The importance of screening your clients and the questions you should ask

Screening is a vital part of the initial process when taking on any new personal training clients. Health screening questionnaires as well as initial consultations not only help you find out if there are any health risks to be aware of but also helps you understand what your client’s goals are and how you can build a plan for them to achieve those goals based on their current health status or any past injuries. Any personal trainer worth their salt should have a bespoke client consultation form that they ask their new clients to fill out, so today we’re going to look at what questions you should ask and why.

Lifestyle questions

You need to establish just how healthy your client already is by taking in to account a variety of different aspects, as this will help you build a workout plan for them. These questions should include:

Occupation – They may lift heavy objects all day or they may be sat in an office so you need to create a workout based on these factors

Lifestyle – do they have an active or fairly inactive lifestyle?

Diet – do they eat healthy or are they stuffing their face with junk all day?

Drink alcohol – Does your client drink? This may affect their ability to lose or gain weight.

Stress levels – are they stressed out at work or in their daily life? Do they need a more relaxing workout or should they work their fury out on the pads with you?

Hours of sleep – sleep will affect energy levels and a person’s ability to recover from injuries or workouts. Finding out how much someone sleeps every day will help you craft an appropriate plan – not everyone gets 8hrs a night so be realistic when creating said plan.

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Medical History

Asking your client to state as to whether they have any existing or previous medical problems is a vital part of the screening process. Failure to ask clients about this could result in legal action if they are injured whilst in your care. Aside from legal ramifications, you need to know whether your client has had something like a knee reconstruction, so therefore would not be able to squat as much, or suffer with asthma or heart problems so you know to go easy on the cardio. It is also vital that you are aware of whether or not your client has diabetes, and whether or not they are taking any medication, for legal and safety reasons.

Have they ever had a personal trainer before?

It’s also good practice to find out as much about your client’s needs and goals as possible. Part of this process is finding out whether they have been to see a personal instructor before and why they may have decided not to continue a program with that particular trainer. It could be something as simple as “they moved away” or more complex, like “we didn’t get along” or “I didn’t see any results”. This information will allow you to create a class and a workout that addresses any concerns and helps you figure out where the other PT got it wrong. This will also help you build a rapport with your client as it shows you are genuinely interested in their goals and are committed to not making the same mistakes.

“What are your goals?”

This is obviously the most important question to ask. Find out exactly what your clients want to achieve with their personal training regime and stick to realistic goals. You may feel that your client needs to lose weight, but their goals may be to build muscle. Build a workout plan based on what they want whilst mixing in certain exercises that you know will help them achieve those goals. You are fully aware that six pack abs are achieved with cardio as much as weight training, so explain that this is all part of the process.

Non-verbal communication screening

As a personal trainer it is your responsibility to motivate your client and help them to see the benefit this exercise is having on them. Part of your screening process should also include what your clients are telling you with their body language. Are they happy to be here or are they disinterested in the whole situation? You don’t always get the clients who are ecstatic about training, but you can try your hardest to motivate them and get them interested in the task at hand. Is your client bored with the conversation you are having? Are they nervous? If so, take action, walk them around the gym and discuss the different exercises you will be taking them through whilst getting them accustomed to their surroundings. If you find yourself in a situation where your client is looking bored whilst you’re training them, take action and change up the exercise or make the session more interactive. Being a good people watcher is a skill you need to have.

If you are a personal trainer or fitness instructor, it’s vital you have comprehensive insurance as this protects you should something go wrong whilst working with a client and also protects your equipment in the event of theft, loss or damage. Click here to get a quote for personal trainer insurance and get the cover you need today.

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