Here’s a method you can use the next time a client says “what do you think about…x?”
Answer With a Question
Often, when a client seeks an opinion from his or her personal trainer, it’s the client’s way of seeking affirmation or approval.
For example, a client comes to you and asks “what do you think about the Keto diet?”. It is tempting to launch into a diatribe about the purpose and intent of the Keto diet or biasedly interject your own opinion.
Instead, pause and respond with a question. Here are some examples.
· What do you think about it?
· What have you learned about it?
· What about the Keto diet caught your interest?
· Are you considering the keto diet?
Responding to the client using a question accomplishes two goals.
- It opens the door for a mindful discussion.
- It allows you to investigate a client’s motivation and learn his or her already formulated opinion about the topic.
Try to refrain from putting on your “educator” hat until you learn more about what’s driving the question. You may be surprised as to how the conversation unfolds.
Balance Scope of Practice With Guidance
Personal trainers have a specific scope of practice and that scope is often narrow when it comes to topics such as nutrition, injuries, or therapeutic modalities (massage, for example). When addressing client questions remain ever mindful of what your certified scope is and do what you do best – educate and guide effectively.
The likelihood is that a client who comes to you with this type of question has already considered (or began) experimenting with the diet or modality. Your job is to offer accurate information and help your client learn about the topic in greater detail.
Ultimately, the client will decide for him or herself to try this or that. As much as you may like to, we can’t forbid a client from acting on an idea.
When You Don’t Have an Answer – Try This
If your client approaches you about a topic you are unfamiliar with, offer to research the topic and consult your professional network for more details and some valid sources/databases. This way you can gather quality information and present it as a learning opportunity for both you and your client.
If you do have extensive information about the topic, share information after learning what’s motivating or piquing the interest of your client.
Lastly, use your referral network. Ultimately, your job is to keep your client safe and coach him or her toward sustainable and healthy change. Part of this includes leaning on other licensed professionals in your network to offer insight about subjects your scope of practice doesn’t support.
Here are some common new client questions for you to contemplate and some more client questions with sample answers if you’re looking for practice. Have the answers in your back pocket, but remember to try this new method next time you are being questioned.
Are there any questions you struggle to answer for your clients?