It’s been nearly two-years since I posted my epic five part rant entitled “Personal Trainers that Suck” Recent events have inspired me to revisit the topic and see if I’ve changed any of my opinions. For a trip back in my ranting past:
For my mid-2015 rant I decided to poll members of my personal network for inputs. My network is composed of fitness professionals from first year trainers and business owners to allied health professionals and coaches with 20 years or more experience. We have numerous members holding Masters Degrees or above, National, or higher level competitive athletes and coaches with credentials covering an exceptionally wide swath of the profession.
The “I have a God Complex” trainer. These trainers will diagnose injuries and illnesses and in the case of movement related issues, believe they can “fix things.” They cant see beneath your clothing, much less whats going inside of your body, how can they fix something when they don’t even know what it is they’re looking at? Truth Time: Personal Trainer boards invariably have a number of these guys.
The “Correctives, and Correctives only…for everyone” trainer. The trainer has learned some corrective exercise, functional movement or breathing based training and views this as the end all and be all of training. YOU SIMPLY HAVE TOO MANY DYSFUNCTIONS. My thought is there is an amount of correctives that can certainly be beneficial, but how many of the supposed “dysfunctions” and “compensations” we think we are seeing are actually structural in nature, and is something that NO AMOUNT of corrective exercise training will “fix.” Not to mention the fact that if things are seemingly that bad then an allied health professional needs to be consulted. If the client is post-physical-therapy guidance can be obtained from them.
The “Red Flag” trainer. This trainer puts up red the flags quickly. They do not perform any sort of assessment, ask any questions regarding your health history, medications or possibly even discuss your goals. Minimally the trainer simply counts reps and escorts you from machine to machine, you do some level of work and you may be doing the same program every other one of the trainers clients are doing.
The “More talking, less lifting” trainer/”Rent a Friend” Trainer. While over-cueing a client is distracting, at least the trainers heart and mind are in the right place. Volume and simple cues are very good teachers and not everyone moves exactly the same. Technique will get better over time. The trainer I’m referring to here is the one that will literally talk your ear off. They are far more concerned talking about any subject OTHER than you, your efforts (good or bad) or your goal. The Rent a Friend is one step worse, I knew a trainer that met his client for coffee instead of a workout session, and still charged her rate. Knowing the trainer I can guarantee the conversation was anything but fitness or goals. Aside from not being Physical Therapists/Chiropractors and RD’s, the typical trainer is also not a Psychologist.
The “I look good doing this” trainer. Men and Women that are trainers for all the wrong reasons. (1) Easy Money (2) Get Laid (3) Some sort of social status (4) Since they work out they MUST know how to train others. Typically, these trainers are D-Bags.
The “I’m not really a trainer” trainer. This can be a little tricky. Some are legitimate trainers that got into multi-level marketing as an additional income stream or to get discounts on the products. Some Multi-Level marketers go on to certify as trainers to increase their marketing potential and to give the appearance of legitimacy. Some could be quite good at their craft, but in my opinion they are stepping outside their scope of practice and have a conflict of interest in regards to dietary supplements. Then there are “trainers/coaches” that HAVE NO ACTUAL EDUCATION OR FORMAL TRAINING in exercise or nutrition science. No kidding around here, they will take a pre-designed workout and hand it to you while also selling you supplements and attempting to get you to to sell the product as well. They are often disregarded, if not outright considered vocational lepers by non-MLM trainers, which is a pity because some of them as previously stated might otherwise be very good at their craft and wind up getting painted with the same brush simply due to affiliation.
The “I am certified, but I still don’t know what I’m doing” trainer. Yes, this happens, and far too frequently for my tastes. A trainers certification only means they studied and passed a test, which vary greatly in degrees of difficulty. Within just the last few months come across a trainer certified in February that was about to start training people in her home. She had no experience with weight training and didn’t know what type of shoes to wear on the matting. Flash forward several months and she is giving another trainer “advice” on strength training for runners. Another person had no idea what exercises people should do, how to program and had near zero experience training even himself (and he was a MLM guy!)…..and now these people are going to train others.
The “I don’t know human anatomy or physiology” trainer. Basically the trainer is lacking in all, or most of the scientific foundations of training. If the trainer cannot name body parts or muscles accurately what makes me think they can select proper exercises that produce specific adaptations? How would they know if an exercise was even an appropriate choice?
The “Fat Shaming” trainer. Do I really need to explain these guys?
The “Certain Fruits/Veg makes you fat” trainer. I’ve been told this personally by two trainers. So me being me I start asking questions, What’s the RDA for Sugar? Does Fructose in a natural fruit and veg metabolize differently? What’s the Glycemic Index? Do you have any clinical trials you could reference?….and so on. Usually that ends the fruit makes you fat sermon.
The “Phone Checker” trainer. The only thing I hate more than the phone checker is the trainer that eats in front of his client. Calling 911 or using an app directly related to the client in front of you is acceptable. Everything else can wait.
The “I’m well built, so I know I how to train other people” trainer. Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube and Facebook accounts are easy to set up and populate with motivational images and links to articles other people wrote. What the person is actually capable of is another matter entirely. My personal favorites are the men and women that competed in a single physique or bodybuilding show (may not have placed) and are now diet, health and fitness experts for a wide swath of humanity. My other favorite of course is the MLM coach that has no real knowledge of training people.
The “Call me Dr. Frankenstein” trainer. I’ll admit they’re entertaining. They come up with some of the goofiest looking things I’ve seen in the gym and can graft parts of one exercise to another exercise and come up with something that I believe is less effective than either previous option. Machines and the various tools laying about the gym (Bosu,Kettlebells,et al) seem to be the most abused.
The “You look like an ATM to me” trainer. Exactly what you think it sounds like. The trainer only cares that they get paid. Your goals and safety are irrelevant. The I’m not really a trainer trainers, Red Flag Trainers and I look good doing this trainers all get thrown under this bus. In fairness to the MLM guys, not all are out to sell you the product. Some simply take advantage of the discount offered to distributors.
The “I’m smarter than you” trainer. More commonly seen in online boards and among co-workers. If your trainer is always bad mouthing other trainers (other than the trainers that are being dangerous) there’s a good chance you have someone that often doesn’t get along well with others. They may indeed be very smart and educated, but their lack of social skills keeps them from reaching their potential. The most common online antics I’ve noted from these arrogant types is continually reminding us of their degree and the money they supposedly make. Ironically I’ve noted a high-number of them don’t look like they lift and a basic Google search doesn’t usually turn up much on these giants of our industry.