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My Worst Personal Training Experience Ever--and What You Can Learn from It

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
8/9/2010 10:09 AM   :  209 comments   :  33,084 Views

Last month, I joined a new gym. (So did my boyfriend, and we hope to work out together more often.) Each new member is offered one free session with a personal trainer.

The reason I wanted to join a gym is because although I exercise regularly--I run three times a week and practice yoga most days--I (gulp) skimp on strength training. Though I do build strength with yoga, I know I need to add some cross-training to my regimen. My excuse: I'm busy! But, by rejoining a gym, I have committed to strength training at least twice a week. So far, I've stuck with that goal.

I arrived at the gym, ready to work out. The trainer started with a fitness assessment. My body fat had dropped a half-percent since April (yay!), and my weight was about four pounds higher (I was wearing shoes, but I haven't been running as much in this heat). I felt pretty good about myself. And then we started talking…

The trainer asked me a little about my fitness background:

"Well, I haven't been to a gym since last fall…"

"Last fall?" he asked, his brow furrowing.

"Yes, but I'm a yoga instructor and I've been training for various races. Between running and yoga, I didn't need a gym. I work out at least five days a week."

Trainer wasn't pleased, but he moved on.

"Why aren’t you in the best shape of your life?" he asked.

I cleared my throat, contemplating my answer.

I am in the best shape of my life. I'm not the thinnest I've ever been, but I'm definitely the strongest. I ran a half marathon three months ago, and I'm starting to train for my second one. My shoulders and arms are getting stronger and more defined, and I just feel good.

"What's keeping you from reaching your fullest potential? What's your weakness?" he asked before I could respond.

"I like a glass of wine with dinner," I said. "I like good food. I eat right, but I eat."

"Well, it sounds like nutrition is an issue for you."

"Actually, I'm a vegetarian who cooks mostly from scratch. I work for a healthy living website, and nutrition is one of the topics I cover. I eat when I'm hungry, but I eat pretty healthy most of the time."

He changed gears.

"Let's look at your body fat percentage."

He pulled out a chart.

"Yours is here," he said, pointing to his chart's section for above average. I looked more closely at the chart. I'm familiar with the categories for body fat percentages, and the gym's chart was off. According to the American Council on Exercise, a woman with 21%-24% body fat is in the "fitness" range; 14%-20% is "athlete" range. ACE tells me I'm in "fitness" range; the gym tells me I'm "above average."

"We want to get you here," he said, indicating the "fit" range on his chart, which started much lower than the ACE chart. "Now let's get started."

He called over another trainer, who started my workout.

For 25 minutes, the trainer led me through a series of exercises that pushed my limits. Full pushups to plank to forearm planks, several kettlebell exercises, more squat than I care to remember, and several straight-leg abs exercises.

Just halfway through the workout, when the trainer was checking his phone instead of checking my form, I knew that this would be the first and the last workout I would do with him. (Better to break up with a trainer sooner rather than later!) I couldn’t wait to get to work today to tell Coach Nicole all about this workout--there were so many things he did that would have made her cringe!

From giving me no instruction on kettlebells to asking me to go way too low in squats, then focusing on abs exercises that--I repeatedly told him--compromised my lower back by forcing it off the mat, I knew I had a blog post in the making.

I will continue to go to the gym, but I will look to other fitness professionals (and our Exercise Demos) to help me integrate strength training into my routine.

Not only is my body in the best shape of its life, but so is my mind. I'm confident about my body, and I accept my flaws. I will never have a bikini-ready belly, and I'm OK with that. I love myself, and anyone who tries to tear me down--even for the sake of "toning me up"--has no place in my life. I could have much lower body fat if I spent more time in the gym or restricted my eating. I don't want to do either of those things. I eat right, exercise regularly, and I'm at a happy weight.

Let my experience be a lesson for you.

1. Don't let anyone try to deflate your self-esteem. Regardless of your fitness and health goals, your self-worth is not determined by a number on the scale or your body fat percentage. If a trainer doesn't respect the hard work you're doing to reach your goal, find someone who does!

2. A trainer is not a dietitian, a therapist, or a pharmacist. Know what they can recommend and what they can't. (Learn more about what to look for in a trainer.)

