How to Spot an Unprofessional Personal Trainer
Signing up for Personal Training can be a very intimidating process. For some, quite embarrassing. Individuals are being brave enough to visit you which is often, the most difficult part. But, it can also be personally challenging because these individuals are coming to you and admitting that their way of doing things didn't work and that they need someone else's help and guidance. No matter the age, health level or fitness experience, everyone deserves to be given the highest level of respect when signing up for your training.
With that being said, over the last 10 years of being a PT and Health Specialist, I've worked inside and have associated myself with many different types of health facilities. Unfortunately, with that experience, comes with many head scratching and mind baffling moments when being around various Personal Trainers, Fitness Instructors and Health Coaches. Now, let's get one thing straight, I am not necessarily a fan of calling any PT a "bad" trainer. I have been around a lot of instructors and coaches that are extremely passionate about their work and helping others. It may be though that you will simply come across a trainer that hasn't continued their education and studies within the health industry. They might not even know what they are doing is wrong; whether it be a poor programming regimen, poor nutrition protocol or all around poor lifestyle advice, it might be simply all they know or what they were taught by another trainer. So, whenever confrontation is necessary with another health professional, the upmost amount of transparency, love & respect must be present before "calling out" that wrong doing.
Without further ado, here is a listing on some of the most commonly seen "unprofessional" methods I've seen other Personal Trainers (and Group Fitness Instructors) give to their clients. FYI, this list could definitely be much longer but for the sake of the length of this article, I tried my best to keep it as short as possible.
1. Poor Programming
Whether it be not including active recovery days inside of their weekly schedule or throwing the client straight into a workout without a proper 5-10 min warm up, proper programming is key for everyone! Lack of time is never an excuse either. I rather my client be safe and have a shorter workout then rush into a routine to be able to (hopefully) burn more calories and then experience an injury that will take them out of the gym for a lengthy period of time.
Another poor programming example I see frequently inside of gyms is the need to ask obese individuals perform plyometric exercises. That in no way is meant to be rude but the hard truth is this...I would be a negligent Health Professional if I allowed a client with a high level of excess weight on their potentially very sensitive joints, ligaments & tendons be bouncing around and coming down on those joints just because "it looks cool." You are simply asking for an injury to occur. There are other training protocols you can call upon to provide an effective training routine. Focus on fat loss first, not on what's popular at that moment so you can look cool as a trainer.
Wondering if you are receiving the best programming possible? Ask for your FREE consultation today!
2. Not Continuing or Passing Forward Education
I challenge all the readers of this article. The next time you are visiting your trainer or attending your next group fitness class, ask that trainer what they are currently reading or studying within the healthy and wellness industry. Then, be absolutely quiet as they most likely will stare at you with a completely caught off guard expression. The sad truth is, for most trainers I've seen, once they receive their respected certification and start working in their field, they get comfortable and content within their new environment. The health and wellness industry is constantly changing with new research studies coming out almost daily! A professional trainer must be aware of what is currently going on and how science is constantly proving old theories obsolete and introducing more effective methods to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
This also goes for trainers not properly explaining WHY they are programming the way that they are with their client. ANYONE nowadays can write down a list of exercises to do and call it a "program." But, only educated and professional trainers know why certain movements are performed WHEN they are, at a particular volume and at an appropriate intensity level. Next time you are with your trainer, ask them why you are performing this exercise and why that many reps/sets. I even enjoy it when my clients do it to me, it helps keep me on my toes and holds me accountable as a Health Specialist.
3. Forcing Intensity Over Form
Crossfit, I'm looking at you! It's no secret, I am a huge supporter of CF but within "boxes" aka CF gyms around my area, I see this so frequently that it basically makes my blood boil. Now, this doesn't go out only to Crossfit boxes (nor to all) but to trainers in various other gyms as well. Yes, it is important to go into your workout with intensity to make the most use of your time but it's just as important (and more) to be safe. I see trainers way too frequently throw out some intense workout that puts newer clients in a "competition" mindset and has them rushing around performing one exercise to the other, without focusing on proper form, just to achieve a faster time or get done quicker. More volume is not always better. Slow down, focus on each movement and where your body is at while properly giving your body time to rest and cool down so you may not experience an injury.
4. Promising Quick Results
If a prospect comes to a trainer with a larger amount of weight to lose, it is no secret in the health industry that these trainers love coaching these people. More often than not, it isn't difficult to lose a large amount of weight very quickly if that person is brand new to living a healthier lifestyle. Cut back the calories, drink a lot of lemon water for cleansing and perform 30 mins of light to moderate exercise a few times per week and BOOM, that trainer has a new testimonial they can share to the world.
BUT, that isn't the case for EVERYONE. Every human being is different. A real trainer knows they cannot possible guarantee quick results or offer ANY TYPE of time frame due to the fact that every individual is experiencing something different in their health and wellness. Not too long ago, I had the pleasure of training a middle aged mom that had a lot of weight left to lose but was experiencing a lengthly plateau. I recognized immediately with what her daily routine was that she described to me that her imbalanced hormone levels could be placing a significantly large road block in her weight loss journey. Long story short, within about 4 months, I was able to assist in guiding her towards rebalancing her hormonal levels and continue on her weight loss journey. Point is, someone's health is more than just calories in vs. calories out. Sometimes, someone can be doing all the right things but not achieving any success. You as the trainer has to be educated and REAL enough with each individual to let them know that this is a lifestyle change, not a temporary fad diet.
5. Not Developing Personal Relationships
Every trainer should continuously get to know their clients and develop a genuine friendship. Clients are more than just dollar signs. They are human beings with a story. Ask them to share it! Once people know that you are focused more on them than their wallets, you might be surprised by just how much more progress gets achieved for that client and your business. Clients that genuinely care about their trainer and feel comfortable with them will frequently spread that trainer's name around to their center of influence willfully while they achieve greater results because they never want to purposely let their trainer (friend) down with laziness or lack of progress.
Group Fitness Instructors are not excused from this, sorry! Arrive early to class and stay after. Pick the brains of the individuals that just attended your class. They are in your class for a reason. How can you help? Realistically, trainers can't get to know every attendee of their class if they are use to teaching large classes but nevertheless, if you are a fan of attending bootcamps or other fitness classes, see if your trainer is hanging after or if he is just collecting his/her paycheck and running out after the time is up. Over the years, I've slowly gotten away from teaching large classes and have focused on maxing out classes at just 8 people so I personally have the time to thank every person that comes and to build a relationship with those people.
There are several ways to spot an inexperienced or uneducated trainer, these are simply a few. Hopefully, with this article you've been able to understand what separates the great trainers from just the basic ones. If you want to experience the best training protocol possible, it's important to register with a professional healthy instructor. They are out there. During consultations or the first few sessions, don't be afraid to ask questions. If you are in need of help starting out your health journey, never hesitate to reach out to me and request your FREE consultation.