The Untrained Personal Trainer: 10 Ways Your Trainer Shows He's an Idiot...amongst other things

I hate to tell you, but that big, muscle bound guy you've got training you, from the looks of it, has no clue about fitness. Sure, he knows a few exercise routines, the same ones he's probably been doing for years, but as for real actual, factual exercise science knowledge, he's an idiot. Why do I say this? How do I know?Because I couldn't help but notice you all in the working out together in the gym. And he's got all the signs.

Number 1. A person who is knowledgeable about fitness and exercise knows NOT to take overweight people and attempt to have them do the hardest exercises in the world. For example, let's see... I've seen "trainers" have 200+ pound women get on step board with 5 risers, which is the equivalent of stepping up to the top of your bed and down, as if one or two risers wouldn't suffice, which would be like naturally going up and down stairs. I've seen "trainers" have women do walking lunges with  30+ pound dumb bells unable to bend their knees properly for the lunge; and I've seen trainers have big-breasted women flopping around doing all kinds of unnecessary jumping exercises. And for whatever reason, this seems to be something women gravitate toward as if having this "swole" guy somehow makes them look better physically. That part I really don't know. What I DO KNOW is this...and this leads me to my second point.

Number 2. If your "trainer" celebrates in the fact that you feel like you are about to throw up and that you are having a good workout as a result of this, they are surely an idiot. This usually happens after a strenous bout without ample time to rest in between sets. A "real" trainer, knows that you need to rest and how long it should be. But they most certainly don't think that it is good to make a person feel ill. That's just dumb.


Encouraging a person to get to a point that they feel like they are about to throw up while exercising doesn't mean they are having a great workout, it means they are either holding their breath or straining, or both, and should be discouraged. This is not a sign of a great workout. This is a sign to breathe and slow down the speed or lower the intensity of the exercise you are performing.

Number 3. If your "trainer" stands on, or near, your treadmill and hikes the speed up so fast that you can't talk as a way to make you work harder, again, they are an idiot. Yes, your trainer should challenge you, but they should not jeopardize your life to get you fit, because believe me, once you pass out, have a stroke, or die from their negligence, you are not going to know what you look like. You will be out.

Number 4. If your "trainer" is eating burgers and fries and other junk food before your session and taunts you that you COULD be having these things once you lose weight and burn fat, then again, they are an idiot. Now I know not all people may agree with this. And the issue isn't so much what the trainer is eating (although that is an issue); the problem is that this lunkhead is in a gym eating foods that de-conditioned people don't need to be taunted by seeing before their session! This sends a wrong message! Sure we can all enjoy things in moderation, and yes, all people have their own struggles. But, if my doctor was a smoker (and thankfully he is not), but if he were, I would not want him smoking in his office while he consults me. How dumb and insensitive would that be? Well, that's what trainers look like eating junk food in open areas in the gym in front of their clients.

Number 5. Unfortunately, this is one that all people may not be able to identify, but this is something that just gets my goat, and that is, the "trainer" who stands by watching as the client demonstrates and executes poor form. Real trainers know that form follows function and that form is EVERYTHING. So for instance, if you want to isolate the tricep and sculpt it so you don't have flapping underarms, then that movement most be done correctly otherwise it's just really a waste of time.  In the case of the tricep kick back, if the elbow doesn't stay at a 90 degree angle and the arm is just swinging back and forth like a pendulum, you aren't going to get the result you're after, and a real trainer KNOWS this and can correct this.

Number 6. Another big one. Trainers know how to provide modifications for exercises. What one person can do another may not be able to do, so you have to modify and adjust a movement or exercise for each person. Which means, if your trainer yells at you and your friend saying, "If she can do it, so can you. Do it!", this means that they are what? They are an  idiot.

Sure, we all say things to keep our clients motivated, but yelling at them with demoralizing comments is not the way to achieve optimal results. A good trainer knows the kinds of language to use to keep you in the zone and inspired to complete an exercise without using put-downs and comparisons to thers.

Sure, we all say things to keep our clients motivated, but yelling at them with demoralizing comments is not the way to achieve optimal results. A good trainer knows the kinds of language to use to keep you in the zone and inspired to complete an exercise without using put-downs and comparisons to thers.

Number 7. Do I really even need to explain that your trainer should not be out front on a smoke break in between sessions?

Number 8. If your "trainer" has no exercise and fitness credentials, they are not trainers. He (or she) is a person you are paying to watch you exercise.

Number 9. If your "trainer" does not encourage you, teach you, or show you how to exercise in your training zone, know anything about the talk test, or the rate of perceived exertion, then neither of you knows if you are training in your right zone and to the right intensity. This is very important. Use the money you are paying them and invest in a heart rate monitor so you can gauge your intensity and the amount of calories you are burning.

Number 10. If your "trainer" tells you to wear sweat suits and pants because you are going to burn more fat and lose more calories, that is a sure-fire sign they are an idiot. Countless research articles have proven that all those suits make you do is become susceptible to dehydration, another way to pass out in the gym, and don't help you lose weight faster because it's just water you're expending. As soon as you drink more water, you'll have replenished what you lost. And trust me. A real trainer knows this.



Elana D. Anthony is a degreed Exercise Science and Health Promotion Specialist with almost fifteen years in the fitness industry. Although she does not claim to be an expert or guru, she does have basic common sense coupled with good communication and people skills to know that encouraging words are far more effective than put downs, and that love and kindness is always better than shame and disgrace. Elana believes in not only living a healthy lifestyle, but also in modeling this for her six daughters. In the past, she was certified by the American Council on Exercise for Group Exercise and Personal Training; the Aquatic Exercise Association for Water Fitness; and the Aerobic and Fitness Association of America for Group Fitness. While working tirelessly in elementary adminstration, unfortunately, her certifications expired, but her passion for health and wellness never waned. She is excited to be doing the Body by Vi 90 Day Challenge  to get her body back in shape, and studying to recertify with AFAA in February .

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