How to Tell if You Have a Bad Personal Trainer

by Michael Saad
How to Tell if You Have a Bad Personal Trainer

Now, I know most people would never admit it, but a lot of us choose a personal trainer based on how hot they are and how many other clients they seem to have. Really. If the girl (it’s always a girl!) looks toned and seems friendly enough, well, who’s going to know any better?

When it comes to health and fitness, most people hand over the reins to “experts” and assume that they’ll have the client’s best interests at heart. But think about your own job for a second.

In whatever industry you work in, you’d probably agree that not everyone knows what they’re doing and that there’s some percentage of people out there brandishing the title but giving everyone else in the field a bad name.

Hell, one year for my birthday – I bought a Hummer.

It looked nice. It was bulky and sleek, but I had no idea what the hell made it run under the hood. Just because someone buys a toy that looks good on the outside, doesn’t mean they know what makes the inside tick.

It’s no different with personal training.

Some young buck with a six-pack can do a weekend course and call himself a trainer, and his clients will go ahead and listen when he tells them to belt out 30 reps on the leg press machine.

Unfortunately, if his clients are happy, nobody will stop him. It’s up to you to make sure you’re getting what you pay for. Here’s how to tell your trainer is a dud:

yelling trainer
If your trainer is too hostile you might have a bad trainer. Look for someone who’s a little less Full Metal Jacket.
  • He slouches. I mean it – good posture is one of the simplest ways to tell what a person thinks of their body… and likely yours.
  • Do they forget to ask you questions about your health status? Barging ahead with a one-size workout is a good sign you’re working with an amateur.
  • Do they care about you? Training isn’t just about the form and the diet macros. A good trainer will want to understand your motivations, your psychological hang-ups and how your mood is going to affect the work you do together.
  • Do they stick to the same ol’ same ol’ – or do they know many exercise alternatives that could suit you better?
  • Do they just tell you what you need to do instead of explaining why you should?
  • Do you get the distinct impression you’re only going through the motions? If you feel like your trainer’s just making shit up as he goes along, he may well be.
  • Are they outright hostile? I’m a fan of the drill-sergeant mode myself, but you should never leave a session feeling torn down and mentally broken.
  • Do they let you do whatever the hell you want and don’t bother correcting your form or pointing out areas for improvement?
  • Do they disrespect your appointment times, use their phones during sessions, wander off or otherwise seem distracted?
  • Are they just a “vanity trainer?” You’re there to train, not flirt a little, not primp and pose, not have a fat therapy session about that woman you hate at work.
  • Most importantly – Are you actually seeing results? Dump a trainer who’s not helping you get results or worse – blaming it on you.

With trainers, things can get tricky because it’s hard to tell if you’re being gently pushed out of your comfort zone or if you’re simply not a good match.

Don’t be shy asking about their qualifications (they should be happy to chat about it) and if you’re having doubts, speak up. An experienced trainer will be able to answers questions, put your mind at ease and adjust whatever isn’t working.

Do you have any personal trainer horror stories?

What to do now?

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