• drsuzbaxter

Do you health screen your clients? What to look at and how to do it.


If you are reading this and you want to know why you screen clients, check out this post on that exact thing: the reason why to screen clients.


This post focuses on the what and how. First of all, as part of your client onboarding process you might like to send a screening questionnaire to your client as a conversation opener, but also to have a record of what was initially declared at the time of starting training. This can serve as a reminder (for my clients they forget that they had chronic daily back pain or that they couldn't pick up their own groceries due to their shoulder injury, or that they used to have to nap for 5 hours a day with their fibromyalgia all because the rehab training worked so well).


Here is my actual 3 step process to screening a client. Ive developed it over years and fine tuned it to be 45 mins in length and also have real cross-over to what I need to know for my clients.

I realise that there are a lot of other trainers who do crazy tests of hamstring and hip mobility and my only question for you is: what level of detail do you need for the things you want to do with your client.


Step 1: Holding their pre-filled form covering all prior health status questions, assess their posture and gate by looking at them. What is their face and body telling you about movement.

I walk around the client as they stand there (telling them that I need to assess their readiness to move). If you tell them its about posture good luck getting a good result that isn't a false negative. Make notes on the form about any observations you make.

Ive been doing this a while so I watch them walk into my studio from down the driveway and look for any telltale signs in gait and expressions in face while moving.


Step 2: Movements (remove anything contra-indicated in the screening form, eg ab separation: maybe planks are not indicated)

Screen the client for things that they will be doing when working out with you, and things they do daily.

1. How do they get up and down off a seat or a bench?

2. What is their ankle mobility (especially if them getting off a bench was poor).

3. How is their balance?

4. How is their proprioception?

5. What is their running gait like (if allowed)?

6. Core strength?

7. Shoulder movement (is there anterior translation)?

8. Overhead mobility and back mobility?

9. Rotational and thoratic mobility?

10. Is there any pain or dysfunction in these movements?


**REASSURE THE CLIENT THAT THESE THINGS ARE AS INDIVIDUAL AS THEIR FINGERPRINT AND THAT THEY ARE NOT BEING MARKED DOWN**


STEP 3: Align what you have seen in the screen and their form to their goals.

Ask the client what their personal goals are and then suggest (based on what you have seen) how you can help with your offering.

I used to feel like the client might feel embarrassed if they couldn't afford to train and so I used to leave this bit with them, but now I tell them honestly how to get to their goals if it isn't about money. That way you are being genuine in your recommendations and not telling a client who has 10kg to lose and does not know how to exercise that they can do that by exercising once a week.


This whole process is about making a professional recommendation so done correctly it builds rapport with the client and also helps them understand where you come in and your level of knowledge. Plus, how will you write a tailored plan if you don't look at how your client moves. If you see knee valgus, maybe you want to tell the client you'll be working on glute strength and core stability if that is a factor, and then do that! Otherwise your program writing will be subpar and you'll providing not much extra than what a browse on the internet can get someone in terms of programming (and darling, you're worth more than that)!

Has this helped? Let me know. And let me know if Ive committed a crime against PT and missed anything.

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