The questions personal trainers get asked by our clients are endless, and if you are considering a career in the fitness industry, it would be wise to get ahead of them. Inquisitive clients are good “problems” to have because it means they are engaged, interested, and open to learning. Questions will vary from nutrition to exercise style and format to sleep and stress management. Each client’s needs are different, and their questions will reflect that.
However, there are some common questions personal trainers get asked the most and every health and fitness pro should be well prepared to answer.
Question: I do better with a set nutrition plan. Can you prepare a meal plan that I can just follow?
This is one of the diciest questions personal trainers get asked…How you address it will depend on your credentials, however, if you are not a registered dietitian, it is not within your scope of practice to prepare a meal plan for any client. The best thing you can do here is to explain what you’re able to do within your scope, which involves helping your clients develop awareness about their habits, make positive changes, bring balance to their current dietary eating style, and discuss the role macro and micronutrients play in the body.
You also can provide clients with evidence-based resources to support their goals. If a client does need a meal plan or a sophisticated dietary pattern analysis, referring them to a dietitian in your network is best.
Question: I heard if you want to lose fat, you should focus on how many calories you burn in each session. Is that true?
While cardiorespiratory exercise is great for the heart and lungs, it is not the most ideal type of exercise to promote a shift in body composition. To shift body composition, or to lose fat, we need to focus on strengthening and building lean tissue – this means consistent weight training. It is important to educate clients on NEAT movement throughout the day in addition to structured exercise and emphasizing the use of weight training at least two days a week to begin.
Question: How do I get rid of fat from” X” area?
Here, clients want to understand how fat loss works. To help them understand, we first must explain that spot reduction, or an intentional loss of fat from a specific area, is not possible. What we want to see, and something you can encourage clients to focus on, is an overall positive shift in total body composition ratios.
Ultimately, we want to see an increase in lean tissue and a reduction in non-lean tissue. That said, clients also need to understand that while spot reduction isn’t possible, we can thoughtfully program resistance training exercises to target muscles to build strength and definition in those specific areas.
Question: What supplements should I take?
As with the first question, if you are not a registered dietitian, it is not within your scope of practice to recommend, sell, or encourage the use of supplements. Supplements are loosely regulated and in order to determine a need for a given supplement, the client has to have a full picture of their nutrient status, which a registered dietitian can do.
If clients ask about supplements, provide them with evidence-based information about the product or substance and encourage that they speak to a registered dietitian or medical professional in your network. Offer to make a referral for them.
Question: How fast will I see results?
Clients will feel results faster than they will see them. This is one reason it is important for you to have an open dialogue with them about how they define success and discuss that progress is more than a physical change – it’s an energetic and mental shift as well.
If a client is new to activity, they will likely see improvements in sleep, mood, and energy before noticing a drop in weight or shift in strength and muscle definition. Changes in body composition will take longer, but consistency is the key. Progress will be individualized to each person; there’s no prescriptive timeline to see physical shifts.
Question: Which diet is the best one for me?
This is surely one of the toughest questions personal trainers get asked as it relates to the scope of practice of a certified personal trainer and what we can and cannot do. The best answer is often, “The diet that is best for you is one that is balanced, that you enjoy, that produces the best results, and that you will stick to consistently.”
Every person has different needs, and we also want to be sure we encourage clients to honor any cultural roots that relate to their eating style. Support clients in finding ways to add nutritious items to their overall eating habits rather than on restriction or avoidance of specific foods.
Are these ALL the questions personal trainers get asked?
No, of course not. This short list is not exhaustive, but they do represent the most common questions clients will ask their personal trainers. Pros are advised to prepare answers to the most common questions, even creating an FAQ section on their website, to help address frequent topics, and ensure consistency in their responses. Consistency builds credibility.