Here, I’ll share how I handled my first and subsequent paid personal training sessions.
I’ll also reveal great tips for starting on the right footing with new clients.
We sure have covered a lot to get to this point, right?
But now it’s down to the nitty-gritty.
And that’s the part when you deal with your first paying client in hosting them for their first training session.
It’s an exciting time, that’s for sure and as we have already covered how you should be prepared well beforehand, it doesn’t need to be stressful as well.
Much of the critical information that you need on each client will be gained well before you meet them.
Thanks to your pre-planning, for example, as we covered in chapter 7, specifically by sending them a pre-workout questionnaire they need to complete.
For some trainers, as we discussed earlier, you may have already met with the client to determine their goals and expectations and to work through any questions or concerns you have from their completed questionnaire.
Getting organized for training sessions
As a personal trainer, your commitment, professionalism, and overall knowledge will keep your clients coming back time and time again.
That’s because if you excel in those three key areas and they are prepared to put in the work, they WILL see results.
I want to take the time to talk a little bit more about the commitment and professionalism part.
We’ve already discussed how personal trainers should dress and how they should act in a gym and toward their clients.
And in this chapter, we will also cover how to deal with your first client and what you need to take them through for their first session with you.
But commitment and professionalism can run even deeper than that.
So what am I getting at here?
Well, let’s say you have 20 clients each week.
That’s 20 unique training programs that you would have devised for them.
At each of these 20 sessions, your client will go through a range of exercises that will help them towards their ultimate goal, whatever that may be.
And to help them there, you need to be as organized as possible.
So it’s not a case of taking each client and trying to remember what exercises they need to do in this session.
That’s where workout schedules come in.
Essentially, this is the basic skeleton of each client’s fitness program.
In it, you can add what they must accomplish for each training session regarding exercise, movement, and the reps they need to complete.
This is all based on where they are currently fitness-wise and their end goals.
But how will you handle these workout schedules?
Will you keep a hard copy on hand and record all your client data using the pen and paper method for each client?
Or do you choose the technology route and use a tablet and personal trainer software? Let’s look quickly at the pros and cons of each.
Pen and paper
Up until 15 years ago, all trainers used pen and paper to record their client information.
This was stored in a client binder when not in use.
- It’s quick and easy to record data
- It looks professional when a personal trainer carries a clipboard
- If a client wants a copy of something, you must find a way to get it to them.
- Mixing up client records is easy, especially if you work with several clients daily.
- The organization is key in keeping track of all the client data you need
Personal training software
More and more personal trainers are using software to track their clients and workouts.
- No worrying about losing information from a training session as everything is saved on your device or in a cloud
- The software allows clients and trainers to keep track of relevant information.
- Includes other handy tools, for example, easy billing and payment options
- Recording data can be much slower than the pen, paper, and clipboard route.
- It costs more
It’s up to you to decide which way you will record client data but for many personal trainers nowadays, training software is their preferred choice.
5 tips for starting on the right foot with your new client
Before we get into things like the assessment and what you need to measure – all the technical stuff – let’s look at some critical tips that you can use to help make sure a client feels welcome.
Because remember, I already mentioned that they are probably far more nervous than you are, especially if they are gym scene newbies.
It goes without saying, but if you are a person that struggles with punctuality, don’t let your first meeting with a client be an occasion where time-keeping lets you down.
In fact, say your appointment is scheduled at 10 am, then ensure you are 15 minutes early.
The chances are they may be early too.
Meet and greet at the gym reception
Don’t hang around on the gym floor waiting for your new client to come and find you.
I’ve already said you should be punctual, which means waiting for them at the gym reception.
It just makes the right impression if your client walks in, and there you are, smiling, energetic, and ready to help them.
It’s a great way to make them settle down and feel less nervous.
Don’t jump straight in
While your client’s first assessment is the reason why they have come to the gym, you don’t need to jump straight in and get busy with the technicalities.
There are plenty of things that you can do to ease both yourself and your new client into everything. For example:
- If they are new to the gym, take them on a quick guided tour, explaining where everything is, the toilets and changing rooms, for example. You can also show them where exactly the training sessions will take place each session.
- Each gym has its rules, so take them through the ones you feel are the most critical to adhere to.
- If they have never been in a gym before, tell them the importance of gym etiquette and what they should and should not be doing while working out, for example, muted cell phones, talking quietly, and any others you feel necessary.
Please keep it simple
When it comes to gym and exercise lingo, there are plenty of words that your new client might not understand first up.
That’s why keeping things as simple as possible is necessary.
There’s no need to quote phrases from your certification textbook or to weigh them down with technical terms.
