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Choosing a Personal Trainer

Warning Flags


Updated May 16, 2014

Like all professions, personal training has its share of losers. But, just because you're assigned to one trainer doesn't mean you can't work with someone else. It may be a personality conflict or you may wonder if you're getting the best advice. Either way, here are some warning flags that it's time to switch.

Warning Flags

Beware if your trainer does any of the following:

  • Ignores or dismisses your questions
  • Works you so hard you're in pain for days. Soreness is normal, but you should still be able to get out of bed
  • Neglects any part of a complete program or recommends a level of training that's too hard for you
  • Recommends questionable supplements or herbs. Always talk to your doctor before taking anything
  • Diagnoses injuries or illnesses instead of referring you to a doctor
  • Interrupts your session to talk to friends or take phone calls (unless it's an emergency or can't be avoided)
  • Doesn't return phone calls or emails
  • Gives you detailed nutritional advice. If your trainer is also a nutritionist or registered dietician, that's fine. Otherwise, he or she shouldn't give you more than very basic information about your diet

A personal trainer should watch you, correct your alignment, and explain what you're doing and why. If you're having problems, talk to them--they may not be aware there's a problem. Another option is to talk to the manager or stop your sessions and look for a different trainer. It's your money and your body...you have a right to get what you want and a good trainer will understand that.

How to Help Your Trainer

You can help your trainer do a better job by being a good client.

  • Focus on what you're doing and try not to spend too much of your session talking.
  • Be prepared by eating before your workout, bringing your own towel and a full water bottle.
  • Give at least 24 hour notice if you need to cancel or reschedule.
  • If you have questions, write them down and bring them to your session--you'll spend less time talking and more time working out.
  • If you have a problem with your trainer, address it immediately.
  • Don't interrupt your trainer when she's with a client. Wait until she's finished before approaching her.
  • Recognize that your trainer is there to guide you--but you still have to do the work. If you're confused about your progress, or lack thereof, schedule a meeting where you can talk about your concerns. Personal training can help you get closer to your goals, but it isn't a magic bullet.

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