T Nation

What Makes a Good Trainer?


The Faculty of Phys Ed and Rec at the University of Alberta is undergoing a period "Program Revisioning" and handing out suggestion forms for students to fill out.

I already gave them hell for wasting 50% of my time and money on junk courses and how much of a disgrace it is to have 4th-year students who have never heard of PFLC, CFC, Can-Fit-Pro, NSCA-CPT, CSCS, MES or any other professional certifications. That I wouldn't trust at least 80% of my classmates to train anyone.

So, I'm turning over the BPE/BScKin program input to the mercy of the T-Nation contributors and readership. Here are the questions:

Academic Year:

What does the BPE Grad need to know?

What should they be able to do?

To what groups should they be able to relate?

What should their experience in the program be like?

Let 'em have it. They've let their program slide so far behind the times they deserve a good verbal ass kicking.



2 things.

1 whats a BPE grad?

2 Boobs. I like trainers with boobs. Firm and fake. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.


That would be short for "Bachelor of Physical Education".

I ran into two BPE students in the gym today. Neither one of them knew how to design strength training programs and were learning from the gym's PTs.




I'm a bit confused because I guess my understanding is that a Physical Education degree doesn't really relate to mainstream personal training, rather a focus as a "teacher" for schools.

Unless in Canada things are different.


I'm certified by ISSA but I knew more than most trainers I'd met by age 16 just from training myself and designing my own diet and training programs. True but I'd say 97% of all trainers suck. I worked at a gym where the "Master" trainer if you can call him that was making $75 per hour and I used to give him tips and explanations.

I think being friendly and personable is a very important factor but too many dumb friendly fucks are saying,"Hey I'm friendly, why not try personal training." Most of the time the clients are too dumb to even know their being hustled.


They should be know to perform a full parallel back squat instead of these quater-squats.They shouldn't have to ask me the excercise I'm doing and give me funny looks,that has happened when I've done: farmer's walks, hack squats, and 21's.


A good trainer should listen and learn about their clients limitations, wants and needs and design a program for the and not force "their program" on everyone.


To be a gym teacher you would get a "Bachelor of Education" with a major in "Physical Education" and a minor in something like math or social studies.

I'm planning on compiling comments and suggestions onto an actual response form with the above questions, so stick with responses to the specific questions, please!

Pretend you've just paid for and spent four years in university to become a highly qualified health, fitness, and conditioning professional. What do you expect to get for your time and money?


A good trainer in my mind is one who can get their client the results they're after whilst also enhancing their quality of life.

I did a year of a bachelor of human movement and found it to be completely useless in regards to personal training. You're better off learning to train yourself for a few years, and then applying your knowledge to your clients.

There are human movement graduates who have deadlifted a handful of times in their lives. This is after a 4 year degree. Unless you've done it enough to make mistakes and then learn from them, you don't know it well enough to teach others.


What gym in Illinois? If you don't mind me asking. I've been training for over 13 years. I stopped going to commercial gyms personally because I couldn't stand seeing the way most trainers worked with their clients. I now work at a PT clinic, I'm ATC/L & CSCS, and run my own training company. Thanks.


Couple of questions: -

is it completely necessarily for ALL graduates to be competant PT's? I bet its not the premier career choice for a vast majority of grads there - therefore your specific questions are skewed. For a lot of people, life doesnt begin and end in the gym.

A good output from any undergrad course is a well rounded graduate with a worldy approach, able to determine good research from bad and hopefully has an idea as to what career/avenue they want to pursue.

A balance is whats needed from your point of view - ie balancing practical knowledge (gym based) with theory. However, a lack of common sense can never be accounted for.


I'm currently pursuing a BS in physical therapy, focusing on training healthy individuals. I think we're kinda on the same page concerning where we want to be after we finish our degree so my answers will reflect what I want for myself in terms of training healthy people.

Able to identify function/dysfunction in all movements. Have a good understanding of all aspects of fitness and health, including strength training, aerobics, shock training etc.

Have at least a mediocre understanding of nutrition, because you can't prescribe exercise without prescribing a nutritional program to match. Unless you like banging your head against a wall.

In depth knowledge of anatomy and muscle function, of course.

Understanding the difference in needs of the never-moved-my-ass-in-my-whole-life crowd and elite athletes, and being able to handle both.

Perfect technique in all big compund lifts, and understanding of when to use each one. Knowing the difference between free weights and fixed plain equipment. Know when to use which.

Know which other health professionals they should work with. Including massage therapists, art therapists, doctors and physical therapists.

Personal trainers, school gym teachers, athletes, weekend warriors. Just basically all those who instruct other people in training or train themselves.


A la Phil Kaplan
" I believe, to be a "professional" Personal Trainer, requirements include:

* Extraordinary People Skills

* The Ability To Motivate

* Creativity

* An Acceptable Level of Knowledge in Exercise Technique

* An Acceptable Level of Knowledge in Exercise Theory

* An Acceptable Level of Knowledge in Human Physiology

* An Acceptable Level of Knowledge in Human Nutrition

* An Exceptional Knack For Applying That Knowledge To Bring About Changes in Other

* Responsibility

* Honesty

* Concern For People

* Integrity

* Loyalty

* Marketing Ability

* A Willingness To Keep Abreast of New Developments

* Exceptional Communication Skills



Do you guys have a class that's actually in the weight room; that's probably a good spot to start.