The Top 5 Questions Your Personal Trainer Should Ask You
I often compare personal training to waiting tables. The wait staff will recite the menu and talk about the specials almost effortlessly. They will relentlessly ask if you want more water. They will take care of all of the little things and form a relationship with you to give you a great experience. At the end of the day, they want you to leave happy.
Usually, when the experience is great the consumer might talk about their great time to someone on the car ride home. Yet, if the experience is bad the consumer leaves upset. They might complain to the waiter, but usually it’ll be to someone higher up. They will call their friends and anyone who will listen and tell them never to eat at that restaurant because the service is horrible. There is an old saying that goes: For every good thing that happens you may tell one or two people. But for every bad thing that happens, you are bound to telling 10-20 people. The main reason why more people do not give praise for all of the good things that happen at that restaurant: It’s expected.
Personal trainers and waiters are expected to have knowledge and they’re expected to give exceptional customer service. It’s when those expectations go awry that people get on the sounding boards and voice their displeasure. To avoid that, trainers should be energetic, motivating, caring and most of all, professional. Here are five questions that will cover the little things that in the end, will give you a great experience.
1. Prior to exercise: Is there anything I should worry about?
First off, all clients should fill out some sort of health questionnaire and put you through an assessment. If for some reason your trainer doesn’t have you fill one out and put you through an assessment, you need to find a new gym. That is like a doctor giving you penicillin without asking if you are allergic to it first.
When I meet them face-to-face for the first training session, I’ll ask them if there’s anything I should worry about before we begin. It shows you that your trainer cares and will tailor your program for you. Looking at a clients file may say certain health related issues, but the trainer won’t know for sure if they don’t ask you. Maybe the health issues are outdated. Maybe the problems are corrected. That question is a blanket term that has many layers. If you tell your trainer that there is nothing wrong with you, they should ask an additional follow up question related to their joints/muscles. An example would be, Any joint issues that may prevent you from doing anything? From there, your trainer should be able to adjust your program to fit your needs.
Every single time I train someone, regardless if it’s the first time or the tenth time, I always ask them if there is anything I should worry about. The last thing I need, as a trainer, is for someone to get hurt on my watch.
2. What are your goals?
You would figure this is common sense, but surprisingly it’s not. If you are a customer who trains in either a big gym or small studio that rotates trainers, they shouldn’t assume your goal is to lose weight. Trainers get too obsessed with the latest fitness tool that they forget the goal at hand. If your goal is to gain weight and build muscle, the focus of the workout should’t be a cardio-kickboxing TRX workout. Goals change too. My client just competed in the local natural body building show a few weeks ago. When she came back to the studio, I looked at her and asked her, Now that your competition is done, what are your goals? She just looked at me and said, That’s a good question. After thinking about it, she mentioned that she wanted to maintain her muscle and build up her legs and glutes. Prior to her even thinking about a fitness competition, she just wanted to get healthy and strong. Now, it is all about building muscle and keeping it. Your trainer should ask you periodically what your goals are. They shouldn’t assume anything.
3. What’s your diet like? How’s your diet?
This question is actually asked a lot but it isn’t followed through correctly. The typical answer that I get and other trainers get is, It’s pretty good. Many people (myself included) often would take them for their word. Yet when the workouts are great, but inches and weight are still the same there is a good chance it is because of their pretty good diet. A follow up question I ask my clients is, What is good? The reason why that is asked is because their version of good may be different. One client always said her diet was good. I asked her one day what protein she takes after her workout. She told me, A McDonald’s hamburger. Baffled, I asked her why.Her response: It’s protein after a workout. Right? I was more embarrassed that I never educated her in a proper way and took her for her word. As a consumer, your trainer should teach you some basic nutrition. At the end of the day, your goals are dependent on what you eat.
4. Going forward, is there anything that you would change?
Before I ask that, I often ask how everything was. Good or bad, I ask them if there is anything they would change. The reason for that is for me, the trainer. I want to make sure that my client has had a great experience. If they say that they weren’t a fan of a particular exercise because of some sort of pain, I often will take it out the next time I see them. One client told me that he’d like to slow down a tad between exercises so he can focus more on what is being done. Many trainers don’t do this, but they should humble themselves enough to strive to make your experience better.
5. What would you like to work on?
With five to ten minutes left in the session, your trainer should ask you if there is anything YOU would like to work on. Your trainer should cover your wants and needs in the workout, but sometimes things are left out. This is a great question that I took from Maryland based personal trainer and owner of Performance U, Nick Tumminello. The reasoning? If a client gave you your undivided attention for 40 or so minutes, the least a trainer can do is give you five to ten minutes of theirs. I recently just started this and the response has been great. My clients looked at me with a look of confusion at first, but then rattled off a few things that they wanted to focus on. It also allowed me to understand my client’s problem spots so I can work on them more the next time I see them. And I wouldn’t be surprised if I hear different things the next time I bring that question up again.
During any session, your trainer should focus on you and only you. They should give you great customer service, understand what you want and what you need but most importantly: Putting the word Personal in personal training. Having a trainer, just like dining out, is all about the experience. Customers should always be coming back for more.