3. Don't be afraid to say no. I knew heading into my "free" session that the trainer would try to sell me a year's worth of sessions. Though I told him early on that I usually work out at least five days a week, he tried to tell me I wasn't committed to fitness. I thanked him for his time and told him I didn't want any sessions. "You won't be back," he said. Um, to the gym, yes. To you, no.

Trainers can be a valuable resource along the road to a healthier you, and I know people who credit theirs in large part for their success. My experience was, I hope, a rare one. I don't want to single out one person or one gym (I won't name names), but I hope you'll remember my experience when you're out shopping for a gym or a trainer. A few years ago, when I first tried to lose weight, I went to gym that offered a free session every three months. The trainers there were wonderful, and I wish I could have afforded regular sessions because then, unlike now, I needed the motivation. (Take our quiz: Do You Need a Personal Trainer?)

Have you ever used a personal trainer? What results did you achieve? What would you have done if you were me?


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Comments

  • GOLDIESPARK
    209
    I have two experiences with trainers. 12 years ago, I worked with a personal trainer for over a year. Scott encouraged me, pushed me, motivated me--he was understanding when health issues I deal with interfered, but he was also sensitive to know when I really just needed a push. Although active as a child, I have always fought the weight battle. Running was something I did for short bursts due to exercise induced asthma. But he worked with me with me, on the treadmill and on a trail next to the gym, and bit by bit he got me to the point where I could run for longer. He then stated "You are going to run the St Pat's 5K, you will not walk and I will do it with you to make sure you don't." Needless to say, he did, and I ran the whole thing--coming to the finish line was such an exhilarating feeling!! And it was all thanks to Scott. With his encouragement, I also did other races, did spinning, did bike races, even won a few medals. And when I would report my results to him, he was always excited for me. Unfortunately due to finances, I had to stop the training, and then the gym too. (hubby had lost job--I didn't make enough to continue). About a year later, I tore my meniscus in my knee and had to have surgery. After that, with residual pain in the knee, I got out of the exercise habit, became a couch potato and gained lots of weight. After several half-hearted attempts at losing and exercising, I am now motivated again. Thru Facebook I got hooked up with a virtual 5k group, got started on a couch to 5K plan and hubby and I joined a gym (new state). I took advantage of the free session and Nick was great--he set me up with a weight routine and was impressed with my knowledge of the machines and techniques. Every time I go to the gym, if I see him, he asks how I am doing, encourages me, gives me a high - 12/13/2012   11:35:04 AM
  • 208
    I loved your article, it really brought home a few of my favorite gripes lately. It seems no matter where I go, people are too concerned with a "close the sale" attitude and not listening to the consumer. I feel like I need to research every little thing, every single time I take out my wallet! A little sales compassion would go a long way!

    Also, when did people stop listening? It's really become a lost art! That trainer obviously did not listen to you or you weren't giving him the answers he was trained to say. Sounds like a trained parrot could have given you the same workout, except more entertaining! - 6/7/2011   1:26:27 PM
  • GRAMMIEOFTWO
    207
    Last week I was at the Y and one of the trainers was working with a client and her son. I feel he pushs people too hard but I never interfere. I was on the elliptical and he put her and her son on the elliptical. She looked over at me and said I was really good at it. I said in my opinion she should start out on the treadmill. The trainer asked why and I told him you have to crawl before you can walk. I noticed the other day her and her son were on the treadmill. I was very pleased. I am not a trainer and I don't pretend to be but I think when someone is struggling with an exercise, maybe the trainer should rethink his strategie. - 5/8/2011   3:48:48 PM
  • 206
    My gym also offers free sessions every 8 weeks with trainers. So far, those experiences have been positive and I wish I could afford to pay for sessions. Recently though, I returned to the gym after taking a hiatus due to a back injury. I was greeted by the trainer who usually does my sessions and after hearing how long I had been out of the gym not very tactfully or kindly said, "I hate to say it, but I can tell." Not very encouraging at all. - 11/13/2010   5:36:22 AM
  • 205
    I signed up for some sessions with a personal trainer a few years ago - I told the gym I needed help with motivation. So what happens on the first day at 7am ??- she didn't show up! Well, I didn't go back to the gym after that, but I did get my personal trainer money back.

