Q & A

Client Consultations and Understanding Client Needs

Premier Global NASM
Premier Global NASM


Through this masterclass, Premier Global NASM personal trainer Charlotte Tooth will take you through client consultations and the importance of understanding clients needs.  

With clients needs being the cornerstone for successful teaching, these tips can help pave the way for success!

Video and Transcript


Charlotte Tooth (00:00):

Hello, Premier Global. My name is Charlotte Tooth and today I'm going to take you through a session on client consultations and how to understand your client's needs.

First of all, let's talk about why we do client consultations? Well first of all for the safety of the clients, so we can find out about any disease, any injuries, anything that might be going on with their body right now. Second of all, for the specificity of your programming, to ensure that you're not just giving them a cookie cutter program, that you are meeting them where they are at and designing something that's appropriate for their body.

Charlotte Tooth (00:30):

Client consultations will also give you the information you need to understand that person psychologically. So you can understand how to work with them, what language to use, and also how to build rapport with that person. So consider a client consultation like a road map.

You wouldn't leave to go somewhere specifically without knowing where you are going. So it's finding out where you're going and putting that roadmap in place. Finding out where you're going, this is your clients' goals. Putting that roadmap in place is your programming and everything you do with that client in order to get there.

Charlotte Tooth (01:02):

We've all made that trip and made lots and lots of wrong turns. This can be frustrating, and sometimes it makes you want to turn back home. And this is what it can feel like as a client, when they are taking part in something that isn't directed towards a goal, and doesn't have a clear pathway.

Charlotte Tooth (01:17):

So let's first talk about the PARQ, the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire. The PARQ is designed to identify the major symptoms of pulmonary disease, metabolic disease, cardiovascular disease, but also other conditions that might be aggravated by exercise.

The PARQ will also give you an idea of that client's current physical activity level. You'll get an insight into their lifestyle, their goals, and any necessary changes that might need to take place. For most personal training insurance companies the PARQ is an absolute must. So do check with your personal trainer insurance what PARQ they would like you to use, and what sort of things need to be on that PARQ in order for it to count should there be a legal dispute. It also protects the client as well. So the client might have something that is aggravated by exercise, and we might need to refer out to somebody else before they can start training.

Charlotte Tooth (02:11):

So there are some limitations to the PARQ. It doesn't give you an indication about the risk of developing some of those chronic diseases that we spoke about earlier. Sometimes the PARQs don't ask about medications so you might not know exactly what medication that person is on.

And of course, as we know, medication can affect exercise and how that person responds to exercise as well. Some PARQ forms don't ask about pregnancy. It is worth checking if that is on there. False positive answers on the survey might mean that some people are given a more of a barrier to exercise. So whilst they're waiting for medical clearance, they are sat there twiddling their thumbs, not knowing what to do and desperate to start with a trainer.

Charlotte Tooth (02:50):

Once your PARQ you is all done, the next thing to look at is lifestyle assessment. The lifestyle assessment is looking at that person's daily choices, what they do, and how they behave when it comes to food, sleep, exercise, the information you collect will affect the communication you have with a client. It will affect your exercise prescription.

And then of course it will affect any behavior change practices. You want to make an assessment and of course, make a plan to make change. Always important to find out their motivations for change. Why have they come to you? What is it they believe that you can help them with? When you build rapport with a client, you have the ability to explore their mind and their body a little bit more.

Charlotte Tooth (03:31):

If that person feels like they're not being listened to, or they feel that they need to guard, they're not going to tell you everything that they need to tell you, in order for you to do a good job, try to be the trainer that has a desire to understand the client instead of the trainer that wants to constantly change the client and go in like a wrecking ball.

Charlotte Tooth (03:47):

The more you understand your client and why they are there, and why they are at that state, and why they're coming to you, the more you'll be able to help them. You're trying to build a relationship on trust that facilitates growth, change, and moving forward from where they are at now.

The barriers to exercise are either real or perceived obstacles. Something that could get in the way of that person starting or continuing training.

Examples are, I don't have enough time. I'm always working. I'm always exhausted. There's too much going on in my family life right now. And these are real obstacles. Perceived obstacles, I can't do it. I'm not strong enough. I'm afraid I might get injured. All of these things sometimes we plant into our heads and this becomes a perceived obstacle and stops this person from going forward with their goals. Identify these barriers and build a strategy against them, build a strategy with the client so that they can overcome these barriers.

