Personal Trainer No-No's

Not all trainers are created equal. While I want you to be working with me, it’s perhaps better, at least for now, that you work with someone in person.

Everybody has their own style, tricks of the trade, methodology etc.

But how do you know you’re with the right trainer? How do you know you're safe? There is more to a good trainer than keeping your certifications up to date, though that's a great place to start!

I have to admit, I whisper “wtf” to myself at least once a day(usually more). Sometimes I see things that break my heart and kill my soul.

I put together a list of warning signs you should look out for.

[Disclaimer] Keep in mind, this is coming from the perspective of a trainer whose focus is on healthy movement, not just weight loss. I want your body to be healthy, not just skinny. I want to encourage exploration so you can figure out what’s best for you.

With that in mind, here we go:

An obsession with food

This might seem counterintuitive but an unhealthy obsession over calorie or macro counting can create problems with your relationship with food, or exacerbate existing ones. Personal trainers are NOT dietitians or nutritionists, so depending on what type of information you’re getting from your trainer, s/he could be stepping out of their area of authority. We are also not in the business of being psychologists, and food, especially for women, is a hot-button topic. I will usually present facts and options. I delve deeper if I am asked, but you should never walk out of session wondering what the heck you actually can eat.

Giving the same workouts to everyone

I have seen some trainers give the same routines to the fit 25-year-old and the overweight middle-aged lady with thyroid issues, no modifications. Providing modifications that are appropriate for each clients level of coordination allows all clients to put forth the most effort, without interruption, adjustment, or pain, and each gets an equally great workout.

Ignoring physical limitations

If your knees are constantly hurting and your trainer tells you to keep squatting, without addressing form or mobility issues, like foam rolling or isolated strengthening, there’s a big problem. As I have said multiple times, squats shouldn’t hurt. If they do, you probably have poor form. If you have poor form and your trainer isn’t giving you feedback, why are you paying them? Also, range of motion is a big issue. Not everybody can execute everything to the same level of proficiency. Sometimes what stands in the way are physical limitations that have evolved from bad posture. Not addressing chronic misuse and poor movement patterns is a big mistake.

They tell you what to do but not how/why

I see this ALL the TIME. The trainer gives their client an exercise and fails to explain the purpose or benefits of the movement. The client simply parrots trainer or responds to cues. As a result, the client gets little to no benefit from the exercise even though it looked right because her brain wasn’t tuned into the mechanics of the movements. Case in point - I once had a lady doing ABductions with a mini band around her knees. This is a great way to target the gluteus medius. I knew something wasn’t right, even though it looked like she was executing the movement correctly. I asked her if she was feeling this in her booty and she said: “no, more down my thigh”. At this point, I realized she wasn’t thinking about the mechanics that make her knees ABduct from each other, she was just focused on her knees ABducting, stretching the band. When I explained the mechanics to her, that she should be thinking about the glute squeezing and pulling the thighs apart, rather than thinking about simply stretching the band, she finished the next set and said it felt like a completely different exercise.

The only objective is to burn calories

You can flail around like Bambi on ice at home. In the grand scheme of things, most cardiovascular stimulants don’t require much spotting or critique. You can jog, jump rope, hop on and off of a bosu without me. There are, of course, instances the require correcting, like a KB swing, or doing explosive movements like Olympic lifts. When you’re with me you can expect to work hard and purposefully. I coined the term #slowroastedburn for a reason. You will be paying attention to your body, learning how to move well and develop the ability to consistently repeat those movements. Sometimes, that’s a leg day and leg days burn a lot of calories. It’s not uncommon for one of my clients to go through a leg focused workout and burn in excess of 500 calories. That’s the benefit of leg day, but burning calories is never the focus.

The last thing to consider is how the trainer makes you feel. I often hear from my clients that they feel great after their sessions. Positivity and encouragement. If you’re not getting it, move on.