6 Scary Truths about Personal Trainers

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
8/13/2010 6:00 AM   :  59 comments   :  43,332 Views

When Stepfanie recently told me and then subsequently blogged about a bad experience she had with a personal trainer, I wasn't surprised. I know a bit about what goes on in gyms where the line between trainer and salesperson is a fine one. What surprised me more was the sheer number of readers who replied to her post, relaying tale after tale of personal trainers gone wild—and not in a good way. So many asked, "What qualifies these people to train some else?" and, "What does it take to become a personal trainer?" that I thought I'd answer those questions in a follow-up blog.

I am a certified personal trainer with a degree in fitness and exercise and I have worked as a personal trainer in the past. Plenty of my friends and former college classmates work as trainers. It's an interesting profession and one that I think has potential to do a lot of good in helping people reach their fitness goals. I know some downright amazing trainers who are smart, trustworthy, extremely experienced and well educated in their trade. But I've also seen my fair share of trainers who are the exact opposite, and it's too bad that many of those trainers are giving the profession a bad rap. But even more concerning: Some are putting people who trust them at risk by having them perform unsafe exercises or giving them dangerous advice. You should be able to trust your personal trainer, right? Well, not all the time. Just in time for Friday the 13th, here are 6 scary truths that your personal trainer might not tell you.

  1. "My industry is not well regulated." I can tell you from experience that many trainers working both independently and in gyms have no certification or credentials that qualify them to train others. How can that be? Well, a single regulatory body for personal trainers does not exist. There are countless different personal training certifications or certificates available. Not all are created equal (more on that later). Unlike dietitians, which have specific roles, responsibilities and guidelines they must adhere to by law, no such regulations or laws exist for personal trainers. By law, for example, a person must meet certain requirements to call himself or herself a dietitian or nutritionist. In contrast, there is no law that stipulates what is required for someone to attach the status "personal trainer" to his or her name, so be wary. Yes, there may be some exceptions to this rule. An experienced professional with a master's degree in exercise physiology is probably more qualified than many personal trainers whose only experience comes from their weekend certification course, but unless you know everything about that person's education, background and experience, a certification is still a good thing to look for.
     
  2. "I got my certification over the weekend." Not all personal training certifications are equal. If you want a well qualified trainer, not just any certification will do. Personal training certifications run the gamut in cost, requirements, difficulty level and prestige. Some are so easy to get that a person can just fork over a few hundred bucks and get a certificate in the mail in a matter of days. Others require a bachelor's degree in a relevant field to even to sit for the exam. If you're looking for a qualified trainer, look into the certification that the trainer holds. A reputable certification will require that the person be CPR-certified, take an exam that contains both written and practical application questions (often conducted in-person), detail the required score the person must achieve to earn certification status, and require continuing education credits to remain certified by that organization. In general, the more difficult the exam is known to be, the more in-depth your trainer's knowledge will be (assuming he or she passes the test!).

    Some of the toughest and most highly regarded personal training certifications are from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA, whose certification is called CSCS or Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist). The American Council on Exercise (ACE) and the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) also meet the criteria for a reputable certification that I listed above. There are probably dozens if not hundreds of other personal training certifications out there, including several more reliable and respected ones, but these are the ones that I am most familiar with. If you are interested in what it took to get your trainer certified, ask or visit the website of the organization to see what you can find out. If your trainer doesn't have a certification that meets the reputable standards I outlined above, proceed with caution.
     
  3. "Actually, I'm not certified at all." According to the IDEA Health and Fitness Association, up to 45% of trainers who claim to be certified aren't. That's shocking! Your "certified" trainer's status may not be up to date if he or she allowed it to lapse, which happens if a trainer doesn't complete the required number of accredited continuing education credits each year. Continuing education is a must for any trainer to refresh his or her knowledge and stay on top of the latest research and trends in the industry. A currently-certified trainer should be able to show you his or her current certification card, which should have an expiration date on it. If it does not carry an expiration date or just looks like a "diploma," then continuing education probably isn't required by that organization, which should make you wonder. And yes, many trainers work without ever having had a certification. One clue is the title "personal trainer" instead of "certified personal trainer," but asking to see a copy of the current certification works, too. The IDEA Health and Fitness Association has recently created a great website to set up consumers with trainers—and verify that they are currently certified. You can use their Fitness Connect search tool to look for a verified, certified personal trainer in your area.
     
