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7 Essential Questions to Ask New Personal Training Clients

questions to ask new personal trainer clients

Whether you’ve just qualified or have been in the industry for years, it can be hard to know where to start with a new client. 

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of essential questions to ask new personal training clients! We’ll cover everything from their goals to their current lifestyle, helping you provide the best experience possible for your clients!   

Before we get started, why not take your career in fitness to the next level by developing a specialism, starting with our Level 4 Sports Nutrition CourseEnquire today, or download our free prospectus for more information about the full range of courses we offer.

Why Should You Ask Personal Training Questions For New Clients?

new client personal trainer questions 2

If you’ve just taken on a new client, you may be tempted to get straight into working with them to make money as a personal trainer.

However, it is always worth taking the time to ask them some questions before you get started!

This is because the more you can find out about your client, the more you can tailor the programme specifically to their needs, interests and goals. 

This not only makes the process of creating a programme a lot easier for you, but it also shows your client that you are treating them as an individual, listening to them and helping them achieve their goals. 

Asking questions is therefore a great way to start building rapport with your client. In other words, it starts the foundations of a trusting and honest PT-client relationship, which will make your client more likely to enjoy and be engaged with your sessions.

As well as the personal trainer questions to ask new clients that we will cover in this article, you should also make sure that you have filled out a PAR-Q form with your client. 

‘PAR-Q’ stands for ‘Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire’ and is a short form that determines the health and fitness level of your client. 

This is important, as it helps you ensure that your client is safe to exercise, and makes you as their PT aware of their capabilities and limitations. 

So, with all these things in mind, let’s get into our list of the best questions to ask a new client for personal training! 

Questions To Ask New Personal Training Clients #1- What is Your Overall Goal for Personal Training? 

questions to ask new personal training clients

When it comes to what questions to ask a new client when personal training, this should be one of the first things you ask!

After all, one of the main roles of a personal trainer is to help a client reach their fitness goals. So having their goals in mind from the start is what will determine everything about the type of training programme you create for them. 

Knowing your client’s motivations and reasons for coming to you as a PT will help you better prepare and deliver sessions that are all geared towards achieving that goal.

Every client’s goals will be different. However, some of the main types goals clients will have are:

  • To lose weight
  • To gain muscle
  • To prepare for a sporting event
  • To improve their cardiovascular fitness 

 

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Notice how these goals are all focused on a physical outcome. However, many clients may also have a more mental health-related goal, such as:

  • Wanting to lose weight to improve their self-confidence
  • Wanting to get into an exercise to improve their mood and get out the house
  • Wanting to exercise as a way to alleviate anxiety 
  • Wanting to exercise to meet new people and socialise

In other words, you should try to find out the ‘why’ behind their goals. 

With this in mind, when asking your clients these questions, you should be sure to ask for more details. Clients will often take prompting to give you more information, especially if you have only just met!

Plus, health and fitness can be a very sensitive and personal topic. This is why you should try to build a rapport with your client, so that they feel comfortable telling you more about their goals. 

For example, an exchange could go like this:

YOU: So, what are your goals for personal training? 

CLIENT: I want to lose weight. 

YOU: Ok great, thank you. 

From this exchange, you have only found out that they want to lose weight. You don’t know details such as why they want to lose weight, how much they want to lose and in what time frame they want to lose it. 

This is therefore not a good way to go about personal training questions for new clients! 

Instead, you should ask your client follow-up questions such as:

YOU: So, what are your goals for personal training? 

CLIENT: I want to lose weight. 

YOU: Ok great. How much do you want to lose? 

CLIENT: About a stone. 

YOU: And when do you want to have lost a stone by? 

CLIENT: By August ideally, as I’m going on holiday in Spain with my family. 

YOU: And why do you want to have lost weight by then? 

CLIENT: Well, I just want to feel confident in a bikini on the beach. 

YOU: Was there a time in your past when you did feel confident in a bikini? 

CLIENT: Yes, before I had my children I was exercising regularly and felt great. But since then, I haven’t had the time to go to the gym. I just want to get back to feeling that same confidence to be honest! 

As you can see, by listening to your client and asking just a few more questions, you have found out a lot more information about their goals. 

You now know their reasons for wanting to lose weight as being because they have lost confidence in their body since having children. 

You can then use this information to encourage and motivate your client throughout the programme. For example, if they are ever struggling with motivation, you could remind them of why they wanted to start exercising in the first place. 

