When most people take the bold step of committing to work with a fitness professional, they automatically assume that the fitness professional they choose to work with will have their best interest at heart, will lead them to their goals safely and effectively, is educated and up to date with the current fitness and nutrition-related research, and is certified. Unfortunately, in so many instances, this is not the case. A vast amount of the fitness professionals out there know little more than your average person on the street, and in many instances, much less. Working with them is putting your health and well-being in great peril and is wasting your hard earned money, as it is no secret that most fitness professionals do not come cheap.
Working with a top fitness professional is an incredible investment to your lifestyle, aesthetics, performance and health related goals, and overall mindset, and I will not hesitate to say that there are absolutely many great people to work with. However, it is much more common than not to encounter fitness professionals who are a danger to your overall health and well-being, or at least your pocketbook, so here are some key warning signs to look for when you are working with a fitness professional, or are in a process of selecting one:
Let me put this in very simple terms. Clients are not cookies. One recipe does not fit all. Perhaps due to pure laziness, lack of education, or downright incompetence, some fitness professionals train all of their clients exactly the same way. Regardless of their goals, fitness level, background, and special considerations, including biomechanical or physiological differences, past or current injuries, they put all of their clients through the same workouts. This is downright unacceptable, and is not conducive to helping people achieve top results, and stay healthy. If you notice that the fitness professional you are working with, or a prospective trainer, trains their clients this way, run for the hills and do not look back. Or at least call them on it and see how they respond.
Unfortunately, many trainers train their clients exactly the same way they train themselves. This might stem from complete laziness, lack of education, or utter cluelessness. I have witnessed some trainers who are bodybuilders and they treat all of their clients like they are preparing to compete in a show, regardless of their goals, fitness level, background, and unique considerations. I have witnessed other trainers who are runners, and who are working with people who are in dire need of getting stronger and more stable, and many of these people actually want to strengthen and develop their muscles. Unfortunately, the ‘’trainer’’ does nothing more than have them do painfully ineffective exercises like jogging up and down on a Bosu, shuffling through cones, running through agility ladders, or just doing endless cardio with them, and they do not even bother to address strength and stability. This demonstrates a sheer lack of knowledge on the fitness professionals part, and complete laziness and ineptitude. For the record, if somebody is a runner or not, they absolutely need to get strong and stable. In fact, many runners are notoriously weak, and as a result, experience an endless array of injuries, or at least chronic ones that do not go away. If you are working with somebody who trains you exactly the same way they train themselves, this is a huge red flag.
It is incredibly important that people perform exercises that align with their current fitness level, knowledge, biomechanical and physiological capabilities. To quote Tony Gentilcore, ‘’Coach = respects individual differences in goals, ability level, & anatomy rather than force ONE variation of lift to fit his/her ego.’’ If someone performs an exercise or workout that is too advanced for them, or that their body simply isn’t ready for, the results will be poor, and it will detrimental to their overall health. Unfortunately, some fitness professionals make this unacceptably common mistake due to a lack of knowledge, or they are a one trick pony and try to fit a square peg into a round hole, no matter what.
I used to work in the same facility as a trainer who made all of his clients do barbell squats, conventional deadlifts, and other exercises that they were not ready for. While these are great exercises, they are not great exercises for everybody. The end result was absolutely horrific form, and injury. What he should have done was select modified variations of the exercises, or chosen other exercises that addressed the same movement patterns. Using proper form 100% of the time is paramount to good results and staying healthy.
I will hazard a guess that many fitness professionals can’t even name the main foundational movement patterns. These movement patterns include squatting, lunging, hinging, pushing, pulling, and carrying. It is crucial that everybody develops the strength and ability to perform these movement patterns as they are vital to everyday living, improving performance, and even aesthetics. Failing to include all of these movement patterns in your clients workout programs will lead to poor performance, and will make them more susceptible to injuring themselves as they will be required to perform most of these movements on a daily basis, no matter what their background is.
As the saying goes, anybody can make you tired, but very few people can make you better. So many fitness professionals think that the more fatigued they make their client, the better. Shows like The Biggest Loser propagate this very harmful notion. Guess what, sweat, fatigue, and muscle soreness, are not a good indicator of the overall quality and effectiveness of a workout. Any schmoe can make you tired and sore. As a fitness professional, it is your job to make your clients stronger, able to move better, healthier, confident, and empowered. This is not achieved by running them into the ground, or making them so sore that they can’t sit down for a week. This is not a badge of honour, this is a badge of stupidity.
Jillian Michaels is a household name. Sadly, due to her notoriety, fitness professionals are often stereotyped as being verbally abusive drill sergeant’s who break their clients down. Guess what, this is total bullshit. This tactic is completely demeaning, it will not help people feel confident, empowered, or motivated, and it will definitely not lead to long lasting results. I can’t even count the number of occasions where I have had potential clients ask me if I would shout at them. Some actually wanted me to. Fuck no! If your trainer screams at you and does his or her best to emulate Jillian Michaels, look for a better alternative.
As far as I see it, no qualified or credible fitness professional will ever try to convince you to buy detoxes, cleanses, or supplements. If they do, send them packing. ‘’Professionals’’ who do this clearly lack morals, and are likely looking to line their wallet. Anyone who tries to push these on you shows that they lack the knowledge, credibility and smarts to lead you to your goals, and help you establish a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. Quick fixes, detoxes/cleanses, and other extreme workout or nutrition regimens do not work for the long haul and should be avoided like the plague, or perhaps in current times, the Zika virus.
