10 Noticeable Signs of a Bad Personal Trainer

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Personal training is a necessary profession that is beneficial to those who seek guidance for their health and fitness goals. Many people claim to be a personal trainer out there, but buyer beware. It is important to discern between those who claim to be a personal trainer and those that are qualified to be a personal trainer. To help you decide what to look for here are ten noticeable signs of a bad personal trainer.

They Don’t Have Education or Certifications

Stop hiring people you see with a significant transformation without education. Chances are they had help to do that, and they are just regurgitating someone else’s work. A personal trainer is qualified mainly through certification and/ or education in the field. Mostly both! If that person has taken the time to study the profession to be fully informed about health and your body, then you can use this as the first sign of a good personal trainer.

A  personal trainer can have a minimum of a high school diploma and a personal trainer certification, but this does not mean they are automatically good at what they do. Ask questions to see if they are dedicated to lifelong learning by attending conferences, updating their knowledge, or furthering their education. Anyone can get a certification through a program or seminar, but it is important to look for respected certifications. Here are a few that I recommend, ACE, ACSM, NASM, ISSA, NCSCA, NFPT.

There is no Evidence

If you want good results, you want to see other successful people. If a personal trainer cannot show you their work or produce results in others, then consider another option. Now I say this with caution because people who are just beginning will not have many clients to back it up. If that is the case, then they should be honest with you. A new trainer will be upfront with you and offer a reduced rate to build their base. If you find someone who doesn’t have evidence of the results AND does not disclose themselves as a beginner, then that’s a red flag.

Look for someone who has client testimonials that include all different types of clients. This will give you an indication that their results can be duplicated in others regardless of size or fitness level. This shows an investment on their part to learn how to help everyone, and not just easy transformations.

They Don’t Give You Assessments

In school, the first thing they tell you to give a client before starting a program is a health risk assessment and a physical activity readiness questionnaire. This shows you if the person is fit enough to perform the activities without restriction. A gym could give this assessment if you’re signing up for training through them, and that is okay too.

Immediately following the health risk assessment, performance assessment should occur. Usually, this is an intro session or consultation. This gives them an idea of where the client is starting. The assessments help to develop a personalized program for you to reach your goals.  Without this intake, how will they know what the best plan is for you?

They Don’t Give You a Plan

Personal training is an investment in your health, so you should be working with someone who has a plan for your goals. After that initial session, your trainer should have an outline of the training and a clear progression in the program. If you come to your sessions and feel like your trainer is winging it, that is a sign. Trainers should be writing down your progress in each session and tracking what you do. In addition, they should give you tips on things to do at home when you are not with them. If you find yourself meeting with them and there is no clear direction for the training, please reconsider who you’re working with.

A good session should begin with a warm-up and end with a cool down. They should teach you about stretching and taking proper rest. All of these factors incorporate a well-rounded program.

They Are Not Educating You

A trainer should be able to explain why they are giving you an exercise, or what the purpose of the training session is. They should demonstrate the exercises and make sure you know how to do it. If they can’t give you those things, those are signs. In addition, they should be asking you questions during your workout about your exertion. It should be adapted based on your feedback.

They should correct your form. Trainers who sit back and ignore incorrect form is a cringe-worthy thing for me. I can’t tell you how many times I see trainers in my gym on their phone during a session and not correcting form! Performing exercises incorrectly leads to injury, and if your trainer is not watching your every move, run!

There is no Focus on Nutrition

Please repeat after me. You cannot out-exercise a bad diet!

If a trainer doesn’t mention nutrition as an essential factor in your fitness goals, then you do not have the right person. A basic guide of nutrition should be specified from the beginning, and a plan provided if they are qualified to do so. They should be asking you about your eating habits, and refer you to the proper resources if they do not have the means to provide it themselves. If a trainer does not mention nutrition, it is time to ask yourself if they are focused on your goals?

They Are Not Living The Lifestyle

If they are not living a healthy lifestyle, why are you working with them? Find someone who practices what they preach! I am not saying you need the perfect physically fit person who eats all raw vegan food with 10% body fat, but you want someone who emulates the lifestyle you desire. If you continuously see them struggling with the same advice they give you, run!

They Don’t Know How to Motivate You

Motivation should come from both sides. A trainer should be on time and ready to work with you. It is one thing to be an educated personal trainer, but not everyone can be a good coach. A coach motivates and believes in your goals.

They want the best for you and strive to make you better. Find someone who believes in you and helps you discover new abilities in yourself. If you find your trainer seems uninterested in how you’re doing, then chances are they are not invested in your success.

You do Not See Results

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. If you cannot see any change, then you are not working with the right person. A good personal trainer should know the lack of progress before you because they are tracking you. Training programs should not be a one size fits all approach. If they cannot correct a plan to meet your needs, then this is a sign.

Just a Note

This list is my opinion and may not apply to all situations. This is strictly speaking for one on one programs, and some scenarios such as group training may be different. Before you ask, I am not offering personal training services at this time, but that could change in the future. Please stay up to date with all of my upcoming rollouts by subscribing! You will be the first to know about what we have in store for all you fit foodies!


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