Just explain to them as simply as possible, which will be far less intimidating than sprouting words that you think might impress them.
There is no need to worry; they already see you as the expert, and that’s why they are using your services in the first place.
100% focus at all times
Ok, this might seem obvious, but sadly, many personal trainers get to the point where they go through the motions.
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If it’s a new client or even a well-established one that knows what they are doing, it’s imperative that at all times, you still give them 100% of your focus.
So that means not walking around the gym while they train, staying away from their cell phone, and not standing talking to other trainers who don’t have clients.
It would help if you only dealt with your current client at all times, helping them with their workout.
Also, focusing just on them means you are listening at all times.
They might have a few questions, and if you aren’t paying attention, they may be too shy to ask you something.
And that puts you in a bad light.
So once the forms are filled out and you’ve had a good chat with your client about their goals, expectations, and what you can offer them, it’s time for the next critical part – the assessment.
Your first decision regarding taking a client through an assessment is how you will record the details and measurements you take.
These are vital to helping you draw up an exercise program for each client, so you can’t just jot them down on scrap paper.
Most new personal trainers would probably use a client binder system to track the records of each individual.
Of course, the first thing to add to that is the fitness assessment but other important info that you can keep here include:
- The initial exercise program you draw up for them
- Any follow-up measurements to record their progress
- New exercise programs you devise as they progress
- All other client forms (client screening questionnaire, PARQ form, waiver and liability form, client confidentiality forms, or others a client may have signed).
As mentioned earlier, instead of using a binder, paper, and pen, you could use the option of personal training software.
It really is the option many personal trainers choose as the system is streamlined.
Don’t stress too much about this now; we will cover it in more detail later.
What equipment do you need?
So before you can run a client through a proper assessment, you will need some equipment to perform the necessary tests.
Of course, you won’t only use this equipment when you perform an assessment.
They will be used often while working with clients, so it’s your while getting hold of quality pieces that can last you many years.
This is what you will need.
- A pair of calipers for body composition/body fat measurements
- Measurement tape to record circumference measurements of body areas like the waist, hip, and thighs.
- A stopwatch of some kind (it could be on your smartwatch)
So now that you have the equipment let’s look at the assessment itself.
Start with basic measurements.
The first thing you need is a set of basic measurements that can continue to be monitored as your client undertakes your specifically designed fitness program.
At points in the program, you will relook at these as a judge of how well the client is getting along.
So let’s remember all the measurements you can take here.
- Height: A measurement used to set goals and calculate body mass index (BMI).
- Weight: Another measurement needed for BMI and body composition calculations.
- Body composition/body fat: Called either of these two names, this measurement can be done in several ways, either by calculation or using a specific tool, the calipers.
- Circumference measurements: These are an excellent way to track a client’s performance while working out with you. For example, sometimes, when weight loss hits a plateau and it often does, you can still motivate a client as these measurements continue to fall. So ensure you continue tracking measurements around the waist, hips, and thighs.
- Other measurements: No matter what the goals of your client are, be it to build muscle or to lose weight, for example, it’s also key to track a range of other body measurements. These should include shoulders, neck, biceps, chest, hips, thighs, and calves.
Test cardiovascular fitness
Despite what they tell you or what they may have written down in their questionnaire, you still need to take the time to see where a new client’s current cardiovascular fitness stands.
That’s because the fitness program you intend to design for each client will be based on that starting point.
There are many ways to test the cardiovascular fitness level of your clients, but I would use two of the simplest tests that give you the results you need.
These are the step test and the one-mile walk test.
Or you could follow the guidelines as set out per your certification.
There are a few important things to note, however.
For example, a client struggling with balance or who is significantly overweight is not an ideal candidate for a step test.
So that shouldn’t be your only test in your armory.
Also, it would be best to focus on your client when these tests occur.
Watch them extremely close; if they seem overly stressed or uncomfortable, it’s better to stop the test than push them through it.
You don’t want to put them off training before they begin.
Once they have finished their cardiovascular workout, you can measure their pulse to see how fit they are based on their heart rate and age.
Remember, a client is probably new to this and if they are unfit, it can be pretty stressful for them.
So make sure you are on hand to help reassure them, especially as things will be easier when they regain control of their lives and start to get fitter.
After the cardiovascular test, it’s time to test their overall flexibility.
Again, this is crucial information for you to know when designing an exercise program for each client.
What you want to do here is have them perform a range of exercises that will see just how flexible and important muscles in their bodies are.
Many factors can influence flexibility, for example, an old injury.
When showing a client each exercise, you should always use the correct form and take the muscle group through the full range of their motion.
