When paying for services, many of us have been duped a time or two in our lives and we wish we could turn back time and make a different decision other than the one we did. Sometimes we know it right away, and other times after being invested deeply, we realize the chosen provider was a mistake.
When hiring someone earlier this year to build me a nice website, I initially felt good about the “investment” I was making. But after several months of not receiving anything more than what I could have built myself, I soon started regretting the $1300 that I had spent on the person providing such a “product” with many feelings of frustration and regret. I felt like I literally just threw that money out the window – which in a major way, I did.
In hindsight, I wish I would have known then, what I know now as to what to look for, what to ask and what to run away from. Shame on me for jumping in a bit too quick without doing a little homework on this person and knowing a little bit more. But honestly, I didn’t really know what to look for or ask 6 months ago. I do now however, after my money is long gone.
As the saying goes; hindsight is 20/20…
What This Article Will Cover
But this article isn’t about websites or me. It’s about you and thousands of others looking to hire a good, qualified personal trainer to help get fit and healthy in the safest, fastest and best way possible. I also know that there are thousands of others that already have hired a personal trainer and may be questioning if they made a good decision in who they chose.
Unfortunately, many are not getting results, not learning anything, not being taught how to become independent when training on their own, and are wasting time and money with their personal trainer – and may not even realize it.
Or, maybe you do realize or suspect you’re not gaining much but you feel guilty for even thinking about “breaking up” with your trainer. It is a relationship after all and can often become a strong one given there has been a significant amount of time spent together in the gym. Given the price tag for your personal training is assumptively high, you need to be sure you are getting your value’s worth for that financial investment and be strong enough to set all feelings aside.
The goal of this article is to help you be aware of the signs that a typical “less than ideal” personal trainer possesses. Any good personal trainer sees these signs and is annoyed by them like I am. I am here to help the unknowing person in the market for a fitness trainer (or again, already paying for a suspected “bad apple”) to spot the following poor qualities in one.
This article should arm you in making a better decision as to where to invest your money and pursue your journey of looking and feeling your best in the most efficient way possible.
#1 Reason to Fire Your Personal Trainer: Their Attention is NOT on YOU
Talking with their buddies on the gym floor. Staring at the girl in the tight booty shorts doing deadlifts over in the corner. Looking at their phone, texting and the worst; taking a phone call during a paid session with a client.
Any, and all these are EXTREMELY disrespectful to you and your time during your training session you’re paying for with this personal trainer.
It still surprises me how much I witness this at gyms I visit on a regular basis. Almost every time I observe these behaviors, I also see the client performing the exercise incorrectly. In addition, they are not being educated or encouraged to do their best either.
In short, this may be THE WORST and EASIEST poor trait to observe in a bad personal trainer!
#2 Reason to Fire Your Personal Trainer: They Don’t Practice Their Craft of Health & Fitness
I have pretty much witnessed it all through the last two decades in this industry when it comes to the variety of personal trainers working in it. I have seen some that will go out for smoke breaks behind the gym (and even in the front). I used to watch two trainers that worked together at the same gym as myself years ago, venture out for fast food every day and bring it back to eat at their desk at the entry part of the gym. I’m talking extra-large sodas, fries and all – you know, the stuff that leads to obesity and related health concerns. These two and many more trainers, were overweight, had not a single clue about how to eat properly and lacked decent amount of knowledge and experience with weight training and exercise science. Simply because they didn’t care to learn or engage in it.
This, is arguably my biggest pet peeve; your trainer should be in good physical shape themselves. They don’t have to be a ripped fitness model with 8% body fat by NO means but, they should work out on a regular basis, have healthy lifestyle habits and practice what they teach.
No personal trainer is going to be great at teaching you how to effectively get in good physical shape if they can’t do it for themselves. If they aren’t doing it, they obviously are not too passionate about it. Given this, don’t expect them to be passionate or helpful with your goals either. You most likely will just be a paycheck to them until they get fired or pushed away from the fitness industry.
I have seen this all happen countless amounts of times too: Having an exercise science or kinesiology degree doesn’t go far if you don’t practice any of it in the real world. Even though some random guy on the street may have a brokerage investment license, you wouldn’t hire a broke and homeless guy on the streets to handle your money and future retirement funds, would you?
