A great article was published in T Nation in regards to bad trainers. The article was insightful, thought-provoking, and direct. As good as it was, I feel it missed a lot of key aspects that make a trainer, “bad”. I hope to shine light on the most common areas that make a trainer terrible at their job. Before you dive in, here is the link if you would like to read the article I am referring to: http://www.t-nation.com/training/how-to-tell-when-a-trainer-sucks.
Before going forward, here is the reason why I chose to write this article– most trainers suck. I am not saying this with arrogance or a pompous tone. I am saying this based on my nine years of working with different trainers in a variety of different gyms. With that being said, here are the areas I feel put a trainer in the “suck” category:
1. Being late or not showing up to appointments
I mean, how hard is it to show up to a scheduled appointment? Apparently, extremely difficult for most trainers. To me, this is a clear sign of a trainer who doesn’t give a s***. A client is paying you to be there, offer an experience, and keep them accountable to their goals. If you cannot even make that appointment, how committed are you to your clients goals? If you are a client and your trainer is constantly late or worse, not showing up, fire their ass.
2. Recycling workouts
I see this more often than any other offense. A trainer gives every client the same exact workout; there is no individualization or planning. A workout not only needs to be specific towards a clients’ goals, but also to their abilities. Not everyone can do the same things and it’s irresponsible on the trainers’ behalf to assume so. When a client comes to see me, the first thing I do is assess what their current abilities are. After that, I design a workable program that consists of appropriate exercises for them. Recycling workouts usually occurs in the trainers who take on a boat load of clients, and are more into the money-making business rather than the helping- people business.
3. Getting too personal or making the session a social hour
As trainers, we have to draw our line in the sand and not allow people to cross them. To add to this point, we shouldn’t cross them either. I see trainers divulging their personal lives to their clientele all the time, and it makes me sick. The hour should be about them, and the purpose of the hour is getting the client to their goals. I am not saying you shouldn’t talk; there is nothing wrong with friendly conversation at the appropriate times. I am talking about the trainer talking about their relationships, the s***y day they are having, gossiping, and so on. These are the types of trainers who never get their clients to their goals. Instead, they bank on building relationships, not results.
Negligence is something I see in trainers who market themselves as experts, as though they are doctors. If you are not certified in massage, stop massaging your clients. If you are not certified in stretching or have not taken a class, stop stretching your clients (I will explain why in a bit). If you are not a health care provider or more specifically, a medical doctor, you should not be giving medical advice…..EVER!!!! Here is why. These are all specialties and require extensive training to be performed effectively and safely. I see trainers ramming their thumbs and tennis balls into clients’ muscles all the time, claiming it will help ease the tension. If you are not familiar with the orientation of muscles and the nerves that innervate them, you will do more harm than good. For example, I witnessed a trainer jamming a tennis ball in a clients rhomboid, for the sake of relieving tension. What the stupid a** didn’t realize is that the dorsal scapular nerve is right underneath the rhomboid, and he was running the risk of impinging the nerve. Secondly, I have witnessed trainers stretch their clients’ shoulders by holding them off the edge of the table with their arm hanging off to the side. The trainer proceeds to push the trailing arm towards to the floor. This is a horrible position for the shoulder joint to be in, considering the glenohumeral joint is more prone to anterior dislocation. Listen, there is nothing wrong with not knowing everything, but there is with claiming to.
5. No desire to learn
A gem I learned from Charles Poliquin is that you have to learn more to earn more. I have a passion for weight lifting, body building, and nutrition. I spend a lot of hours, dollars, and time attending seminars, reading books and listening to lectures. I also surround myself with people who do the same. I am passionate about what I do and I don’t think I will ever stop learning. A continuous thirst for knowledge is what makes a trainer valuable. Unfortunately, some trainers do not care to learn and are content with the little knowledge they have. They think what they know is the best way of doing things, and that anyone who questions them is dumb. These are usually the trainers who put down other trainers, because they are insecure about themselves. They spend most of their time trying to convince their clients they are the best, rather than showing them.
This article is not aimed at putting down anyone, it’s aimed at building awareness. If you are a trainer who happens to fall victim to the above faults, it is not too late. If you care about your clients, business, and integrity, you can still turn things around. Simply do the opposite things that a s***y trainer would do.