Then take the client through the same exercise, noting where problems arise while correcting their form when needed.
Examples of exercises that can be used here are squats, lunges, arm extensions, and others.
Now it’s time to see how strong your client is.
Strength measurements will again impact the fitness program you design for them.
There are many ways to do this, for example, using a push-up test, bench presses, leg presses, or barbell squats.
Whatever you are familiar with is the one you should choose, just as long as you can get an accurate idea of each client’s relative strength.
If you use gym equipment, you should perform the exercise first, showing the client the correct form.
Always guide and correct them while they perform the exercises as well.
We have covered all the basic tests that you should perform during your assessment of each client.
There are others that many personal trainers opt to do as well based on their client’s goals.
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- Speed tests
- Acceleration tests
- Agility tests
- Evaluation of posture
However, they aren’t always necessary, and it’s up to you if you need to assess your client using all or some of these tests.
Why testing is also a crucial marketing opportunity
So while testing our clients help us learn more about them and where they stand from a fitness point of view, it’s also a time for you to sell yourself and your service.
Yes, it is a critical marketing opportunity.
That’s because clients, particularly those with no gym experience or who are relatively unfit, will find it tough to go during the testing phase.
If they want to improve their overall fitness, encourage them by saying that you can devise a program that will do so and that they will see results quickly if they stick to it.
Or, if they struggle with the range of their movements, tell them how a specialized exercise program can help them improve, bringing them closer and closer to their goals.
It’s about showing them that you can provide the solutions they seek.
Here, you are establishing a relationship with every client and showing them that you’re the expert that can help them.
Sealing the deal
So once you have chatted with your client about their goals and expectations and then taken them through the various fitness tests, it’s time to tell them exactly what you can do for them.
And to start that process, you can sit your client down and give them an overall summary of their fitness, flexibility, posture, and all the other raw data that you have recorded.
Considering their assessment and goals, it’s time to review what the client hopes to achieve and how you would guide them toward them.
You can even show them a few program ideas you could draw up for them and how much they would cost.
Give a few pricing options to encourage them to make a decision.
Ask them if one of the options would work for them, and hopefully, you can go on to close the deal.
This is certainly something you need to master with all potential clients and it’s covered in my marketing, sales, and business guide.
If a client doesn’t commit, there is nothing wrong with following up around a week later, asking them if they have decided.
If they don’t want to use you as their personal trainer, don’t take it to heart; move on to your next client.
Why your clients need a workout template
From the first training session you hold with a client, even if it is just an assessment, you should give each client a copy of the workout template.
It’s the perfect way to accurately keep track of the exercises they are carrying out and various other client-based stats.
These are great to have on hand and can act as excellent motivation tools as well.
And that’s because a workout template is a perfect way to show them their progress as they get fitter and stronger.
Seeing meaningful change and progress, well, nothing motivates me more than that.
I’ve included the perfect template you can use for your clients.
It’s a downloadable chapter resource called Workout Template.
Remember to take notes!
I see it time and time again at the gym.
You have a personal trainer taking a client through their workout, and although they are focussed on what needs to be done, nowhere in sight can I see a clipboard and pen.
Now you might have an excellent memory but when you see lots of clients every week, you can’t possibly remember everything about their last training session.
And while a workout template certainly will help in this regard, you also need to take notes at all times for each client.
Note-taking is not only about recording what a client is achieving but you will need to review your notes to make fine adjustments to their program.
So what kind of information should you be recording?
During the session
So you are probably thinking, where can I find the time to take notes during a client session?
Well, it’s not that difficult.
Set them up for each exercise, guide them through the first few reps, and then you have some time to take a few notes, if necessary, as they come to the end of that set of reps.
You will not write an essay, just pointers and things you notice that could be important.
For example, you can note each exercise’s number of reps and intensity level. If you make adjustments, you can note that down as well.
You can also record their form, whether you have any injury concerns about the client, and anything else that could have affected their training.
For example, the client is a new mom, and her baby keeps her up all night, so her energy levels are down.
You will quickly work out the things you need to record that will come in handy when adjusting each client’s workout as they progress.
And let’s be honest; it shows that you are professional and totally committed to helping that client.
After the session
Once a client has finished their session for the day, could you take a few minutes to chat with them?
This is also a time when you can take notes, especially by asking them a few questions related to their training as well as how they are coping away from the gym, for example:
- Did they have issues with any of the exercises, length of reps, or intensity levels?
- How did they feel after training?
- Are they implementing the suggested changes when they are away from the gym?
- What are their motivation levels?
- What are they finding to be a struggle, if anything?