Sometimes the signs are painfully obvious to some of us but not to others. For me, seeing a very out of shape trainer with poor health is one of those signs.
When interviewing a potential trainer to hire, ask them the following questions:
1. What are their credentials? What is their education & background?
2. What is their niche as a trainer? What areas do they specialize in? Who is their typical and/or ideal client they work with? ** Does this match up with YOU and YOUR goals? Think twice if they give a generic “they work with everyone and anyone” answer. Just like there are many different types of doctors specializing in different fields, same goes true with fitness trainers.
3. How long have they been at their current gym or place they conduct their training sessions? ** If they have a history of frequently relocating (or getting fired) and short-lived stays in gyms, be cautious.
4. Is this what they do full-time? If not (which is totally okay), what else do they do for a living? Is it related to personal training or health & fitness? It should be…
5. Do they have references or reviews from current or past clients they have worked with?
Are they well spoken with confidence and competent on subjects of health and fitness? In today’s internet driven world, it is easy to find reviews of personal trainers online. You can also find contributions they have made (if any) to the fitness world via blogs, videos and more. You can even find verification of their certifications and if they are current as well.
A great (and super simple) resource to find good personal trainers in your area that are currently up to date with certifications and continuing education, reviews and more, can be found here: Find Qalified Trainers Here
#3 Reason to Fire Your Personal Trainer: They Don’t Have a Degree or Current Certification
Aside from real life experience and practices just discussed, it is also critically important that your trainer has some education and experience behind them. I have seen young, genetically gifted gym rats looking trim and attractive in their tank tops and skimpy gym clothing, but having no business training clients. This can be luring for many as we do tend to buy what we see.
There is nothing wrong with asking your trainer what their background is, their certifications and where they are held in addition to any relevant degrees they have. A good trainer will be happy and proud, to show them.
Also, be sure that their personal training certification is currently up to date. Assuming it is, this shows that they are staying up on current trends and pursuing their education while progressing in their knowledge of the industry to do their best for you and the rest of their clients. Many trainers claiming they’re certified, obtained one 15 years ago but it has been expired for the last 13. This technically means they are no longer certified. Check…
Beware that some gyms will often hire inexperienced “up & coming” personal trainers and furthermore allow them to work as one, on the promise that they are studying and on their way to obtaining a certification in the near future, when they currently do not hold one.
Below, is a list of the top, most respected and acknowledged personal training certifications to look for:
1. American Council on Exercise (ACE)
2. National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
3. International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA)
4. American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)
5. National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA)
You can utilize the U.S. Registry of Exercise Professionals at USreps.org to verify credentials for exercise professionals. This is super easy to run a check on any trainer you’re considering hiring!
Also, a degree in Exercise Science or Kinesiology degree says a lot here too (obviously)!
#4 Reason to Fire Your Personal Trainer: Inappropriate Touching & Conduct
Although the majority of fitness trainers do not engage in any inappropriate behavior with their clients and keep it professional, it does in fact happen and more than one might think! I have witnessed it, heard of it and been approached with it several times through the years myself.
Sometimes individuals are naturally attracted to good looking, fit personal trainers and are instinctively drawn to them and buy their services with the wrong intentions and “goals”. Sometimes the client may be inappropriate towards their newly hired personal trainer with crossing boundaries whether that be verbally or physically towards them.
Other times however, it is the personal trainer engaging in improper touching of the client where it is not needed, nor necessary. I have observed a trainer holding a woman’s hips with both of his hands, standing behind her while she did “side bends” with dumbbells in hands (dumb exercise btw). And when I say behind her, I mean pretty much the front of his body up to the back of hers. How he was “spotting” her was completely unnecessary and he was not helping her in any way. Touching that isn’t needed and/or flirting should not be a part of the workout session.
Another example that I’ve seen several trainers doing simply because I assume they’ve been “taught” at their gym to do so (you will not learn this with any accredited certification) is; having their client do walking lunges while holding both hands of their trainer, who is facing them walking backwards as they are lunging forward towards them in a wobbly fashion.
In this scenario, there is NO help being given by the trainer and in fact he is encouraging a forward head tilt, bad posture and incorrect movement patterns. This, is inappropriate touching from a different standpoint.
