What To Do If My Client Fails A PAR-Q

In today’s blog, we’ll explore what a PAR-Q is, why it’s used when to implement one and what to do if a client fails a PAR-Q.

Plus we’ll answer the burning question of, ‘Is a PAR-Q a legal requirement?’

There’s also a short video tutorial below and 3 exam-style mock questions. The level 2 and 3 exams often encompass a PAR-Q style question. This tests your knowledge around a FITPROs scope of practice.

First up…

What is a PAR-Q?

This abbreviation [PAR-Q] gets thrown around as if everyone knows what it is… yet so many trainee FITPROs turn up on course and have no idea about it.

Plus many veteran FITPROs get tangled up with when to do a PAR-Q and if it’s still relevant.

A PAR-Q is a screening tool and its formal definition is:

Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire [PAR-Q]

As the name suggests it’s a questionnaire to assess a client’s readiness for physical activity.

Look upon it as a type of clearance or green light to start training a client

or, a red light to seek medical clearance first.

A PAR-Q will typically include questions such as:

  • Do you have chest pain when performing physical activity?
  • Are you pregnant or have you given birth in the last 6 months?
  • Do you have a bone or joint problem that causes you pain when exercising?
  • Have you had recent surgery? Do you have any other limitations that must be addressed? (i.e. diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arthritis, back problems, etc.)?
  • Plus more…

The client then answers YES or NO… and may add more detail where relevant.

The PAR-Q enables you the FITPRO to get to know your client.

The PAR-Q serves as a great tool to ask initial questions that allows you to explore further.

This is a key point… the PAR-Q is not a form that is flung under a client’s nose to fill out quickly.

You want the client to answer honestly and you may miss out on so much vital information.

The client may just answer ‘NO’ to every question to ensure they can start training and match their motivation levels.

However, by taking your time and asking further questions the client cannot escape the reality of answering truthly with a ‘Yes’.

If you don’t have a PARQ template, You can download one for FREE HERE

Watch: What to do if my client fails a PAR-Q?

Why is it important to value a PAR-Q?

The PAR-Q is a tool that helps you build huge trust and a client/trainer relationship.

The client might read and answer NO to a particular question.

You can then ask the same question but in a different way.

The client now might hesitate for a second… perhaps the answer could be a yes for some reason.

Your extra questioning helps challenge the client’s initial answer. All the time you are building up a much more accurate picture of who the client is.

What’s more, the client will feel appreciated and feel listened to.

Two very important ingredients for a successful FITPRO/client relationship.

Your first meeting or consultation is the perfect time to complete the PAR-Q.

You’ll then have enough information to determine if the client is ready to engage in structured physical activity. Giving you and the client a green light to start.

or, based on the information given, if it is advisable for them to seek qualified medical advice prior to starting. Giving you and the client a red light.

What To Do If My Client Fails A PAR-Q?

If a client fails a PAR-Q by having 1 or more ‘No’ answers to any question, the client must seek medical clearance.
And medical clearance must be in writing.

A client cannot simply say “my doctor said it was OK for me to start exercising“. This isn’t enough to negate the ‘No’ given on the PAR-Q.

At the end of the day, the client has failed the PAR-Q due to their health status. Whilst the client may be keen and motivated to start it’s crucial they do so in a safe and effective way.

Let’s hypothetically say a client fails a PAR-Q as they answer yes to having a ‘joint problem’. Further questioning ascertains the client has osteoarthritis affecting their hips and knees.

You could say the client is ready to go other than their osteoarthritis … that you’ll be mindful of their condition and do a little research.

This is a massive RED flag and simply being mindful and doing your own research is not good enough. And in many respects very dangerous for the client if they were to continue.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common clinical condition. In fact, OA is the most common form of arthritis. It’s a degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis on specific areas of the body.

A client with OA comes with many contraindications to physical activity.

A contraindication is a specific situation in which an exercise approach should not be used because it may be harmful to the person.

Maybe the client is on a particular medication or their condition is not under control.

By obtaining a doctor’s note… you’ll get permission and further guidance on how to work with this client in the future.


Now here’s the thing.

If they have Doctor permission, can I train a client who fails a PAR-Q?

Just because a medical professional provides clearance… you still might not be able to work with the client.

A medical professional’s letter refers a client back to someone who is suitably qualified.

This could be in exercise referral or the NEW Diploma in Supporting clients with long-term conditions.

These two courses qualify you to work with a client that refers a PAR-Q due to their health status.

You gain the knowledge to liaise with a medical professional

and learn how to work safely and effectively with multiple clinical conditions.

The stand-alone fitness instructor and personal trainer courses do not qualify you to work with anyone who refers a PAR-Q based on health status.

The same goes for someone who has recently given birth. One question in the PAR-Q ascertains whether a client has recently given birth in the last 6 months. This isn’t to say the client cannot train.

But they must have medical clearance and be trained by a suitably qualified FITPRO. One that holds a pre and post-natal qualification. This qualification teaches a FITPRO how to plan and deliver safe and effective physical activity around pregnancy.

What should I do if my client refuses to obtain medical clearance?

Have a friendly chat and stress the importance of making sure they exercise safely. Unfortunately, if they still refuse you should not work with them. It’s not in your or their best interests to do so.

At the end of the day… the information gathered on their PAR-Q placed them in a higher risk category.

Yes… the client might go down the road to another FITPRO and you lose the client.

And that’s OK.

Is a PAR-Q a legal requirement?

Although you don’t get fined or imprisoned for not doing a PAR-Q with a client; it is negligent.

If you don’t have a written PAR-Q completed for your client ( and re-completed every year) then you are not abiding by your highest known standard of a FITPRO and could be “drawing a blind eye” to really important facts

If you were to fail to do a PAR-Q or ignore the PAR-Q result, you could be compromising your insurance policy.

Plus your hard-earned reputation and potentially opening yourself to legal action should something go wrong.

Right from day one on your first FITPRO course, regardless of your discipline… the PAR-Q has been a stand-alone form that every client must complete.

A PAR-Q must also be completed if you are training a client face-to-face and/or online training. You also need to do a PAR-Q regardless of whether you are training 1-to-1 clients or in groups.

Remember your insurance only covers you for what you are qualified in.

If you are not qualified you are not covered.

It is also worth carefully checking the wording of your fitness insurance so you are clear on anything relating to PAR-Q requirements in the small print.

You may be required to ask specific questions outside of the standard PAR-Q template.

Test your knowledge with today’s PAR-Q mock questions:

[NOTE: The answers are below the 3rd questions]

Q1: What should you do if your client fails a PAR-Q?

A. Write a letter to my GP
B. Write a letter to the client’s GP and ask for medical clearance, then only train them if suitably qualified
C. Pretend you didnt do the PAR-Q
D. Persuade your client to change the Yes to a No

Q2: Why should those who fail a PAR-Q have medical clearance before exercising?

A. The Medical professional is not in control of the clients treatment plan and diagnosis
B. The benefit of getting active is more importnant thatn the risk of their medical status
C. To waste time before the client starts exercise
D. Exercise is a stressor, and based on their current medical status the risk of exercise is too great

Q3: Is it a legal requirement to issue a PAR-Q?

A. Yes, but it doesnt matter whether they answer yes or no, you can train them regardless
B. Yes, you could get fined or imprisoned
C. No, but failure to do so may be seen as negligent and compromise insurance cover
D. No, because it is the clients responsibility to remind the trainer

Answers to the mock questions are :

Question 1= B, Question 2 = D, Question 3 = C

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Hayley “What To Do If My Client Fails A PAR-Q” Bergman

Parallel Coaching

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