- What factors outside of the gym environment are proving difficult to overcome, and which could sabotage their efforts?
You can ask plenty of things and keep track of all the information they give you.
Finally, you must also keep track of the exercises that formed part of the session and what’s coming up the next time you meet with the client.
So if you are taking all these notes and producing workout schedules, you must keep all that information neat, tidy, and in one place.
That’s especially true as your client list grows.
The easiest way to keep everything in one place is to use a filing cabinet with client binders alphabetically arranged.
That means that when you need information on a certain client, it’s readily available and, more importantly, easily found.
What about personal trainer software?
Thanks to smartphones, plenty of software and apps are tailor-made for personal trainers and their clients to plan and enhance their workout experience.
Let’s look at a variety of options that you could consider.
Just for the record, my top two are PT Distinction and True Coach.
With a video exercise library of over 1,000 exercises, from a training perspective, PT Distinction has all that you and your clients could want from a training software app, including a handy exercise program builder.
Over and above the training side of things, PT Distinction also includes business and marketing tools, nutritional help such as meal plans, result tracking, adherence charts, and even a photo food diary where you can track what they eat.
A messaging center also allows trainers to keep in contact with their clients either by sending messages through the app or using it to send SMS’ or even emails.
TrueCoach is extremely popular amongst personal trainers and their clients and regularly gets excellent reviews across all platforms.
One of the particular areas in which TrueCoach shines is that it’s so simple to use, both for trainers and their clients.
That’s something that other apps often miss.
While a personal trainer might find certain software easy to use, often clients don’t, especially those who aren’t as tech-savvy.
It’s an all-round package, including business and training tools.
For example, on the business side of things, TrueCoach includes a payment gateway, a messaging system between you and your clients, various marketing tools, and even a website builder.
Of course, the training side of things is well covered, with TrueCoach offering workout planning, the ability for clients to track their goals, a scheduling tool, and nutritional tools.
Trainerize allows a personal trainer to connect with multiple clients in real time.
A cloud-based application, Trainerize, can be used to draw up individual fitness programs that can include pictures, videos, and exercise descriptions to help clients.
It’s a perfect tool to help clients and personal trainers keep track of all workout schedules without needing any handouts.
It also includes a reward system where clients get badges as they progress, which is an excellent additional motivation.
Other features include monitoring clients over the app, a workout builder, the chance to upload custom exercise videos, built-in fitness libraries, voice-over audio, payment facilities, and marketing and business tools.
My PT Hub
Next, let’s look at another piece of personal training software that regularly gets rave reviews from personal trainers and their clients.
My PT Hub allows for a 30-day free trial along with a host of useful features.
The makers recently introduced a streaming function, perfect for when you cannot meet with your clients or for online trainers.
From a training perspective, PT Hub offers 7,500 exercise videos you can upload.
It also syncs with Fitbit wearables, one of the most popular available training accessories.
Over and above that, PT Hub allows for creating custom exercises, keeps a history of client workouts, includes various nutrition-based features such as a barcode scanner and calorie counter, and offers a host of business tools, including the processing of client payments.
Finally, it can even be used to generate shopping lists for clients.
Another software application with excellent review scores, Trainer Metrics, includes all the tools a personal trainer needs to manage their clients and their business.
While it is still relatively new, Trainer Metrics has several noteworthy features that personal trainers and their clients will love.
These include the standard sections that an app of this nature should have, such as client tracking, sharing stats with each client, and organizing each profile easily.
It also includes setting and tracking client goals, graphs, and more.
And it’s easy to use.
Personal training software is critical to your interaction with your clients for online training.
I cover using personal training software for those training online in my online personal trainer course.
Conclusion and assignment
Dealing with your first client is a nerve-wracking time in your journey as a personal trainer.
In this chapter, we covered many of the critical things you must do to ensure that a client becomes a long-term paying customer.
Much of this involved the nuts and bolts of personal training, from the assessment, which includes various aspects that need to be tested in your client, to finding out about their medical history.
We discussed what you should be doing when they do a workout and personal trainer software that you can use to your advantage.
Don’t forget to take the chapter takeaway quiz to make sure you have a good grasp of everything covered here.
For the assignment in this chapter, I think it’s important that you take the time to formulate your own questions you can ask your client after a training session.
As mentioned earlier, those couple of minutes when training ends is the perfect time to find out if they are enjoying your sessions, how motivated they are, where they think you could improve as a trainer, and more.
So come up with a list of questions that you think you need to ask that will get the information you need to improve as a trainer and improve sessions for your clients.
You can scribble them down on the chapter resources entitled After Sessions Questions.
Chapter 8 Takeaway Quiz