A simple question or series of questions has the power to change lives. They jump start thought processes and force us to consider what we believe and think, our values and what we aspire to be.
Peter Lemon, Chief Trainer at the Academy of Fitness Professionals explores how by simply asking powerful questions, personal trainers can tap into their clients emotive thought processes, understand their current challenges and offer methods of positive life change.
Day to day, I work with personal trainers at all levels; students, newly qualified, and those with years of industry experience. The thing they all have in common wherever they are on the journey is their ability to question, learn and understand is the key to unlocking their clients (often hidden and latent) potential. It never ceases to amaze me that the power of simple questions asked by a great coach has the potential more than anything else to transform lives. Of course, the reverse also applies that avoiding asking the right questions turns what could be an amazing personal training session to average.
So here it is my run down of cracking questions for Personal Trainers to ask their clients.
1 – The Power of Why
When meeting a client for the first time you might ask ‘Why do you feel you need a Personal Trainer?’ Typically the response is to lose weight or get fit. Great – off we go with a training plan to help them achieve their goals. Bland, bland, bland. Don’t be surprised if they soon lose motivation and start to struggle.
It’s short, simple and to the point but in my view ‘Why’ is the most important question you can ever ask.
But be careful, don’t accept surface run of the mill answers. Dig deeper. Take our earlier example, ‘Great, so you want to lose weight or get fit, why is that important to you right now?’
Now we’ve getting somewhere and there are many possible paths this conversation will now take. Pause and reflect on the answer and ask another ‘Why’ question. When you reach the point where you’ve uncovered the real nitty gritty you’re onto something that will help you go on an support your client at a much more meaningful level than you were at the outset.
2 – What part of today’s session did you enjoy the most?/ What part of today’s session did you enjoy the least?
It’s vital to ask both parts so you can draw out likes and dislikes. I’m not saying focus on the likes and ditch the dislikes as often quite the opposite applies. However, communication is crucial and these questions provide you with information you can use to keep your client on track. Explain why the exercises are helpful and what outcomes they are achieving. Be prepared to adapt the training sessions as necessary.
3 – How will you support your goals between now and our next session?
I often ask students to identify the pivotal word in this question. Most pick how, thinking it’s about the action. Wrong, the key word to making things happen here is YOU. This question is about working in partnership with your client to help them attain the goals you’ve agreed to work on together. The question focuses your client on the transition from today’s session developed by you, the Personal Trainer, to them as the client taking ownership of what they do between now and the next time you both meet.
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