Personal Training – Sometimes, The Unprofessional
Although there are a select few personal trainers that strive to deliver above and beyond their clients’ expectations, all too often the opposite is true. The true professionals in the business of health and fitness are sometimes hard to find. We’ve all heard personal training horror stories, but these are all things that clients have recently shared with me about their former personal trainers. Be prepared – it ain’t pretty!
Person A tried a personal trainer at a local Gold’s Gym for just 3 sessions to help him get started and kind of show him the ropes of weight training. Well, after more than 5 cancellations, this individual finally found a time that his trainer could finally make it in.
During the personal training session, his trainer kept walking away for 2-3 minutes at a time and saying “I’ll be right back…” Person A then decided to follow his trainer, and found that the trainer was training another client on the other side of the gym!!!
Person B had a personal trainer at Spectrum Club. This personal trainer never performed any measurements or strength assessments. How do you track progression without having a baseline? When the client asked why she had her doing a certain exercise, the personal trainer replied “Because I said so…”
-Person C (a 57 year old female) also had a personal trainer at Spectrum Club. During her FIRST workout, the trainer had this client doing JUMPING HACK SQUATS. When the individual told the trainer that the exercise (which is usually reserved for athletes and well-conditioned individuals looking to increase explosiveness) the trainer replied “No Pain, No Gain…”
-Person D was extremely overweight and was having severe knee problems just standing and walking. During the first workout, his personal trainer had him performing barbell squats. Now, understand that I LOVE squats, and I think they are very beneficial, but also understand that you need to have a certain level of condition before doing them (like no pain while standing upright). When the client complained of severe knee pain, the trainer told the client “If you complain, I’ll just add more weight…”
Unfortunately, many of you that have had a personal training with their personal trainer in the past probably read through the above scenarios and laughed (or cringed) because it has happened to you. I, on the other hand, actually became disgusted by simply writing it!!! You, as the consumer, decide that you want to use a trainer and you have certain expectations. First and foremost, you deserve to be treated as if your time is extremely valuable, because it is. No showing, constant cancellations and not getting the attention you deserve while you’re being trained are unacceptable.
When you’re working with a trainer, “Because I said so” should never fly. You know what a personal trainer’s job REALLY is? It is to EDUCATE you. Not just guide you through a workout. Anyone can do that. A personal trainer should give you Personal Training and TEACH you what you need to know to move on and train without them by creating independence.
You aren’t paying for a friend to count reps for you; you’re paying for the knowledge of what you need to be doing, how to execute it, and how to make the necessary lifestyle changes to KEEP making progress long after your sessions in. For example, if you sign up for a 12 week program, not only should you walk away with a dramatic change in your body (and life), it should be treated as if that 12 weeks is on-the-job training and the personal trainer should be teaching you all they know in that time!!!
Of course, some people like the accountability and motivation that a personal trainer provides, and that is FINE. However, the trainer should make an attempt to teach you to become independent of their services, and maybe just have you stop by for the occasional tune-up. If they aren’t doing this, the personal trainer is simply trying to keep you dependent so you have to continue using their service!!!
I know, you’re thinking I’m crazy. I tell all of my clients that it is my job to make them NOT need me. Why? They know they’re getting what they pay for and they never mind telling their friends about what we do and how I work. I can’t buy advertising like that…
Person C and D are very similar to me. It seems that everyone that gets themselves in pretty good shape or has played competitive sports at some level determines that they’re knowledgeable enough to be a personal trainer and help others with their fitness.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much regulation in this career field, so a smile and a signature on a piece of paper can get them employed in most any health club.
Let’s be realistic: every human on this earth has the same type of basic make-up (we’re all human beings) but we’re all drastically different when it comes to what works best for each individual. As a personal trainer, you have to start the client at a level that they are comfortable with and help them progress – you cannot train a 55 year old female the same way that an 18 year old football player trains! I see too many personal trainers trying to train all of their clients like they are competitive bodybuilders and giving them competition style nutrition programs.
Bodybuilders themselves can only diet like this for only a few weeks at a time, so how on earth can they expect that type of eating to become a “lifestyle” change for their clients? They can’t!!! And since they know no alternatives, they’ll stick the client with the responsibility. They gave the advice; you just couldn’t follow it (no matter how realistic it was).
About the Author
Boyd Myers is a certified personal trainer and performance nutrition specialist located in San Antonio, TX. He is well-known for his work with elite athletes and magazine cover models.