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New Fitness Test Blurs Line Between Trainers And Doctors

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Many people hit the gym to lose weight, but what they're doing to drop pounds is changing.

At Lifetime Fitness, some are now putting themselves through tests more likely to be found in a doctor's office than a gym.

Finger pricks reveal everything from glucose levels to triglycerides, with more intense lab tests offered to look at hormones and nutritional deficiencies.

But some health professionals have concerns.

Carrie Cole is hoping to improve her overall health.

"I like looking at numbers and seeing things on paper, and that encourages me to where I want to go," Cole said.

Instead of going to her doctor, she's headed into the gym. There, they'll make a small finger prick, and collect a small amount of blood.

Cliff Edberg is a registered dietitian and a personal trainer at Lifetime Fitness.

In between health questions, blood pressure tests among others, the blood taken from the finger prick is analyzed in a five-minute test to look at glucose and triglyceride levels.

"It's just discovering what's really going on inside your body," Edberg said.

Holt Vaughan with HealthCheckUSA introduced the system to Lifetime Fitness.

"It's giving people the power to take control of their health," Vaughan said.

The gym will also set up off-site testing that gives you more information about things like hormone levels, food intolerance and risks for disease.

Dietitians and trainers, like Edberg, say it works.

"We can pinpoint the actual cause of people not feeling good or gaining weight," Edberg said.

But medical professionals have concerns.

"The question is, 'Who is interpreting these tests?'" said Laura Patton with Fairview Clinics. "Is it a licensed physician? A nurse practitioner?"

Patton said most people get these types of tests when they go through a routine physical. She worries people will get information from outside the exam room and not know what to do with it.

"Whether it be diet decisions, medications, therapies, or imaging studies -- that can't be done at a gym," she said.

Vaughan says HealthCheckUSA doesn't discourage anyone from seeing a health professional, but does think his method can be easier.

"The doctor will likely just refer you to the same lab to get the testing done," he said. "This is easy, convenient, up front."

Cole feels grateful for the assessment after seeing her results, and she plans to plot a new path at the gym.

The more specific lab tests aren't done onsite at Lifetime Fitness -- you have to physically go to a lab.

And the results take about a week. You don't have to go through Lifetime for the tests either.

A number of labs now offer direct-to-consumer testing.

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