Charlotte Tooth (04:47):

So one of my clients said to me, "I really struggle with diary management. I always miss my other appointments." For example, the doctors, anything medical, but anything to do with work, she always sticks to. I asked her, how do you put your work appointments in your diary?

She said, "I put it on my Google calendar." I was like, "Right. You must put your exercise in your Google calendar." One, you need a reminder at 6:00 AM when you wake up, I am exercising today, so it goes into your brain. And two, you need the reminder at 11:00 that you are doing your session with me. It is in your diary. It's an important meeting. And then you will stick to it. I just took the behavior of the work, how she put her work appointments in. And I put that into her personal training.

Charlotte Tooth (05:31):

Addressing barriers can also build adherence. It can help hugely with giving people the strength that they need to overcome obstacles. So how can we support change and help people move forward in their lives, in a positive and actionable way? Focus on their wellbeing first and foremost, if this person is exhausted because you've got them working out five days a week and they're doing too much, their wellbeing is suffering.

So we need to know how to constantly assess, reassess, evaluate is this right, right now. And this will be a constant ever-changing pattern, depending on what's going on in that person's life.

As humans, we have the need and the wants to tell people all of our knowledge and to show people how smart we are. Remember as a personal trainer, we need to be a funnel and by a funnel, I mean, this is how much, you know, it's all up here, and this is how much you give to your client, the small amount that is necessary so as not to overload them.

Charlotte Tooth (06:26):

We want to give the clients bite-sized chunks of information fed in to make small amounts of changes each day, too much information, and they can't take it in and you've lost their attention. Now, speaking about supporting change, motivational interviewing is a great technique you can use in order to get the most out of your client.

So the difference between motivational interviewing and normal interviewing, what a lot of people do is they sit their clients down and they say, "You need to change this. You need to do this." Whereas motivational interviewing is a collaborative process. You are asking the client, what do you feel like you need? And you're listening and you're engaging and you're asking open-ended questions. And this can help bring the best out of a person. By the end of a really good motivational interviewing session, the client will feel like they came up with the strategy for change themselves.

Charlotte Tooth (07:16):

If you have any time, I really recommend having a cheeky Google on motivational interviewing. It is fantastic. It's quite in-depth when you look at all the information about it, but if you can read all of that and bring it down to some simple, actionable points for yourself, I really, really recommend it.

Charlotte Tooth (07:31):

And then of course, for supporting change, we've got goal setting. We've got rewards, we've got feedback. We've got self-monitoring, habit trackers, whatever you feel like that person responds to best. I like to ask people, when you achieved something that you never thought you achieved, what was the process that you did to get there? And that will give me an indication of what process I should be using with them.

Charlotte Tooth (07:55):

And then a really important one is plans for relapsing behavior. So if a client says to me, "Char I had fish and chips last night that wasn't on my plan. It's not very nutritious, or it's over my calories."

Whatever it is, I say to them, "If you get one flat tire, don't slash the other three." Build that tire, put it back on and keep going. One day doesn't make a bad week. So you've got to try and find a way to phrase it to them that they haven't fallen off the wagon and they have the ability to step back on and keep going towards their goals.

Charlotte Tooth (08:26):

Lastly, anybody that knows me knows I'm a book geek. Here are some book recommendations if you have time to look at to help you with your client assessments, and with eliciting change in your clients lives. The first one is A User's Guide to the Brain by John Ratey, he does some fantastic stuff about how the brain actually works. He's also on audible as well. It's a great listen and really fascinating to figure out why we do what we do.

Charlotte Tooth (08:53):

The next one is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. He speaks about conversational skills and how to influence people with your words, really quite powerful book. And then the last one is Advanced Personal Training, Science to Practice by Paul Hough and Simon Penn. A great book. There's a whole section of behavior change.

Charlotte Tooth (09:13):

So thank you so much for joining me for today's session on client consultations, how to understand your client's needs. I have been Charlotte Tooth. If you have any questions, drop me a DM on Instagram, I am Charlotte_Tooth. And let me know how you get on with some of these new ideas that you might be implementing. Have a fantastic Friday and I'll see you all again on the next one.

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Premier Global NASM

Premier Global NASM