Why I hate Personal Trainers: Part 1 – What to ask when you meet one

I think everyone should have a personal trainer. Seriously. I constantly am working out with people who teach classes and do personal training all the time. It makes me work harder and focus on why I am working out.

The thing that blows for you is that about 80% of all personal trainers SUCK. I’ve seen so called personal trainers ruin their clients bodies, and when they come back with aches and pains the obvious answer is more training to fix the problem.

They don’t fix it. They make is worse.

I’m going to give you some tools to protect yourself from unscrupulous personal trainers.

I’m going to delve into the depths of the training world and show you some of the underbelly.

In part 1 of the series I’m going to focus on screening your trainer, what questions should you ask him before you work out.

Anytime you join a gym they are going to give you a free session with a personal trainer. This is a blatant sales attempt, and also an excellent time for you to set some goals and make sure you hit them as well as a good time to interview a trainer. Just know going into it you are going to have to answer the question: are you ready to hire a personal trainer.

A few words about the industry as a whole, before we delve into your interaction with the trainer.

There are NO RULES regarding personal trainers.


Not one agency requires an industry standard. We do have certifications that are nationally ranked, but all most of them require are 1 witten test… That’s it. All that to say that there is no guarantee how good your trainer is or how much she knows just by looking at her certification.

Once you sit down with the trainer and before you get into your workout they should take you through a PAR-Q, which is pretty much a a health background and screening to make sure they are going to treat your injuries and illnesses with the proper respect. Sometime you’ll be warming up and they’ll be talking to you about it, some times it’s behind the trainers desk or over the phone.

If they don’t run you through some kind of screening (which could be as short as 3 questions) that is flag #1.

On to the questions

Question #1: Who are you certified through?

Good answers are ACE, NSCA/CSCS, NASM, STOTT, Balanced Body, and NCEP.

Answers the will need qualifying, AFFA, Peak Pilates, Yoga certified*, any house certifications (Through 24 hour fitness). If they answer any of these you MUST ask them question 2.

*In the case of Yoga instructors there’s a lot of different schools of thought, most of which I know NOTHING about, so if you are into Yoga and want a yoga trainer you’ve got to ask them more questions than I’m giving you

Flag #2 if he’s got none of the top ranked

Question #2: How long have you been training?

Now I am all for growing the industry, but let’s face it: you don’t want to be a guinea pig for a new trainer. Looking back on some of the clients I’ve worked with over the past 5 years I am so luck some of the things that I did with them didn’t result in serious injury.

I know so much more now about the body, about safety, and about programing to reach results. Anyone working in the industry for under 2 years would throw up flag #3

Question#3: Do you have any references?

Just like you wouldn’t buy a house without doing the right research into previous owner you really shouldn’t hire a personal trainer without having some contact with his past clients.

This could be as simple as a paragraph from past clients, a short video, an e-mail address or a phone number. Just something to help prove to you that they actually have worked with clients and seen results (that’s why we all do it right?).

If he won’t do that for you that is flag #4.

If you get two or more of these flags than you need to seriously reconsider the person you are about to work with.

One more thing. Size the trainer up before you even open your mouth, how do they look, how do they walk, how do they talk? I hate to say it, so I’ll let Shakespeare do it for me, “The apparel oft proclaim the man.”

If he doesn’t look like a trainer you’re going to need MORE proof! If they don’t use the information on themselves than how are they going to carry it out on you?

Next of the marathon of articles coming up in the next couple of hours.

Until then