  4. "I have no experience." Even after passing a personal training exam, a certified trainer could have no experience training individuals. And an uncertified person working as a trainer could have even less—no formal training (education) at all. Simply being certified—even from one of the best organizations—does not mean that your trainer will be a good one. Personal training requires a person to take a great deal of knowledge and apply it to a wide variety of individualized cases, which is no small feat. This doesn't even get into the other issues like personality fit, motivational style, how well the trainer designs workout plans to your individual needs, or how well the trainer cues you and pays attention to proper form during each exercise. Yes, every trainer once started as an inexperienced one, but if you want to ensure the best experience, ask about theirs—and for a list of references, too.
     
  5. "I going to put your health, body and life at risk!" I know that a lot of people hire trainers as motivation to push themselves harder than they would on their own, but a good trainer ALWAYS puts your safety and well-being first, using gradual progressions—not working you so hard that you throw up or pass out. No, those are NOT the signs of a good workout. While each organization that certifies trainers includes several safety standards that their trainers are supposed to abide by, including lists of exercises that they deem too risky and precise guidelines for how to progress a person through a fitness program, your trainer may go against these rules based on his or her own ideas and theories. I've seen countless trainers (especially those on TV) whose workouts are completely inappropriate and unsafe for the weight, health issues and fitness level of their clientele. I've seen trainers in the gym who allow people to perform highly advanced exercise in poor form and do nothing to correct them. And in my opinion, it's the goal of far too many trainers to push a person to their physical limits, despite the fact that doing exactly that is counterproductive to that person's goals and against the safety recommendations of exercise organizations. Technically, such actions would (or should) result in that trainer's certification being revoked. But for that to even happen, the certifying body has to know about it and take the time to investigate and revoke the status. Despite seeing a lot of bad trainers in action, I've never heard of anyone's certification being revoked (although I HAVE heard of trainers being sued by clients).
     
  6. "Just because I have a great body or doesn't mean I'm qualified to train you." Many trainers got their jobs by word of mouth from friends or family members, simply because they look good, lost weight or are really "into fitness" themselves. Many gyms are willing to hire "trainers" who simply have an interest in fitness but otherwise no credentials. Remember that there are countless diet and fitness programs one could follow to get into great shape. Some are safe. Some are healthy. Others are extremely risky. What works for this one individual may not be appropriate for the people he or she trains. Would you trust a layperson who happened to figure out the trick to getting a good body themselves to do the same for you? I hope you answered no. While a lot of people may say yes to that, I would exercise a lot of caution—especially if you've never exercised, have been injured, are overweight, or have had any health or medical issues at all.

    Certifications do exist for a reason—both to protect the fitness consumer and the trainer (against liability and lawsuits if they hurt you in some way). Certifications are based on medically accepted science, safe protocols, good judgment and sound research, among countless other safety measures. While a non-professional may have a good deal of knowledge about exercise, proper training in anatomy, physiology, exercise physiology, exercise assessments and prescriptions and other areas covered by a good certification is essential. What your friend with a six pack read in a magazine may not be accurate, safe or effective for you, even if she feels qualified and experienced to train you. Without having read a personal training manual, studied the material and passed a test, she doesn't know what she might not know.

The personal-training industry is large, complex and filled with both the good and the bad. A good personal trainer is good, but don't be fooled by title alone. That means it's up to consumers to do their own research, look into backgrounds, and find a skilled and qualified trainer, which is no small feat. Sure, there are exceptions to all of the cautions I outlined above, but those are exceptions—not the rule—for a reason. Hopefully this information will make you better equipped to do exactly that if you want to hire a trainer in the future. For more, check out these SparkPeople articles to learn more about hiring a good trainer:

Do You Need a Personal Trainer?
How to Choose a Personal Trainer
What You Forgot to Ask Your Personal Trainer
Breaking Up with Your Personal Trainer

Does anything on this list surprise you? Have you ever worked with a trainer who may have been hiding one of these five secrets from you?

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Comments

  • CELEBTRAINER
    59
    Great article! Dead on too!