Many other common cases with chest and shoulder presses that have incorrect scaption – this essentially is the plane of motion that the press or lift, is being moved in and involves proper location of the elbow too. These all too often are being performed in a way (and plane of motion) that potentially put client’s shoulders at risk of injury. All while the trainer has his hands on their client’s shoulders and arms for some pointless reason. You can listen to and watch a short video I have on this subject HERE.
Again, improper touching but this time simply in the wrong way! This is where touching and spotting IS necessary, helpful and the client needs guidance and assistance with proper manipulation (touching) of their movement pattern and spotting to help them move in the RIGHT way. This is a great example of WHY someone hires a personal trainer.
This being said, there are many scenarios where a little touching, spotting, etc. IS appropriate, necessary and helpful! Although most do not understand what is and what isn’t necessary touching – anything being sexual in nature or obviously not helping (or hurting) the client is probably inappropriate.
#5 Reason to Fire Your Personal Trainer: They’re Always Late
You’re most likely paying a lot of money for your allocated time with your trainer. If they are often late for your scheduled appointment, they most likely are not respecting you and your time. Sometimes, things happen that may cause them to be a few minutes late which is understandable, but if it’s a regular thing then it may be a problem.
If they do a no show on you, are they willing to give you a free one to make it up at no charge to you? If not, question their integrity. If they are always 15 minutes late for your session you’re paying $80 an hour for, are they taking $20 off your next session? Your time is just as valuable as theirs, isn’t it?
#6 Reason to Fire Your Personal Trainer: They Don’t Listen & Don’t Ask
Effective workouts come with good questions, listening and interaction between the trainer and client for any necessary adjustments and planning of the workouts to be most effective. If you have a suspected tendon issue on the front of your forearm by your elbow, you tell your trainer about it but he or she ignores it and proceeds to instruct you to do heavy reverse barbell curls – then obviously they’re not listening or responding to you appropriately.
If you have questions outside of your time in the gym that are important and relevant to your training sessions, progress and goals and your trainer doesn’t respond back to your calls, emails or text messages then you may have to consider firing that trainer.
A good personal trainer will engage in conversation with you during and away from your sessions in the gym. They should check on and ask you questions each week to make sure you’re doing well via text or email. These are signs of a good trainer that cares about you and your progress and something to look for and appreciate.
#7 Reason to Fire Your Trainer: You’re Ready to Graduate & Move On
For me, this is one reason I welcome to get fired for! This should be anticipated from the beginning with both parties embracing it if the client feels ready to move off on their own! A great trainer will groom their clients to become independent and confident to train on their own without their assistance through the training relationship.
This will include things such as educating on how to properly lift a heavy set of dumbbells safely on their own without the trainer catching or simply handing the weight to them every time. It would include other things such as teaching a proper walking lunge with an upright posture and head above the shoulders instead of the hand holding non-sense I described earlier in this article. It will be arming the client with good knowledge and confidence to competently train effectively for years to come on their own.
I have had countless amounts of clients do just this and graduate with competent flying colors! We both welcomed it, embraced it and set a follow up for a later date to ensure all was going well. Many have done the random “check in” training session every 2-3 months after to get refresher workout, pick my brain with new questions and challenges they have stumbled upon and more. This too, works out and is good for many.
Setting goals with an end date in mind is a great thing. For others, a never-ending date is desired as some simply want to be forever held accountable in the gym, and this is okay too.
If you’re in the Toledo, Ohio area and looking for a trainer to help you with your body composition goals, we may be a great match if these apply… Your goals are to decrease body fat, build some muscle and learn the essentials with food, hormones and how they also play into your exercise program with these goals. You, want to look and feel your absolute best given the body and circumstances you’re working with.
If you’re in the market for a sports conditioning trainer, physical therapy training for injuries or disabilities, group training, Cross-Fit or a power lifting coach then I’m NOT your trainer or person to contact… Just being honest here. Although I am good within these areas, they are not where I completely excel. I want to give nothing other than 110% top notch expertise with my clients and I know where that and my passion lies.
If you feel that you would like to explore taking a health & fitness journey with me, you can contact me here:
-Roger Bowman, CPT, WMS
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