You could even get them to visualise how good they will feel about themselves on their holiday if they reach their goals. 

This shows the client that you have listened to them and have their best interests in mind, reminding them of their reasons for starting training and motivating them to carry on.

 

Develop a Specialism with OriGym

Get qualified to take on more clients with our Level 4 Sports Nutrition Course!

Set a SMART Goal for Your Client

Standing for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound, you should follow this SMART goal criteria when setting targets for your client. This provides them with clear direction, and makes it easier to track their progress throughout the programme!

So, to take the above example, you could use the SMART criteria to set your client’s goal for personal training as:

To lose 1 stone by August. This will be measured by weighing the client at the start and end of the programme, as well as monthly check-ins.

As you can see, this goal is a lot more specific than just “to lose weight”!

Not only does this give more direction and focus for your client, but also makes it easier for you as a personal trainer! You can now create a programme that will specifically help your client lose a stone by August, as well as being easier to track their programme!

This impact on the rest of your programme is what makes this one of the most important things to as a new client in personal training! 

Questions To Ask New Personal Training Clients #2- What is Your Current Exercise Regime, if Any?

questions to ask new personal training clients 5

Next on our list of new client interview questions for a personal trainer is to ask what their current exercise regime is like. 

However, you should avoid asking a general question such as “what is your current fitness level?” or “how fit and healthy would you say you are at the moment?”

This is because what people consider to be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ fitness can vary. 

For example, one client may tell you that they are “already really fit and healthy” because they can run for 1 mile without stopping. However, another client may say that “they aren’t very fit at all” because they can’t run 10K without stopping! 

That’s why you should instead ask questions that the client can more easily quantify, such as:

  • How often they exercise per week
  • How long they exercise for each time
  • What kind of exercise they do, i.e. cardio, weight training, flexibility training etc.
  • How active their day-to-day life is, i.e. do they have a job where they’re on their feet all day? Or are they sitting at a desk in an office?
  • What kind of exercise do you enjoy the most?

As well as finding out about their current fitness regime, you should also carry out a more health-focused set of questions. 

 

Develop a Specialism with OriGym

Get qualified to take on more clients with our Level 4 Sports Nutrition Course!

This is about getting a full picture of your client’s health, finding out information such as:

  • If they have any underlying health conditions, e.g. diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure etc. 
  • If they have any injuries or mobility issues
  • If they are on any medication 
  • Whether they smoke or drink and how often 

These kinds of new client interview questions for a personal trainer are important because they will help you determine the intensity of the exercise programme you create for them. 

For example, if your client is currently doing little to no exercise on an average week and has a health condition or smokes, then you may need to ease them into the programme with some low-intensity sessions. 

Whereas if your client currently plays a sport a few times a week and already goes to the gym, then you can start the programme at a higher level. 

Finding out the type of exercise a client currently does can also determine the type of programme you create for them. 

For example, if they currently play rugby two or three times a week, then you will need to make sure that your programme avoids over-working certain muscle groups- in this case muscles like the quads and calves. 

On the other hand, you may actually want to focus on the muscles that your client uses in their sport. So in this case, you could focus on lower body exercises to help them strengthen their legs for rugby. 

So, as well as helping you create a better programme, asking about their current exercise regime also shows the client that you care about their health and want to help them achieve their goals safely and effectively. 

Again, this makes you a better personal trainer and therefore makes it more likely that your client will stay with you!

Questions To Ask New Personal Training Clients #3- What Do You Think of [x] Type of Training?

questions to ask new personal training clients 6

Now that you know about their current exercise regime and fitness level, you should now have an idea of the kinds of exercises they are already familiar with. 

With this in mind, the next of our questions to ask a new personal training client is how they feel about a different kind of exercise. This could be something that they have never done before, or something that they have a preconception about. 

For example, say your client says that they do weightlifting three times a week, usually focusing on heavy compound lifts. 

You could therefore ask them if they would consider incorporating some mobility and flexibility training into their routine. Explain that you think this will be a good complement to their heavy weightlifting, as it will help give them a greater range of motion in their lifts, protect their joints and help avoid injury. 

This shows that you are listening to what your client has said and are suggesting something that will improve their health and fitness. 

However, your client may not agree to everything you say straight away!

For example, in response to your suggestion, they may say that they don’t want to lose the muscle they have built from weightlifting by replacing it with flexibility and mobility exercises. However, for more information on bringing flexibility into your sessions, check out our article 'How to Create a Flexibility Session Plan'.

