How to spot a bad personal trainer

How to spot a bad personal trainer

How to spot a bad personal trainer

Every industry has it’s cowboys and personal training is no exception.  In this post I’m going to share how to spot a bad personal trainer. 

Unsuspecting newbies are prey to personal trainers scouring the gym floor for new clients. 

With little to no gym experience it’s easy to fall into the hands of somebody who doesn’t necessarily have your best interests at heart! 

Before we go on, let’s be clear; there are plenty of remarkable trainers out there who do indeed want nothing but good things for their clients.  This can be seen in the way they manage their client base and how they treat their clients individually. 

Ultimately, that’s what you want – someone who is going to treat you as an individual and work with you personally to ensure you get the results you want.

Here are some tell-tale signs that the trainer you’re talking to or working with is a time waster


  1. They try to baffle you with science early on – If they can’t explain it to a 5 year old, they don’t understand it themselves. Don’t let anyone make you feel stupid, you’re an intelligent human being and the basics of working out are very simple.
  1. They assume your goal – Newsflash! Not everybody wants to lose weight (regardless of how much they weigh) – people train for all different reasons a good trainer will know that. A bad personal trainer will assume you want what they want. 
  1. They don’t ask you what your goals are – How can anyone possibly help you get to where you want to be if they have no interest in where you’re going?
  1. They don’t do an initial consultation with you – A good trainer will need to see where you are at physically in order to help progress you, if they don’t review this from the very start with you then they’re not interested in your progress.
  1. They talk more than they train – If you see them talking to their clients more than they are training them, don’t waste your time or money.
  1. They put down other people and their methods – A good trainer doesn’t have time to pick holes in other people (regardless of whether they deem their methods safe or not), they’re too busy focusing on their own clients.
  1. They push supplements or diet advice on you – Most personal trainers are not nutritionists and therefore shouldn’t be pushing diet advice on anyone. Fair enough if you ask for their opinion and make your own choice, but they shouldn’t be dishing out unsolicited advice.
  1. They don’t look the part – A good trainer doesn’t have to have the ‘perfect’ physique, but they must practice what they preach. If they’re promoting physique they should have it or have had it; if they’re promoting strength they should be strong, if they’re promoting wellness they should be well.
  1. They leave you on the treadmill, bike or elliptical while they go off and do something else – It’s not personal training if they’re not there to train you personally. A bad personal trainer will do this out of laziness and a disinterest in your overall success. 
  1. They’re not planning your workouts or keeping track of your progress – A good trainer has a proven track record, and you can’t have a track record if you don’t track anything.
  1. They push you too hard or not hard enough – There’s a balance that may take time to find, but if your trainer is repeatedly setting plans that are way beyond your level, or not challenging enough for you, they are not maximising your potential.
  1. They patronise you – You may not be as clued up as they are when it comes to training, but you’re not stupid either. There is absolutely zero reason for your trainer to talk down to you.
  1. They bring their personal issues into the session – You’re paying for their time to train you, not for your time to absorb their issues.
  1. They have little or no interest in their own personal development – A good trainer will want to be the best, therefore they will constantly be striving to achieve more. Anyone just going through in the motions is just in it to pay the bills.
  1. They don’t open their mind to other methods – A bad trainer will assume they know everything and discredit anyone who doesn’t agree with them. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, a good trainer knows that.
  1. They’re not watching you perform each exercise and making tweaks to your form – Even the most experienced lifters are constantly tweaking their form to boost their performance, if your trainer isn’t watching you perform every move, how can they possibly help you improve?
  1. They show no interest in you outside of your sessions – A good trainer wants you to continue to perform on your own between sessions and therefore will be interested in helping make sure you do that. If they refuse to engage in any interactions with you outside of sessions, they’re likely only interested in your money – go give it to somebody who cares.  
  1. They don’t teach you independence – No matter how good your trainer is, you’re the one doing the work and therefore they should set you up so that you are able to work effectively around your sessions.

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