If you're in the market for a fitness trainer, there are a few things you should expect during an initial interview. For instance, during any personal trainer initial consultation, a trained professional will explain the services they offer, their fees, and their expectations in terms of your commitment. There are also some key personal trainer questions that they are likely to ask.
During your first meeting, you may or not work out. The first session is often a time for communication, explanation, and goal setting. During this time, you need to decide if the trainer is right for you and the trainer needs to assess how they can best meet your needs.
10 Common Personal Trainer Questions
Ideally, a professional trainer should ask more than 10 questions of a new client. It is important for trainers to assess a client's abilities to avoid injuries or serious medical issues. But there is no need to feel embarrassed. Personal training questions are merely designed to keep you safe and help craft an appropriate exercise program for you. Always answer the questions thoroughly and honestly.
1. Medical Readiness
Question: "Has your doctor given you permission to exercise?"
This may seem like a silly question considering that most physicians urge their clients to exercise regularly. But it is your trainer's goal to ensure that you remain safe and healthy during exercise sessions. This is an important question for personal trainers to ask for liability reasons.
Answer this question honestly. If you haven't seen a physician in years it may be a good time for an exam just to gauge your readiness to work out.
2. Medication and Side Effects
Question: "Are you taking any medications, and if so, what are the side effects associated with them?"
Personal trainers will ask this question for more than one reason:
- To find out about medical conditions
- To understand if side effects might inhibit exercise, such as a medication that makes you dizzy upon standing
- To understand if medications are causing weight gain, muscle soreness, or anything else that can stand in the way of reaching your goals.
Personal trainers aren't medical professionals. So it's up to the client to reveal side effects, although most good trainers will research side effects to understand the impact that a medication may have.
3. Cardiac Risk Factors
Question: "Have you ever been told by a physician that you have heart disease, high blood pressure, or any metabolic disease?"
Personal trainers will follow this question up with additional questions, such as how the medical condition is managed and (again) if you have permission from a doctor to exercise. Trainers may also ask specific questions to assess your risk for heart disease including:
- If close relatives have heart disease
- If you are frequently short of breath
- If you have a sedentary lifestyle
- If you are a smoker
It's important for personal trainers to ensure a new client is not at an increased risk for heart disease, as unchecked heart problems can be aggravated by strenuous exercise. Your trainer may ask you to get a medical waiver from your healthcare provider and in some instances, may ask to reach out to the provider directly (with your written permission).
Question: "What are your goals for personal training?"
Trainers should never assume that all new clients want the same thing - while some want to lose weight, others may want to gain muscle, flexibility, or just feel better. A personalized workout program can't happen if the trainer doesn't understand the goals of the client.
During this part of the initial consultation, your trainer may asked more detailed questions about your goals to make them more specific. Trainers often use a goal strategy called the SMART system to make your goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Studies have shown that setting SMART goals is an effective method of creating lasting behavior change.
Question: "What does your diet look like, and what kind of foods do you eat in a typical day?"
Personal trainers aren't nutritionists, but they should offer some basic, fundamental dietary guidance. Nutrition is a huge part of "getting into shape," not only with losing weight but also in getting fit or gaining muscle. Trainers may ask clients to keep a food diary to review together at future sessions. If you need detailed dietary recommendations, your trainer may recommend a registered dietitian.
6. Time Commitment
Question: "How much time are you willing to dedicate to personal training?"
Personal trainers must weigh a client's expectations versus the work they are willing to put in. Huge changes aren't going to happen with one half-hour session a week, especially if you're not willing to work out on your own outside of training sessions. But you don't need to put hours of work into exercise every day.
If you are realistic about your schedule, your trainer can work with you to find ways to reach daily activity goals. For instance, they might give you quick 10-minute workouts to do at home or at work on days when your schedule is tight.
7. Previous Training
Question: "Have you worked out with a trainer before, and if so, what were the results?"
This question helps the trainer learn about what you expect from a trainer and what has worked (and hasn't worked) in the past. One of the most significant predictors of success with a current workout program is your past exercise history.
Of course, this doesn't mean that past challenges will prevent you from becoming successful in the future. But your trainer will want to know what held you back in the past so that they can remove those barriers and help you reach your current goals.
Question: "Do you have any existing or previous injuries?"
Previous injuries - even if they were years ago - can affect the exercises that you can or should do now. Trainers should also consider injuries as signs of muscles that need to be strengthened, such as with lower back injuries, which are quite common and sometimes indicate weak or tight muscles that should be retrained.
9. Movement and Stability Assessment
Questions will vary for this part of the initial consultation.
Your trainer may ask you to balance, execute basic movement patterns, or perform other tasks to assess mobility and stability patterns.
So much can be revealed to trainers by how a client walks, squats, or holds steady in a plank. An experienced trainer can tell what muscles are too tight or weak based on a quick assessment and will use this information to create a program to address any deficiencies.
10. Sleep Patterns
Question: "How many hours of sleep do you get every night?"
Sleep and recovery are an important facet of fitness, so it's no surprise that a trainer might ask about your sleep patterns. The amount of sleep you typically get in a day can also help estimate your ability to work at various intensities throughout the week. It's also likely that increased activity will prompt better sleep at night and trainers may want to monitor this as a measurement of client progress.
Questions to Ask a Personal Trainer
While your trainer may take the lead during the initial consultation, there are some key questions that you should ask as well. Consider asking these personal training questions:
- What happens if I need to cancel a session? How far in advance do I need to notify you so that I don't get charged?
- When can I expect to see results?
- What kind of guarantee or assurances do you offer? (Most trainers don't offer a guarantee, but if you have this expectation, it is important that you and the trainer discuss it)
- How hard will I work during each session?
- What should I bring to each session? Water bottle? Heart rate monitor? Specific athletic wear?
- Where will we train?
- Can I bring my child? (Most gyms do not allow children and training sessions will be much more effective without your children present. But there are some instances where childcare issues arise and it is helpful to know in advance what your options are if you have kids)
Keep in mind that this initial Q and A session is essential. Some personal trainers are excited to get started and will jump right into a workout without first asking questions about a client's medical history and other important details. While these trainers' enthusiasm can be infectious, it's a sign that the trainer may be better suited to be a workout buddy as opposed to a seasoned professional.
Though it may feel annoying to answer a bunch of questions when you're ready to get started with working out, consider it an important first step in partnering with the trainer. Your trainer will use your answers to create a personalized program that will truly you get fitter and enjoy increased longevity. A trainer who is not willing to take the time to ask questions in the first meeting may not be the best choice for you.