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Should I make it mandatory for new clients to have a physical exam?

by Jen Allan
(Pleasanton, ca)

Hi Guys,
I am a part-time self employed personal trainer and Boot Camp instructor and have been for about a year and a half. I am insured and make sure that all new clients sign contracts and liability waivers.

I have always verbally recommended that they get a physical but haven't made it mandatory in order to train them. Now, I'm having a change of heart and feel I should make it mandatory that they get an OK by their doctor before starting a training program.

My concern is that I'll scare away new customers, but I'm also fearful that I could start training them and would be unaware of potential health risks they could have. This seems to be a tricky issue, especially if you are self employed without the protection of a larger gym. What is the consensus out there?

Thanks so much!

Jen Allan

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Mandatory physical
by: Mikele

Hi Jen.
I don't think a mandatory physical is necessary if you have had them fill out a pre-screening questionnaire.
That way they have disclosed the medical information you need, and if they have left anything out whether it be intentional or not, then atleast you have covered yourself.
Good luck with it.
Mikele

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Trainer working at a fitness center, but not doing appointments ???

I had been working at a fitness center for 7 years and have been ask to become a personal trainer. The owners want me train members, but not in the traditional pt way - such as 1 hour individual appointments. They want me to show members new workouts and also train our staff to do the same. My concern is will this be breaking the requirements on what a pt should be doing? Am I responsible as the certified pt if injuries occur or is the fitness center if I am not with the member doing their complete workout? Would need professional insurance along with general liability insurance? If so, please explain what they both cover.

As a pt, we are required to do assessments and testing before beginning any exercise program with a client- how will the above work with that?

Very concern with the pt requirements by law!!!!

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Medical assessment for new clients

by Emily
(Olathe, KS)

I am a recently certified PT (Cooper) and have heard 2 different opinions on doing initial medical assessments with new clients. 1)Use the PARQ (or other medical history questionaire) and only require a doctor's release if the questionaire indicates a possible problem. 2)Get a doctor's release from ALL new clients regardless of health history. I can see the positives for both sides. If you require the doctor's release you're probably safer from liability later but you may have a client that says 'Well trainer X isn't requiring me to get that so I'll just go work with him/her.'
What do you all do regarding this?

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Medical Assessments
by: Pam

I have a client packet for each new client it includes a PARQ, but also a general info question sheet which asks about previous surgeries, injuries, etc, and release and indemnity agreement (drawn up by my attorney). I would not see any client that had a "yes" answer on the PARQ, because it opens you up for liability if a problem arises from that yes answer. Unfortunately, as much as we would like to trust everyone, if something happened regarding that question, you could quite possible get blamed and sued. I would not think it is worth the risk. If someone else is willing to take on that particular responsibility, as much as we hate to turn away clients, I would do just that, not worth the potential problem for me. Most clients are understanding and willing to go get the medical release, especially since their whole goal in hiring a personal trainer is to get healthy.

re:medical assessment
by: Texas

I've been a Personal Trainer for 20 yrs. - I use the PARQ, a general info form and a liability release. I think if you were to require a medical release from ALL new clients then you'd lose some potential clients. It's over-kill. I do require a medical release from anyone that has issues of concern. In all my years of training, I've never had a liability issue. Hope this info helps.
:)

medical releases
by: Emily W (KS)

Thank you both for your comments. I will definetely use the Parq and just require doctor's releases from those that show a possible concern.

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Body Composition Testing

by Bonnie
(Michigan)

The gym that I work at I have noticed the Personal Trainer do not do the measurements, body fat or weight. I just recently got my cert and was wondering what the reason might be. Normally when you have a client (out of home)wouldn't you do all there measurements before you get started. Most of the clients at the gym are just one session, does that make a difference. The manager doesn't believe in doing all questionnaires until after the first work out(she does do the health though). Does anyone have any in put on this?

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BODY COMP TESTING
by: LESLIEINOK

I was a health club manager before I got my AFAA certification to do personal training. Your question has more than one part.
Let me start by saying it looks like your club is missing out on a huge selling/member retention practice. As a club manager, we would take body measurements during the first meeting with a prospective member. BEFORE THEY EVEN JOINED!! This was almost always a shock for them to see the real numbers. They often think "oh I know I am out of shape" but when they see how out of shape in black and white they get a more concrete understanding of they fact that they need to make a COMMITMENT TO THEIR HEALTH. So there is one reason to do it right off the bat.
The second reason is that for a program to show success you have to know where you were when you started! If you wait two weeks for example, to get that baseline, well you missed out on what is often a big change in weight and body fat%.
If these are going to be 'your' clients then they are 'your' livlihood and if there isn't an objection from your boss, I would get those measurements before ever doing one single rep!
There is a reason we are trained to obtain this information. And it is also a tool you can use to initiate a conversation on good health practices like how they eat as well as exercise.
People pay a lot of money for training. We have to show them results or why would they keep coming?
I hope this helps

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