    Take a look at my website and a recent article I wrote :)

    www.LucasJamesPersonalTraining.com - 8/30/2013   5:02:06 PM
  • LYDIALOUIS1
    58
    thanx Coach! that was a great help :) - 9/9/2010   5:41:41 AM
  • 57
    This blog was well-written and full of wonderful, invaluable tips and warnings. Thanks Nicole!! - 8/17/2010   6:53:36 AM
  • 56
    I had always said if I had a personal trainer then I could stay in shape, no problem. But when I started checking on a gym I almost freaked. The male trainers was built like Arnold Schwarzenegger and wanted everyone to work out like him and the 2 females were snobs. I kept thinking they needed a sign on the door,"This gym is for the fit and rich only' I think someone who goes through the effort to get the certifications would be more willing to actually help those that need it and show some heart., not act like I'm a contestant on The Biggest Loser show. - 8/17/2010   6:15:26 AM
  • 55
    I use to work at a gym and all the girls who are trainers did not go to any training program. I am a massage therapist and had more knowledge about the muscles and training. It is very disappointing to see people train who are not qualified. My cousin is a trainer and she is good. I have several friends who are trainers. These people need support. Please do your homework and make sure they have wualifications. - 8/16/2010   2:51:22 PM
  • 54
    Wow, it makes me so grateful for my PT - he always insists that I start anything at very low weights, so I can perfect the form and not hurt myself - THEN I'm allowed to increase weights. Even between sessions (which I only do every few months), I can email him questions. He encourages me to challenge myself, and you have to be healthy and safe to truly challenge yourself. - 8/16/2010   11:24:44 AM
  • 53
    Hi, I have a personal trainer who is a certified kinesiologist who is really principled, knows what he is talking about, and really cares about his clients. I am a psychotherapist who works with eating disorders and Jonathan Chant, certified Kinesiologist, with Fitness for Freedom, is a personal trainer who is dedicated to helping people achieve a healthy lifestyle, a healthy weight, and a fulfilling active lifestyle. He took me from illness to heatlh, and since working with him I have lost 65 lbs without focussing on weight loss, reduced my medications, and have worked out consistently for 22 months without injury ever preventing me me from working out!!! That is a big change for me. I have a long way to go but I know that he will support me as long as I do my part. - 8/15/2010   10:57:16 PM
  • 52
    It dont seem to matter what type of job title one may have .Reality is there are people who plainly are not good people to begin with,or are of a type who should not work in public type jobs in 1st place.And these type well make bad raps in any type job that they get into.What is sick about it, is that a few can hurt so many who are out there to serve and do good to help others.For it is the few when caught that get in the news,not all those who do right in and by what they do. Why is it people tend too only see the bad of things more so then all the good out there?Why the saying only takes one bad apple to spoil the rest.And people will down all the rest who are good ,over that one bad one,or few bad .Such is life ,and it is the people who make it ,as it is. - 8/15/2010   3:13:23 PM
  • 51
    I've had great successin working with a personal trainer. I found her through a high quality fitness club. I checked out the website listed here and was able to verify that she is both an ACE - Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) Verified
    and an ACE - Group Fitness Instructor. She has helped me to make progress when I stalled on my fitness and weight loss efforts. It's been worth the investment in my health.
    - 8/14/2010   7:58:25 PM
  • MLIEN913
    50
    I have had both ends of the spectrum. My first "trainer" had a great body, was very nice but was also very unprofessional. He never watched me as he was supposedly training me. Then I was blessed enough to get the worlds greatest trainer. He was completely focused on me during our sessions and knew when it was safe to push me to do more and when to tell me to slow down. Even now he still calls to see how I'm doing even though I'm no longer his client. You really do have to check all the details before hiring a trainer. I learned that the hard way. - 8/14/2010   7:00:17 PM
  • 49
    Wow. I feel so lucky right now to have ended up with a good, certified one, because I didn't think of any of this stuff when I first signed up! - 8/14/2010   6:18:59 PM
  • 48
    I haven't tried any personal trainer but the list just scared me to try one! There are very few gym at my hometown and even less personal trainers (so far what's I've research) so I guess I'm still on my own, be my own trainer and motivator. - 8/14/2010   6:02:03 PM
  • 47
    Thank you for sharing. I have been doing a lot of thinking and am interested in becoming a personal trainer. I know it takes a lot of looking into and figuring things out. I was looking at some different certifications and I had actually decided to go with the NASM certification; it gives me a little bit better feeling to know that you would recommend them as well. I am not set on anything yet, but I am definitely interested and looking into it. - 8/14/2010   1:05:35 PM
  • 46
    As a trainer I see my role as that of one as a teacher who wants to graduate my clients so that they can maintain a personal fitness programme for life. I monitor FITTV to stay current with what my clients are "learning" from the workouts there. To be honest I am appaled at the content and workouts which are featured. The various "body challenge" series include poor workout programmes and ineffective exercises. Not only are there bad "trainers" in gyms some of those on television are as bad or worse. Recycling 1980s vintage aerobic dance routines and adding mini weights is not state of the art fitness training.

