How To Spot A Bad Personal Trainer – Top 9 Signs

how to spot a bad personal trainer 2

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How to Spot a Bad Personal Trainer

Personal trainers are great. What better way to get in shape than to have a qualified experienced professional take time to understand your fitness needs and to give you top quality advice as to how to reach your fitness goals. But how can you tell if you have a bad personal trainer? They may wear a shirt that says “ Personal Trainer” on it and have an impressive body but you need to know how to read the signs and make an informed decision. After all, you want to get value for the money you’re paying for their services.



A bad personal trainer is constantly looking around and having conversations with other people, consistently answering calls on their mobile phones or texting while conducting a training session. You definitely do not want to pay someone, who is not totally interested in assisting you. A good trainer will be focused on you only, and not on anything else. If they are not giving you their full attention, how can they properly coach you and direct your program?


If you are a member of a gym, where the same trainer has been providing training to people with limited results, or the routines used have remained the same for several years, then it would not be in your best interests to hire that trainer. This is a clear sign of a bad personal trainer. If this is your experience, you need to find a new trainer. The role of trainers, although they are not nutritionists, includes encouraging you to practice healthier eating, as well as understanding how to utilise nutrition as a part of an exercise plan in order to be successful. I have seen many people who after regular workouts with their trainers, still don’t know what they should be eating before a workout session and in turn don’t get the most out of their sessions. In my opinion, this isn’t right.

how to spot a bad personal trainerCOOKIE CUTTER ROUTINES

Many trainers use the same routine for all their clients, but you cannot duplicate workouts for everyone, even though the fundamentals may be the same. Each person has unique needs and areas that need working on, as well as specific likes and dislikes. Therefore, avoid trainers that repeatedly do the same routine on everyone, and do not design routines on an individual basis. Move on to someone else who is more innovative and creative, and will work specifically on routines that suit your needs.


I have witnessed this on several occasions, where a trainer turns a session that has been paid for by a client into a workout for him or herself! I would find it difficult to coach and guide someone, if I am busy exercising. There may be times when it is appropriate, such as when you are demonstrating an exercise in a class setting, or you are taking your client on an outdoor run. It is easy to detect however, if the trainer is more concerned with their training, than with that of the client.



Most of us have experienced situations where trainers have been too friendly, either in their communication or physically touching their clients. I have seen trainers lose clients, or get fired from their jobs for this reason. Although it is personal training, professionalism is a priority. Some trainers may be encouraged by their clients, but this is totally unprofessional and will negatively affect the workouts. Trainers who use sexual innuendos should never be hired or retained, if already hired.



Any trainer that tells you to “push through it”, after you have expressed dissatisfaction with your results, or advised of pain experienced during exercises or the aggravation of injuries, should be dismissed now! Primarily, Personal Training is a relationship, although you pay for it! If your trainer is not a good listener, or fails to communicate effectively with you, then you need to find one that will. A good trainer will listen and accommodate your requests for changes, sometimes even right on the spot.

They should also consult with you frequently, as to how you are feeling, and whether you are enjoying your routines and are pleased with the results. They should invite your feedback as well, as communication is a two-way exercise.

How to Spot a Bad Personal Trainer


If your trainer consistently reschedules, cancels or is perpetually late, they obviously do not take their job seriously. Your trainer should arrive at the gym ahead of you, and should be prepared and ready for you when you get there. There may be instances when mishaps occur, which cannot be avoided, but these are exceptions and not the rule.


There are many persons that I know, who are extremely knowledgeable about the topics of exercise and nutrition. They however do not possess warm personalities. If they do not have an outgoing personality, they will not be able to communicate in a fun and exciting way, and their lack of social skills will become evident. Clients will not feel the urge to exercise in this case. Trainers should possess a unique personality with spark, and also display enthusiasm in performing their job. This can be bad if the trainer only speaks with their peers or specific groups, or seem shy and stands in corners away from people.


I have seen trainers walk right by someone in need of assistance, or who was performing an exercise incorrectly, at gyms and fitness facilities. The commitment of a trainer should be questioned, if they do not take the time to go above and beyond to offer assistance. I have also known some trainers who refuse to return calls to their clients, who have queries. They only provide answers during paid sessions. This I think is ridiculous, as the main purpose for being a trainer is to assist people in achieving their health and fitness goals. There is definitely a problem if a 2-minute phone call is too much to give to a client.


Those are my top ways to spot a bad personal trainer. Hopefully some of the points will be useful to you and help you make an informed choice.

What’s your opinion? Do you agree? Do you have any bad personal trainer stories of your own?

It would be great to hear your thoughts.

BTW: Here’s an example of a great personal trainer – Katerina Popkove’s Tabata X Workout

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