Believe it or not, the shortest distance between you and the figure of your dreams just may be a personal trainer. But don’t be fooled into thinking that picking a trainer is as easy as selecting whichever toned teacher is available at the gym, for not all trainers are created equally. Take a look at these six types of trainers to steer clear of, so you can start sweating your way to your dream body – STAT!
1. She Who Lacks Certification
If your budget’s tight, but your core is, well, not so much, you may be tempted to save a few pennies and hire a fit, enthusiastic, gym-loving friend to be your trainer. But no matter how well she seems to know her way around a set of dumbbells, that doesn’t mean she’s a qualified professional. “A non-certified trainer…is likely to harm any client [that she] takes on,” said Jaime Kenworthy, an ACE certified personal trainer and AFAA group fitness instructor in Philadelphia. “Lack of proper knowledge can lead to clients experiencing anything from minor aches and pains to broken bones.”
A personal trainer is a health professional, and the same standards that you’d apply to a dentist or a surgeon (e.g. not letting them anywhere near your body without proof that they know what they’re doing) should be applied to your trainer. Look for professionals who have been certified by any of the top nationally recognized programs, such as ACE, AFAA, NASM, ACSM or CSCS.
2. No Pain, No Gain
Would you ever pay someone to yell at you and make you feel like an out-of-shape slug? If the answer is no (and it should be), then there’s no reason to ever hire a trainer who believes in the “No Pain, No Gain” philosophy.
“You need to feel comfortable with your trainer,” said Lauren Marty, a Los Angeles-based marketing manager who first began working with a trainer in the months leading up to her wedding day. “He really walked the line between being supportive and kicking my butt when it was necessary. He was also lots of fun to chat with, so even though I knew I was going to face a tough workout, I always looked forward to our sessions.”
3. The Salesman
“You know, you could really reach your fitness goals faster by bumping up your training sessions to five days a week. And before each workout you should probably start loading up on our Choco-Tastic Mega Slim Protein Bars, which are on sale now at the Pro Shop for only $19.99 per box.”
We all have to make a living, but the best way for trainers to keep clients coming back is to be awesome at their jobs, not to persuade them to empty their wallets on products and training sessions that they probably don’t need. A good trainer should be focused on motivating you to go the extra mile, not pay extra fees.
4. “It’s Just a Job” Mentality
When people don’t like their jobs, they have a tendency not to do them very well. This may be a victimless crime in some occupations, but when you’re shelling out lots of cash per workout session, the “it’s just a job” mentality is doing you a huge disservice. “You’ve got to find a trainer who actually likes what she’s doing,” said Scott Rowden, a film editor based in North Hollywood, Calif. “Many years ago I had a trainer who was very easily distracted and I got the feeling that she just didn’t want to be there. I never went back after that first session.” If you get the impression that your trainer is just going through the motions, then you can make a motion to suspend your sessions and take your business elsewhere.
5. The One-Trick Pony
Doing the same workout every week can get BORING. And when you become bored with something, you probably won’t stick with it much longer. That’s why decent trainers always have an arsenal of creative exercises and routines in their back pockets. Keeping things fresh and new will not only keep you motivated, but it will also push you to your next fitness level.
6. In Search of a Therapist
All news producer and host Lauren Hard wanted to do was tone up and get a good workout. However, all her trainer wanted to do was talk, talk, talk. “It was almost as if every session was a therapy session for her,” said Hard. “She’d tell me about her dog, her divorce, her dad’s house, etc. She seemed to have sort of a sad life, and I felt a little bad for her.”
There’s nothing wrong with swapping stories and dishing a bit about your personal lives, but there is such a thing as crossing the line. You never want to hire a trainer who mistakes her clients for sets of ears that are only there to listen to her tales of woe.
Searching for the right trainer can be tedious, but you’ll know when you’ve found the perfect partner. Referrals from family and friends are always a good jumping off point and can shave a lot of time off of the audition process. And then it’s just a simple matter of sweat, determination and time before the perfect beach body is yours at last.
By Dana Robinson