T Nation

What's up with Personal Trainers?

I myself do some personal training as a side job while I’m in college but it really gets my blood pressure up watching many of the other trainers. It seems as though most personal trainers are really giving the profession a bad name. It’s not uncommon to see exercises being taught in ways that could cause injury, looking around while their clients are performing an exercise, or actually having discussions during an exercise. It just really ticks me off and I’d love to just go up and say something … but I don’t.

I am studying exercise physiology in school right now and I’m a newbie here on t-nation and love the articles and the people here. I try to incorporate principles taught here and also ones I’ve learned in my education. I’m sure there are other trainers in here like me that are really trying hard to get clients achieving their goals. What do you guys do? Do you say something to trainers? Do you not work at a gym with trainers like that?

It just really irked me this morning and thought I’d open up a discussion about trainers. Any other experiences like this?

What they do is none of your business. It’s extremely bad form to second-guess a trainer in front of a client. You would irritate him, confuse the client, and make a permanent enemy that may badmouth you in the future.

For the most egregious offenses (like rounded-back power cleans), you may pull the trainer aside during the workout for a one-on-one outside of the client’s earshot. For anything less, wait until the client has left before you voice an opinion.


Every gym is filled with trainers like that. Just keep the clients you have (by getting results) and slowly build your base. I used to let them annoy me but I’m to grown for that (I’m a grown ass man).

Some stories–

At one gym I worked at our top selling trainer (now fitness director) left a bunch of her files out in the open. Low and behold, what did I see? A million copies from the body for life book. She was having every client do BFL. Not even original enough to think of her own program.

Ah, memories.

Another trainer said to me, I think we follow a similar training style after she saw my client doing situps on a stability ball. I had to laugh. Her clients only train on the ball. Stability ball kickbacks— what the hell does that offer?

It’s hard to watch sometimes, but at the very least the people being trainned are doing something. There’s a trainner in my gym who I’ve had words with (telling me I’ll hurt myself doing full squats and should only do half’s), and he trains a kid about 17-18 who looks semi mentally handicapped, the kid’s a little overweight and even though the trainner has the kid do excersises in ways that makes my head hurt I’m glad he’s there for the kid because, a he’s trying to better himself, and b the kid if he did it alone would wind up getting real hurt without supervision

At my gym, alot of them use smith machines for alot of things like heavy squat, bench, upright row, etc. Even though i have a degree in kinesiology and am CSCS, they won’t hire me for some reason. I guess my workouts are too radical for them or something. I’m always at power rack for bench, deadlift, GM, and squat. SOme of them really kiss their clients’ asses which I’d never do. Not in my nature, I guess. I’d much rather work with athletes since they tend to work harder and willing to do the heavy lifting. Or it might be because i’m 100% hearing impaired. 8 times, i’ve been turned down for that job. I guess they don’t think I’d bring in enough clients or something. Fuck them.

Every gym has bad trainers and good trainers. I work in a Bally’s (yes, I know) and about 90% of our staff are good to excellent, but about 10% aren’t as good. The bad ones won’t last.

What others have said is true. Talk to the person on the side. Doing it in front of the client will piss off the trainer, confuse the client, and piss off the PT Director, who never wants to deal with trainers arguing or disagreeing in front of clients. Makes the gym look bad.

What’s up with Doctors? Most of them are terrible. What’s up with Politicians? They always lie and screw the people who voted for them. What’s up with the pizza guy always complaining about my buzzer code not working? Does he want me to stop ordering?

Hopefully you get my point, but if not bear in mind that in everything you do in life, there will be someone not doing as good of a job as they should.

P.T.'s get ragged on around here and it’s often for good reasons, but that doesn’t always make you right. Never question why or how a PT is having someone do something in a certain manner until you know the client’s full history.

I’ve found a little knowledge in the wrong hands can do more damage than no knowledge. Deep Squats are great, I love them, do them all the time. But having a client do them before you have the ‘ship righted’ is recipe for disaster.

Anyway, slow day at the office, rant over.

good advice…post originator should absorb dis stuff. also i guess, i am analyzing this too deep, but what are you doing paying attention to other people who are not your client? Nah I know how the mind, ear, and eye can wander. I havbe a hard time too, but just remember a good advertising gimmick- the word-of-mouth. You say you got clients, so let your clients do the gabbing and yapping for your abilities and your information. know what i mean?

It is very easy to judge someone else when you don’t have all the facts. Unless you are familiar with the client’s goals, limations, prior history etc. you are in no position to evaluate why his/her trainer is doing what they are doing. Granted, you are probably right in thinking this trainer is bad but unless you know the full story stay away from making assumtions. There are no good or bad exercises. Every movement has costs and benefits and it is up to us to develop a specific program where the benefits outweight the costs.

I used to deliver pizzas. I hated when I didn’t have the gate code, or I had the wrong one. What am I supposed to do? Sit there until someone else goes through?

