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How To Spot A Bad Personal Trainer – Top 9 Signs


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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 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 look the part 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.

1. Limited Attention Span…

A bad personal trainer is constantly looking around and having conversations with other people, or scrolling or texting on their phone while conducting a training session.

You definitely do not want to be paying someone who is not totally focused on assisting you.

A good trainer will be focused on you only, and not on anything else during your session. If they are not giving you their full attention then how can they properly coach you and direct your program?

2. No Results…

If you are a member of a gym, where the same trainer has been training people for a long time with limited results, or the routines used have remained the same for a long time, 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 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 just isn’t right.

How To Spot A Bad Personal Trainer - Top 9 Signs

Many trainers use the same routine for all their clients.

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 for everyone, and do not design routines on an individual basis.

Move on to someone else who is attentive to your needs and will work specifically on routines that suit those needs.


4. Working Out With Clients…

I have witnessed this on several occasions 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.

5. Inappropriate Behaviour

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.

6. Listening Skills

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!

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

7. Scheduling

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.

8. Bad Personality

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.


9. The “Not My Problem” Mindset

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 to people.

I have heard of some trainers who even refuse to return calls to their clients who have called to ask about certain aspects of their workout program. They only provide answers during paid sessions.

I think this mentality is nothing short of ridiculous as the main purpose of being a trainer is to assist people in achieving their health and fitness goals.

There is definitely a problem if a two-minute phone call is too much to give to a client or if they are unable to spend a moment to help someone in the gym who may in fact end up hiring them as they have shown them some guidance.

Signs of a Bad Personal Trainer – Conclusion

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, have I left any out, and do you have any bad personal trainer stories of your own?

It would be great to hear your thoughts.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some red flags to look out for when choosing a personal trainer?

When choosing a personal trainer, it’s important to do your research and choose someone who is qualified and experienced.

Some red flags to look out for include trainers who make unrealistic promises, trainers who don’t listen to your needs or goals, and trainers who don’t have any certifications or qualifications.

How do you identify a bad personal trainer?

A bad personal trainer may exhibit several signs, including lack of professionalism, lack of knowledge, and lack of attention to your needs and goals.

They may also push you too hard, ignore your injuries or limitations, and fail to provide proper guidance and support.

What are some common problems with personal trainers?

Some common problems with personal trainers include lack of communication, lack of knowledge or experience, and lack of professionalism.

Additionally, some trainers may focus too much on their own goals and not enough on yours, or they may push you too hard without considering your limitations or injuries.

What are the qualities of a good personal trainer?

A good personal trainer should be knowledgeable, experienced, and professional. They should be able to listen to your needs and goals and provide guidance and support to help you reach them.

They should also be able to adapt their training methods to your individual needs and limitations and provide ongoing motivation and encouragement.

What are some signs that you should stop using a personal trainer?

If you feel like your personal trainer isn’t listening to your needs or goals, or if you feel like they’re pushing you too hard or ignoring your injuries or limitations, it may be time to stop using their services.

Additionally, if you’re not seeing any progress or if you don’t feel comfortable with your trainer, it may be time to find someone else.

What are some common weaknesses in personal trainers?

Some common weaknesses in personal trainers include lack of knowledge or experience, lack of motivation or enthusiasm, and lack of professionalism.

Additionally, some trainers may not be able to adapt their training methods to your individual needs and limitations or may not provide proper guidance and support.


Avatar of Danny Loeb
Danny Loeb
Danny Loeb is a qualified Personal Trainer, Fitness Model and Writer. He enjoys blogging about health and fitness, messing around with Photoshop, and sharing his experiences with everyone.

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