You’ll identify your starting point. You know where you want to end up and how you want to look and feel when you’ve accomplished your goal, but where are you starting from? Just saying “I’m out of shape” isn’t specific enough when determining what you need to work on. You need to zone in more: Can you run one mile or five miles? Can you do one push-up or 50 push-ups? It’s important to know this so you can gradually increase the intensity of your workouts, instead of starting with a workout that’s much too difficult to handle right now. Starting with the wrong intensity can be a waste of time, or worse, a recipe for injury.

• You’ll be aware of injuries, muscle tightness and muscle imbalances. It’s not always easy to tell when your body isn’t functioning correctly. An injury, like a torn rotator cuff, may be easily identifiable. But what if your range of motion in your right shoulder is not nearly as good as your left shoulder? A lack of range of motion or tightness may eventually lead to injury and more pain. If injured, it’s very difficult to work out with enough intensity to see the desired results you want.

Something else that may pop up while assessing your fitness is muscular imbalance. Muscular imbalance occurs when one muscle group is much stronger than its opposing muscle. For example, if you go to to the gym and work on push-ups and bench press — which work the muscles of the chest — but don’t work the upper back as much, you’re likely to have bad posture caused by muscular imbalance. Your bad posture might not affect your day-to-day gym routine right now, but it may eventually lead to a devastating injury. Muscular imbalances can affect the way you move, and over time, can cause injuries, so it’s very important to identify these issues before they cause injury.