As a personal trainer, a vital part of your job is getting to know your clients personally - their specific needs, goals, and much more. A lot of that is part of the ongoing process of training someone, but you need to glean a certain amount of information right at the consultation before you can start offering your services at all.
The more you can extract from a potential client during the initial consultation, the more likely it is that you can offer the help they really need. Let's look at ten of the best questions you should be asking every prospective client.
#1. What Made You Contact Us? What Are Your Goals?This question is just out of the textbook. Without knowing what your prospective client wants to achieve, you won't be able to figure out how you can help them.
You can ask them about their short-term and their long-term fitness goals and see what kind of motivation is driving them. Are they getting ready for a marathon, a mountain climb, or their wedding? Or are they just trying to lose some weight or tone up a little? Including questions on why the time is right now and why they want to achieve that goal will give you an idea of how that person can be motivated.
#2. How Active Have You Been In The Past 6-12 Months?6-12 months is a significant period to establish if someone is generally inactive, has been active in the past but not recently or if they include structured training into their lifestyle already.
The three different activity levels will need a different approach when you start working together. The first plan will look different for someone who doesn't even walk daily to another person who already goes to the gym 3-4 times a week. And a person who has an exercise history but hasn't done it for some time might need to start slow but can be progressed quicker than a total beginner.
#3. How's Your Nutrition?What your client eats will have a significant impact on their ability to train well too, so this is something you need to ask them and ascertain at your first meeting. Sometimes people tend not to reveal the whole truth, so asking about how and when they eat on an average day and how well they think that supports their everyday activities will give you more details.
Talking about nutrition with your prospective clients will also help you identify how ready they are to make changes to their lifestyle outside of workouts and where you need to meet them to start their fitness journey in terms of nutrition education and habit coaching.
#4. How Much Sleep Do You Get and What Time Do You Go to Bed?As a personal trainer, you're probably already well aware that sleep holds a central place within anyone's overall health. It affects hunger, recovery and risk of injuries, not to mention sleep deprivation can inhibit fat loss goals.
Understanding your potential client's sleeping habits will help you identify other areas where they might lack self-care and provides a great starting point for a conversation on stress levels.
#5. How Would You Rate Your Stress Levels On A Scale Of 1-10 And Why?Stress is not only an indicator of how well someone is looking after themselves. It is also the kind of thing that can affect a workout session considerably. If your client is very stressed, they will likely struggle to gain the same benefits from exercise or make things worse with the wrong type of activity. Moreover, having a sense of their reasons behind their stress can help you work out some of the lifestyle changes they need to make to see improvements in that area.
#6. What Is Your Occupation?An individual's occupation has an enormous bearing on their physical wellbeing, as well as what they are likely to be capable of doing during training. Someone who sits at a desk all day will experience different demands on their mental and physical wellbeing than others running around all day, especially those travelling great distances every week.
The more you understand what they do for a job and what it involves, the more you can tailor your advice to their needs and abilities - and the clearer a picture you will have of their lifestyle. Knowing their occupation can help to design the fitness plan much more succinctly.
#7. Do You Have a Medical Condition?One of the most important things you need to know is whether the client has any underlying medical issues from lifestyle diseases like hypertension or diabetes through conditions like arthritis to injuries that didn't recover properly.
You might still offer them help if they have a medical issue, but it is essential for their safety that you know about it upfront. And there is a chance that it turns out it's out of your scope, and you need to refer them to a specialist.
#8. Do You Smoke?Although a smoker might get a little defensive when you ask this, it is in their best interests - and yours - if you know the truth about their damaging lifestyle habits. A smoker will more likely struggle to achieve the same cardiovascular fitness results as someone who isn't one. If you want to manage their and your expectations, you need to explain to them how it will affect their results to accept it.
A conversation about harmful habits might seem a tough one for you too, so ensure you keep the tone kind, explain why their answer matters, and do so in a way that they don't feel judged. Most smokers know it's not great for them, and many have already tried to give it up, potentially multiple times. Smoking also opens up a conversation on addictions, so keep your ears and eyes open, and if you find the person in front of you is ready to open up, encourage the discussion. The more you know, the better you can advise them, and in some cases, you might need to be the one telling them if they need other kinds of help.
#9. What Do You Think Is The Biggest Inhibitor In Your Life Right Now That Stops You From Achieving Your Fitness Goals?If they know the answer to this question, that empowers you to know where exactly to help them first and foremost. It's a way for them to help you help them, and it's one of those pieces of information that will make a huge difference overall in how you approach their programming.
In other words, without realising, they will give you the key to their success by telling you what they think they have to change to unlock their fitness success. This topic can then lead to a dialogue on what they expect from you as their trainer to create an environment for co-operation where you can also lay out what you expect of them and figure out whether you're the right fit for each other.
#10. When Would You Like to Start?Assuming that your discussion about question #9 went well, this question will pass the ball to your client in taking control of their fitness goals. It will also tell you how ready and determined they are to get started.
You can use this opportunity to book a start date and discuss payment methods.