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Top 7 mistakes of a bad personal trainer

By August 31, 2010October 16th, 20123 Comments

It’s gotta be the minority giving the majority a bad name right?

This controversial list applies to those that can be found in large Fitness First type gyms and doesn’t necessarily apply to everywhere. If you’re offended, I’m sorry (kinda).

Without further a due, here are the Top 7 mistakes of a bad personal trainer…

#7 Cookie-cutter program writing

We aren’t all created equal. Some new-comers to the gym are ectomorphs with the frame of Skeletor and the strength of a blow-fly with chronic fatigue syndrome, whilst others are world champion pie-eating champions with more chins than a huge fat guy with a sh*t-load of chins.

Why then, does mr PT consider them one and the same when concocting their routines?

#6 Inappropriate exercises

In addition to the previous point, why does Mr PT prescribe the latest in fancy leg rotation exercises for the Michelin Man, when clearly the tiniest addition of muscle-mass to his inner thigh won’t negate the four hundred rolls of skin hanging over his twig-and-berries.

Here’s a tip: Give the man some basic lifts (squats, bench, rows) and stick him on the god-damn treadmill until he can see his feet.

#5 Disrespect for others that aren’t being personally trained

This was alluded to in the article on the gym’s biggest douchebags but needs some more fuel thrown at its fire. Ok, so you have Mrs Client with you who is paying ex-amount to be trained and inspired. That doesn’t mean that everyone else in the gym isn’t paying their membership to be there.

Yes it annoys me that you’re hogging all of the dumbbells on the planet, but not only that, you refuse to let me ‘work in’ as clearly your client is more important than the rest of us.

#4 Forgetting to self-promote

So you have a client now who’s paying you the big bucks, but what happens when they stop using you and figure out your fancy leg-rotation exercises did little more than chafe their cankles?

That’s right, you needed to be coming across as a guy who knows his sh*t, and is always selling himself as a good trainer. After all, the person you just dissed for trying to work-in with you was AFTER a personal trainer.

You may not have made the shortlist.

#3 Not looking the part

If you look like you’ve never set foot in a gym and have more muffin top than a bakery, you just won’t come across as a trainer that knows their sh*t. This might sound harsh, but you just won’t. It’d be like speaking at an Alcoholics Anonymous conference whilst swigging a bottle of tequila.

Work on your own physique before you work on someone elses.

#2 Not helping out those in need

When you’re not on the clock getting paid for your skill-set, would it hurt you to help out those in the gym who genuinely need it? The guy with 10 plates a side on the leg-press who is about to crush himself or the lady struggling under a barbell. These people could use your help. Who knows, your kindness might be repaid one day when they find their progress wavering, and come looking for the PT who helped them out that time.

Humility goes a long way.

#1 Self-Obsession

When your client is struggling under a barbell, it pays to look in the mirror to check on their form. That doesn’t mean you should be subliminally flexing your own biceps and checking out your ‘tone’ in that 3-sizes-too-small gym shirt.

Keep the focus on the person that’s paying you which could ultimately prevent a trip to the hospital.

Editor’s note: Personal trainers are great for motivating the masses, but unfortunately some of the bad ones give the good a bad name. Are there any traits I’ve missed? Comment below.

Clint Nielsen

Author Clint Nielsen

Clint is a dad and husband trying to stay in shape. He's also a highly opinionated fitness enthusiast and author of Reveal The Steel. Follow him on: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Google+

More posts by Clint Nielsen

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Hey Clint,

    Like many of your posts, this one is funny and true! My biggest pet peeves are numbers 3, 6 and 7.

    I can’t tell you how many so-called trainers I have seen that look like they ate one too many donuts for breakfast.

    But what really gets me is when you see them teaching people to do really inappropriate exercises when their clients can’t even do the basics with proper form. I saw a guy recently trying to teach someone to do squats on an exercise ball. Are you kidding me? Get real!

    Best wishes,

    ~ Pete

  • I love the guys who prescribe dangerous and contraindicated exercises. Push presses on the bosu ball? Check. Squats on a swiss ball? Check. Not only is that crap stupid and won’t work, it’s dangerous.

    Especially when prescribed for the 80 year old grandma!

  • Bryan says:

    I just found your site and thought of one that happened to me recently. I got the courage up to finally ask the male PT at my gym about proper form for a few exercises. Of course he told me to make an appointment for a free consultation. This isn’t my gripe, i know it is his business and he has to try selling himself in every way. My gripe was when he told me not to do the exercise at all. ( for reference I was asking about my squat specifically. )

    He tells me that I shouldn’t do squats because it can hut my spine from the weight pushing against it. Next he says that he has a few machines that will do the same job that a squat will for me. (basically 3-4 machines/exercises that will replace the squat…. yay…) This is after I tell him that I have 3 kids and a limited amount of time to exercise. AS WELL AS I wanted to do exercises that would build a good foundation.

    TLDR recap… PT was trying to SELL me his program without really listening to what I wanted. If you have the knowledge to help someone at the gym, give it out when it is asked for. Don’t waste time and energy because you want that extra buck.

    Thanks for the good articles! I will be coming back to read up on what you’ve got, so keep them coming.

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