Personal Training Client Paperwork
If you’re an independent fitness trainer, you’ll need to have your own personal training client paperwork. It’s an important part of the client-trainer relationship. It protects the personal trainer, sets client expectations, establishes baseline metrics, and provides valuable information the personal trainer uses to develop a good nutrition and fitness program.
The most important pieces of client paperwork a fitness professional should use include:
- Informed Consent
- Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q)
- Lifestyle Questionnaire
- Assessment and Reassessment Forms
- Client Records
- Personal Training Contract
- Personal Trainer Insurance
Especially with legal forms, fitness professionals should always check to make sure they provide coverage in the state and country of residence.
Here, we’ll take a look at each of these forms, their importance, how to use them, and other types of client paperwork you should consider for your personal training business.
This legal document is the most important. It protects you in the event your client has an injury or other negative side effect of your personal training services. A well informed consent agreement will outline what the fitness program will entail, an explanation of the associated risks, benefits of exercise and nutrition, and complete acknowledgment from the client for each of these items.
Physical Activity Readiness (PAR-Q)
The PAR-Q is a standard form in the fitness industry. It consists of seven, yes/no questions about the client. Some of these questions include “Do you ever feel pain or tightness in your chest during exercise” and “Do you have any bone or joint problems”. If the client answers yes to any of these questions, they are to sign the form stating they’ll get their physician’s clearance before starting the exercise regimen.
Obtaining A Medical Release Form
Clients will sometimes sign the PAR-Q if they had a “yes” answer and never talk to their doctor. Because of this, you should make it a practice to have a medical release form on hand. This is a short and simple letter to the client’s doctor stating they’re about to embark on a fitness and nutrition plan with you. The letter then asks if there are any restrictions or what medications the client is taking which exercise may impact. Keeping this on hand further protects your personal fitness training business.
Other Forms To Include
Reducing the number of individual files for your prospective client is helpful. Therefore, in addition to the PAR-Q and medical clearance form, you can include a health history or medical history form. You can get more data like blood pressure, current medications, and past injury. All of this will help you understand your client better, keeping them safe and injury-free.
Using The PAR-Q To Build Rapport
If you’re having the client fill out the paperwork rather than asking the questions, you could be missing an opportunity to develop a rapport. It’s difficult for clients to jump right into talking about what their fitness goals are and what their current lifestyle looks like. However, the PAR-Q asks non-intrusive questions clients can readily answer. As a fitness coach, this also gives you the opportunity to ask more questions like “What types of joint pain do you have, and is it all the time?”. Even if you’re having the client fill out the paperwork independently, you can still address this in your training session. For the first intake session, summarize the form saying “It looks like you’re all set to start working out”. Or, “I see you get dizzy from time to time. Let’s talk about that a bit and also get you a medical release form you can have your physician fill out. This helps me connect with your medical provider so we are all working together”.
This form sometimes varies from trainer to trainer. However, the goal is still the same. You’re looking at what their typical day is like from an activity and nutrition perspective. This helps you understand what types of bad habits you might be up against. Since there are so many forms to fill out during a client intake, we recommend you make this a larger form titling it “Training Program Startup Questionnaire. Here, you can have category breakdowns such as:
- Exercise History
- Diet and Nutrition History
Including this info in one form saves the client from having multiple attachments. More importantly, it gives a personal trainer more information to transform the personal training program into a more customized experience. And, for prospective clients who aren’t paying it, it’s an opportunity to increase rapport and identify barriers to making a purchase. The personal trainer should ask additional questions like:
- If failure weren’t an option, what does success look like for you?
- What’s driving you to make this difference? Do you have an event you’re trying to get ready for?
- If exercising before, why do you think this time will be different?
- On a scale of 1 – 10, how committed are you to achieving your goals?
Assessment Form And Reassessment Forms
A fitness assessment should be completed by the trainer and client together. Learn all about how to perform fitness assessments first. In this training session, you should capture this information:
- Resting heart rate
- Body composition
- Circumference measurements
- Postural assessment
- Strength endurance test
- Cardiovascular assessment (such as the YMCA Step Test)
- Movement assessment (such as an overhead squat assessment)
This information gives a starting point for the fitness professional to make a unique exercise program. Further, it allows the client and trainer to see progress in the future. You should incorporate as many assessments as possible into your intake session. This is especially the case for extremely deconditioned clients. The more markers they have to see improvement, the more their motivation levels will stay high. Then, re-assess all of your markers every 30 days. Keep copies for yourself and also send them to your client.
Every training session should have documentation. In a way, each session is like a mini-assessment. The personal trainer can keep track of the following information.
- Subjective information: How does the client say they feel? How do they seem to be doing with the program on off days? What is their nutrition looking like?
- Objective information: This is where you’ll include information like their weight and workout. Include exercises, sets, reps, rest, and tempo.
- Assessment: Based on this training session, what is your professional perspective on how the client is doing? Are they on target? Are they falling behind? Can they progress with greater intensity in the next session?
- Plan: These are the recommendations you’re giving to your client for the days until you meet again. It further gives you the information you’ll evaluate next time.
It’s best to create a template and use it every single time you meet with your client.
Personal Training Contract
This contract will include information like the price of the personal training package when payment is due and other terms. It’s the final piece in getting a new client started. Even if you’re giving away a free small personal training package, it’s still good to include this. It helps to set the expectations on client tardiness or if they want to transfer sessions. Here is a way to break down online personal training prices.
Personal Training Insurance
Given there are over 450k exercise-related injuries, you need personal training insurance. Even if you are working out of a gym and have insurance coverage there, this is still important. It further protects you in the rare event there’s an injury and your client wants to sue. And, if you’re going to start a personal training business, this is a must. You need to keep your new business safe. Don’t wait on getting insurance, if you’re just starting out. There are several options, here are a few:
Other Useful Client Forms
In this article, we cover the bare necessities for personal training client paperwork. However, this isn’t an exhaustive list. Most fitness professionals will add more depending on the programs they offer. Here are some additional forms or paperwork to consider:
- Welcome letter- Making a welcome letter unique helps a new client feel special and welcomed. It’s a nice touch and adds a concierge-style service.
- 3-day dietary record- When first working with a client, have them go back and log everything they ate in the last three days. Don’t ask them in advance because it could change their behaviors. Instead, look at what they do before learning from you.
- Fitness challenge overview- If you want to run a fitness challenge, it’s a great way to boost motivation and get referrals. Put together a challenge overview form so clients understand the rules.