Personal training has always been an industry that leaves me baffled. With only 500 dollars and a couple of weekends worth of class time and in-home study, you now have permission to tinker with the human body, regardless of shape or size, and put it through as much stress as you see fit. Injuries be damned! This may sound like nonsense, but from over a decade spent working in different gyms and studios, this is an unfortunate reality. But, fear not! In a world where you trust the only body you have to a complete stranger, I’m here to let you know how you can tell when your trainer just doesn’t cut the mustard.
- They ask you what you feel like working today.
Hearing a trainer say this makes me angry enough to say words not fit for this magazine. This is completely unacceptable. You are paying someone to be an expert on a subject, and having them ask you what you want to work on that day just goes to show you that there is zero care or preparation in their approach to training you. You should have already talked about your goals and expectations in your consultation, and the trainer should generally have your next few months of training decided before you even start your first session. Not to say that there can’t be deviations in the plan as you move forward, but asking a personal training client what they want to work on is like having your doctor ask you what medication you want to take.
- They spend more time looking around the gym than paying attention to you.
Listen, I get it. The woman on the stairmaster has legs for days, and I’m pretty sure her tights are at least one size too small — but they still have a job to do. If your trainer sits you down on one of those linear pieces of exercise equipment so that all they have to do is put a pin higher if it’s too heavy, then proceed to talk with other gym-goers, look at their phones, or stare at themselves in the mirror, I think you know it’s time to find someone else.
- They don’t look the part.
I’m not saying that your coach has to look like Jamie Eason or Dwayne The Rock Johnson, but if all your trainer does is talk about how drunk they got on the weekend, or the amount of junk food they ate, it may be time to re-evaluate your choice. I’m all for moderation, but when the person you are taking fitness advice from looks like a cross between Richard Simmons and hot play-doh, you know they don’t practice what they preach.
- They can’t distinguish between your popliteus and piriformis.
Again, I’m not saying that your trainer has to be highly educated when it comes to every aspect of human anatomy … wait — yes I am. They are literally given complete access to the most complex structure, combining flesh, bones, organs, and connective tissues to produce incredibly complicated movements. You’d better know how the muscles work, and be able to tell the client the exact function behind each exercise that they are doing.
- There is zero contact outside of your session time.
If you are seeing your trainer twice a week, or even four times per week, that means there are an additional 164 hours in the week that you are on your own. There should be contact through email, text, phone calls, etc. to show that the trainer has a vested interest in your success. Nutrition questions, check-ins, and exercise updates are the key to helping you reaching your goals. If your trainer only sees you for your sessions, and forgets about you the other 99 per cent of the time, it’s time to see what else is out there.
Even if your trainer looks great in their tight shirt, and they make sure that you are sore after every session, that doesn’t mean that they should be trusted to make you the best you possible. I want you to start to question every session. You’re paying more per hour to see your trainer than some qualified therapists. Make sure they are as devoted to you as you are to reaching your goals.