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Seven Signs You Should Dump Your Personal Trainer

Seven Signs You Should Dump Your Personal Trainer

Over the years, I've given lots of advice on what you should look for when hiring a personal trainer. The company they're certified by, a list of customers who would recommend them and the facility they would train you at. I haven't shared how to spot the trainers you should avoid.

Here are seven unmistakable warning signs. If you see your trainer somewhere on this list, it's probably time to start looking for a new one.

Dump a trainer who isn't focused on YOU. I once knew a trainer that was so vain; that he couldn't stop looking at himself in the mirror. Instead of watching his client's body, he was trying out various poses. He spent the entire 30-minute workout talking about what he was going to do over the weekend. He didn't give one helpful tip or listen to a single thing his client asked. Trainers are there to help YOU improve, not boost their ego.

When a trainer gives you a program, make sure it's designed for you and your goals. One of the toughest parts of my job is creating challenging and appropriate routines. It takes a deep knowledge of exercise physiology, an understanding of individual client needs and a huge commitment in time to change workouts every 4-8 weeks. But that's precisely what you're paying a professional to do.

I worked beside one trainer that fell in love with a particular packaged program she bought online. Suddenly every client she trained was the perfect candidate for this cookie-cutter system. She expected a 50-year-old man with a heart problem to do the same routine as a 23-year-old woman preparing for a fitness competition. Both clients were frustrated by their workouts, and the trainer didn't understand why they eventually quit. If your trainer is trying to give you an off-the-shelf program, you're better off just buying the DVD and doing it yourself.

Run from the pill and needle pusher. Some trainers use such poor methods or are so incompetent; the only thing they can resort to is steroids, human growth hormone and other questionable drugs. Those are things a doctor should prescribe because of a medical condition. If you've got a trainer selling or recommending controlled substances, they're not your trainer...they're your drug dealer.

Avoid anyone who doesn't "walk the walk." I'm always amazed when I see overweight trainers telling clients how to eat right and exercise. That doesn't mean your trainer has to have a rippling six-pack. But it's time to change if they've got a gut and look like their last meal came from a drive-through at the local FatBurger stand. You should look for someone who follows their own advice.

Watch out for the know-it-all who doesn't have a clue. Years ago, I worked beside a guy that had an answer for every question. It wasn't necessarily the correct answer, but that didn't matter. He thought not knowing something might make him look bad. He never said he didn't have an answer. Whatever he didn't know, he would make up.

You can spot trainers like this because they hate new ideas they didn't come up with or read about first. They also avoid putting anything in writing. Keep your trainer honest. When they say something you question, ask where they get their information. If they can't (or won't) tell you, find someone else to workout with.

Get rid of any trainer doing the same thing they did 20 years ago. We've learned more new information on proper diet and exercise in the last two decades than in all previous human history combined. We can make hundreds of small changes to improve programs, but your trainer has to stay current to learn them.

Fire any trainer that isn't meticulous about your form. One of the reasons you hire someone is so they can watch and make sure you're doing things right. If you ever find yourself locking your knees, rounding your back, bouncing the weight off your body or the floor, you might be doing something wrong. If you do any of those things regularly, you've probably got a trainer that doesn't know or care enough to teach you properly.

Trainers are there to help you. Make sure they do their job.

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.

9/18/2011
Updated 6/10/2022