Initial personal training consultations can make or break initial impressions. Being “good” or “bad” at them can mean the difference between gaining a new long term client or not getting a client at all. Initial consultations seem simple but there are a lot of factors that play a role in how successful the consultation is. Most trainers are given a script to follow during the consultation which can be good but can also make the process feel unnatural. In this article, we will go over some tips and tricks on how to master that first meeting.
When considering personal training consultations, there are some objectives you want to accomplish:
- Ease any nerves the client might be feeling.
- You want to build a rapport with the client.
- Compile the clients baseline fitness level.
- Gather the information you need to build a plan and make intelligent goals.
You’ll see over the course of this article that your main goal is to cover all of the core objectives in a natural conversation. While you will be guiding it to where it needs to go, you can do certain things to make it feel more natural.
Do your due diligence.
If you can, have the prospective client fill out a simple questionnaire before they show up. In doing this, you can gather important information prior to the actual meeting.
One of the main reasons why this is important is because now you can spend a little more time truly getting to know the client during the consultation rather then drilling them with questions.
This is really powerful because it changes how the whole experience feels for both you and the client. Rather then it feeling like an interview, gathering information before can help you treat it more like a conversation.
Going back to the questionnaire, there are loads of resources you can use to create a professional experience. Resources like Typeform or even Google forms can be great tools you can use to create a sleek, professional looking pre-consultation questionnaire.
The reason why these tools are nice is because they are easily customized and collect the question results for you. This way, if you are every going back over past results for someone, you can easily pull up their answers.
Break the expectations
Most of the time, clients more likely expect a couple things out of personal training consultations. They probably expect to be asked a bunch of questions about their medical history, ailments they live with, and they probably expect to be asked all of these things in a private office setting.
Start off with by greeting them with a warm smile and eye contact. Ask how they are doing, how long they’ve been coming to the gym, and essentially break the ice. Try not to bombard them with a million questions immediately.
Try asking them a couple questions about themselves such as:
- “What do you do for work?”
- “How long have you lived in this area?”
- Based on their answer you ask other questions like:
- “Does your family live here?”
- “Where did you move from?”
While you’re chatting with them, take them on a walk around the gym or to the lounge area where you can sit down and talk with out making the initial consultation feel too overwhelming.
Transition the conversation
Once you’ve broken the ice and eased the nerves a little bit, here is where you can ask them to fill out any required paperwork such as the PAR-Q form if needed.
Once they have finished the paperwork, then you can start focusing the conversation on the important stuff. However, while you start asking questions, try not to lose the flow of the conversation.
A good way to do this while asking questions is to ask open ended questions. Instead of “What is your medical history?” try asking it like “Okay, can you tell me a little bit about your medical history?”.
While they seem similar one feels more conversational while the other feels more “robotic”. Throughout their answer, try digging deeper. Ask questions about certain aspects of what they are telling you to guide the conversation the way you need it to go.
Information you are looking for usually falls into the following categories:
- Reasons why they have stopped exercising or had issues taking the initiative to exercise.
- How they like to exercise.
- Their general feelings about not only exercise/nutrition but also how they feel about their current self.
- Past/current injuries or medical conditions.
As you start to figure out what they want to accomplish, dig even deeper. You can ask them questions like “What does getting in shape look like for you?” or “How will you know you have hit the point where you want to be at?”.
These are generally open ended questions and the only answer is going to be something genuine the reflects their deeper why.
As they are answering your deeper questions you also ask why their goals are important to them? This is all going to help you later on down the road.
Set expectations and educate them
Here is where you start to lay the ground work of what a plan can look like for them. By now, you should have an idea as to what their goals are, why they are important, and what their day-to-day life looks like.
While setting expectations, you want to make sure what you are elaborating to the client is as clear as day. Based on their goals, outline very clearly what the strategy will be to get them to their goals successfully.
Make sure they understanding everything. Ask them if they have any questions or what their initial thoughts are.
Put the customer in the product and start a game plan
Once you have covered pretty much everything needed to be covered, start to lay the ground work for a game plan.
You can start off with something like:
“Okay Alyssa, we have covered pretty much everything I need on my end to get you on a path to setting an example for your kids. What does the ideal training schedule look like to you?”.
As they go over your schedule find out what works between their schedule, your schedule, and the strategy you think will work best to get them to their goals.
The goal of the conversation at this point is to establish a point of success. Whether it be establishing a training schedule you can build off of or maybe its you are hitting the ground running with your client the following week.
Through the process of setting up a game plan, make sure you are transparent with your client. If their goal is to gain a lot of muscle but can only commit to two sessions a week, the make sure they know they will not see results as quickly as training, say, four times a week with nutrition coaching.
Once you’ve got a game plan put together, set up a system of accountability. Discuss how you will track their results and how you will deal with compliance/non-compliance with training programs.
At this point, you have everything set up. You’ve set their expectations, you’ve built a game plan, you’ve built a rapport, and you know who they are at a top level. Now it’s time to start training.
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