    I signed up for 6 sessions with a personal trainer this morning - at a new gym. We'll see... I'm still unmotivated and very skeptical. - 9/9/2010   5:06:57 PM
  • 204
    I would send a copy of your blog to his "boss" and let the boss know that "listening, as well as recommending action" is the trainer's job. It is obvious to me the personal trainer had his ears closed... and the gym needs to update their charts! - 9/2/2010   12:17:19 PM
  • 203
    I use personal trainers at my local Y. I’ve never had a bad experience. My trainers push me. They all offer something unique. Sometimes, hearing instructions in a different way from a different person makes things click. I am so sorry to hear of your disappointment in trainers. - 8/23/2010   9:21:14 AM
  • KEMCNAIR
    202
    "Not only is my body in the best shape of its life, but so is my mind. I'm confident about my body, and I accept my flaws. I will never have a bikini-ready belly, and I'm OK with that. I love myself, and anyone who tries to tear me down--even for the sake of "toning me up"--has no place in my life."

    This is a great sentiment! I love me too! - 8/14/2010   11:07:37 AM
  • 201
    Wow, this happenend to me as well.
    The Manager of the trainers started off our session with the health assessment, No Stretching, Few Minutes on a treadmill, then a few exercises. Most of the exercises were for my legs. My goal was to see how the gym equipment worked, and discuss a few exercises for beginners. - 8/14/2010   7:58:35 AM
  • 200
    I've had good luck with several trainers, but there have been a few where I've said "no thanks." Not sure if anyone else suggested this, but going into the gym with an idea of what you wanted to do (which you did) and the terms on which you would work has been helpful. If they won't do it MY way, then no deal.

    For me, I want a workout that I'll follow on my own for a month - which we'll do together the first time so they can watch my form, a general discussion on my diet (with action steps and accountability), and encouragement. If a trainer tries to get me to work out with them several times per week, I just say no and find someone else. Even within the same gym there are gems and duds.

    Good luck! - 8/13/2010   11:07:06 PM
  • 199
    the WORST i've ever seen was a 4th grader i watched--her mother was overly concerned about her own looks and when her daughter started getting a little round(but she was VERY active--parents tempted her constantly with sweets and less-than-healthy foods) ...anyway, mom went to a trainer, so she took daughter to SAME trainer who had NO certification with children and started her with WEIGHTS!!! it drove me nuts--sooooooo many injuries can happen to children with weight training--especially with poor guidance/form...and this was one of those boutique-style EXPENSIVE gyms...very exclusive--yeah, only people with money(lots) and are willing to check brain at the door...and HOW do we convince those not just wasting money, but very possibly harming their own kids? very frustrating... - 8/13/2010   10:13:25 PM
  • 198
    This is informative, as I am starting training sessions in the next week. I hope you reported his unprofessional behavior to the gym manager. Even though you know better his next client may not and it may mean that they leave the gym, and as he said, "Never come back." That would be a shame. - 8/13/2010   5:05:22 PM
  • SVENJAH
    197
    Congratulations for being aware, self-assured, and confident about yourself and your own health! - 8/13/2010   2:41:40 PM
  • POODLEMAMA38
    196
    I go to a gym where 70% of the personal trainers are not fit looking at all. It seems they are just there to try and pick up girls and hang out. When I watch them during a session they are on their phones and not paying attention to their clients. I am not paying money for that! - 8/13/2010   2:19:28 PM
  • 195
    The one personal trainer at our local Y (I live in a small town) is pudgy. For that reason I won't ever pay to use his services. I'm trying to not look like him. - 8/13/2010   11:07:31 AM
  • 194
    Egads! That experience surely would have put me off of personal trainers, too! Fortunately, I have had the opposite experience. My gym, which does month-to-month memeberships, gives you three sessions when you join. I had never had a pt before but always wanted to try it. They head trainer pairs you up with different trainers based upon your personality and goals. I got a "girl" almost 15 years younger than me who had an amazing body, and the intelligence and personality that when she looked at an 80lb overweight mom of three she saw the potential I had. I don't need much in the way of encouragement, but she kept me accountable with weekly weigh-ins, corrected my form, and when an exercise was uncomfortable, in the bad way, would change or adapt it.

