?