Personal Trainers

Signs Your Personal Trainer Might Be a Dumbbell – Part 4

So, you decided to shell out the bucks for a personal trainer?

This is the fourth and final part in our series of signs your dumbbellpersonal trainer might be a dumbbell, with tips #5, #6 & #7.  The first 3 parts can be found here and here and here.

You don’t jive with their vibe

Are they the drill sergeant and it makes you want to cry because they are yelling insults your way?

Are they so chipper all the time that its depressing or a total turn-off?

Do they seem knowledgeable, but they are as warm as a cold fish?

Do they seem friendly and approachable…a little too approachable?

The drill sergeant thing doesn’t work for most folks except maybe on TV or in the Army.  You want someone to support you, push you and keep you motivated, not put you down or insult you.

Find someone whose energy level and personality is to your liking.  This is someone you’re going to share your personal fears with about weight loss and your struggles with your saddlebags and the jello in your triceps.  You’re going to spend a lot of time putting your trust in this professional, so you need to feel comfortable with them.

Speaking of comfort level.  If at any time a trainer touches you in any way that makes you uncomfortable, you need to tell them so.  If their sense of personal space is consistently encroaching upon yours or they are inappropriate, suggestive, give you the willies for some unexplained reason etc…trust your gut and go find another trainer!

They don’t look the part

Sometimes that trainer who appears about 10 lbs overweight may have successfully battled their own eating disorder that previously had them weighing in at 100+ lbs over what you see them at, so although they don’t look like a Chippendale’s dancer, they might be just the inspiration you need.

However, it can and should be hard to put your trust in someone who has never remotely been where you are trying to go in your fitness journey.  ’Nuf said.

They are Cheap

If your trainer costs about the same as your babysitter or a car wash, there’s a good chance they’re not qualified.

Personal trainer certifications cost $400-$800 or more and have yearly continuing education costs to maintain.  Some trainers also have Bachelors and Masters Degrees (cha ching $$).  Liability insurance costs money.  Equipment and facilities cost money.  Advertising, printing, etc have their costs.  The government wants a share in the form of taxes.

This is just a ball park range, but in major metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, an hour with a personal trainer can run you $50-200.

Personal Trainers

Signs Your Personal Trainer Might Be a Dumbbell – Part 3

So, you decided to shell out the bucks for a personal trainer?  This is the third part in our series of signs your personal trainer might be a dumbbell, with tips #3 dumbbelland #4.  The first two parts can be found here and here.

Your Trainer is selling you nutritional products or giving you a diet to follow.

Although Certified Personal Trainers do receive training on nutrition and can provide general nutrition advice such as that found in the public domain like and they can teach you how to find foods lower on the glycemic index or how soon before working out you should eat or what percentage of your diet should come from carbs or how to decipher a food label, they should not prescribe a diet.  They can share what they found works for themselves, but Registered Dietitians are the trained professionals who can prescribe a specific diet for you, not your trainer.

Likewise, pushing vitamins, or energy drinks, shakes and the like might be a nice money making proposition for some trainers, taking these types of things should be discussed with your Doctor.  Just because “Company X” made a study to show their product will make you thinner doesn’t make it healthy and doesn’t necessarily make that claim true.

Be your own skeptical scientist and make sure whatever study was done wasn’t carried out by the manufacturer of the product they’re trying to sell.  Let’s get some objectivity…And let’s get a trainer who stays within their scope of practice.  Ask your Physician before taking vitamins, supplements or other products to make sure they are right for you and are appropriate given any other medications or things you are currently taking etc.

Your Trainer Isn’t “There”

They answer their cell phone in the middle of your sessions.

They are looking everywhere in the room except at you and the muscles you’re working.

They are counting your reps, but they aren’t talking you through the movement or helping you focus on proper form and breathing.

They chit chat so much that you’re captivated by their amazing personality, but you don’t have time to work your muscles during your session.

They are so busy talking about themselves that they don’t really HEAR you whether it’s an emotional block you are having with your nutritional goals or your workout program or an injury you’re working around and they won’t stop when you really have had enough.

Our final installment, Part 4, is coming soon with the last 3 tip-offs.

Personal Trainers

Signs Your Personal Trainer Might Be a Dumbbell – Part 2

So, you decided to shell out the bucks for a personal trainer?  This is the second part in our series of signs your personal trainer might be a dumbbelldumbbell.  The first part can be found here.

Tipoff #2!

Your routine is the same each time you see them or is the same as every other client you have seen them train

A good trainer will provide a program uniquely individualized for your unique needs, abilities and likes/dislikes.  If you hate running, your trainer might first try and discern if perhaps your improper footwear or form might be causing you discomfort and therefore a lack of enjoyment from the sport and have you give it a go with those tweaks…but otherwise if you hate running, there are so many other forms of cardio exercise your trainer could work into your program instead that there’s little excuse for them continuing to give you exercises you dislike.  That’s not going to keep you working out as a lifestyle!