    She left to go back for a teaching degree so I'm doing things on my own until I find someone else who will help me to meet my goals. - 8/13/2010   6:50:28 AM
  • 193
    I now have a permanent distrust of gyms and personal training programs. A few months ago I made the mistake of signing up for a gym membership and a years worth of personal training sessions. The free session was all well and good, the person in charge of the training program really knew her stuff. But then she handed me off to Steven. A man who was more interested in chatting than instructing and texting than watching my form (is this a common problem?) which led me to throw out my lower back, a problem that still persists (i cant sit in certain chairs or certain positions for any extended period of time. it's a serious issue that I'm having a doctor look at next week, the pain's almsot unmanagable.) - 8/13/2010   3:08:09 AM
  • 192
    hi, wow I am so greatful that yo put this blog on. I am a personal trainer myself and I really know what you mean when the trainer is so distracted that they cannot be bothered about how you are feeling or what your goals are.
    First of all, if you are there, to get started in any kind of shape, then it is to be congratulated and encouraged. Then het should not have split the transaction and given you someone else to train you after he "assessed" you.
    What is the use of trying to build a report with someone and making them understand you so that you can work with them if they send you off to be killed by someone else.
    Now the therapist situation is something that I sometimes struggled with as a PT, because I am a therapist on other days... what I have realise is that depending ont he client, some really need more therapy than exercise and they often need more encouragement than others. However if you are training for marathon's then therapy is obviously not the aim. All I can say is this whole bad experience you had is what I combat all day, because people tend to think all PT's have no clue of what they are doing. Anyway, I love my job and my clients and hope you find a person that takes your goals seriously. - 8/12/2010   9:59:26 PM
  • 191
    hi, wow I am so greatful that yo put this blog on. I am a personal trainer myself and I really know what you mean when the trainer is so distracted that they cannot be bothered about how you are feeling or what your goals are.
    First of all, if you are there, to get started in any kind of shape, then it is to be congratulated and encouraged. Then het should not have split the transaction and given you someone else to train you after he "assessed" you.
    What is the use of trying to build a report with someone and making them understand you so that you can work with them if they send you off to be killed by someone else.
    Now the therapist situation is something that I sometimes struggled with as a PT, because I am a therapist on other days... what I have realise is that depending ont he client, some really need more therapy than exercise and they often need more encouragement than others. However if you are training for marathon's then therapy is obviously not the aim. All I can say is this whole bad experience you had is what I combat all day, because people tend to think all PT's have no clue of what they are doing. Anyway, I love my job and my clients and hope you find a person that takes your goals seriously. - 8/12/2010   9:59:24 PM
  • 190
    I am a new personal trainer and that is no way to treat a client. I would recommend that you look for someone with a NASM certification. Not that ACE or any other certification aren't good. NASM focuses mostly on core, balance and strength. You just can't get into shape without first getting the basics. It's a hard certification to pass and requires a lot of time and dedication. - 8/12/2010   8:50:33 PM
  • 189
    Not the typical trainer. Mine is fabulous. Best way to pick one - word of mouth, ask around. A trainer should always pay 100% attention to their client AND understand their physical limitations, but also be able to decide what is a mental barrier vs. a physical barrier. Find another... there are awesome trainers available to you. Wouldn't trade mine for the world. - 8/12/2010   6:11:24 PM
  • CREINBERG
    188
    I am a personal trainer and I take my job very seriously. My passion is in helping people achieve their goals, become healthier, and happier. I get so frustrated and angry when I see trainers treating their clients poorly and not giving them the encouragement, respect, and attention that they deserve.
    I give 100% of my attention to my clients and I make myself available to them 24/7 as they are paying me for my services. It is their money, committment, lifestyle, and their body so they get the final say. Please do not let a bad experience turn you away from trainers! You must be smart. Do your research, use referrals, and listen to your guy instincts just like you would when choosing a doctor or other health care professional.

    Remember "The greatest wealth is health!"

    - 8/12/2010   1:39:27 PM
  • 187
    This story has made me so angry! Good for you for not letting him get you down. - 8/12/2010   11:56:17 AM
  • 186
    I love my trainer. I have been with him for 3 years. Not that I need the instruction any more, but I know I push myself harder WITH him than without.

    I'd say, since you have committed by joining a gym, go at different hours and just watch the different trainers there, if you still think you might want or need to work with someone. Maybe you won't, since you'll be with your boyfriend. I went through 3 different trainers before I found "mine." Don't feel bad about switching. Sometimes people just don't mesh, and you are not "theirs."

