Assessing Your Client
Programming is the most important aspect of online personal training or any personal training relationship. Regardless of your client’s specific goals, without a solid program, your client is going to struggle to see the results that they have hired you to help them achieve. However, in order to know what kind of program you need to write, you first have to know your client.
Client’s Medical Status
Prior to beginning your client’s program, you need to find out if they are in good enough health to begin an exercise program. Most people, even those who are disabled or have a chronic condition, can safely exercise. In fact, exercise will help most of these people. However, in many situations, these individuals need to receive a program from a professional who has specialized knowledge, credentials, and experience, which qualify them to write a safe program. You have to know your limitations as a trainer and realize that some clients are going to need training from someone else. To find out if your client falls into that category have them first fill out a health history questionnaire and the Par-Q. Once you have assessed your client’s health history questionnaire and determined that it indicates that your client is healthy enough to begin exercising, you need to find out how physically fit they are.
Client’s Current Physical Fitness Level
Now that you know that your client is in good enough health to begin exercising, you need to assess such factors as their muscular strength and endurance, cardiovascular endurance, and flexibility. This may well be the most difficult part of your overall assessment if you are an online personal trainer; some tests may not be appropriate to have your client perform on their own. However, combining relatively safe tests with your client’s exercise history and experience should be enough to allow you to safely program for your client. Begin by testing for upper-body muscular strength and endurance by having your client complete the push-up test. Next, test your client’s cardiovascular endurance by having them complete the step test. Last, test your client’s flexibility by having them complete the sit and reach test. While these tests are far from a perfect reflection of your client’s physical fitness, they do provide a glimpse of their overall fitness and allow for you to create a framework to start from for building their workout program.
An easily overlooked aspect of programming is what the client is actually looking to achieve from this relationship. Ask your client to simply write their long-term goal, or what they would like to achieve in one year. Next, ask your client to write down their medium goal, which is what they would like to achieve in one month. Last, ask your client to write down their short-term goal, or what they would like to achieve in 1 week. Having your client write down their goals, rather than simply telling you them, helps to re-enforce the goal to your client and helps you remember them a week, a month, and a year later.
The last major piece of information that you need to know before you begin your client’s program is their past exercise experience. Finding out if your client has ever participated in a structured exercise program is important but it is not the only relevant information; you also need to know what their likes and interests outside of the gym are. If your client is an adult, you need to find out what sports or activities your client participated in as a child in order to conjure some sort of commonality between their prior experience and their current program. For example, if your client played basketball in high school you could try to incorporate basketball-related drills or a certain amount of basketball itself into their program. Individuals are far more likely to stick with their program if at least parts of it incorporate activities that they enjoy, so knowing what your clients enjoy and are familiar with help you to build a program that your client is more likely to stick to for the long haul.
Programming for online personal training is not easy, but having the right information will help you out immensely. Determining your client’s medical status, fitness level, goals, and experience will help you create an awesome program that your client will find both successful and sustainable.