    By using some of the excellent books available on the topic and using quality YouTube videos to learn how the exercises are done properly will allow the average individual to develop their own fitness programme. - 8/14/2010   11:40:12 AM
  • 45
    I was fortunate enough to find my trainer through a studio that features yoga, personal trainers and fitness classes. She is young enough to be my daughter and wise enough to work me so I always feel challenged just enough. For the first six weeks, she emailed me every routine we did each session. There are mirrors in the studio so I can see what she is talking about with form. I feel very fortunate to have found a solid, trained, certified professional on my first try. - 8/14/2010   11:20:39 AM
  • 1960ANN
    44
    This is a very scary thought and something to really think about before looking for one, thank you Nicole for the wonderful information. - 8/14/2010   11:20:13 AM
  • LUCKOFTHEIRISH5
    43
    Very eye opening and very well written. When I signed up for the gym, I met with a personal trainer for the first time and she showed me how all the machines work and did some exercises with me and went over nutrition and then at the end she told me I could have three more training sessions for $99. I am sure some was a sales pitch, but overall I was very happy with my experience with a personal trainer. Now, was she certified, I have no idea, but to the person that does not know much about working out, she seemed like she knew alot about everything. - 8/14/2010   11:12:51 AM
  • NATNATNAZ
    42
    I've contemplated getting a gym membership and getting a personal trainer because I didn't know what I needed to do to tone up and do do it safely. But I've seen so many articles about exercise that can be done at home that doesn't empty my wallet. Now I know I've made the right decision. - 8/14/2010   11:05:17 AM
  • KEMCNAIR
    41
    "An experienced professional with a master's degree in exercise physiology is probably more qualified than many personal trainers whose only experience comes from their weekend certification course, but unless you know everything about that person's education, background and experience, a certification is still a good thing to look for."

    The last person I worked with cost me some money, but he had a degree in physiology and experiences. Believe it or not, we never met. We worked via email. I paid him via paypal and he sent me my eating and workout plans. I sent him progress pictures and it went from there. From what I understand, this is pretty common for folks who are training for competitions. I wasn't but I had visions! I had a lot of success, but I had to stop due to an injury unrelated to exercise.

    The last time I went to a gym on a temporary pass, I checked out the trainers' bios and wasn't surprised to see that none of them had the kind of qualifications that I would trust. I'd rather follow what I've found here than what I have seen in gyms.

    Read more: http://www.dailyspark.com/blog.asp?
    post=5_scary_truths_your_personal_t
    rainer_wont_tell_you#ixzz0wamN0lRE

    - 8/14/2010   11:02:43 AM
  • GAILSFITNESS
    40
    Now doing weight training on my own, I am grateful when I had a trainer, he worked me well re: form and motivation; I never injured my body while he was at the helm. I appreciate him even more now, though during our sessions I wanted him to work me harder. - 8/14/2010   8:48:32 AM
  • 39
    This is very eye-opening, thank you! I recently worked with a trainer as part of my gym's circuit training program (free) and he was GREAT! Unfortunately, he said he was going to stop working the circuit and just provide PT sessions (which you have to pay for). I have never been able to justify paying so much $$ for a trainer in addition to my gym membership, so I just wing it alone. If I could afford it, I would. But I agree, you have to find a good one among some bad apples. - 8/14/2010   8:07:37 AM
  • 38
    Very good informational blog. I am currently pursuing a ACE certification in Personal Training and now that I am becoming knowledgeable about proper technique I can see how some of the trainers at the health club are not instructing or supervising their clients properly. It really is scary to put oneself in the hands of someone who does not know what they are doing. - 8/13/2010   10:58:13 PM
  • 37
    Thank you for this somewhat shocking information. I guess the best thing to do is just listen to my body and my instincts about the trainer's personality. I am currently hesitating about my trainer... - 8/13/2010   5:46:05 PM
  • 36
    I always assumed that if one called themselves certified, then they were. Silly me. thanks for the most enlightening blog. I guess I am just too trusting, which means when it comes to my health, I could really be putting myself at risk. - 8/13/2010   5:04:48 PM
  • SEXYLIZZI
    35
    Like any other major purchase, I suggest getting a referral from someone who has had a positive experience. I live in Ottawa (Ontario) and a good friend is a kineisiologist (doubt I spelled that right) who has developed a business offering in-home personal training. He focuses on helping individuals with serious health concerns, to help them improve their lives (by building strength, endurance, reducing symptoms and risks and reducing pain). If anyone is in the Ottawa area and would like the contact information, just let me know. - 8/13/2010   2:23:13 PM
  • 34
    Yikes!! Scary indeed!

