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3 Tips for Dominating Your Next Personal Training Assessment

In this 1st post on the new site, I wanted to touch on an incredibly important topic that I’ll continue to write about going forward to help trainers like you…

 

THE INITIAL ASSESSMENT

 

It’s one thing to meet potential personal training clients on the gym floor, but how do you actually turn that potential client you got in your commercial facility, or elsewhere, (with your great smile and engaging personality) into an actual paying client?

You have to rock their initial assessment.

They like you well-enough to have agreed to an assessment, but this is your opportunity to show the potential client that you actually know your stuff and are capable of providing a first-class service for them.

Conducting a great assessment is often overlooked in favor of the complimentary PTs and “closing” the sale, but it could mean the difference between a brand-new client ready to be your next testimonial and a frustrating experience that leaves you discouraged.

As with getting clients off the floor, conducting an awesome assessment isn’t exactly something that’s taught in most exercise science/kinesiology programs, but I’m going to share with you 3 tips that I have found to be extremely helpful for me in creating an assessment experience that gets people fired up to train and will result in a very profitable business for you when executed correctly.

 

#1: Adapt to the person in front of you

The ability to read someone else’s personality and adapt to it is one of the most essential skills of a personal trainer.

When conducting your initial questionnaire, this skill is put to the test. Most of the time, this is going to be your first full-length sit-down with the person, and if you play it the wrong way, it might turn them off from going forward.

I’m naturally a fun-loving, outgoing person, but if I read the person that I am working with is not much for words and is very serious, I’m not going to be cracking jokes and overwhelming them with questions. I’m instead going to mimic their personality to help put them at ease.
Specifically, I’m going to be more direct with my questions and use less words and hand gestures.

Likewise, if I can tell someone is more outgoing (usually displayed by the amount of information they give on each question…most questions turn into stories!) and would be open to having a rapport with their trainer, then I am going to respond by being more expressive and conversational.

Mirroring body language is not a new concept, but it is extremely powerful in appealing to the subconscious of the client.

Do they smile?
You smile.

Do they cross their legs?
You cross your legs.

Do they lean forward when they talk?
You lean forward when you listen.

If it’s not something you are used to doing, it can seem tough at first, but with some deliberate practice, you will get better at it very quickly.

I wanted to start with this point, because the interpersonal relationship you establish with the client will ensure that they feel comfortable enough to share as much pertinent information as you need to design a great program. If they don’t feel that comfortable, the chance of them opening up about something they may be embarrassed by with regard to their health and/or injury history isn’t that great and will lead to a less-than optimal program for that person.

 

#2: Find their emotional trigger

“So…what’s your goal?”

This is something that we ask all potential clients.

Usual responses include;

“Lose weight.”
“Be healthy.”
“Be less stressed.”

All of those are great goals, but they don’t give us much to play with.

Let’s go with the weight-loss goal.

“How much weight do you want to lose?”
“When do you want to lose that amount of weight? Any big events coming up?”
“Have you ever weighed that much recently, or is this going to be new territory?”
These are great questions that get more specifics and help you with your program design, but it’s still missing something…

WHY they want to lose X amount of weight!

This is the driving force that gets them to the gym for their appointments and motivates them to get sauces on the side when eating out. It’s not the number. That’s too abstract.

It’s the why behind the goal, the emotional trigger, that you need to know to get the best compliance from them. And it’s all done in the assessment with one simple question.

 

 

If you don’t know the real reason why they are chasing a certain goal, you are leaving a lot to chance and will never fully understand how best to motivate the client.
Plus, you can “personalize” the program much more effectively.

It will mean much more to a client if you email them their, “Get Hot for Cabo Cardio Program” than if you send them, “Sally’s Cardio Regimen”.

Whats and hows give you the basics, but whys give you the power.

 

#3: Improve your bedside manner

When someone seeks the help of a trainer, it’s generally because they feel self-conscious about something and want to make a change.

Because of this, most potential clients go into an assessment nervous about the results they are going to see with regard to weight, bodyfat, blood pressure, etc.

Contrary to popular belief, our job is not to say, “Well, you need to improve X, Y, and Z, so you should hire me”.

They know that! That’s why they are there! It doesn’t need to be thrown back in their face.
I’m not a fan at all of showcasing someone’s weak points and using it as leverage to get them to hire our team for coaching.

Instead, I like to put the ball in their court and put everything in a positive light.

For example, if their bodyweight comes out to be 20 pounds higher than what is considered optimal for their demographic and/or goals, don’t say, “You need to lose 20 pounds.”

This can stress someone out, especially when it comes from an in-shape fitness pro.

The other day I got a cold call from some web design company and after introducing themselves, they told me my website needed to be more marketable, among other things, and that I should hire them.

You know what I wanted to do?
Punch them through the phone, not hire them.

No one likes being told they suck, even if that’s not how you intend it to come across.

I like to let the client be the judge of their results.

Let me run a quick role-play;

“Ok, Sally, your bodyweight is at 230 pounds…what do you think?

“Man, that’s more than I have ever weighed! This is terrible.”

I know it’s stressful to see a number like that, but we are going to get that where you want to be. I’m going to design you an awesome program and we will work together on a nutritional plan that works well with your lifestyle.”
In this brief interaction, a few things were accomplished;

I let her be the judge of her results.
I expressed empathy for what she felt.
I implied we would reach her goals as a team by using the words WE and TOGETHER.
I confidently laid out an easy-to-digest path to get her results

Nowhere in that conversation did I tell her she was overweight or “needed” to do anything.

Take great care with how you present the results of an assessment…it could make you an inspiring professional that they want to work with or a jackass that leaves them even more self-conscious.

 

 

Wrap-Up

You probably noticed that none of the above tips discussed the myriad ways of performing the technical aspects of an actual assessment (e.g. FMS, girth measurements, etc.).  All of that is very important, of course, but if you can’t rapidly develop a rapport and generate trust with someone, it makes no difference if you are a master measurement-taker.  Master the above 3 strategies and watch how easy it will be for you to ultimately make the sale and gain the opportunity to transform a life.

And another life…

And another life after that…