The 4 red flags that show you've got yourself a 'bad' personal trainer

The 4 red flags that show you’ve got yourself a ‘bad’ personal trainer

Like finding a therapist, getting the right PT for you is a crucial but sometimes difficult search. Use these tips to narrow down the perfect person for you!

Looking to book a personal trainer is a very personal thing. For starters, you are spending a lot of one-on-one time with that person so you need to get along.

Then, you need to factor in the fact that you are booking your trainer to help you achieve your goals, therefore you need them to be on board with what you want to achieve and how you achieve it in a doable way that can fit into your lifestyle.

However with so many trainers out there to choose from these days, how do you pick the right one for you?

Here are some of the red flags to look for when it comes to choosing your trainer.

1. Beware of the trainer who feels like they know everything
You don’t need a know-it-all, you want someone who wants to keep learning to improve themselves with the latest research, and someone who will listen and collaborate with you to help you achieve your goals in an achievable manner.

2. They’re unwilling to refer you onto other health professional and allied health specialists
If you are injured or if you need further assistance to help take your training further, you want your trainer to be collaborative and to work in your best-interests.

3. Lack of pre-screening is a big one
If your trainer doesn’t know about your health conditions and injury history, there is a greater chance of injury or something going wrong

4. Their schedule clashes with yours
Trainers and health professionals are running a business so some will be more strict on their terms and their service hours than others will be, especially if they niche or specialise in a certain area. While the way they operate is their business, it will be a red flag for you if you can’t fit into their operating window.

You are best to choose someone who works for your schedule. They say “fish don’t climb trees” so the onus is on you as a client to realise if a trainer is not suitable for you as a client. That may be more than just timing, it may also be that their niche or speciality is not right for you too

What else do I need to know?

Pre-screening is so important?

The biggest thing to look for though is pre-screening. I presented at our first conference back in 2019 on the claim statistics in the fitness industry. Claims had grown by over 1000% compared to the 3 years prior. In the past few years this number has increased further.

While the majority of these claims were non-disclosure agreements that settle out of court, back in 2019 there were 100+ claims per month in Australia and the number is still quite high.

The majority of these claims are injury related which come from a lack of pre-screening, incorrect prescription of exercisers or in some cases, just bad luck. Some were also nutrition related.

Since 2019, there has been a boom in interest when it comes to the fitness competition space, with the standard for athletes being that they need to get leaner. As a result, we are seeing more metabolic and diet related disorders, as well as the negative impact of incorrect applications for clients. There has also been some negligent coaching where a coach should really pull a client out on the grounds of pathologies such as and relative energy deficient syndrome, but they just don’t.

How do you avoid these red flags?
Aside from finding a coach who aligns with your values, understands your goals and your lifestyle, the big one is checking that they are registered to be doing what they are doing. It’s not about where they studied. It is about who they are registered with now and what standards they need to meet in order to be registered with that organisation.

This is especially important now that more trainers are also consulting on nutrition as well.So ask your trainer, what have you studied, who are you currently registered with and then check the website to make sure they are registered.

Also make sure the body they are registered with is legit, as there are many who will take the trainers money but will not audit them or upskill them with the latest research which is a problem.In order to consult on nutrition, they need to either be an accredited nutritionist, an accredited dietitian or a registered and accredited sports nutritionist. If they are not one of those three don’t listen to them for nutrition advice.

How do I avoid injury when working with a trainer?

I wish I could tell you that even with those registrations you have no chance of injury, however sometimes things go wrong due to bad luck or unforeseen circumstances. But if you look for someone with those registrations and you check to see that they are accredited, then you are going to significantly minimise your risk.

Trainers and coaches who are registered with us for example are provided with the latest research and protocols yearly. In order to maintain registration they need to sit exams and pass them yearly and they have insurance to be consulting for both. The biggest injuries often do come down to a lack of education from the prescriber of the protocol, purely because you don’t know what you don’t know.

While there are some people don’t care that they don’t have enough education and will just take your money, most coaches do have good intentions and they do want to help, but they may just not be as educated in certain areas which is where things can go wrong, and it’s just a combination of a little bit of well-intended knowledge being dangerous (Dunning Kruger in full effect).

Furthermore, if it is nutrition they are consulting you on, you want to avoid getting someone who will give you advice that can create an unhealthy relationship with food for you that may take years to get over and/ or metabolic injury. For example, having someone tell you that you can’t eat carbs, or no carbs after 4pm, or you must fast may be making you fearful of food in an irrational sense with which is not ideal then give it enough reinforcement over time and it can become something that may take years to mentally recover from.

There is always an element of applied risk when you start anything, but for those registered with us, and everything that comes with it; the minimum education standards, screening systems, and codes of conduct that must be adhered to, the risk is reduced. So if you’re looking for a trainer make that: you gel, they pre-screen, and if they’re doing nutrition and they aren’t an Accredited Practising Dietitian, that they at the very least hold professional registration with the Sports Nutrition Association.

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