    Good luck at the gym! - 8/12/2010   10:24:41 AM
  • 185
    Wow, I'm so sorry to hear about your experience. I have had two experiences with personal trainers... the first was great. I got a free session when I joined my gym and the guy was awesome and not too pushy with the sales pitch. I have been working out for years and years and really just wanted the session to get familiar with the new gym, and he respected that.

    The second experience was at the same gym. They were doing free body fat testing. I suppose they thought people would be so horrified at their BF% that they would sign up for personal training on the spot. My % falles into the "athlete" range, but the trainer was looking at the %'s for men and insisted, repeatedly, that I was average (may have even been above average). I kept pointing out that he was looking at the male side of the scale but he was deaf to me! - 8/11/2010   3:31:12 PM
  • 184
    I've had both experiences (but my bad was no where NEAR as bad as your experience, thankfully). One trainer, it was like it was her joy to do what she could to HELP me and I do mean that. Another trainer, well, she basically was doing me a favor by even speaking with me (her opinion, not mine).

    Guess it's like everything else - good and bad apples in that barrel and you just have to be careful which one you pick!! - 8/11/2010   3:04:00 PM
  • 183
    Great article. Too bad that all a person has to do to be a trainer is pass a test. - 8/11/2010   2:36:11 PM
  • 182
    I've thought about a trainer for a short time to get some new exercises, but I watch some of them at the gym I go to and if I did some of the stuff they do, I wouldn't be able to get off the floor. I'm also too independent :) I don't like "classes" because I want to do my own thing. I really appreciate the videos on SP because they show me how to do things properly and I'm old enough to know what I can and can't do with some of the physical limitations I have (lower back issues). Thanks for the insight. - 8/11/2010   2:22:53 PM
  • 181
    I have been working with a personal trainer since mid-June and while he has done a good job of pushing me in my sessions, I also think that he has unrealistic expectations of life. Several weeks ago, my sister was married. Bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, wedding, gift opening brunch, I knew I was going to gain. He told me to eat lots of fruit and veggies, no white bread, and stay away from any sweets. Okay, I am all about avoiding dessert on a regular basis, but I had a few too many other things to worry about to worry about counting calories. I wasn't going to write down my food in my food journal because I was too busy setting up, keeping my toddler in line, and being a part of the ceremony. I lost 2/10 of a pound and I was so happy I didn't gain, but he was disappointed that I didn't follow my meal plan to a T...so now, if I have an event come up, I just don't write it down for him, I just write down what he wants to see, and I've not seen a negative reaction since.

    I like how others have reminded us that personal trainers are not dieticians. Mine is certified and has a degree in athletic training but I know at a lot of bigger gyms it really is a one-size-fits-all approach and that's too bad. - 8/11/2010   1:30:27 PM
  • 180
    Good and bad of everything - don't be afraid to speak up though is my only addition to this - even a "free session" really isn't ! It's part of your membership fee....if you are not getting what your paying for ask for your money back or a nother trainer ..and more importantly if what they are asking you to do isn't safe - stop! - 8/11/2010   9:47:37 AM
  • 179
    This sounds so frighteningly similar to my first (and only!) experience with a personal trainer, although I certainly wasn't the most fit I had been in my life.

    From the start I felt that the young man was condescending and more interested in strutting his stuff than in helping anybody - much less an older woman. He might have taken a different tone with me if I had been 25.

    Early in the interview he asked about my fitness activities. I told him that I walked 4 miles 3 times a week, did some cardio tapes at home and practiced yoga every day and sometimes twice a day. He sort of chuckled and said, "Yoga isn't exercise. It's just stretching." Hello? We were not off to a good start.

    During the nutrition part of the conversaton, he asked how often I eat fast food. I told him that I rarely eat fast food and had not eaten that stuff for years. He said, "Yeah, right." and moved on. He was really ticking me off.

    The nail in the coffin, so to speak, was when he set me up on a machine to lift weights with my ankles. I gave it a try, but after a couple of reps, it was clearly not going to work out for me. I explained to him that I have titanium plates and screws in my left leg just above the ankle and that the bar for the weights put too much pressure on one of the screws, making it very painful to try to lift. Instead of offering an alternative exercise that would have much the same benefits without the pain and risk of tissue damage, he told me that I should do more reps with just the painful leg to strengthen it. Okay...well, it wasn't about the level of strength in that leg, it was about having the weight pressing against a screw.

