By Mark Campbell, canfitpro PRO TRAINER
Before a session even begins, a good trainer will perform a client consultation. The client consultation is vitally important because you can’t provide results if you don’t know what they truly desire. As a result, I begin every consultation by determining what the client wants with some simple questions. I ask “What brings you here?”, ”What is your mindset going to be in regards to this training process?” , and “What is it that you are really looking for?”. These questions are important because they provide you with a gateway into what they really want, not what they think they need.
If you leave it at “What do you want?”, in most cases, a client is going to respond with a quick left brain answer. The left brain is limited to what we know is possible and is going to only ask for that which we have achieved before or what we believe to be achievable. Unfortunately, in many cases, this can be very limiting because of our lack of belief in self. What if you changed the question and asked them a deeper question like, ”What would you want if you could achieve anything related to your fitness and nutrition?”. You may find that they may drift back to the common statement “I just want to lose twenty pounds.”. A great follow up question would be “Okay great, and in addition, what would you really want to feel like with that twenty pounds off?”.
This helps you determine what they feel and gives you an insight as to how much feelings come into play. Recognizing this brings them out of their left brain and into their right brain and now you may see that their real motivator is that they want to feel more confident. They want to feel that their clothes fit better. They want to feel a greater athletic ability. Key word here is “feel”. The beauty is that when you start talking about feeling it really opens up the imagination and affects a part of the brain which allows their whole emotional system to experience it. Although feel is not necessarily empirical, it is certainly relative and specific to the client. Once I determine feel, I proceed with “What are you going to do with this?”, “Where are you going to use this new confidence?”, and “What are you going to wear differently when you release that twenty pounds?”. This is assuming that you are just talking about the client’s original goal.
Now, lets really infiltrate the purpose of it by asking “Why is it important for you?”, and get into the where, when, and the who of the entire picture. This leads you to the creating part of the consultation. This is where they begin to create a picture in their mind of what you will create as a team. Ask your client “What will look different to you when you’ve hit your goal?”. You may find it doesn’t just start with “Well, my belly doesn’t stick out.”. It becomes a conversation of imagination, where a person is now discussing the way that they stand and the way that their clothes will fit. This is a great opportunity for you to discuss what it will feel like. Questions such as “Where do you notice those changes?”, “Tell me about how your posture will be affected by that?”, “Tell me about your day, what would you be able to do easier?”, “What would you have more energy for when this 20 pounds is gone?”. By understanding this, it creates dimension around what they really want, what it looks like, and opens the discussion about potential obstacles inside of that.
Asking “What sort of things have kept you from getting to that goal?”, or “What things do you see getting in the way?” helps to bring them back to the present moment – many people have limited themselves to something based on a past experience. You are in a different place today than you were last year, and even the last decade. Staying present during a session, as if they were the only moments that count, will allow them to be more successful. Using small talk about the weather and talking about what is going on in their life, as trainers often do, is a waste of THEIR goal getting time. Instead, try keeping the conversation specifically about their goals, keeping them present in their workout. By doing this, you are reinforcing in them that this is the answer, the cure, the panacea to what is going on in their life. What they accomplish in this hour comes back to results. Yes, it’s the twenty pounds, but look at how much better they feel, how much better they function. They may not have liked what they saw in the mirror when they hopped out of the shower, but it’s really not about what they saw, it’s about how what they saw made them feel. So, if we don’t ask the right questions and dig deeper in the consultation process and in general conversation, we may not be giving our clients their full result potential. We may be giving them A result, but it might not be the most important one.
Lastly, giving your clients appropriate feedback at the end of the session is very important. “What you did today made a huge impact!”, “You didn’t waste any reps and you held every single rep to a concept of change”. Follow this by repeating their goals back to them (increase in confidence, better posture, injury rehabilitation, better range of motion), and remind them of the magnitude of the results that they are experiencing just by showing up, and working with you as a trainer. If your client isn’t getting any results, why would they want to continue working with you? Even if the result is how great they feel, it’s a result. If you only focus on a number, the number may come and go, or it’s going to be elusive. If they can be reminded of all the additional results, then the original twenty pounds becomes less of a concern. In fact, it is just a number, one that shouldn’t affect how we feel. We are missing the point if the scale determines how we feel. If we start from the inside and find value in every moment for our clients they are going to want to renew with you, and they are going to want to make referrals. The rest takes care of itself.
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Mark has logged over 40,000+ hours as a personal trainer, nutrition coach, and canfitpro PRO TRAINER. He has earned several awards for Participant’s Choice, PRO TRAINER of the Year, and was a finalist for the canfitpro Fitness Professional of the Year. Having owned a successful PT business for over a decade, Mark credits his success to a combination of learning the “hard way” and an abundance of continuing education.