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March 1, 2021

5 Signs of a Bad Personal Trainer

If you are looking for a personal trainer you should be a smart, well informed consumer when searching for a professional that has the potential to influence your health. After being in the health and fitness, I have come across numerous personal trainers and have found that not all trainers are created equally. In many cases, some are responsible for spreading information that is dangerous or irresponsible. 

Getting a personal training certification or even get a job in a gym can be cheap and easy, thanks to online certifications. It is even easier for anyone with a smartphone or video camera to post videos on YouTube or any other social media platform and call themselves an expert without any education on the subject or even the worst of certifications. It would be easy to unknowingly place trust in an ineffective trainer, at best, or dangerous trainer, at worst.

To help you navigate through your options I have put together a list of five signs that a trainer is one you need to consider staying away from. These are by no means the only things that make a bad trainer but they are some of the most glaring and easiest to spot.

1. Selling or Suggesting Supplements
If a trainer suggests the use of or even worse tries to sell you supplements, walk away. First, when it comes to fitness and health gains, supplements are not necessary. Your health and fitness is made up of three elements: exercise, nutrition and sleep. Secondly, unless you have come across a trainer who is also a doctor or certified nutritionist, they can not legally or ethically give supplement “prescriptions”. The only reason supplements are promoted at all is because of money. Supplements are a multi-billion dollar business and most of the hype and “benefits” of supplementation come from the mouth of the people who make and sell them.

2. Promote Weight Loss Before or Instead of Muscle Building
Trainers who only focus on weight loss and not muscle/strength building are doing clients a huge disservice. Those who only focus on sheer calorie burn through cardio, toning (light weight training), or core exercises, as their only form of exercise are working with a limit to how much they can burn and typically have to heavily restrict caloric intake to see progress. On the other hand if you start with strength training to build a good base of muscle you can increase your resting metabolism as well as max calorie burn for any given exercise therefore burning more calories with the same relative level of effort. Your body’s Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), the rate at which your body burns calories just keeping itself alive, is set not only by your body’s natural functions but also by the amount of muscle tissue you have. So, if you add more muscle tissue you add more calorie burn potential both during exercise and daily life activities. This increased BMR due to more muscle mass makes it easier to not only drop fat weight but to also keep it off in the long run. The best thing is that it does not take much muscle mass to make a huge difference in the number of calories you need in a day. So, especially for any ladies out there who are worried about getting too bulky or masculine from weight lifting remember that a little goes a long way.  If you are trying to lose weight and your trainer only does light weight training, cardio or core exercises it does not necessarily make them a bad trainer just one that will be less effective for helping you lose fat and keep it off.

3. Focus on Intensity Over Form
When most people enter the gym, their goal is typically to sweat as much as possible and/or lift as much weight as possible with no regard for how their movement quality affects the health of their muscles, joints and ligaments. Most People associate proper form and technique with a reduced risk of injury, which is accurate. However, when we have proper movement quality we also increase our ability to lift heavier weight. So while it might feel good during a session to go all out, a good personal trainer would make sure the client recognizes how that specific workout fits in to the bigger program being executed and how specifically quality form affects your long-term ability.

4. Trainers that don’t Educate or Empower Clients
There are some personal trainers, who feel that you should give just enough information to keep a client coming back so they can fill up their schedules and make more money. I believe that this is a huge flaw if you’re actually trying to help someone. A personal trainer’s aim should be to teach clients everything they need to know to be a more active participant in their own health and fitness. Each person needs to know why they are doing each exercise and why they are doing them in a specific order. The goal of a personal trainer is to teach a client to the point that they did not need me anymore, which sounds stupid if you are trying to make money but if you have a trainer that really wants to change people’s lives and help long-term then they won’t get caught up in the money. However, if you teach a person well, they will not only be empowered, they will also trust you and know that you have their best interest in mind, which may make them more likely to refer your services to others in their circle.

5. Promise Quick Results
Many people start into an exercise routine with the hope that it will be easy to hit their goals as long as they put in some effort for a while. I know that it can be discouraging to hear that they are not going to drop 10 pounds in a week without serious health repercussions and that they need to realize that exercise and health are things that need to be a permanent part of their life. A good trainer will make the hard decision to address false hopes and help people set new attainable ones. Whereas a bad trainer will keep their mouth shut just to get a paycheck or even worse plant that false hope just to close the deal. Improving physical ability takes time, weight loss takes time, gaining flexibility or balance takes time and anyone trying to tell you otherwise will never have your best interests in mind.

I hope my list helps you find great trainers to help you and more importantly helps you avoid the bad ones. After all there is more at stake here than just your waistline. Finding the right well educated personal trainer can be the difference between becoming a happier, stronger, fitter, smarter individual or becoming a person who hates exercise, and feels that they will never succeed. There are many good trainers out there, and finding one that works for you can make a huge positive impact on your progress towards your goals and overall outlook on health and fitness.

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