    Of course, he tried to sell me a year's worth of sessions. When I didn't go for that, he tried to sell me a 3-month package. When I explained that I had never belonged to a gym before and that I wanted to see if working out there would fit my schedule and be enjoyable for me, he rolled his eyes and said, "You just want an excuse to be lazy about it." That didn't stop him from trying to sell me a 6-session package for $200. When I declined that, he said, "Well, I can't help you if you dont' want to help yourself" and walked away.

    Not only did he put me off personal trainers, he dampened my enthusiasm for going to the gym to add more cardio and strength training. - 8/11/2010   9:11:16 AM
  • 178
    These rules apply to your family doctor. Mine was completely against me!!! Never positive about my changes and what I was doing right. I moved on - never saw her again - 8/11/2010   8:21:21 AM
  • 177
    I had a similar experience when I signed up for my gym in April. My son was only 4 months old at the time, I was committed to start losing the baby weight. Had specific goals in mind and all he managed to do was make me feel like I was a fat, lazy mother that didn't really try hard enough. He didn't listen to any of my goals, he just handed me off to another trainer and I overheard another trainer tell him to make sure I was okay to work out. the young man that tried to train me had me doing things that my body was clearly not ready for. Then he tried to sell me some more sessions. I declined and never tried to sign up for my second free session. I was humiliated and angry that they felt they could treat me like that. I have sinced unjoined the gym. I find every excuse not to go. I didn't like it and I will find a better gym somewhere else. I have been doing better at home. - 8/11/2010   7:45:26 AM
  • 176
    Sorry you had a bad experience, don't let it put you off the gym.

    Personal trainers can be more interested in themselves than the client and think they know best! Clearly with you they don't.

    Good luck on a better experience next time.
    - 8/11/2010   2:56:17 AM
  • TERRI20102012
    175
    I think you're a wuuss..seriously - and no turning back...you are a wuuss!! .I love when my trainer pushes me past what I think I can do..that's what they're there for....I lost 44 lbs in 12 weeks and I thank God and my trainers for it! They changed my life. They made me know that I can be in charge of my life ...but on the other hand.....I'm really not in charge of my life cause, my trainer is in charge of my life!!! - 8/10/2010   10:30:06 PM
  • 174
    Sounds like the trainer - and the gym apparently - were out to make a sale. They made jabs at your self-esteem and your fitness level to make you feel bad to pressure you into buying training sessions. Too bad for them - and good for you - that his crap didn't work.

