Can you feel the burn? No, not the one in your quads after your 12th Bulgarian Split Squat.
I’m talking about the burn in your wallet after that smooth talking “fitness professional” just sold you on a long-term personal training package.
Well, they have a really nice six-pack and use fancy sounding terms like “hypertrophy” and “metabolic resistance training” – they must be a great trainer, right?
Even if you’re not in the market for personal training, you or someone you care about will be looking for a trainer in the future. And with so many “fitness professionals” running amok selling you all kinds of life changing benefits – making sure your fitness professional truly has your health and wealth in mind can be a challenge.
According to the IDEA Health and Fitness Association, up to 45% of trainers who claim to be certified aren’t. What’s even worst is that many people proudly advertise themselves as certified professionals after taking an online test or a 4-week course.
While a certification in no way qualifies a trainer – the more respected certifications require months of dedicated study and cover subjects like human behavior, physiology, biomechanics, nutrition, injury prevention, and require continued education credits to maintain certification status.
Even though 97.6% of the skills used in the field will come from non-certification based education, a respected certification(s) generally stands for a certain level of commitment to the profession.
And this is only the tip of the iceberg. A phony certification (or lack thereof) is probably the smallest indicator that your favorite fitness guru may be faking the funk.
I’ve compiled this list to help you tell the difference between the phonies and the professionals.
1. They Use Aggressive Sales Tactics
If they immediately try to sell you on big packages and “promotions” without explaining what they actually do in practice, and what they can do for you, you need to back away slowly.
2. They Don’t Assess You
Good assessments are the only way to gain knowledge about where you’ve been, where you are now, where you want to go, and how to get you there. With training, it means movement screening and basic performance tests. With Nutrition, it means taking a look at your current intake as well as a host of other lifestyle variables. If you’re not put through a series of assessment’s in your first session, run away, fast.
3. You’re Not Getting Results in 30 Days
We are in the business of results, and that’s why you’re paying us. If after 30 days you feel like you’re not seeing any results- it’s time to find a new trainer. A lot of trainers rely on keeping clients dependent on them – do not sign up or pay up front for any long-term contracts with a new trainer. Make a renewal decision based on your results.
4. They Don’t Keep Track
An easy way to tell whether a trainer is serious about their job or not is whether they’re carrying a clipboard. Every set, rep, weight, tempo, and rest time should be tracked – at the least.
5. You’re Bored
Personal Training is a luxury, and an expensive one at that. You should be looking forward to your training sessions. It’s our job to design intelligent workouts that are tailored to you specifically. You should be challenged and engaged by a fun and interesting workout each session.
6. They Use Machines
Unless you have specific injuries or restrictions, if a trainer is taking you from machine to machine and spending no time on free weights or compound movements, it’s time to find another trainer. The machines are there to entertain people without the guidance of a trainer. If you are paying someone to teach you something, it should be something intelligent.
7. You’re Not Progressing
If you’re not progressing (and celebrating your achievements) at least every 2 weeks, it’s time to find a new trainer. A progression can be the same exercise with more weight, more reps, less rest, slower tempo, etc.
8. They Ignore Nutrition
The most intelligent training plan in the world can’t outmatch a bad diet. I’ll go as far as saying your results will be 75% based on your nutrition, and 25% exercise. Your trainer should be knowledgeable about proper nutrition and offer you unlimited support and monitoring.
9. They Recommend Supplements or Fad Diets
No. Just no.
10. You Don’t Get Homework
Realistically, we have 3-4 hours a week with a client. This is no ground for real change. A good trainer will actively make sure you’re proactively taking the right steps towards your goals.
11. They Don’t Explain the “Why” Behind The What
Achieving lasting changes begins with empowerment. And Empowerment begins with education. A trainer’s goal should be to teach you why you’re doing what you’re doing and how to do it on your own. A good trainer will educate you so that you can embrace fitness as a lifestyle, and be independent of our services in the future.
12. They Know It All
The human body is the most complex organism in the world. Every day well-known theories are being proven wrong, and new methods are being introduced. Different people get different results from different stimulus. Education is everything, yet it means nothing. A good trainer is constantly investing in their education, experimenting, and staying humble.
13. They Chew Gum Or Use Cell Phones During Sessions
You are paying us for our undivided attention. Not only is doing this disrespectful, it’s extremely unprofessional.
14. They Bark Orders At You
Any overly hormonal personal can yell cliché slogans at you and push you near the point of injury. A trainer should understand how to push you near your limits, and slowly progress you. A good trainer understands how common injuries are when working with other people’s bodies, and constantly checks on how you’re feeling. We take pride in empowering you, not belittling you.
15. They Don’t Support You Outside Of Sessions
A trainer should understand that fitness can be overwhelming and sometimes confusing for most. They will not only make themselves available 24/7 and encourage clients to ask questions, they will actively keep in communication to make sure you’re on track.
16. They’re Not In Shape
A trainer should be seen as a role model that practices what they preach. A good trainer will show you that living a healthy lifestyle is easy and enjoyable, and yes, that includes enjoying the weekly Banana-Nutella Crepe, and glass of wine with friends.
17. You Cant Call Them A Friend
We work in the service industry after all. The concept of accountability is much more effective when there is a genuine relationship in place. There is no better way to ensure success than a powerful relationship that grows with openness, honesty, trust, understanding, and a common goal. And laughs. Lots and lots of laughs.
Anybody with a shirtless picture on Facebook and a decent set of abs can be perceived as a credible fitness source. While these people probably do know a few things about getting themselves in shape, they often masquerade themselves as ‘fitness gurus’ and spread a lot of popular bro-science theories and common fitness myths. This only adds to the overload of misinformation and contradictions that are holding many back from achieving their goals.
UPDATE: JUNE 1ST, 2014:
I am currently accepting motivated personal training clients in the Woodland Hills and Sherman Oaks Area. Click HERE for more information.
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