The Bosu became popular in the 90’s. Back in the day, virtually everybody used them. People were jogging on them, squatting on them, and doing other theatrical circus acts on them. A lot of research has been done on this piece of equipment, and other unstable surfaces, and the conclusion is that training on unstable surfaces is actually counterproductive to improving overall strength, power, and even stability. Unfortunately, you still see many fitness professionals have their clients doing squats, push-ups, and virtually every exercise under the moon, on this glorified piece of rubber and plastic. This is a glaring sign that these fitness professionals are not up to date on the current research. This might stem from laziness, or perhaps the arrogance of thinking that they know absolutely everything. The best fitness professionals stay up to date on the current research, and also acknowledge that they do not know everything, which leads me to my next point.
Some fitness professionals believe that they know absolutely everything, and they have a ‘’my way or the highway mentality.’’ This bullheaded and juvenile mindset will negatively impact their clients, and will make them look like a dumbass in general. I am the first to admit that I know far from everything, and all of the good fitness professionals out there feel the same way. In fact, realizing that there is always something to learn makes my job exciting and more gratifying than ever.
It is incredibly common to see fitness professionals work well outside of their scope of practice. Some might massage their clients, act like a physio, or do other tasks are completely unacceptable for fitness professionals to do. Do not make this mistake. For one, it is negligent and illegal, secondly, even if nobody sues you, you can do so much harm. Back in the day, I used to work with a totally incompetent trainer who would actually mobilize his clients necks as they were all stiff and sore due to his extremely poor quality of training. This is probably the worst thing I have seen to date, but I have seen so many people venture outside of their scope of practice. Learn what you are legally qualified to do, and refer out when necessary. In fact, establishing relationships with other professionals can be extremely beneficial to your overall business. Do not try to be a superhero, do your job, and that’s it.
Many fitness professionals look at other fellow fitness professionals as competition. Many feel threatened by the success and knowledge of others, and go well out of their way to conceal the wealth of knowledge that other people possess. Fitness professionals who behave in this manner are doing their clients a huge disservice. In order to provide the best service possible, complimenting what you know with the vast amount of information that is out there is the best way to educate and empower your clients, and help them succeed.
Let’s face it, it is important to give our clients what they want. However, many fitness professionals totally abandon their values and philosophies to totally cater to the wants of their clients, even when these wants are counterproductive, and this is not good. Speaking from my own experiences, many of the clients that I currently work with, or have worked with, have trained with other professionals in the past, or have done different workout DVDs. Quite a few years ago, I had a client tell me that she wanted to do similar exercises to a Jillian Michaels workout DVD. In fact, she was adamant. Rather then cave and do something that I did not believe in it all and sell my soul in the process, I explained to her why I would not run her through these exercises, and I showed her a much better alternative. She ended up being extremely happy. Do not sell yourself out just to please someone. While losing a paying client is never a good option, sometimes it is better to have that happen than sacrifice what you believe in just for a paycheck. You want to work with people who value you.
While I am first to say that most fitness certifications are absolutely useless and do little to nothing to verify that a fitness professional has what it takes to lead you to your goals in a safe and effective manner, not being certified shows extreme irresponsibility and negligence, and is a huge red flag. Make sure that the person you choose to work with is in fact certified, and from a reputable organization. There are many certifications that exist where a person can take an online course that can be completed in a few hours tops, or a day. National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), American Council On Exercise (ACE), International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), and the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) are a few of the more credible certifications out there, but like I said, just because somebody is certified does not mean that they are qualified to lead you to your goals.
To conclude, working with a fitness professional is an investment that should pay huge dividends to your overall health, performance, mindset, and lifestyle. You notice how I used the word should instead of will. Unfortunately, while there are some outstanding fitness professionals out there, the industry as a whole is still a totally unregulated shit show. When you are looking to hire a fitness professional, or are currently working with one, this is a pretty good checklist to follow. While of course there are some other key mistakes that fitness professionals make, these are some very glaring ones. Do your due diligence as your results, including your mental and physical well-being absolutely depend on it.
is a personal trainer in Vancouver, Canada. She has close to 13 years of experience coaching a wide array of clients, ranging from the elite athlete, to post-physical therapy rehabilitative strength training, to the everyday person who is looking to feel, perform, and function at a higher level. Meghan has an extensive athletic background and has played soccer for 26 years, and also grew up playing ice hockey and baseball on boys teams.
Meghan is incredibly passionate about helping her clients, especially females, strive to make themselves more, and feel confident, empowered, and powerful, as society continues to tell women that they should look and act a certain way, and essentially make themselves less. Like so many women, Meghan battled this unhealthy mindset for years, so her mission is to educate and empower all of her clients, and help them establish a lifestyle that makes them feel confident, happy, strong, and vibrant.
Meghan was in a bad car accident when she was 28, and this led to 5+ years of severe body issues/dysfunctions. Despite many low points and moments of doubt, Meghan persevered until she found a solution, and learned a tremendous amount about herself in the process. Going through this ordeal made Meghan appreciate her health and simply the ability to feel good more than ever.
Read more about Meghan at www.meghancallawayfitness.com