    I was really happy with the gym I went to before I got pregnant (then I got lazy and then I had a baby and can barely leave the house - I run and do videos at home now) - they were no pressure, very positive, and VERY affordable. They were the complete opposite of the vibe that you seemed to get from Mr. Jerk-Trainer. - 8/10/2010   9:55:16 PM
  • 173
    What kind of training does a person have in order to be called a "personal trainer"? Do they take classes or go to a special school?
    This was a great article and opens my eyes to just what a novice would experience. Luckily, you knew a lot about the subject. - 8/10/2010   9:03:24 PM
  • 172
    I am so sorry you had such a horrible experience. But I got to tell you, that's how it's done if you are only going to be there for just one session. Generally, if a person is really interested, they have to be committed to two things: 1) is the money you will fork out for a good trainer, it's not cheap by any means; 2) to get to know your trainer, discuss your goals, share your physical limitations, and be willing to go the extra mile in training and not complain! After all, you are there to take advantage of their expertise. But you need to be wise about what is safe and what is not safe in doing exercises which they recommend. I just finished my last session today with a personal trainer. I had worked with her for 18 weeks. I found out that I have an issue with my back and was recommended by my chiropractor not to ever do crunches. As a matter of fact, he said no one should do crunches because it was the worst thing for the spine. Akin to taking a coat hanger and bending it back & forth until it breaks. I told my personal trainer, (lady), that crunches were out of the question. Then at a future session she wanted me to do crunches on the stability ball which is where I have done them before, but I told her not that I was not going to do ANY crunches anywhere. She asked me again, and again I told her no. So that was that. We moved on to some other exercise which I could do. But you need to be wise about your health and don't be afraid to speak up for yourself. You can do it in a nice way. But if your instructor wants repeat business, then they will generally bend over backwards to work with you because word of mouth is a whole lot stronger when it comes to generating more clientele. As a result, my personal trainer and I were able to move forward and we had a very good rapport. I will miss her. But have the opportunity to check in with her like every 6 to 8 weeks to fine tune what I am doing and will continue to do, put to use all the exercises and information which she had instilled in me in the past 18 weeks. But mind you, I will pay for even that. So decide a head of time if that is what you want to do, just like eating clean & exercising, then put your mind to it and then do it. If you are going to complain when they push you to do more so that you can become stronger, and hopefully lose weight, then you would be better off not hiring a personal trainer at all and save yourself some money. I truly hope that this helps you as well as others. - 8/10/2010   8:56:49 PM
  • 171
    Great article - 8/10/2010   8:52:53 PM
  • RAYMONDWEBSTER
    170
    I constantly refer to Spart People for new exercises and routines. I live in a university city where many of the personal trainers are in their young 20's and use a one size fits all approach to whomever they are working with, regardless of the person's unique needs and personal characteristics. - 8/10/2010   8:52:04 PM
  • 169
    Thank you for sharing all that valuable information. For many years I did not use the services of a personnal trainer. I had friends with enough experience who could help me create a program to maximise my results at the gym. I resumed my training at the gym early this winter and found myself getting lost and exhausted trying to create a program for myself. I was reluctant to hire someone from the gym because I doubted how competent they really could be. I wondered if it was a scam, just trying to sell costly programs to people. I finally gave it a try. I clearly stated what my goals were as well as my expectations of the trainer's training, competence and experience. I wanted someone to take me to the next level but that would be respectfull of my needs and wants. I can say that I was blessed to find a pearl. The guy is a true athlete not a gym bodybuilder. He has a healthy approach to exercise, relies on the canadian food guide for healthy eating and does not promote artificial supplements. He is convinced that an intense gym session should be followed by equally intense rest and recuperation. Finaqlly, he is very creative with exercise programs so I get to train upper, core and lower body in a balanced way. I am very pleased with the results I am getting from my program. My trainer is definitely a healthy source of motivation and inspiration. He walks his talk and it shows in his body, his mind and his soul. Good luck if you are looking for someone to support you in that way. I am completely in agreement with the fact a trainer should raise your slef esteem not bring it down. - 8/10/2010   8:00:07 PM
  • STRETCHINGFAN
    168
    My experience was mixed: great workouts, bad diet advice.

    I have had some wonderful personal trainers who paid attention to my limitations and explained how to adjust my workouts accordingly. For example, doing walking lunges next to a wall so I could steady myself as needed, or doing chair squats so I would not go down too far. I get muscle cramps very easily and my trainers would help me work out the cramp then return to the exercise.

    However, the trainers did have delusions of nutrition knowledge, and would not listen when I explained that I have a lot of foods I need to avoid. At the time, I did not know that my problems were because of gluten and dairy. The program the trainer designed had a twice a day snack of crackers and cheese (even specifying the brand of cracker), both of which I now know cause me to bloat (I can gain 5 pounds in one day if I eat wheat crackers and cow cheese just once). We had some serious disagreement about the workability of the gym's nutrition plan.

    If you DO try a gym's plan, and you stick to it and still don't lose, talk to a professional with dietary knowledge, such as your doctor or a nutritionist. A personal trainer may not be able to troublshoot dietary issues.