    The one personal trainer I knew of was actually a professional club bouncer with muscles. After a night of heavy drinking, he'd work with folks in the gym.

    I'm not sure how professional that all is... - 8/13/2010   1:44:35 PM
  • HALEY_DA
    33
    Wow. Thanks for the informative post. It certainly provides a lot of food for thought. - 8/13/2010   12:36:13 PM
  • 32
    Thanks Coach Nichole. I had no idea personal trainers had no regulations. I have a personal trainer at Curves. She is certified by Curves and I feel does things properly. She won't get you to overexercise at the risk of your health. Rose recommends slow weight loss instead of high demanding workouts that the beginners should not be doing. I would be scared to have someone else for a personal trainer. - 8/13/2010   12:19:52 PM
  • 31
    Misty-
    That's correct, but nothing is ever simple. In some states the official title for registered dietitians is nutritionist, so I wanted to be sure to include that here. - 8/13/2010   11:48:44 AM
  • MISTYMINTS1
    30
    Okay, thanks Coach Nicole for your clarification. - 8/13/2010   11:45:20 AM
  • MISTYMINTS1
    29
    Just a nitpick: in most jursidictions in North America, the title "nutritionist" is NOT regulated. The statement "[b]y law, for example, a person must meet certain requirements to call himself or herself a dietitian or nutritionist..." makes it seem like both titles, dietitian and nutritionist are protected. In most U.S. states and Canadian provinces, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist.

    I'm a Registered Dietitian, so the proper use of titles for nutrition professionals is an important issue for me.

    Sources:
    http://www.eatright.org/HealthProfe
    ssionals/content.aspx?id=6859

    http://www.dietitians.ca/public/con
    tent/find_a_nutrition_professional/
    difference.asp


    - 8/13/2010   11:41:44 AM
  • 28
    Thanks for writing this blog! I have friends who have become Certified Personal Trainers who I frankly would no more trust with my physical fitness than I would trust them to set a broken arm. The certification process is far too easy! I think when you pay for training you are mostly just paying for someone to motivate you and "force" you to work out harder than you would on your own. I got a few free training sessions at the gym and although it was helpful to have someone instruct me on how to use the machines, I learned pretty quickly that the trainer/salesgirl I was working with only knew how to "train" from what her softball coach told her. Sometimes I think a gym buddy is just as good, and a heck of a lot cheaper than a trainer is. - 8/13/2010   11:24:22 AM
  • 27
    I found this article very informative. I get sick of seeing trainers in the gym who are NOT professional. They check themselves out in the mirror, not even looking at their clients, they drink or eat while "training", or as mentioned above they have their clients working with poor form or doing dangerous exercises. To get my certification I had to take a 2 month course, pass a written and a practical, get CPR certified, and do a 24 hour internship. I got additional certifications like Partner Assisted Stretch. But the gym I worked for did not require any of this. All the training they gave us was on customer service and salesmanship. We had a one week crash course in fitness and a very easy test upon applying. That's it. - 8/13/2010   11:12:41 AM
  • 26
    I'm too frugal to spend money on a Personal Trainer, so after reading all these negatives I'm glad I didn't waste money. There are SO many YouTube videos that teach the proper way to do exercise, not to mention Tony Horton's P90X work out. - 8/13/2010   11:12:40 AM
  • 25
    Thanks for a great follow up blog!! I am definitely wary of any certification you can earn in a weekend...in any field, not just personal training. But I am sure that there are good trainers who earned their certifications that way, as well as poor trainers who have a degree in exercise. I wish gyms would allow a trial session with more than one trainer to find a good fit before you commit to a personal training "package". - 8/13/2010   10:52:10 AM
  • 24
    My personal trainer was certified, and so is the owner of the business. I made up my mind that I needed to do this for me. Luckily, I know the owner through my hubby's running friends. The owner is a woman about 22 years younger than me, and my personal trainer was a woman, about 10 years younger than me. I don't know if that makes a difference but, thought I'd share that with you. The owner is a certified NASM, and she requires that her trainers be certified also. However, I do agree with you about knowing what is safe and what is not safe to do when it comes to exercising because each person is different, and all of us have health issues which make a routine of exercising taylor made for each one of us.

