Is your personal trainer actually kind of… terrible at his job? If you can’t really tell right away, read the rest of this article to learn how to recognize trainers who are only wasting your time and money!
Many fitness enthusiasts hire personal trainers to help them meet their goals quickly and efficiently and more often than not, that strategy pays off wonderfully. For starters, having a personal trainer means scheduling regular appointments – that makes it harder to make up excuses for not working out and could help you stick to your program for longer.
A trainer’s job is to give you personal attention during exercise and make sure you perform each rep in a safe manner with proper form and technique, which is a crucial component of success.
Many people can’t realize their form sucks because they’re not able to see themselves from all angles, while others simply don’t know how to execute the exercises properly and let their gut feeling guide them. Good trainers will help individuals fix these issues and polish up their performance in a way they couldn’t achieve by themselves.
But for all the advantages of hiring a personal fitness trainer, there is a dark side to this choice. If you are new to the fitness community and haven’t really understood the ways of the fitness industry yet, making the wrong choice is very easy, especially since there seems to be a horde of really bad, unscrupulous trainers who don’t give a damn about your safety and progress out there.
Not everyone has the ability to teach someone else a specific skill he himself has mastered, and to be able to guide someone else through a fitness journey, a trainer needs to have a lot more than knowledge of biomechanics – he also needs a great deal of patience, empathy and creativity and an ability to motivate others to achieve things beyond their imagination.
Sadly, most coaches that market themselves as miracle workers are nothing more than boastful charlatans with a couple of useless certificates, aiming to exploit anyone who’s confused, inexperienced and naive.
In fact, to help you determine whether you need a new trainer, we’ve created this list of 6 “bad coach” behaviors that are surefire signs that your current one is more interested in your wallet than your muscles! Read carefully!
1. A Blatant Lack of Interest
Is your trainer checking social media and texting in the middle of your session? Or perhaps he can be often caught staring into space and counting predetermined reps with a monotonous voice? Either way, that is the first clear sign your trainer sucks. One of the most infuriating things that trainers do is taking a passive, uninterested role in your workout and constantly looking bored.
After all, you pay your trainer good money to pay attention to what it is you’re doing and make sure you’re doing the exercise correctly and safely. Another bad sign is when your trainer is more focused on counting reps than checking your technique from all angles.
Remember this: regardless of your level of competence and experience, your personal trainer should be 100% engaged in your training, making you feel like you’re his only client and showing you that he really cares for your goals. He should be able to understand where you’re coming from and where you want to get and keep inventing ways to motivate you to push yourself harder.
2. The One-size-fits-all Type
Many personal trainers are bodybuilders themselves or ex-athletes who used to compete in specific sport fields. A bad side-effect from having a rich personal training experience is that it makes some trainers real purists, i.e. incapable of combining the best things from multiple types of training.
Instead of creating a custom program for you, based on your individual body type and specific goals, they train all of their clients in the same way – their way. A powerlifting-oriented trainer will focus on increasing the weight you can work with, while a cardio freak will make you do countless tabata protocols per week.
Unless you’ve hired your personal coach specifically because you wanted to learn to train his way, he isn’t supposed to train you in nearly the exact same way he trains without any regard for your personal goals, wants and abilities.
Your trainer should be knowledgeable in more disciplines and able to design a training program which includes an adequate mix of modes such as strength, hypertrophy, endurance, mobility and cardiovascular fitness. Again, you don’t need someone who can’t focus on you.
3. Encouraging Dependency
Some trainers like to force you into a long-term commitment by giving you incomplete information to keep you coming back. This can be hard to recognize, but it’s very common nevertheless. Why would a personal trainer want to avoid teaching you the very things he’s supposed to be teaching you?
To keep you spending money on them, of course. Financially speaking, it is way better for them to keep you dependent on their expertise and prevent you from becoming too confident, instead of really educating you and helping you become self-sufficient.
Look for a trainer who, among other things, tells you why you’re doing what you’re doing and works to bring you to a point when you won’t need his services every time you step into a gym. A tune up session every once in a while will help keep you on the right course, but first and foremost, your personal trainer should be trying to teach you how to do things for yourself.
4. The Salesman
There’s a growing number of trainers who use every opportunity to sell products or additional services to their clients, regardless of whether the product or service is appropriate for their specific fitness goals or not.
It’s all just a trick to get more money flowing into their pockets at the expense of the client. We say this because lots of the supplements these trainers work hard to promote are actually bullshit and nobody really needs them or at the very least, their effects haven’t been well-studied yet. That’s usually a very good sign that your trainer is dishonest and doesn’t care about you as an individual.
Your training session shouldn’t include commercial breaks. Don’t tolerate a trainer who constantly shifts the focus of the workout from the training itself to his promotional campaign, or a trainer who never seems to shut up. Tell him to cut it out or simply replace him with someone who actually cares about your priorities and is ready to follow your needs.
5. No Sense of Structure
This really is a no-brainer, but it happens all the time so it’s worth being mentioned here. A trainer who shows up to the appointment without a detailed session plan, doesn’t have a clear vision about the direction of your training and frequently gets confused about the right order of exercises… is a complete waste of your time and money. OK?
An effective trainer will create an entire training program for you and will be able to explain the role of every exercise in that program. An effective trainer will closely follow your progress and keep a log of all your sessions, past and present.
Furthermore, such a trainer will take measurements monthly, if not weekly, so that he can track your progress and motivate you by showing you “real”, numeric results. That way you’ll know whether your efforts are producing any meaningful results or not.
In other words, if your personal trainer can’t show you where you’ve come from and doesn’t appear to know what he’s doing in the moment, there’s a very slim chance that he’ll be able to take you where you want to go.
6. Neglecting Nutrition
It’s not your trainer’s job to control what you eat and when, but he should be engaged enough to try to improve your dieting habits. There shouldn’t exist a licensed personal trainer who doesn’t recognize nutrition as a crucial part of both weight loss and muscle building. Never. Ever. If he tells you “you can eat whatever you want as long as you train regularly”, you have our permission to run away screaming.
It’s kind of your trainer’s job to motivate you to take proper care of your body outside of the gym as well. He should educate you about pre- and post-workout nutrition and the caloric requirements of certain types of training.
A good trainer will know that eating the wrong foods can ruin a big part of your hard-earned progress and won’t fail to warn you about it as well as give you appropriate tips on better aligning your diet with your training efforts.
If you have reasons to doubt your trainer’s dedication to your personal fitness goals or you don’t see any results from the collaboration, you should seriously think about firing him.
The relationship between and your trainer has to be based on mutual respect and understanding and guided by constructive interaction and feedback. No trainer is perfect nor omnipotent, but he needs to show a considerable amount of knowledge and skill and give you a unique and personalized experience.
After all, you need your trainer to help you navigate the gym and all of its equipment so that you get the most out of each session, and that means he has to know exactly what he’s doing, so don’t settle for anything less!