My community rec center owns a Polar BodyAge System. Basically it's a computer with a few devices attached to it that are supposed to measure your overall fitness--a scale, a heart monitor and blood pressure cuff, levers to lift or pull, and a calipers to measure folds of skin for body fat. Supposedly a personal trainer can then use the data to electronically program a custom exercise program for you. In my case, I had just done a six-week session with a trainer and since the BodyAge assessment came with the package she had me come in after we were through and did it for me, not really as part of my training program as I was done with that, but since it was part of the deal that I'd already paid for.
One thing that I was not expecting was that along with measuring my heart rate, etc. the test required my trainer to ask me a series of questions about my overall physical and mental health that were extremely personal and intrusive, the sort you would expect a doctor to ask during a physical. Keep in mind this was not a health care setting but a community gym and a part-time gym employee with no background in medicine or health care. I like my trainer, and because I felt so comfortable with her it wasn't until afterwards that I realized, gee, it wasn't such a good idea to have her load all this extremely confidential information into this computer, which is kept in a locked room but that's about it. I don't even know if it's password protected, and are there even laws protecting the confidentiality of information given to somebody who works at a gym? Since this isn't an aspect of the Polar BodyAge assessment that seems to be mentioned in any promotional literature I've seen about it (certainly not at my rec center) I think people should be aware of this aspect before they choose to have one done.
Another thing I want to emphasize is that there is no proof that the Polar BodyAge assessment is in any way scientifically valid. At least I've yet to find any evidence that it's been endorsed by any reputable medical authority. All I've been able to find online are a few newspapers and magazine articles that sound like they're basically rewritten press releases from the Polar company about what a great motivational aid BodyAge assessments are for people who want to get into shape. Eh, in my case not so much. As I mentioned before I took it after a six-week workout regimen with an excellent trainer, when I was feeling better than I had in years and very proud of myself for having lost six pounds, which according to the BMI scale put me at 26, just seven pounds away from being in the healthy weight range for my height. However, according to the BodyAge machine, not only did I need to lose 30-40 lbs. in order to be at a healthy weight, but I had a body fat composition of nearly 40% and a BodyAge that was seventeen years older than my real age. This would be where knowing whether or not the system is actually a valid measurement of health and fitness would have been really valuable. Because rather than feeling motivated, I just felt like giving up.
I suspect that the BodyAge system was designed as a come-on for for-profit fitness clubs to scare clients into investing more money in products and services by telling them they were physical wrecks on the verge of death. Again, I have no proof either way. But if you're sensitive about your weight and fitness level, not to mention choosy about who has access to your medical data, I strongly urge you to think twice before going in for one of these.