10 Warning Signs You Have a Useless Personal Trainer

I’ve had the luxury of learning from and working along side some of the industry’s best trainers, strength coaches, and therapists. What separates them from the pack is their passion and pride for what they do and a relentless pursuit of knowledge to enhance their craft, ultimately leading to increasingly better service to their clients. It’s a breath of fresh air in a society where customer service has become somewhat of a past time. In a field where a client’s safety and well-being are literally in your hands there is no room for poor service. In my opinion, the standards for a trainer should be relatively on par with those we hold medical doctors too. Unfortunately, this is not the case as crappy trainers, scams and gimmicks dominate the health and fitness industry. Walk into most commercial gyms and you’re bound to find trainers who look more like part time bouncers just out of high school than fitness professionals. While you can never be too sure here are 10 red flags you’re getting a useless personal trainer.

  1. There’s no record keeping. If your trainer doesn’t measure you or assess your progress they are simply guessing and jumping on a weight scale before each workout doesn’t count.

  2. Your workout looks more like a circus act than a training session. Doing a single leg deadlift on a bosu ball with your eyes closed doesn’t improve balance and it certainly doesn’t isolate your “core”. A difficult exercise does not always equate to an effective exercise.

  3. YouTube dictates your program design. If your workouts jump all over the place and seem to have no sensible progression chances are your trainer Googles your program each session and it is likely the same program every client is doing that day.

  4. They talk about themselves most of the session. If your trainer is too busy staring at their calves in the mirror or telling you about their personal best bench press they are wasting your time.

  5. They use their cell phone or eat during your session. They should be assessing your control and mechanics. Totally unprofessional.

  6. They are fat. Would you go to a dentist with gum disease? Being in great shape doesn’t make you a great trainer, but a great trainer should be in shape.

  7. Their best qualification is he or she likes to exercise. First and foremost your trainer should be certified. Unfortunately, there is little regulation for trainers and anyone outside the industry has no clue how to differentiate between certification acronyms. A bunch of letters by their name might look good on paper, but if most of them were achieved filling out a 5-question survey they are not worth the paper they were printed on.

  8. They have never taken a course or class to expand their knowledge. Just because your trainer has 25 years of experience it doesn’t always make them an expert. Quality is more important than quantity. Training is based on science, which is constantly evolving. If you want training techniques from 1985 buy a Jane Fonda video.

  9. They don’t inspire or encourage you. Your trainer should set goals with you and pursue them as if they were their own. A great trainer will hold you accountable.

  10. They are constantly late, cancelling, or unavailable. Bottom line is they don’t care and if they don’t care why should you.

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