    I know that my chiropractor said not to do crunches, any type even on the stability because they are very bad for the back, with which I need to pay close attention to. However, when I went to workout with my personal trainer and spoke with her about it, about one session later she tried to get me to do crunches on the stability ball. I told her no, that I wasn't suppose to do crunches and then she asked me again, and I told her no & stood my ground. So we did other things to strengthen my core, abs, arms, legs, but not crunches.

    However, I did learn a whole lot, specifically how to do a circuit, how to keep my body guessing as I shook up my routine, and lost inches in appearance, and about 15 pounds over the course of 18 weeks.

    Mind you, building the muscles in my arms, quads, glutes, and legs didn't happen overnight but with consistency and dedication to do what I was asked to do, (minus the crunches), and without complaint.

    In the process, I have taken up swinging kettlebells to further strengthen my body overall in hopes of shedding some more weight.

    But more important, I love working out, and even now, especially on my own without a personal trainer.

    If you can afford one for a packaged session, and find a good trainer, then it will have been money well spent. - 8/13/2010   10:49:36 AM
  • 23
    I also had some bad experiences. The trainer who signed me up was more like a salesman and he only did a couple of sessions with me before passing me off to someone else. Luckily the new trainer was good. She had conquered her personal weight problems, so was very understanding of what I could and couldn't do. I was supposed to see her once a week and then work on my own until the next time. This was a disaster. I couldn't translate what was on my exercise plan into which machine, how to set it up, how to use it, etc. UGH! Then she got promoted to manager so I was transferred again to another girl. This one was really bad. She was late to sessions, was more interested in talking to the other trainers and members than what she was supposed to be doing with me, etc. I felt like she didn't want to help me because I was overweight. Needless to say, when my contract with the gym was up I quit. They asked me why and I said "Because I hated every minute of it!" That wasn't entirely true, I did like to walk on the treadmill and watch movies on the big TV, but I can do that at my work's fitness center for 1/3 the price! - 8/13/2010   10:49:02 AM
  • 22
    I am so glad I read this. My bf was trying out different trainers at our gym to get the right fit. One of them (that is overweight and only 20) started to smart off about how my bf didn't choose him in the end. He was trying to convince my bf that he needed to bulk up and should be maxing out. My bf was not looking for those results, he wanted to look leaner. After he went with someone with seemingly more knowledge and manners this guy started telling him that he shouldn't work out with me anymore. He started talking bad about my bf's new trainer and started making fun of other patrons. He also gives me dirty looks constantly when I am working out with my bf. In my opinion this guy needs to get fired...fast. - 8/13/2010   10:48:42 AM
  • 21
    Thank you for the follow up blog! Great tips for those of us that might feel uncomfortable and unsure of ourselves in the gym atmosphere in the first place. - 8/13/2010   10:42:18 AM
  • 20
    This is great information...I was thinking about finding a Personal Trainer, but had no idea what to look for. Reason #5741 to love Spark People - they answer my questions before I even form the question! - 8/13/2010   10:37:47 AM
  • TESS_O_LANDS
    19
    Amen to this, probably the best, most relevant blog ever written on Sparkety Spark. Spells it out, amen again, watch out for all these signs as it happens ALL the time. - 8/13/2010   10:19:50 AM
  • 18
    Great article as follow-up to Stepfanie's, Coach.

