As loyal readers know, there are some sketchy ass “personal trainers” out there. These trainers get their certification online in a weekend, spout out scientifically inaccurate information, choose dangerous, ineffective, and/or inappropriate exercises for their clients, and spend more time looking at their biceps in the mirror than watching their clients.
These trainers are not necessarily bad people: in fact, I’d say more often than not they’re totally well-meaning humans. I may lament that uneducated trainers do things that could jeopardize their clients’ long-term health and hotness, but I don’t think for a second that any of them are trying to hurt anyone. They just don’t know what they don’t know.
In this blog post, I lay out some questions to ask a potential trainer if you’re unsure of their qualifications. But why is it so many scam artists are able to thrive in this business?
The elusive Taint Press Technique.
Clearly a mastermind at work.
First of all, your body’s reaction to training is often counter-intuitive. Our good friend Weekend Certification Trainer is happy to have you do sit-ups and crunches because you told him you want a six pack. And if you don’t know that a six pack is predominantly a matter of being lean enough, you’re gonna be super psyched when you feel your abs “burning.” Legit Trainer has to explain that not only are you risking your back health by doing millions of sit-ups and crunches, but to truly reveal a six pack, you’ve got to get lean. Which means you’re better off eating properly and burning more calories doing full-body movements that use lots of muscle. This is never as immediately gratifying as “feeling the burn.”
The second reason is that as Warrior Poet King of Strength and Conditioning Dan John says, “everything works… for six weeks.” If you’ve been inactive and start training with Weekend Certification Trainer, and he starts kicking your ass from the first minute of the first workout, you’re gonna get some results. Maybe not the best, fastest, or safest results, but you’re gonna probably see a difference in your body. Legit Trainer has little choice but to start you off by doing some assessments, easing you into working out, and teaching you the basics before launching you into aggressive training.
Thirdly, it’s human nature to judge a trainer’s ability on their physique. This is particularly regrettable as very often the most genetically gifted (or chemically enhanced) trainers suck because they don’t know what it’s like to have to fight for every small fitness victory. And since all trainers suffer from some degree of bias towards what works for them, this can present a big problem if the trainer in question isn’t sufficiently educated. (Not everyone can be genetically gifted AND smart like my friend Maik Weidenbach: please read the Crossfit bitch slap on his blog.)
Once again, it’s hard to resist human nature. If you want to get a bigger chest, you will naturally be drawn to a trainer who has a big chest (even if he got it via training that wrecked his shoulder and copious amounts of steroids). If you want to lose weight, it can be discouraging to train with a trainer with a bit of a belly, no matter how much of an expert they may be. Though as a side note, with all due respect to Educated But Overweight Trainer… you may want to walk the walk a bit bro.
She seriously may be an expert.
But human nature will not work in her favor.
As you can see, it’s pretty easy for trainers with good physiques and sociopathic confidence to sell you on training practices that are silly and/or dangerous (‘cough’ Tracy Anderson). So if you’ve ever purchased sessions from Weekend Certification Trainer, don’t feel stupid. And remember, Weekend Certification Trainer was doing the best he could with the knowledge he had (I hope).
As in all fields of life, a little bit of consumer education will go a long way to protecting your hard earned money. But when it comes to working with a fitness professional, it’s not simply a matter of losing some money. Your body is the most precious resource you have. You don’t have to be an expert on training and nutrition. But I implore you to do your due diligence for the sake of your long-term health and hotness.