Frequently Asked Questions »

Pre-Exercise Screening

You can add additional questions that you might ask a new client (e.g. client contact information, risk warnings/disclaimer statements or other information collected for the purposes of delivering your services). However, the questions and the process of the APSS must be used in their entirety, as they are in the tool, and must be referenced appropriately (Exercise and Sports Science Australia, AUSactive, Sports Medicine Australia and Exercise is Medicine Australia, 2019).

The reason for this is that they are evidence based and have been carefully designed to elicit client responses that will uncover health risks that might contra-indicate exercise and which require further guidance from a medical or allied health professional. Using only part of one of the stages or altering the intended process may prevent accurate risk factor calculation and risk assessment which could lead to unsafe and unsuitable exercise prescription and advice.

Stage 1 of the APSS tool is the compulsory stage, and so is expected to be used for all casual gym visits (either using gym facilities or participating in a group exercise class) to ensure businesses and professionals are meeting their duty of care in screening for high risk clients.
In relation to casual swim clients, the APSS would generally be applied for structured exercise as opposed to casual swimming; however Stage 1 could still be applied. AUSactive recommends that professionals and businesses liaise with Royal Life Saving and other Aquatics peak bodies for guidance in these situations.

No, one form is sufficient for ongoing attendance. It is recommended that the client management process that is used by a business or trainer should enable screening results to be kept on file and easily checked for casual visitors who wish to participate in a class or use a service

The reason that the APSS Stage 1 is compulsory is that it screens for high risk. If someone is high risk, they will require guidance from a medical or allied health professional prior to commencing exercise. Stages 2 and 3 screen for those at moderate or low risk, and in both instances the person can safely begin moderate intensity activity without further guidance from a medical or allied health professional.

While it is preferable for all stages to be completed and for the process to be as thorough as possible, it is acknowledged that this will not always be possible. Therefore Stage 2 is not deemed mandatory.

While many fitness facilities and individual providers ask their clients to sign waivers, they may not always protect the provider. Courts have held that you can’t “waive” your right to provide a duty of care and contracts saying you waive the right for personal injury may not protect you in all circumstances.

Given that there can never be complete safety in recreational and sporting activities that involve significant physical exertion, it is good practice to advise people of the potential risks when undertaking exercise [via a risk warning, rather than a waiver] and to include a disclaimer or notice that highlights the client’s responsibility to disclose all information that may affect exercise prescription and advice.

AUSactive recommends that professionals and businesses seek independent legal advice to determine the best wording for business protection.

In line with health and medical records, the APSS results should be kept on file for 7 years. The length of time that client APSS results remain “current” greatly depends on the results. If the client is considered low-moderate risk (i.e. does not tick YES to any of the Stage 1 questions), then it would be advisable to aim for a periodic review (e.g. annually) to ensure that nothing has changed. It is important to also remind clients that if any health conditions change at any time, their centre or trainer needs to be kept informed so that they can adjust prescribed exercise or refer accordingly (this should be included in a risk warning or disclaimer).

No. Organisations cannot brand the tool and infer that it is part of their intellectual property as this is in breach of copyright law.

Options available include:

Use a cover sheet with your branding that introduces and refers to the attached APSS.
Re-produce the content in its entirety and make reference to the copyright owners (Exercise and Sports Science Australia, Fitness Australia, Exercise is Medicine and Sports Medicine Australia 2019).
Using the national standard that has been endorsed by the national fitness, exercise and sports medicine peak bodies will deliver enhanced credibility and confidence to your clients.

For issues such as risk management and safety, demonstrating that you meet evidence-based national standards that re supported by industry authorities will make more of an impact than promoting your own logo in isolation.

Pre-exercise screening enables exercise professionals to gather information about the state of health or disease of a person, to help reduce the possibility of a problem occurring during exercise. There are no guarantees that an adverse event might or might not occur. However, this prior knowledge will assist in appropriate exercise prescription and can significantly reduce the probability of serious injury or life-threatening incidents.

The Adult Pre-Exercise Screening System (APSS) is the evidence-based Australian standard for conducting pre-exercise screening.

In a rehabilitation situation, a treating Physiotherapist is an appropriate allied health professional to be overseeing the exercise program. If a client attends without a Physiotherapist, having them complete stage 1 of the APSS and provide written confirmation from their treating Physiotherapist to guide exercise prescription is required. In this case it may also be appropriate for the Exercise Professional to phone the Physiotherapist to gain verbal advice about the client’s conditions as well (and to document this).

Clients with a disability should be treated in the same way as able-bodied clients and in both cases, pre-exercise screening is imperative to identify any health risks that require further direction and to guide exercise prescription. In any case, referral to a health professional is not about denying access but rather about seeking guidance prior to developing an appropriate exercise program.

ABS statistics demonstrate that approximately one in five Australians or 4 million people have a disability (such as mobility, vision, hearing and learning disabilities) and disability rates increase with age. Therefore, failing to incorporate disability and seniors facilities and services into your business strategy will place your business at a disadvantage. In addition, businesses have a legal obligation to provide equality of experience for all. Remember that staff training (not just of fitness staff but front desk and customer service staff as well) is an essential component of delivering an inclusive service and ensuring that appropriate practices are delivered when dealing with disabled clients.

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