Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why 50% of Personal Trainers Suck [2011 edition]

Today's post is taken from an article I wrote close to 5 years ago. Back in the day, it was featured on fitness forums and my main site, but for sake of currency, I wanted to update it a bit with some new material. I suppose its a rant--about 10 years in the making--and definitely prone to ruffling a few feathers. However,  those of us "in the know" will be capable of relating to these frustrations.

Before I get into the meat of it, let me remind you that every profession has its good and its great. There are some professionals and facilities that when they expound on their services or you've experienced them, you are amazed and gratified at the higher standard that they provide. Then there are others that simply baffle you from their obvious deficiencies. Still, the difference in professionals is only noted if the consumer is educated on the subject; or has a comparison to measure against. Luckily, as the consumer educates him/herself on specific services, a "scale of expectation" will develop and can be used when choosing rendered services. That is why I chose to explain why 50% of the personal trainers you have or will encounter in your life will....well...suck!

Trainers base their fees on their passion, rather than on their level of service/expertise...
I have personally run into many newly crowned trainers (I mean certified) that shamelessly boast to me that their fees begin over the $85 an hour mark! I understand the principle of market research and finding out what the median income is in your community; however, when I hear that a NEW trainer is thinking of charging astronomical fees simply because they are very dedicated to the field--I am left flabbergasted. Many trainers are very passionate...dedicated...and work very hard. However, when you enjoy what you do--does it really feel like "work"? It probably doesn't---hence, making your craft seem effortless and making you into a  more efficient pro. And if  passion and dedication for the craft are in place, shouldn't the level of service (including measurable results) run parallel? Most times, in newly-certified trainers,  experience is low while passion is high. Passion gets you through the door, but experience keeps you there. Personal training is just like any other profession: you have to work your way up the ladder and that work is tumultuous and challenging...but it makes you better.

Not everyone is cut out to be a fitness professional, yet some find out the hard way...
I'm not here to anoint who can become a fitness professional and who cannot. But I can tell you that in over 10 years of management and training experience, I have conducted countless interviews, fired, and hired many fitness enthusiasts claiming to become the next great thing in personal training. My bad. I've witnessed their enthusiasm and decree of passion...but once I put them into the rodeo, they figured that the game was too tough for them.
Some people develop a desire to help others. I truly understand that testament to help another person.  But...just like everyone is not meant to be a doctor, lawyer, and astronaut—neither is everyone meant to be a personal trainer just because you went through the Express line at your local gym for 12 weeks and lost 14 pounds. That doesn’t make you a professional. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be something in life...but to be good at what you do in this field is what separates you from everyone else.

The Internet can make anyone seem like an expert...
Since the inception of the World Wide Web, entrepreneurs are popping up everywhere. They either want to make you rich, fit or have a larger penis. We live in a capitalistic society which markets our "needs and wants" in a system that works. Consumers pay hefty price-tags to learn secrets, insider information, or tricks to happiness. In the fitness industry,  there are many experts regarded as educated, "real", and important to this trade, simply because they have a buff body and have aligned themselves with powerful marketers. I can't tell you how many times I have seen a sales page for a fitness product only to scroll down, down, down, and down the page to finally see that the creator is nothing more than some guy that finally started dieting, picked up some weights, and lost some baby fat--only to put out a product without ever testing it on others (before making it available for sale).
This reminds me of my younger days in the gym when the biggest guy was the "go to " guy for any bodybuilding information. He had the biggest arms, so he must be doing something right, right? However, once I became educated I learned that gaining muscle size has so much more to do with just the type of lifting you are doing---but the outcome also includes muscle length, diet, rest, periodization, and genetics. The Internet houses many fitness products created by people that do not train others for a living. And the general rule in exercise programming is, "if its worked for you, it doesn't guarantee it will work for all".

Trainers that simply do not workout on a regular basis...
Trust me, you don't have to look like Mario Lopez to get respect in my book. But I do believe you have to workout and train hard to know what your client goes through during one of your sessions. I have run into many trainers that don't look like they ever workout--except for maybe the rolled up sleeves and tribal band tattoo exposed--I really don't see the obvisous signs of regular exercise: calloused palms, stretch marks by the arm pits, erect posture, developed forearms and calves, and water bottle nearby. Okay...I was joking.
The truth is, many trainers allow their clients to perform outrageously difficult exercises for the sake of making their clients sweat and make fools of themselves. It becomes imperative that a trainer try all exercises in program fashion before prescribing them for clients. Why? It allows the trainer to gauge how the load may impact a client's balance, coordination, heart rate, CNS response, and safeness. Trainers that don't try it, should have clients that don't buy it. Period.

Some trainers don't continue learning...
I can’t say this enough. To be in the position of developing exercise programs for sedentary people that put they’re hard-earned money and trust into you is so important. A doctor doesn’t graduate school and start seeing patients---they perform a residency at a hospital for years. Trainers must understand that this practice is more than holding a clipboard and counting is about understanding the human body and how it correlates to stresses placed upon it. An exercise program without modifications in its first 2 weeks is a joke to me. Any trainer that carries around the latest edition of a muscle magazine during a session is a joke to me. Any trainer that cannot admit that they need assistance or need to refer out is a joke to me. I have met trainers that were certified in 1988 and have not learned anything new. Do you know how much fitness has evolved in just the last 3 years? Half of today’s trainers do not put the time, effort, and money into continuing education, seminars, or instructional books and videos. Seminars and workshops are growing in popularity and have become an integral part in a the trainer's professional development--but many still scorn the price tag, location, and time. Nevertheless,  these resourceful opportunities have become vital in many of today's most successful trainers. Sure, you may pay upwards to $800 (when you include lodging, food, and gas), but you make that up in your business improvements and exercise program design.


  1. just be the best and separate yourself from the competition. With so many half-ass trainers around I will continue to raise my rates.

  2. First we should have confidence in ourselves so that we can overcome any kind of problems that comes in our life.


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