    I have worked with 4 different trainers; two were well-certified and understood (as well as 'youngsters' can) the challenges of an ageing body. One was older herself--had trained as trainer in the 80's, kept up her cert., and was awesome (she moved, or I'd be with her still). The fourth, omg! he wanted me to jump onto stools, (I'm overweight, was really out-of-shape, and in my 50s), do walking squats, lift ridiculous weights--it was scary. He did pay attention to form (and I have NEVER had a trainer with a cell phone) but what he wanted would have been a challenge 20 years ago; now? ha! So I cancelled out on that, took the $$ loss (figured it was better than the cost of physical therapy if I stayed with that yahoo) and use SP, the suggestions of my chiropractor and osteopath, and what I remember from my three good trainers. Here's the odd bit--all 4 have the same qualifications/ training on paper... - 8/13/2010   10:14:30 AM
  • 17
    Great information. Thank you so much. At my age, I'll just keep doing what I have been doing and keep my money in my pocket! No gyms for me. - 8/13/2010   10:13:41 AM
  • AMANDAP2986
    16
    This and the previous blog post have come as a sort of divine intervention for me...Recently, I have been convinced by a friend to buy some sessions from her trainer. They were a good price and he was willing to meet me at my office without having to actually join the gym. On Wednesday I had a free trial before my sessions would begin and it was not what I anticipated...He flirted with my friend, distracting her from her actual workout, took calls and text messages, never once corrected my form on any exercise (even when I was obviously struggling and uncertain) and talked to other girls in the gym--clearly trying to drum up business.

    I have been injured in the past with a personal trainer that I absolutely loved and trusted completely. And then I found out the trainer had my friend do sprints after she told him of a knee injury, which worsened her injury.

    In the past two days I have kept making excuses for this guy's behavior even though I had a nagging feeling in my gut that I could not trust this guy and should not pay him to help me. I thank you and Stepfanie both for your great information that helped remind me to make a logical decision for my health and not be guilted into anything that was not in my best interest. - 8/13/2010   10:05:35 AM
  • 15
    I have recently joined a Fitness Boot Camp and what I enjoy about it most is that the instructor cares about everyone doing the exercises properly and at the proper weight.
    He first takes the time to review complex moves before we all try them with weights, even if we have done them before. He tells us how to judge if we are using the correct weight. And lastly, him and the assistant coach constantly walk around the room to ensure we are all using proper form and that the weight is right while we are performing the exercise.

    I cannot imagine attending this class and not being given the proper instruction and guidance so that I get fit in a safe manner. It is unfortunate that not all personal trainers provide the same excellent instruction that others do, but I am glad that there are those that do (and that I have found one). - 8/13/2010   9:48:20 AM
  • 14
    A lot of gyms push training on you. It's expensive and I've watched their trainers work with people. I was not impressed.

    - 8/13/2010   9:32:40 AM
  • 13
    Thanks for a great blog---some things I never thought of being a trainer. I just assumed they went to school to be one and all had degrees.

    I can see where some are consider bad trainers--a good trainer will be more concern about the other individual's fitness and overall health. - 8/13/2010   9:04:36 AM
  • 12
    Oh, this list doesn't surprize me at all. Honestly, I see it every day at the gym I work for. Fortunately, all the trainers and group ex instructors do have to be fully certified by reputable fitness organizations before they can work for the gym. That's the good thing. The bad thing ? Some of my colleagues aren't as qualified as they should be. Some of them are guilty of every behavior Stephanie complained about.

    I do have one co-worker who does have a fabulous body and members flock to him because they believe he can give them the results just like he has. Well, he does some pretty unsafe stuff in order to get those results. He's teaching the members some very unhealthy habits and they believe him because he's got that great body to back up his statements.

    He's a firm believer that if you aren't ready to hurl by the end of his class, you didn't really work hard enough. And I think that's just unsafe and wrong. I firmly believe someone is going to be hurt because of him and no one at the gym sees to be interested in hearing the complaints against him. I don't get it.

    I've worked with some really great trainers. Every single one of them was high qualified and up front with me. They never held anything back. When I work with clients, I'm honest with them too. I tell them not to expect miracles and that what they get out of our sessions is dependent on what they put in.

    There are some really wonderful PTs out there. Unfortunately, it's the bad ones that make the rest of us look bad.

    - 8/13/2010   9:04:28 AM
  • TIGERJ13
    11
    I've been shocked to see some of the exercises that SparkPeople has on their site. Some of them are very dangerous not only for beginners but also for people with experience. - 8/13/2010   8:36:05 AM
  • 10
    Glad to get the info on the certifications - have been considering trying to get certified, and was very confused by the info I've been finding on the web. - 8/13/2010   8:35:47 AM

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