As a personal trainer for the last four years, I’ve seen some pretty weird and wacky stuff. I could probably have my own sitcom on gym life as I see it. One thing that drives me crazy are so-called “health professionals” giving their clients horrible advice and setting them up for injury through dangerously-performed exercises.
People pay hard-earned money to get back in shape, and it drives me crazy to see them under the supervision of a misinformed, inexperienced, and uneducated personal trainer!
Here are my top tips for you, the client, to know if you have a good personal trainer or not.
1. Is your trainer watching you?
Or is she watching the clock because she can’t wait to get out of work and party? Is your trainer constantly making out with himself in the mirror, or is he making sure you don’t kill yourself under the squat rack? Your trainer should be focused on you and only you throughout the entire duration of your session, even if a supermodel walks by!
2. How close are you two? Literally.
Here’s a good way to tell your trainer doesn’t care about you or their job: Your trainer is sitting on his ass, watching you from 50 feet away while texting his significant other while you pour your heart into your workout! As a client myself, I love the feeling of knowing I have my trainer’s undivided attention.
3. Are you getting feedback on your form?
Form is everything. If your form is off, you’re more prone to injury. Does your trainer tell you not to let your knees cross over your toes during squats? Does your trainer know why you feel pain in your lower back while you do crunches? How is your trainer positioned behind you to spot your Military Press? Do you feel safe lifting weights with him? Can she tactfully tell you that the way you’ve been doing certain exercises for the last 5 years is incorrect and that you should try it a different way today?
4. Does your trainer know what he/she is talking about?
Does your trainer know why you're working certain muscle groups instead of another one? If you’re like most of my clients, you'll almost certainly ask your trainer “Why are we doing this?” She should have a legitimate answer for you! The same goes for nutritional advice. If your trainer is telling you that the best way to get adequate amounts of protein is from steak and eggs, he obviously hasn’t read my free ebook and clearly doesn’t know how to eat right. Does your trainer know how to calculate your BMR? I hope so!
5. Can he or she improvise?
He wanted to use the Bench Press, but it's occupied. Can he think of one of the 47,239 other exercises on the spot that works the Pectoralis Major muscle group? Or maybe your trainer planned a plyometric workout for you, but you showed up with a sprained ankle. Can she scrap the planned workout for something different, but just as efficient, on the spot?
6. Do you communicate?
When was the last time your trainer asked you how you were feeling? If the answer is never, demand a refund for your package of sessions, run screaming out of the gym, and never return. Your trainer should be asking you to speak up. You, the client, shouldn’t have to feel like you're scared to tell your coach how you’re feeling.
7. Is your workout/diet plan designed specifically for you?
Do your workouts and nutritional advice make sense for your specific goals? If you want to lose weight, I really hope you're doing low weights with high reps coupled with a low-calorie diet plan and cardio program. If you want to increase muscle mass, I hope you’re doing moderate-to-heavy weights during your sessions, and that your trainer knows what foods have the most efficient protein/fiber density for you.
8. Does your trainer care about you, or does he/she look at you with dollar signs in the eyes?
Does your trainer check up on your food journals, or do you not exist to her outside of the gym? Does your trainer know how much you’ve progressed since day one? You don’t have to be best friends with your personal trainer, but think for a second and go with your gut instinct... Does this person have my best interest at heart?