There are a range of questions your personal trainer should be asking you that go beyond simply asking about your weight, money you have to spend, and how much you can bench press.
Collecting data on your height and weight (to work out your BMI) – as well as your waist circumference (this combined with your BMI is a better indicator) – and recording what brought you to the gym in the first place is important, but these and other questions should be asked.
Questions to ask a client, beyond ‘do you have high blood pressure?’, include (not an exhaustive list):
- What time does the client get up and go to bed?
- Are they morning or evening exerciser?
- What time does the client start and finish work?
- Does the client work shifts?
- Does the client work from home, a primary location, or multiple locations?
- Doe they work part-time or full-time?
- Does the client have kids?
- If yes, how old? Think primary (taken to school) versus secondary (take self to school).
- Is the client a carer, other than their kids?
- How does the client get to and from work?
- Walk, cycle, run, bus, train and/or car.
- What physical activity and/or exercise does the client currently undertake?
- It is important to note the difference.
- A construction worker may be physically activity due to their job but do no exercise. In contrast, an office worker may be physically inactive (sitting at a desk) but regularly partake in exercise.
- I find, as a general rule, that clients are asked questions about their past and current exercise activity but not about their physical activity.
- Does the client have pets?
- Think dog walking versus cat clapping!
- Home-based versus gym-based sessions?
- Will the client be going to the gym for training or is the trainer going to the client’s home, or some other indoor/outdoor location?
Now, reading this, you may think these are intrusive questions to ask. However, the answers to these questions will help to determine the clients lifestyle as, for most people, exercise fits around their life not life fits around their exercise.
If you want to increase client attraction and reduce attrition (aka churn), it is important to demonstrate to the client how you, as a personal trainer, can develop and adapt a training programme to fit around the client’s lifestyle rather than fitting the client around the training programme. Without the answers to the above questions it can become problematic to achieve this.
There are a number of occasions when this information can be gained, including:
- Initial consultation:
- Either over the phone, via email, or face-to-face at the gym).
- Either initial or ongoing.
- When you are first shown around the gym.
- In other words, the personal trainer casually chats with the client when they attend the gym (i.e. it is not pre-planned).
The point of asking these questions across different time points and over time is that clients lifestyles may change. For example, a client may decide to have a baby, gain a promotion which changes their working pattern, or they may develop a medical condition which impacts on the physical activity/exercise they can perform.
Anticipating and responding to a client’s needs helps to build rapport and relationships, as well as aiding retention.
If you don’t ask the question, it can be difficult to get the answer.