As a personal trainer, you should therefore try to change their misconceptions about this type of training. 

new client personal trainer questions

For example, you could tell them that the flexibility and mobility exercises would be in addition to- not instead of, their usual weightlifting exercises. You would include them as a short warm-up or cool-down at the start and end of your sessions. 

You could also emphasise how in fact, incorporating flexibility and mobility training will actually benefit their weightlifting in the long-run. It will help reduce their DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscles Soreness), meaning that their muscles will recover better and therefore they will be able to lift heavier in their next session.  

So, why is this an important question to ask new personal training clients?

Well, not only does it show your client that you have their best interests in mind, but it also presents you as a knowledgeable fitness professional. This makes your client trust you more and therefore more likely to engage with your programme and remain a loyal client! 

Plus, including different training styles into your sessions makes for a more diverse and exciting programme for your client. Again, this makes them more likely to stay motivated and engaged! 

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Enjoying this article so far? Here’s 3 more that we think you’ll love:

Questions To Ask New Personal Training Clients #4- What Does Your Typical Weekly Schedule Look Like?

questions to ask new personal training clients 2

One of the most important new client questions for a personal trainer to ask is about the client’s current weekly schedule.

This is what will ultimately determine the times for your PT sessions.

You should find out:

  • Your client’s occupation and working hours, i.e. are they 9-5? Or do they have work night shifts, or unpredictable hours? 
  • Whether they have any weekly hobbies/clubs/events, e.g. book club every Tuesday evening, football every Saturday morning 
  • Their social events on a typical week, e.g. they usually go out after work on Fridays
  • Any other commitments e.g. childcare or looking after a parent

It is important to ask this question as soon as possible, so that you can determine your own schedule and see how you can fit your new client around your other clients. 

It also shows your client that you respect their existing commitments and are willing to adapt around them. This is what makes a good personal trainer, rather than being overly rigid with your programme and ignoring your client's schedule.

If they can incorporate your sessions into their existing weekly schedule, then they are more likely to stick with you as their PT, rather than look elsewhere!

Questions To Ask New Personal Training Clients #5- What Does the Ideal Workout Session Look Like for You?

questions to ask new personal training clients 4

Once you have established your client’s weekly schedule, you should then establish what they are looking for in their ideal PT session. 

This is one of the most overlooked but important things to ask new clients in personal training, as many PTs assume that they dictate what to include in a session. 

But this isn’t necessarily the case!

Of course, as a qualified fitness professional, you will create sessions that help your client effectively and safely achieve their fitness goals. 

However, a good personal trainer should actually listen to their client and make sure that as well as being effective, they are also enjoyable!

If your client is enjoying their sessions, then they are much more likely to stay engaged and motivated, and therefore remain a paying client for you. 

After all, if you fill your sessions with things that a client hates, then they will come to dread their sessions, build a negative relationship with training and even ultimately stop coming to your sessions!

Find out more about keeping your clients motivated by checking out our article '9 Ways To Motivate Your Personal Training Clients'.

 

Develop a Specialism with OriGym

Get qualified to take on more clients with our Level 4 Sports Nutrition Course!

Some of the things you should ask are:

  • How long would your ideal session be? 
  • Do you like to move around lots of different areas of the gym or stay in one place? 
  • Do you want sessions to be cardio or weight focused?
  • Would you want some parts of the session to take place outside? 
  • Do you want sessions to be more cardio or weight training focused, or a bit of both? 

Knowing how to strike this balance between an effective and enjoyable training programme is one of the things that can help you really stand out as a personal trainer!  

 

Develop a Specialism with OriGym

Get qualified to take on more clients with our Level 4 Sports Nutrition Course!

Questions To Ask New Personal Training Clients #6- What Does Your Daily Nutrition Look Like?

questions to ask new personal training clients 3

As a personal trainer, you should know that nutrition is just as important as physical exercise for reaching your fitness goals. 

That’s why asking about your client’s current nutrition is on our list of personal trainer questions to ask new clients.

Knowing your client’s current nutrition will then help you to identify anything that needs to change or be added in order to help them reach their goals. 

However, you should avoid simply asking your client general questions such as “do you eat healthily?”, or “what is your nutrition like at the moment?”.

