Do you ever question your personal trainer's expertise? Ever feel like you might be doing unsafe exercises? Don't ignore your feelings. Trust your gut. Honor your body and good God-given common sense to know that if something don't feel right, it ain't right.
Here are three simple ways to tell your trainer is inexperienced.
Number 1. You know your trainer is inexperienced if they can not explain why they have you doing a particular exercise, nor provide modifications to decrease or increase the difficulty.
Case in point: at a very popular fitness gym that purports being a "judgment free zone" where you are not distracted by "lunk heads" as they have painted on their walls, which they explain are people who tote around a gallon water jug and grunt while working out. Should you make loud, raucous sounds while exercising in this facility, they kindly blare an obnoxious LOUD siren sound which is to signal you to quiet down. Just imagine a librarian yelling "SHUT UP" in the library and you get a visual on how ridiculous this whole system is. Plus, if you are actually exercising correctly and overloading your muscles, you are going to make some kind of noise as it goes with the territory. Ever hear Venus and Serena as they pummel that tennis ball? Yeah, they ain't quiet! Nevertheless, this piece is about the idiot, I mean inexperienced trainer.
Here's what I saw recently: morbidly obese people walking on the treadmill at an incline holding large stability balls over the heads. Now let's just think about this: if a person is seriously overweight, just walking on the treadmill is a great workout. Walking at an incline presents an even greater challenge to increase their heart rate and challenge their lower extremities. But to have a big ball in their hands while walking uphill is just plain dumb!!! Wouldn't it seem that if an overweight person is walking uphill they could possibly trip, and if they did do that, how would they grab a hold of the treadmill for balance if they have a big ball in their hands? That just doesn't make sense. And that's point one.
If it doesn't make sense, it probably doesn't make sense.
We are not in Kenya carrying baskets for miles to deliver bricks, build a school, or draw from a water well. People need functional exercises.
Number 2. You know your trainer is inexperienced if they make all the clients do the same exercises no matter the size of the person, age, or number of sessions they have. Every last client walks on the treadmill at an incline holding big balls over their heads. Or, every last client does a gazillion bicep curls whether they are overweight or thin as a rail. Certainly a gray-haired male senior and an overweight young girl do not need the exact, identical exercises in a training session. An experienced trainer should be able to provide variety, and once again, modifications, to suit the need for each client for whom they are serving.
Number 3. You know your trainer is inexperienced if they think it's funny that you are going to be ill, feel light-headed, or need to rest in between sets of doing something asinine they have just assigned. Rest and recovery are essential elements of a workout and an experienced trainer would have them timed and structured. Nobody should be encouraged to "just keep pushing" if you are saying you are going to be sick, and a skilled trainer would want to understand why you feel nauseas from an exercise, and not see it as some sick sign that he's really worked you hard. Becoming ill in a session could be a red flag indicator for any number of reasons, and a skilled trainer would know that.
In short, like I said at the beginning, if something does not feel right to you, trust your instincts. Thanks to the Internet with every conceivable piece of information available at our fingertips, you can take some time to research what you are doing. Look to see if you can find other people doing the exercise your trainer recommends and then see if that matches the goal you are striving to attain. As a matter of fact, I'm getting to Google the latest thing I saw a trainer do with his clients just today.
Today's asinine exercise assigned to overweight, older adults at this "lunk free zone" was this: The trainer put the big stability ball on the treadmill and then had the clients (there were more than one, which makes this even more dangerous) lie supine (face up) on the ball with their feet dangling off the treadmill. What on earth he was hoping to accomplish left both me and my trainer clueless. By all means, if you know something about having people lay on a ball on a treadmill that I don't, please share it with me. To me, it appeared to be nothing but a serious legal liability. IJS.
Here are five questions we use as instructors certified by the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America that I encourage you to use:
- What is the purpose of the exercise?
- Are you doing that effectively?
- Does this exercise create any safety concerns?
- Can you maintain proper alignment and form during the exercise?
- For whom is the exercise appropriate or inappropriate?
About me: I hold two graduate degrees, one in Writing from DePaul University ('99) and the other in Exercise Science and Health Promotion from the California University of PA ('07). Plus, I am a certified group exercise instructor by the Aerobic and Fitness Association of America. I state that for one reason alone, and that is, I might know a thing or two about training and group fitness. That being the case, I have made it my life's passion and purpose to share with others that they can enjoy optimal health with good life and prosperity, which I discovered through the Body by Vi 90-Day Challenge. My life has become a perfect blend of health and fitness through The Challenge that I share with EVERYONE because the mission of The Challenge is simple: punch obesity in the face! I do what I love and love what I do. If you need help with your weight, nutrition, muscle gain, hypertension, diabetes, and the like, I can help you. You can visit my website for more information.