Q & A

How to create a personal training questionnaire for clients

Sam Underwood 0

There are a number of reasons to complete a fitness questionnaire, for both the client and the trainer, before the first session.

  • It screens clients so that trainers know they are safe to participate in fitness activity
  • It identifies any conditions that trainers need to know about prior to the client taking part in training
  • It identifies any objectives the client may have
  • It gives an indication of the level of fitness that a client possesses, allowing the trainer to set realistic initial starting points  

But what should you include? Below is a list of suggestions for questions that you might include, but if you have any legal concerns it is worth checking with lawyers and/or other trainers to ensure everything that you need is included.

*Questionnaires can be a game-changer for both gym instructors and personal trainers


Useful for calculating BMI – whether you’re a believer in the virtues of this measurement or not. Weight loss or gain will certainly be important to many of your clients, for cutting fat and packing on muscle or both. Alongside the measurements below, regular weigh-ins on the same set of scales give clients a specific date and target to work towards.

Statistics – biceps, chest, waist, blood pressure, resting heart rate

While none of these are mandatory, they provide a starting point for clients to build upon. Most gyms/PTs will take these measurements themselves during the induction/filling in the form, particularly the latter two points. High (140-159 over 120 over 90-99) or low blood pressure, in particular, can result from a lack of physical activity, smoking, too much salt in the diet, old age, or kidney disease.

Do you consider yourself to be disabled? Please give details

This will enable a trainer to assess the practicalities of a programme, and establish if any modifications are needed.

Emergency contact

Vital, should the worst happen and the client suffer serious injury. Some forms also ask for clients’ doctor’s details.

Lifestyle questions

There are a huge range of questions about people’s lives that are relevant or important:

Are you pregnant?

Pregnancy certainly should not preclude a client from fitness; walking, running, yoga, swimming and others are ideal for the expectant mum. However, the body is facing increased stress and is undergoing changes; therefore, anything that pushes it to its limits, or anything where the mother could fall, is not to be advised.

Do you smoke? If so, how often?

Smoking restricts the heart, lungs and circulatory systems from functioning efficiently, which inevitably affects a person’s fitness. Therefore, it’s unlikely that you’ll be assigning seven-minute mile runs to someone who puffs 50 cigarettes a day, as there’s an increased risk of the heart struggling and the brain being more restricted of oxygen than a person with average fitness.

Do you drink alcohol?

If the answer is yes – and let’s face it, it’s likely to be – then you should try to quantify further, asking how much: eg 1-2 times a week, 3-4 times a week, 5-6, daily, twice daily, and so on. Alcohol is a killer for weight loss but also deadly for our heart and liver.

Are you on medication?

It’s crucial to know if a client is on medication and why. From there you may need to do some research to ascertain what this means for a PT exercise programme, and which movements should not be attempted. As an example, cold and flu medication, and/or sleeping pills, can sometimes have sedative qualities, which dull the senses and can lead to injuries. There are also less obvious medication dangers; anything that could cause a client to sneeze (antihistamines etc) could be dangerous if they’re exercising.

Do you/have you had any illnesses/injuries?

A pulled hamstring ten years ago may not matter; a heart attack one year ago certainly does. As a client it’s worth highlighting any bothersome tweaks or twinges, and/or any pads that you wear, so that a trainer can target any specific areas of the body that need strengthening.

What do you want to achieve?

Perhaps the most important question on the list. Some clients will simply want to lose weight or get fitter, others will want to put on weight and add an extra inch or two to their biceps. Some might want to be able to bench press 200kg. Many will want to do some or all of these.

Others will have a specific target in mind, such as running a marathon or climbing a mountain, or an ambition without a specific date such as losing weight for the summer.

A third category is those who are looking to get back to their former strength, perhaps after illness, injury or accident or after a period of inactivity; the background to this will have been revealed in the previous questions.

What activities are you interested in?

No matter which activities might be the best for your particular ambitions, you’ll soon get disheartened if you can’t enjoy them or even achieve them. For example, running/jogging might be ideal for weight loss, but if you hate running it’s fairly pointless for it to be suggested. There are many other alternatives that should instead be preferred.

Also, be aware of sports/pastimes that are not delivered through the gym, such as football/netball, that will complement a suggested gym routine.

Current level of exercise (What type/how hard/how many times per week):

If a client already enjoys exercise this will give you more of an idea of the initial stages of a fitness programme. A follow-up question could be: how long is it since you exercised regularly?

Would you like to subscribe to our email newsletter?

You’re a business and sending out a regular email with news, offers, discounts and information costs you nothing, but simultaneously keeps your clients informed and – hopefully – interested in fitness.

Also some of your clients, or those using an associated gym, will sign up and never turn up. Or they’ll quit after two weeks. However, they may very well not cancel their email subscription, and your newsletter might be enough to bring them back. Also, on a practical level, your email might be good for informing them of gym opening hours (around Christmas etc).


This should be included on a separate page, to differentiate the sign up questionnaire sheet from the legal status of the waiver. Click here to find out more.

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The Author

Sam Underwood