Not All Personal Trainers are Made Equal

Time for a short rant …

This week, I had an eye-opening experience when I realized just how much of a Lottery it can be to search for a “good” Personal Trainer.

One of my online Clients from England had previously been training with a highly Certified Trainer, but was not getting the results she was after.  When I read what she had been doing and his rationale for things, I was puzzled about whether he was taking her for a ride, or just lacked experience.  It was only when I asked for her to send me some video footage of her performing some basic exercises (for me to assess her form), that I quickly realised a huge problem –> she had never been taught to hinge at the hips or squat!    Because, like most people, my client had struggled to master these initially, I can only guess that her trainer skimmed over them because he lacked the knowledge (or maybe the energy) to begin to correct these things –> one of these issues was her tendency to rise up on to her toes during the squat (very common).  Instead of trying to resolve this, he simply had her squat with her heels raised, but never did any sort of ankle or hip mobility work, or core stability corrective work.  Furthermore, he then completely neglected most lower body compound exercises, opting to sell her the idea that she was just insulin resistant and estrogen dominant, hence the higher Body Fat on her hips!!!!!!! WHAT?! But wait, it gets better –> he didn’t have a training solution, but instead tried to put her on a 500 calorie diet and sell her supplements to “fix” her body’s tendency to hold onto body fat! WHAT!!???

This makes me sooo mad!

NOTE: If any Trainer tries to put you on an extreme diet or tries to sell you supplements to do away with the need to train as hard, then run for the hills and get a refund!

Basically, my client decided to fly over to Belfast and spend 4 hours with me going through all the basic movement patterns and exercises.  It was a very rewarding day, because she had clearly been misinformed and, I feel, a little duped into believing the other trainer. Even though she knew things weren’t right, she felt a loyalty to him and his “expertise” and believed his answers.

NOTE: Your Trainer is NOT your friend; you have hired them to do a job and help you achieve your goal. They should remain focused, attentive, and professional all the time and it should matter to them if you are happy or not!

Now, I am not trying to make myself out to be the best trainer here, because I too have made my fair share of mistakes, but I feel it necessary to open up a discussion about how you can really know if your potential Trainer is going to be as good as their Certificates imply.

Personally, I do not believe that being Certified = being Qualified!  Certifications have their place, but I know plenty of Certified PT’s who haven’t even heard of the Hip Hinge 🙁  This gap in knowledge is having an impact on their clients’ progress because I personally do not believe it is enough to say “well, surely all that matters is that they get sedentary people moving”.  This is my response:

*clears throat*

Get people moving better, then get them strong at those movements!

As a Personal Trainer you need to do your homework and have a sound foundation of knowledge about how people SHOULD move.  You need to know how to create a Balanced Workout and Program, tailoring it to their needs and ability, rather than what ever you fancy trying that day.

I admit it is very challenging to weed out those who seem knowledgeable verses those who actually are, but never be afraid to ask questions or seek a second opinion. If your trainer doesn’t start you out with some sort of assessment of how you move and your baseline ability (getting you to do Body Weight Squats,  Glute Bridges,  Hip Hinge, Push Ups an  Plank etc), then I would seriously question their ability as a Trainer.  At that point, it won’t matter what Certificate they have, they do not understand what is best for you, because they have not even made the effort to really see where YOU are starting from.

It just makes me so mad when people are exploited in this way! 

Remember, it not about your loyalty to your trainer as a person; you need to be committed to your goal and your Trainer needs to be committed (and able) to help you.

Over to you now … Leave a comment below about your experiences in finding a good Trainer and how you have dealt with the not-so-good Trainers.


  • February 22, 2013

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