The Quest For Understanding Your Client

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So you've probably heard of the process of SMART goal setting for a client's fitness programme where the fitness goal should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Well, here's a different approach that we use at the Dax Moy Personal Training Studios called QUEST: Qualify, Understand, Educate, Stimulate, Test. Read on to find out more....
Personal Training is not just a matter of designing programmes and lifting weights. Trainers should really try to understand their clients' needs and provide constant attention to the reassessment of them as goal-setting can be just as important as an iterative process as it is for the initial consultation.
The key for clients being able to achieve their fitness goals is to ensure that they are fully engaged and believe in the goals that they have set for themselves. Far too often we make assumptions about what we think the client wants or we put ideas into their heads. What we really need to do is listen and guide them to finding their own answers. The QUEST guidelines help us achieve that and also try to find the underlying motivation as well as the potential barriers to the achievement of the fitness goals.
When speaking to your client, try to keep all questions open-ended, not leading. Let them talk and try not to suggest answers. Sounds easy, but far too often we speak up too quickly or put words into their mouth. Let there be a natural pause in the conversation - don't be tempted to speak first in the silence as often the client will continue to reveal more pertinent information which can help steer the conversation towards their ultimate aims. Most importantly, try not to even mention the word goal - it's funny how most people go blank when trying to think of something so specific. Just try to delve into their wants and needs for their health and well being.
Whilst conducting a conversation with your client, consider talking along the lines of QUEST:
Simply put, is the client qualified for the goal that they want to achieve? Do they really want it? Why do they want it? Do you sense that they will take ownership of that goal? Try and get into specifics with them and keep digging deeper into their motivation for achieving their goal.
Make sure they understand the goal and what will be required of them to achieve it. This also applies to you as a coach to make sure you understand their goal and why they want to achieve it. If this is an initial goal-setting chat, make sure you understand the overall time-frame for which the programme should be set and that the client is aware of the time commitment required and the need to make the time available.
Give the client your ideas as to how they will be able to achieve their goal. Does the client know what they are letting themselves in for in terms of a training programme? Try and find out what barriers the client may have to achieving their goal. These could be emotional, nutritional, physical, time, sleep, social etc
Suggest ways of training, changes to diet or lifestyle. Suggest as many options as possible and try to get some agreement on which methods would work for them. Never underestimate how important it is to stress to them that the majority of the effort required to get them to where they want to be must come from them.
Most importantly, get their feedback on your proposed strategies. Gauge the client's enthusiasm for each strategy if there is more than one and ask them how they feel about the proposed strategy. Make sure that your proposed strategy ties in with your understanding of the goal and whether the client is qualified for it.
Once you have mastered the technique of chatting with your client about their objectives you are well on your way to developing an effective relationship with them.
Always demonstrate that you are committed to helping your client to achieve their goals, demonstrate empathy not sympathy, actively listen and eventually a beneficial rapport should develop as well as significant health and fitness achievements for them.

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Sue O'Neill has 1 articles online

Sue O'Neill is a level 1 coach at Dax Moy Personal Training Studios in Islington, London where she works with clients to bring about rapid fat loss results. For more information visit

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The Quest For Understanding Your Client

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This article was published on 2010/04/01