As a personal trainer, it is up to you to make sure that everything is going well and you are building a good relationship with your client. Though you might occasionally get someone who knows exactly what they want and what you can do to help, most of the time, people approach PTs because they aren’t sure what is best for them.

By asking these simple questions, you should get a good feel for your client as a person and be able to tailor a programme to help them reach their goals. Though there are hundreds of questions you could ask, these 5 are the most important for establishing trust and beginning your journey together.

What is your medical background?

You need to know about your client’s medical background to ensure that you don’t accidentally overwork them and so that you are both aware of any risks there may be. In some cases, you may be more comfortable if they take advice from their doctor before they return for the next session, just to be sure that what you are doing is safe. As a bare minimum, all personal trainers should know if their client has any medical conditions.

Why are you training?

Knowing why someone wants to train with you is key to developing the right programme. If you know that they want to build up their strength, you can focus on the activities you do on that goal. On the other hand, if they are looking to come out as something fun and active to do on an evening, you might tailor your routine to be more game-like and a bit less intense.

This might also be an opportunity to talk about lifestyle as a whole. You might like to ask follow up questions such as:

  • What do you tend to eat?
  • What is your job?
  • What other training or services might you like?

These questions are your chance to see if there is anything else you could be doing to help them but it is also a way of checking in on progress to see how things are developing. Fitness, as we know, is not just about going to the gym and sitting on the rowing machine for 30 minutes, it is interlinked with everything we do.

What sort of exercise do you like?

Everyone has a preference for exercising and there are very few people who don’t have any preconceived ideas of what they will be doing. This question shouldn’t narrow the activities you do together, but it should inform you about what they will want to turn up for each week. In other words, if your clients hates cycling with a passion, they aren’t likely to continue showing up if that’s all you do!

How are you feeling?

Many people who are new to sports and training may not be comfortable when they begin. Asking them how they feel will help you to gauge where their tolerance is and how they work best. It will also inform you when they are overworking and could be putting themselves at risk of burn out too soon.

Asking how your client is feeling a few times during the session will also help you to bond as it shows that you are caring for them, not just getting them to do another set of burpees. As they get fitter, they will also begin to connect how they are feeling with the progress they are making and start to learn where their limits are and where they do their best work.

Is there anything I can do better?

As with any teacher/ student relationship, you need to be humble enough to take constructive criticism to improve the way you deliver your training sessions. Not many people will just come out and say that they are unhappy with something or would like to change something so asking the question provides a forum for discussion.

Be prepared to take anything negative they say on the chin and figure out how to change your sessions to improve them. This is all about personalisation so the more you can do to make your client happy, the more enjoyable their sessions will be and the more likely they will come back.

Asking these questions before you start your training programme is essential but you should also be asking questions throughout the session and as your relationship develops over time. The more questions you ask, and the more you get to know your client, the better you can do for them.