By Martin Ebner
Like most professions in this world, you get professionals and you get those pretending to be.
Unfortunately, fitness professionals are no different and in an industry that is very poorly regulated globally, it's important to know what to look for in a good personal trainer.
Whether you are just starting out on your fitness journey or have been training for years, here are 10 tell-tale signs that you personal trainer sucks.
They cancel sessions regularly
Let's start with one of the most obvious, shall we?
If there is one thing a personal trainer should never do (unless in an emergency) is to cancel sessions. You are literally paying someone for motivation and accountability to exercise and If your trainer won't honour the agreed sessions and schedule, find one that will.
Not only is it hard enough to mentally prepare for a session, especially when you're new to exercise or returning after a period of inactivity, having sessions cancelled on a regular basis can demotivate you. The exact opposite of why you hire a personal trainer in the first place.
The workouts are poorly planned and/or too random
Your workouts and training plan should be designed for your fitness level and goals.
Now, depending on how seriously you take fitness will depend on the extent and complexity of the program. However, at the very least, it should follow some form of pattern and structure that promotes progress and viable results.
If you think that your trainer might be randomly putting together workouts or making them up on the spot with little to no consideration of your needs, ask them "what's the plan boss?". If they are hesitant or offer an unsatisfactory response, you know what to do!
Related: 10 signs of a great workout
The workouts are too “dynamic”
This makes me laugh and then cringe!
I get it! It's cool to do "dynamic" workouts. However, if balancing on one leg on top of a fence while juggling a kettlebell and bicep curling at the same time sounds like one of your workouts, chances are your trainer is overcomplicating matters in an attempt to impress you. Any successful workout program should be centered around tried and tested methods and exercises, not Cirque du Solei style balancing acts (unless of course, you're auditioning for the circus in the near future). If you constantly find yourself wondering why you're doing a specific exercise, ask your trainer to clarify. If he or she has what seems like a reasonable response, get juggling Puto! If not, either ask for more simplicity in your workouts or pack up and move on!
Related article: Post workout nutrition for big results
They always arrive late
This isn't exclusive to personal training and the fitness industry. This is just common sense. You are paying hard earned money for a service and if your trainer refuses to prioritise punctuality, chances are they're A.) too busy to adequately train you or B.) too disorganized. Either or which is unacceptable in an industry that requires high energy, motivation and accountability to exercise.
For many, finding time to exercise in a busy schedule can be challenging and if you find that your trainer is always arriving late, find yourself a new one! Life is too short to wait around and having to wait 10-15 minutes or more after the scheduled time to start can be disheartening and kill motivation!
They pay little attention to form
The number one priority for all personal trainers should be to keep their clients safe. One of the best ways to do this is to insist and teach the importance of correct form and technique.
If you think your trainer doesn't place enough emphasis on form or is persistently encouraging you to add weight to an exercise that you have only just learned, it's possible that they either don't know what they're doing or they don't care about your wellbeing. Either way, they're neglecting the importance of safety and should be shown the door.
They are constantly on their phone
If your trainer is using their phone as a stopwatch, to access a training related app or to complement the training session in some way, this is perfectly acceptable. However, if they're using it to check their emails, messages or social media accounts, they are sleeping on the job and should be cautioned. 3 strikes and they're out!
Personal training should be all about the client aka you and if you find that your trainer pays more attention to what's going on outside of the session or is forever distracted by their phone, their head isn't where it should be.
You don't trust them
Perhaps it's something they did (any of the reasons in this article will do) or said that made you doubt their ability to do their job properly or perhaps you're just a stubborn know it all. Regardless or your reasoning, a personal trainer-client relationship needs to be based on trust and if you find yourself doubting them or their methods for whatever reason, it could hinder your ability to progress.
Note: always give them the benefit of the doubt but Just like a romantic relationship, you'll know in your heart when it's time to end it and move on.
They push you way beyond your comfort zone all the time
Yes, it's the job of your personal trainer to push you and yes you're going to feel uncomfortable from time to time. However, this should all be done within reason and according to your fitness level and goals. If you find that your trainer is pushing you to do too much too soon or with little regard to your pain threshold and/or potential risk of injury, it could be that you're not a good match.
While some people enjoy this sort of drill sergeant style treatment, others don't! Which are you?
Related article: Exercise - How much is too much?
They inappropriately fondle you every chance they get
Thankfully this is something I see only occasionally but it is still worth mentioning. If you find that your personal training is constantly touching you or getting up in your personal space, chances are they could be overstepping their boundaries.
The only time your trainer should touch you is to correct poor body position (if you're unable to do this yourself) and/or to help emphasise and encourage a better Mind-muscle connection (The synergy between the brain and targeted muscle that allows the individual to focus and visualise the muscle working leading to better muscle work efficiency).
You should feel 100% comfortable with your trainer at all times!! If for whatever reason you don't, address the issue and move on. If they persist in making you uncomfortable, adios trainer.
They promise you impossible or instant results
Zach Efron's 6 pack in Bay watch in just 1 week (I know you've seen it) or Beyonce's tush without breaking a sweat. Really!?!?!?
As a personal trainer, one of the first things I have to do when working with a new client is to manage their expectations. The fitness industry is full of mistruths and if you find your personal trainer is promising you results that seem too good to be true or encouraging you to take extreme measures to reach your goals, chances are they're not managing your expectations properly.
Remember this - If it's too good to be true, it probably is! All good things take time and nothing is worth risking your health for short-term gains.
Related article: A slow and steady approach to your health and fitness goals