As personal trainers, we all approach our sessions differently. What sets us apart is often what attracts our clients to us. Whether we exude positivity, or we're all business, there is an audience for most approaches. That is, as long as they're done safely. This leaves us a bit of freedom to take our sessions in whatever direction we want.
That freedom includes the conversations we have with our clients, what we talk about, and how much we talk during the session. No matter how much chatter, or lack there of you fill your sessions with, there should always be some communication before the workout starts related to how your client is currently feeling.
"How are you doing today?" That question can only get us so far. An even stronger question to ask your personal training client is how their body is feeling today. When you ask someone how they are doing, the answer tends to be some form of "good," "okay," "not bad," "tired," etc. Yes, this is better than nothing, but directing the question specifically to their body will garner more specific (and useful) feedback.
Like many professions, our job is to take given evidence and draw a professional conclusion. We know from personal experience our bodies can feel different day-to-day. So, getting a clear understanding of how your client's body is currently feeling will allow you to conduct your session better. This leads us to the most important question you can ask your personal training clients:
"How is your body feeling today?"
This simple, yet specific question will give you a list of clues into how your client is feeling and how they might perform during your training session. If your client answers with anything specific, it tends to be an area that may not be feeling up to par with the rest of their body; i.e. my biceps are sore, my hips are feeling tight, my neck is feeling some pain. Unless you are hoping to get fired, these are areas you should be cautious of irritating.
Your client's answer to this question may be cause for you to make some changes to the workout you've already written. And, that's okay! Thank your client for sharing that information and let them know that you're going to switch a few of the exercises to accommodate them.
Here are some major benefits of adapting your client's workout to how their body is currently feeling:
Your client feels heard
Your sessions feel even more personalized
You reduce the chance of injury and joint pain
You create a safe space where your client can continue to give you feedback on how they're feeling with and about their body
It demonstrates your mental agility as a trainer
As personal trainers, we want every workout we coach to be the best workout ever. That's easy to say when we're not in our client's shoes. But to our clients (who are the ones paying the bills), the best workout ever is the one where they feel heard and supported. By asking all of your clients before every workout "how is your body feeling today?", they will feel heard, supported, and through this involvement, more accountable to their goals.