While we are speaking of a program designed for you…did your trainer begin with an assessment of your current abilities?  If not, run away from him/her fast.  It’s pretty hard to know how far to push your client if you don’t know what their base starting point is.  That could be dangerous.  If your trainer doesn’t know what your goals or limitations are, they can’t build an appropriate program for you.

If you have a specific issue or goal, make sure that your trainer understands and knows how to approach that goal.  If you are training for a triathlon or you just recovered from having a baby, make sure the trainer knows what issues are specific to that circumstance.  Often, trainers have different areas of expertise (athletes, post-natal Moms, children, seniors).  Make sure the trainer you hire is familiar with your issues.

Personal Trainers

Signs Your Personal Trainer Might Be a Dumbbell – Part 1

So, you decided to shell out the bucks for a personal trainer.  Maybe you are new to exercise and have been sedentary fordumbbell a while, or you’re coming off of an injury, or your doc told you its time to lower your cholesterol by exercising.

Perhaps it’s to break through a plateau you can’t beat on your own, or you simply want someone to hold you accountable.

Whatever the reason for hiring the trainer, you want to make sure you are getting what you’re paying for: results.

The wrong trainer can not only be costly in terms of time and money lost but it can even be bad for your health and cause injury—even death.

Here’s the first tipoff that your trainer might be a dumbbell:

They Aren’t Certified

Did you know that in the State of California, anyone can call themselves a personal trainer?

That’s right.  Your hairdresser needs a license.  Your accountant needs to pass an exam to practice, but a trainer who has the potential to make you sore, injured or worse needs no license, no degree, and no certification to practice.  Nevertheless, you should look for one who is Certified!

Yeah, but he/she is HOT and obviously knows how to achieve a good body, just look at him!

No.  This isn’t proof that he/she knows how to work YOU out appropriately. In fact, it may not even be proof that they know how to work themselves out appropriately. They may have muscle imbalances your untrained eye didn’t detect that could make them a walking time bomb for an injury. They may know how to achieve their particular look, but it may take them living a lifestyle you couldn’t sustain in order to do so.  Perhaps they know how to work themselves out by pushing really hard with heavy weights, but they have no idea how to safely start out someone who is deconditioned – and that could be very dangerous to your health!

They may not know proper form and body mechanics or how to work around your specific injuries.  So while they obviously should look the part to some degree….HELLO, they spend their day in the gym, so they should look like they actually break a sweat from time to time when they’re there.  The physique of your trainer shouldn’t be the litmus test of their knowledge or ability as a trainer.

Even though I spent plenty of time in the weigh room and read quite a few books and articles about fitness and diet over years, there were some skills I needed to learn.  Studies for my Certification lasted about 10 months and taught me things like important signs and symptoms of cardiovascular disease and at what point I need to work with a client’s physician when designing an appropriate program specifically for them.  I learned more anatomy and kinesiology than I ever thought I would have a use for, so that I could communicate effectively with other healthcare professionals when designing programs for my clients.  I was taught how to work around most common injuries to the back, knees, and shoulders on all kinds of equipment and for a wide variety of age groups and abilities. I became educated on how to design safe and effective workouts for people who aren’t built like me and for people who have different goals than me – for older people, frail people, people who want really big muscles, people with specific diseases and how to progress them safely.  More importantly, I learned which things to avoid for certain individuals in order to prevent injury or even death.

OK, so you get it – they should be Certified..but by whom?  They should be certified by a third party accredited reputable agency like DETC or NCCA.  Some of these Certification Agencies include ACE, NASM, ACSM, and AFAA.  These organizations have third party proctored exams and a long history and good reputation in the fitness industry.

I’m not concerned with whether the trainer took a year or a weekend to pass their exam or whether they did it online or in a classroom or a 3 day seminar.  I’ve seen debates about this on the ‘net and I don’t think it matters how long or in what format.  I’m just interested in whether they were certified from a reputable agency.  A bicep is still a bicep and you work it pretty much the same ways no matter who certifies you.  Some will have more of a physical therapy approach, others more focused on safety, and some more scholarly and research-driven approach but the information is generally going to be the same, so just make sure your trainer has the information behind them to give you a safe and effective workout.

By the way, you can call these agencies to make sure the trainer really IS certified currently.  These certifications must be maintained by the trainer continuing their education and sometimes passing exams every year or two to be sure they are working with the most current up to date information and industry standards.  The trainer should also have current CPR and First Aid Certification.


The next Sign Your Personal Trainer Might Be a Dumbbell is Coming Soon!