Well, thanks for all the replies … I think. Half the time I wasn’t sure if I was getting advice or being attacked for writing this post. Anyways, I guess I’ll just be a little more quiet in the future.

Some people stated that you shouldn’t say anything while the trainer is training a client. That’s just common sense. Whoever would do that is just plain rude. I never said I would go up to a trainer while they were training and say “hey, you sure you should be doing that?”

Someone stated that it was “none of your business.” Maybe it’s not but I can’t help analyzing what people do in the gym whether good or bad. I’m looking at people, seeing what they do, and analyzing for good and bad things. Hell, I might learn something new and useful.

I definitely agree with the statements about knowing the full history of the client. I may be jumping to conclusions about something being done a certain way due to past client experiences or health conditions. I am just glad they are in the gym, with a personal trainer, and trying to accomplish something.

It was stated that there are no good/bad exercises. I have a hard time with that one. Doing hyperextensions with a rounded back, with weight, in a herky jerky ballistic type movement can’t be a good exercise. Or maybe I can be enlightened on this idea.

Finally, I am not doing these observations while training a client. I would never deviate my attention like that.

Thanks for all your ideas and thoughts. I really do appreciate them. I’m definitely here to learn new things and to better myself.

[quote]wushufanatic wrote:

It was stated that there are no good/bad exercises. I have a hard time with that one. Doing hyperextensions with a rounded back, with weight, in a herky jerky ballistic type movement can’t be a good exercise. Or maybe I can be enlightened on this idea.



This may be quibbling semantics but your example on good/bad exercises is flawed. In your example someone is performing his technique badly. There is nothing wrong with hyperextenstions. But there is a lot wrong with doing it by jerking, silly wieght anf stuff like that.

My two pence


Personal trainers who PERSONALLY try every exercise in the book make the best trainers. If you’ve been at the bottom of your 1RM squat and had to drive with every ounce of blood in your body, you’re going to better know how to train someone than just some body pump instructor (taking in account that you have a good understanding of exercise physiology and biomechanics). You’re going to be able to explain how and what that person is going to be feeling because you’ve been there. That is going to make it a helluva lot easier on that person when he/she was explained, to a t, what he/she was going through.

The main problem is that there are very few people who have been THERE. Everytime you train, it should be a battle, you should either fail on some reps or come awfully close, it builds character. I think that most trainers (hell most individuals for that matter) lack training character.

I also believe that most females do not make good personal trainers. Females aren’t typically harsh enough on their clients and they allow them to use excuses to cut down the reps. I have seen that too many times to count. Don’t get me wrong, I have seen some bitchy ass female trainers (just the way I like em!).

Although I am certified by NASM, I didn’t really learn much from the certification. I mean, yes, I learned a bit more about postural distortion, but it was so incredibly basic I fell asleep on numerous occasions listening to the lecture on my cd course. I feel like I could turn any human being on this planet into what he/she wants to be just from the information I have absorbed from reading this website. I have absorbed so much nutritional information (I love Berardi’s principles) I could write anyone a nutritional plan and workout regime and damn near guarantee, with my life, that that person would get results.

Basically, what I’m getting at is you can throw me all the certifications in the world but that isn’t going to impress me one bit, that really doesn’t mean shit. To be a good trainer, or to be good at whatever it is that you are doing, you have to have real life applicability to what you’re saying and you have to of lived through some of what you’re preaching. You have to be able to look that person you are training or that task at hand in the eye and have the character to get the job done. You have to take all the technicalities you’ve learned, all the ‘mumbo jumbo’ my clients like to call it, and be able to individualize it for each of your clients. Anyone can memorize literature but only gifted individuals can put it to use and shape it into a morsal that even the most uneducated person could swallow.

I also believe that you have to want to be a trainer and have the heart to do whatever it takes to see that your client gets the results he/she is looking for. When you do something or say something with your heart, people know it and they believe in it/you.

Yeah, this post may not be grammatically correct, but I am pretty drunk right now…lol…Gin and tonic baby!!! I just got back from eating and drinking with one of my old clients who had a terrible lumbo-pelvic distortion, chronic back pains that his doctorS couldn’t solve but after he trained with me for a month the pains were nowhere to be found, lost 15% bodyfat, and lowered his cholesterol levels 200%, and gained 100 pounds on his bench press (which is now 335). Oh, did I forget to mention that he’s 52 years old and can now run two 7-minute miles? Sorry, but I just had to brag… I have modest certifications, but for all intents and purposes I am a diet consultant and a damn good personal trainer…

For the past 5 years of my life I have been pretty much stuck on being a dermatologist and for my first 3 years of college I have studied accordingly. But after tonight, after reading this thread and after hearing Tim spill his heart out to me and tell me how grateful he is to have met me and been able to train with me, that I am having second thoughts… I see a serious crossroad in my life right now… Thank you for starting this thread, I have some serious thinking to do right now. Water and niacin time too… Monday morning hangovers suck!T-M@tt