    I have since had some discussions with my doctor about what happened. Among other things, I learned that one of my medications causes low potassium, hence the cramps. And I have at least stopped gaining since I cut out the cow dairy and wheat. - 8/10/2010   5:46:56 PM
  • 167
    My only experience with a trainer was about half positive half negative. I loved the way he pushed me and the way I physically felt after working out. However, he really was pushing calorie counting on me, and at the time I was not ready to calorie count. I was pretty honest about how calorie counting led me to calorie deprivation (basically I would get worked up over it and then try to limit to under 800 or so per day), and I really wanted to focus on the fitness side first. He pushed and pushed, and I ended up skipping my last sessions (expensive sessions!) because of it. Then I stopped going to that gym because I felt guilty any time I saw him!
    Luckily, I am ok with counting calories now, but not then. A good trainer knows how to LISTEN!! - 8/10/2010   4:26:35 PM
  • 166
    I had a similar experience. The person who gave me my body assessment was rude like that too. I was so annoyed that I didn't even want to work out afterward. Then I rarely went to the gym after that since I had such a bad experience, even though I had paid for a membership! - 8/10/2010   4:01:40 PM
  • 165
    I'm so sorry about your experience, but I see similar situations everytime I go to the gym. Personal trainers working out someone for the first time way too hard, using bad body mechanics, using exercises that are clearly unsafe for the person's abilities. I'm a physical therapist and I cringe when I watch the "trainers" at the gym that I go to. In general, personal trainers don't have to have any training, licensure, or certification. They are not monitored at all in my state. There are some really great personal trainers out there, but it's important to keep in mind that they are trainers, not therapists. They cannot treat injuries, although many try to.

    What made me completely blow a fuse was the day that the personal trainer was wearing a name badge with "PT" after his name. I have a license and a degree to practice PT. In addition, I am in the process of completing a doctorate degree and have to complete 30 hours of continuing education to maintain my license...I've spoken to the trainers and managers about my concerns. Unfortunately, it's mostly fallen on deaf ears. Maybe that's because I don't look like a trainer with bulging biceps and pecs. But, muscles don't necessarily indicate knowledge....

    Anyway, enough of my ranting....my advice is to interview your potential trainer, find out what kind of training he or she has, talk about your goals and your expectations, and if you are uncomfortable with what is going on during your session speak up. Remember, you are PAYING for the service that a personal trainer provides....

    Finally, if you are injured or have complicated medical issues, seek out assistance from physical therapist (PT) or even a certified athletic trainer (ATC) who specializes in your injury or sport.

    - 8/10/2010   2:08:19 PM
  • SUGARSMOM2
    164
    sometimes free is not free . you pay in what mistakes they make with harm to your body . You only get one body in life . no new bodies to have at least not without you working on it right . - 8/10/2010   12:33:47 PM
  • 163
    this was an interesting read. I have heard of trainers who are like this, and if I were you... I would have said exactly the same thing!!! Kudos to you!

    I had an awesome trainer for a while, actually trainers and I still remember everything they told me. Husband and wife team, great people, and they really knew their stuff. If I told you his list of credentials, well, it would just amaze you. Not going to do that cuz he is kind of a private person. I had known both of them for some time but when I went to the gym, walked into his office saw it wallpapered with phots of him with people you just would never imagine that he could possibly know... I was dumb-struck, the mouth fell open, and I finally regained my composure and said Wayne... and I just motioned to his collection. the walls were literally covered. He said, ya, people I have encountered in my work. That was it! Talk about humble! BEST TRAINERS I HAVE EVER HAD! He and his wife really know their stuff! - 8/10/2010   12:26:24 PM
  • 162
    I had a great session with a personal trainer. It was free, and I was so surprised that she didn't try and give me any sales pitch at all! I asked for a routine I could do on my own, and that's exactly what she gave me, plus a lot of encouragement! I say trust your instincts--I've had a lot of great experiences at my gym (the only instructors I haven't liked have been the substitutes) so I thought it'd be pretty likely that I'd like their trainers, and I feel comfortable enough there that I know if I had a bad experience I could talk to the front desk about it. Trust your instincts. - 8/10/2010   12:05:59 PM
  • 161
    I just had a very similar experience (and was thinking about blogging about it)! I joined a new gym about two weeks ago and went to my free personal trainer session. I told her I was training for the Portland 1/2 marathon, and she gave me the once over and asked if it was my first. No, it will be my seventh. "So you are more of a trotter?" I should have left right then! She proceeded to put me through 45 minutes of horrible and inappropriate leg strength training (to help my running speed). I couldn't run for two days after! While I go to the gym regularly now, if I ever decide to purchase personal training sessions, it won't be with her! - 8/10/2010   11:57:43 AM
  • 160
    I'm sorry for you!!! I have had a personal trainer for 4 years. I love him! He started training my son for football, since I had to be there anyway, I joined him. My son graduated high school, but I continue. He celebrates my accomplishments and picks me back up when, I fall. He's great and it's too bad all trainer's are not like mine! - 8/10/2010   11:44:16 AM

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