As fitness professionals, nearly all of us have to carry out a form of fitness consultation. If you are a personal trainer, Pilates teacher, Yoga Instructor or other professional that work’s one to one or with small groups then this definitely applies to you.
If you run group classes then you are still likely to collect most of this information but in a less structured environment so it’s always good to have a checklist to ensure you have asked all that you need to ask so they can get started safely!
Most of you will have learnt how to perform fitness consultations in your initial training but it is always worthwhile refreshing your memory and ensuring you are keeping up good practices.
Let’s explore the key information that needs to be collected before a client starts training with you.
First and foremost you need to collect the participants details. You need Full Name, Phone Number, Date of Birth and Emergency Contact Details as the minimum.
It is essential that you perform some pre exercise health screening to ensure your clients’ are safe and suitable for your type of session. There are many different forms available in the fitness industry but the most renowned form is the PAR-Q (Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire). This asks 7 questions to assess whether an individual needs to gain medical clearance before participating in exercise. You can also develop your own medical history questionnaire in addition to the PAR-Q form to gain more information but the PAR-Q should be the minimum screening performed.
Should someone answer ‘YES’ to any of the questions in the PAR-Q then they are required to gain medical clearance from a health professional to ensure they are safe to exercise. Sections A, B, C & D can be completed by the client with your help if needed before taking it to their medical professional.
It is important to gain informed consent from the client as this ensure they fully understand what the exercise is going to involve alongside the potential associated risks. They will be accepting to participate in exercise with full understanding of the risks. You can create your own informed consent forms which are specific to your sessions or classes.
The largest section of an initial fitness consultation with a client will involve chatting and getting to know them.
During this consultation chat you want to establish the following areas:
- Any previous and current injuries
- Medical history – i.e. asthma, diabetes, heart disease, operations etc.
- Current medical conditions – that you may need to adapt exercise for
- Current medications – since you may need to be aware of side effects
- Previous and current activity levels – to identify their level of fitness and interest in activity and exercise
- Exercise interests – you need to know what they enjoy doing in order to encourage commitment and adherence
- Motivations – what is the reason for them wanting to exercise now?
- Barriers – identify any barriers that your client may come across such as time, travel, money etc. However, don’t directly ask for barriers because you may end up encouraging them to consider reasons which are not currently a problem.
- Set Goals – it is important to help the client set goals early on so they feel inspired and motivated to continue. Ensure the goals are short, medium and long term too so you can set out a plan for their fitness journey.
- Identify what their current time availability and commitments are.
In order to measure the progress of your client you need to collect some initial data. There are many different measurements you can collect but some of the most common ones collected at an initial consultation include body fat %, hip to waist ratio, weight and muscle mass.
In order to set goals with your client, you need a starting point in terms of their fitness or ability. Without this, you can’t identify areas for improvement; you also can’t measure progress if you haven’t taken the time to collect relevant data. This part is crucial.
It depends on whether the client has come prepared to do some exercise and the time you have allocated but for example, a Personal Trainer may then wish to take the client into the gym or studio and measure their CV fitness, muscular endurance or strength, flexibility or other specific areas relevant to the client’s goals. If, however, this is not part of the consultations structure then you should discuss what will happen during this functional fitness session so the client is prepared. Then set a date and time to meet again to get started.
Since you are a business, discussing costs and payment details is essential. It is up to you when you wish to discuss this during the initial consultation with a client but often towards the end is a good point. The reason for this is, you have taken the time to get to know them, what their interests and goals are, you have given them the motivation and desire to get started with your support so they understand what service they are getting. They will then consider the cost of your services as a worthy cost to achieve their goals. Whereas if you tell a client at the start of the session, they might not see past the cost to the service you can provide for them. At the end of the day, most people know roughly how much a Personal Trainer, Pilates Instructor or Group Class instructor will cost.
This follows on smoothly from the previous points; if you are arranging the fitness test/measurements session then you need to provide your contact details to make sure the client can reach you. When you discuss cost and payment details, you will also need to provide your contact details.
That should then wrap up the majority of key information you need to get during your fitness consultations. In our next blog we discuss the dos and don’ts of conducting an initial fitness consultation in terms of your presentation.
We have put together the key points from this blog to create you a checklist which you can download and print out to be prepared for your next consultation. It’s available in a PDF format by clicking on the button below.