If you’re a personal trainer or coach, you’ll know there’s much more to your job than simply delivering classes. There’s often a lot of necessary admin and planning work in the background that clients and prospects don’t always see.
Some tasks are more important than others—but outside of classes, one of the most important jobs for a PT or coach is keeping up-to-date client records.
Proper records, often referred to as progression sheets or progress reports, should accurately reflect your client’s achievements, training programme, goals, and general capabilities—allowing you to deliver a safe, tailored training plan.
What should you include in your client records?
What you include in a client report will very much depend on the client and their goals. However, as a starting point, you may want to consider the following:
- your client’s weight, body composition, strength and ability at the start of the programme
- a realistic goal timescale
- what went well and not so well, session by session
- your client’s thoughts and feelings, session by session
- weekly and monthly progress towards goals
The more information you can keep track of, the more tailored and effective your training will be.
Now, here are 5 reasons why keeping client records is so important as a PT or coach.
1. Health and safety
Firstly, the health and safety of your clients should be one of your top priorities, and keeping up-to-date records can help you to ensure that this important area doesn’t get neglected.
Each time you onboard a new client, you should get a full lowdown of any pre-existing medical conditions or injuries they may have and keep this on record to be updated as and when necessary.
This will allow you to tailor your sessions around their capabilities and minimise the risk of accidents and injuries which could lead to claims against you.
2. Progress tracking and monitoring
Another reason why keeping client records is important is because it helps you to track the progress your clients are making over time.
You’ll know that every client has different goals, and a different idea of what success looks like. Your job is to help them get there, so keeping track of things is crucial to both you and them.
Again, what you choose to track and monitor will depend on each client’s goals. Keeping this information as up-to-date as possible will help provide an accurate picture of how things are going, allow you to celebrate achievements and milestones, and highlight areas for improvement.
Keeping up-to-date client records is also important for insurance purposes. Not keeping proper records and evidence of a client’s capabilities could mean you’re liable to pay damages should a client make a claim against you.
Gymnastics coach case study: a real-life example
In 2023, one coach—an Insure4Sport policyholder—was sued by a client after admitting liability for an accident.
The claimant decided to take action against their coach after suffering a fall involving a handstand. Unfortunately for the coach, there was no concrete evidence—or progression sheet—to support their view that the claimant was competent to perform the handstand manoeuvre unsupervised.
Therefore, the claimant was successful, and liability was admitted for a substantial amount. Thankfully, for the coach, they had insurance to cover the cost. However, had they not had this, they would have had to settle the claim from their own pocket.
So, there’s a good example of why keeping up-to-date records is so important.
With specialist sports coach insurance or personal trainer insurance through Insure4Sport, you can get up to £10m of Public Liability and £1m of Professional Indemnity cover to protect yourself should a client make a claim against you. Learn more about your options here.
4. Effective communication
Strong and clear communication with clients is one of the best ways of maintaining their trust. You need to demonstrate that you are trustworthy and have your client’s best interests at heart if you want them to stay engaged with your programme and achieve positive results.
This is where keeping up-to-date records can help again, as the more you know about each client, the more you can communicate with them and tailor your sessions.
The more accurate your records are, the clearer you can be with clients about where they’re at in terms of progress and ability, and therefore what they can and can’t yet do unsupervised.
The more at ease your clients are with you will also mean they’re more likely to give you honest feedback and let you know if something’s not working, or if their goals have changed. This, in turn, will also help you keep your records updated.
Regular communication helps to nurture strong trainer-client relationships, which, ultimately, is beneficial for both sides.
5. Your own education
Much of the focus as a PT or coach is on providing your clients with the best possible service and experience, but trainers mustn’t forget themselves and their own career development, too.
PTs and coaches should regularly engage in ‘extra-curricular’ activities and learning to ensure they stay abreast of current industry trends, relevant research, and best practice.
Regularly updating your records will allow you to showcase this learning to your clients and prospects and, if necessary, adapt your training approach—ensuring you’re providing the best possible guidance and standing out ahead of your competition.
In a nutshell, making sure your client records are up-to-date will make you a better and more educated trainer. You’ll also be in a much better position to defend yourself should the worst happen, and a large claim is made against you in the event of a client injury.