When Starting With New Clients think: F.A.I.R.
FAIR - Forms, Assessments, Insurance, Records
Always remember FAIR when starting with new clientele. When first meeting with a prospective client regardless of your health profession you will need some form of a PAR-Q (physical readiness questionnaire) and/or a health history form. You can find these online. Upon the client filling out the form it is important you review it on your own first before meeting with them. There may be physical issues or medications you are unaware of and need to do your proper due-diligence on prior to sitting down with the prospective client. If you feel uncomfortable working with someone who may have ailments above your current level of knowledge in order to make the proper exercise modifications you should not work with that individual. This is where your networking comes into play as you should have knowledge of someone else who would be better suited to work with them.
When I meet with my clients in our first consultation after reviewing their health history form I still allow them to talk as much as possible. Doctors sometimes calls this the, “What else?” session. If you continue to ask “what else” you’ll be surprised to find the issues or ailments the client has or has had that they decided not list on the sheet because he or she believed they were not relevant. For instance, if they had broken their ankle 30 years ago they are unlikely to write that down on a health history form. However, there could be compensations such as foot pronation, knee valgus, pelvic twist accompanied by false leg length discrepancy just from something as simple as a broken ankle at the age of 17.
Although I am a corrective exercise specialist I do not always enjoy playing what I call, “anatomical sleuth”, so it is important to understand all of your clients past injuries before doing your first assessment on them. It doesn’t matter what your client’s particular goals are there are always ways in which you can do an initial assessment and track progress. This helps your client from a motivational standpoint and it helps you understand what is actually working with your program. If weight loss is their goal an obvious initial weight, measurements of specific body parts, and body fat measurement are in order (for body fat percentage I prefer bioelectrical impedance machine which you can get for $60). If you are unfamiliar with general assessments I urge you to start reading up on all the various tests (shark skill, Rockport walking, etc). You can also simply make your own up. I like to have my clients hold a plank until failure, and find the weight they can get close to one 20 reps set for each of the following: low row, chest press, and leg press machines. This allows me to gauge their overall strength levels in core, pushing, pulling, and legs provided the client’s goals and current health status align with that type of assessment.
Your company may provide you with insurance, but it is very cheap to double up and protect yourself. I do not recommend any particular company at this time, but the pricing should be between $8 and $15 per month. If you’re training in home clients, or even at a park and an injury occurs you could be liable. In this age of overly litigious people it is best to always play it safe. You can do your own googling to find out which company gives you the best rates.
Record keeping is important for both insurance reasons and your clients overall goals. To cover the former, understand that if an injury happens and you are being litigated against from a safety issue, having records of what you did that day or week could save you. For the latter, you want to check progress from days, weeks, months, or years passed and having records allows you to do that. For a fitness industry teacher who pre-writes out the workout this is easy as you just keep a copy. I personally do not write out my workouts, so I have to make notes in my calendar (google calendar where I keep all my sessions) if there were any issues that day as far as slips, slight injuries or tweaks, etc. Cover yourself. Keep records.