There are countless trainers who are dedicated to their craft, want the best for their clients, and genuinely care about the health and wellbeing of others.
And then there are these guys. Here are five trainers you need to avoid, as well as the red flags that let you know how to spot them.
1 – Mr. Hardass
Mr. Hardass wants to be known as the tough trainer. His workouts are designed with the sole purpose of making you sore or sick.
He doesn’t give a shit if his exercises are totally random, have a high injury risk, and are completely inappropriate for his clients. His primary objective is to make sure you have a difficult time sitting on the toilet the next day.
This guy has no qualms about taking an out of shape, overweight newbie through a 15-minute circuit of box jumps, burpees, suicide runs, and plate pushes. If you feel like you’re about to keel over and you’re legitimately hurting, he’ll tell you that “pain is just weakness leaving the body.”
After all, this guy needs to maintain his reputation of being the tough boot-camp instructor who’s there to get you to do things you didn’t think you could (even if you really shouldn’t).
If trainers were flavors of wings, this guy is atomic hot sauce. Sure, you may think it’s cool taking his “spicy workout challenge,” but just like when you eat spicy wings and your butthole is on fire the next day, you’ll be sure to think twice about coming back for seconds.
2 – Mister or Miss Workout Selfie
This person has no actual experience working with people, but damn are they good at taking a fully-pumped selfie under the right lighting.
They’ve also mastered the art of using the perfect Instagram filter and adding a cliché quote that captures their dedication to themselves. If all you see are filtered photos of the trainer and no actual clients on their social media posts, they probably aren’t that great of a trainer.
Has this person ever delivered results for anyone other than themselves? Probably not, but they really want you to check out their new shirtless ab pic with a link to purchase their awesome online training program. (Hint: It’s really just a generic workout plan you can find anywhere for free.)
They figure having visible veins running towards their crotch makes them a fitness expert, and they think being half naked will increase their chances of selling you their “exclusive” plan. You know, that prepackaged program that doesn’t take into account any of your individual characteristics, needs, or goals.
If this is a female trainer, look for her to sell you on her booty blaster butt pump program with exercises consisting solely of Pilates movements and “toning” exercises using a mini-band designed to make you feel a burn so you think you’re doing something.
If it’s a male trainer, expect him to promise that you’ll be able to add five inches to your biceps in five weeks as long as you follow his super-secret biceps protocol… which is most likely a bunch of random biceps exercises super-setted together.
3 – The Unethical Contest Prep Trainer
This is the person who claims to get people contest-ready in four to six weeks and uses the title “nutritionist” very loosely.
They have no problem putting someone on an extremely low-calorie diet, recommending shady products, and prescribing tons of low-intensity cardio that keeps you in the gym over two hours a day. They really don’t care what happens to you after the contest, as long as they can get your before and after photos and use you for marketing.
Will you lose fat with this trainer’s diet and exercise plan? Probably. Will you also crash your metabolism, gain all your fat back (plus some), and have some serious body issues after they’re done with you? Definitely.
There are some very intelligent trainers that can get you contest-ready, but these trainers will be realistic with a timeframe, will gradually alter your calorie intake, and will let you know what to expect with your post-competition physique so you’re not left with body dysmorphia afterwards.
If you’re talking to someone who’s promising you a total-body transformation in a couple of weeks, you’re going to get burned.
4 – The “One Size Fits All” Trainer
This trainer is absolutely sure that his way of training is the only way. If he’s a bodybuilder, all of his clients will be bodybuilding. If he’s into powerlifting, all of his clients are going powerlift. Don’t want to powerlift? Tough titties, because you’re going to be benching, squatting, and deadlifting all the time anyway.
Good trainers can work with a variety of people to meet their individual goals and needs. Bad trainers can only train people the way they themselves train.
The “one size fits all” trainer thinks their way of training is the only one that produces results. It worked for them so it should work for everyone else, right? They don’t consider their clients’ preexisting injuries, training age, or mobility needs. Using exercises to fit their clients’ needs and capabilities is a foreign concept.
5 – The Therapist
Unlike the other trainers on this list, “therapists” really do care about their clients. They listen to what their clients have to say and genuinely enjoy being around people. They hear problems and are sincere when they offer sympathy. They’re legitimately interested in your life, and they love hearing all about your week. They’re great conversationalists who make you feel super welcome and comfortable.
The one thing they DON’T do is make you put forth any effort in your session.
This is the person you’ll go to for years because you become friends, yet you never really make any progress. They never push you and, as a consequence, you stay the exact same.
People who go to the therapist won’t lose weight or get stronger. The therapist is solely there to keep them company and keep the conversation going as they mindlessly do the exercises. Even if a client wants to get after it, the therapist will become a chatterbox, perhaps thinking it’s awkward if there’s any silence whatsoever.
Good trainers will be engaged with their clients, but they’ll also know when they can safely push them. If you want results, you’ll need to do something a little outside of your comfort zone. The therapist just doesn’t have it in them to make you go there.