This is because everyone’s idea of ‘healthy’ can be different. For example, one client may be eating fast-food every day, and so a cut of let's say 400 calories daily will likely be a significantly healthy change to them. On the other hand, someone who is eating 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day may not find a 400 calorie cut as healthy, since they could potentially suffer from malnourishment. 

You should therefore ask questions that give you more quantifiable answers. Then, as the qualified fitness professional, you can then determine whether it is ‘healthy’ or right for them!

However, remember that as a Level 3 personal trainer, you are only qualified to give nutrition advice, not write meal plans for your clients.

If you want to be able to do this for your clients, then OriGym’s sports nutrition courses will give you the knowledge required to do just that!

With this in mind, “what do you typically eat in a day” is one of the best questions to ask a new client for personal training if you want to find out what their daily nutrition is like. 

This is because it gives you a good idea of the kinds of foods they are eating, how much they are eating and how often. 

You should therefore make sure that they include:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Snacks
  • Water intake

Some other follow-up questions that you could ask your clients are:

  • Whether they follow a particular diet e.g. vegetarian, vegan etc.
  • Whether they have any food allergies or intolerances e.g. gluten free
  • Where they typically eat their meals, e.g. on the go at work or a sit-down meal
  • How much time they usually spend preparing their meals
  • How often they eat out at cafes and restaurants
  • What size portions they usually eat 

You can then use this information to advise them on any changes they might want to make that will help them reach the goals that they outlined to you. 

For example, say a client is vegetarian and their fitness goal is to tone up and gain muscle. When they tell you what they typically eat in a day, you notice that they aren’t eating many sources of protein, which contributes to muscle growth. 

You could therefore suggest some vegetarian sources of protein to add into their diet (such as soy, tofu, beans, eggs), and that they might want to consider drinking a protein shake after your sessions to aid muscle recovery and growth. 

Firstly, this presents you as a knowledgeable fitness professional that your client can trust. 

But it also shows that you are listening to them and are committed to helping them in all aspects of their health and fitness, not just exercise.

Questions To Ask New Personal Training Clients #7- What Do You Expect From Me as Your Personal Trainer?

new client personal trainer questions 3

The last of our questions to ask a new personal training client is to find out what your client expects from the programme and from you as a personal trainer. 

Knowing this at the start will then help you determine the type of training programme you create for your client. 

This can be a difficult question to ask without undermining your own authority and professionalism. You should try to find a balance between adapting to meet the needs of your client, whilst also being confident in your own training style. 

This is particularly true if you have a personal training niche, as you want to maintain your unique selling point (USP), but also remain open to as many clients as possible. 

Here is an example of how you can approach these kinds of personal training questions for new clients:

YOU: Would you describe yourself as a self-motivated person? Or do you like others to encourage you and keep you on-track?

CLIENT: To be honest, I often struggle with self-motivation. I can get easily distracted and lose focus if I don’t have someone keeping track of me. 

YOU: Ok, no worries at all, so many people struggle with motivation, but I can help you with that! 

As you can see, you have not explicitly asked the question, “what do you want from a personal trainer?” This is a very holistic question that is hard to quantify, and might result in vague and unhelpful answers. 

Instead, you have asked a specific question about their self-motivation. The client has told you that they struggle to stay motivated themselves. You now know how to create a programme that involves regular check-in questions, and a way to keep track of their progress throughout the programme. 

Similarly, if someone is fairly self-motivated, then you will know to adopt a more relaxed training style with them. 

This is therefore one of the most important things to ask new clients, as it helps you to know what type of programme to create for your client. 

Plus, it shows your client that you are treating them as an individual, making them feel valued. By providing a training style that they respond well to, they are more likely to meet their goals and therefore stick with you as their personal trainer! 

Before You Go!

So, we hope that you now know what questions to ask a new client when personal training and how they can benefit both you and your client. 

Feeling inspired? Get qualified to take on more clients and increase your earnings with our Level 4 Sports Nutrition Course. Enquire today, or check out our full range of courses by downloading our free course prospectus here

Written by Alice Williams

Content Editor & Yoga Teacher

Alice graduated with a First-Class degree in French and Linguistics from the University of Leeds in 2019. As part of her degree, she spent a year living in France where she worked for a lifestyle blog, gaining professional experience in both translation and content writing. 

Alice is also a qualifiied yoga teacher, allowing her write from a place of expertise when it comes to yoga!

When she’s not writing or practicing yoga, she also loves running, cooking and music! 

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