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Personal Training – Are You Paying an Arm and a Leg?


Can you imagine if the food industry had zero accountability? It’s certainly not perfect now, but can you imagine the mess if there was no regulation about what food companies put both in and on packaging. They could say one thing on the packaging, and then put something completely different inside the package. It’s a very good thing we have at least some regulation on food and packaging but as far as personal training…we have zero.

Way back in 1992 when I got my first certification, it was simply that everyone knew a personal trainer. Now, everyone IS a personal trainer. Or at least that’s what their business cards say. Believe it or not, personal training is one big crap shoot and just like going to the casino to try and “hit the jackpot”, you’re more than likely going to lose in the long run. The only difference is…hiring a personal trainer could very well cost you a lot more than money; it could end up costing you an arm and a leg.

Are personal trainers really that bad? Yes, they are. And the worst part is…those training fees you’re paying now are small potatoes compared to what’s coming down the road. So, what is it that makes most trainers so bad? I’ll start with my top 5 most costly mistakes trainers make but be on the look-out, because more is sure to come.

Top 5 Most Costly Mistakes Trainers Make
1. Using Soreness to Gauge Workouts – This one kills me. It seems there’s an unspoken game amongst trainers on who can make their clients have the most soreness. I’ll keep this simple. Any soreness that last more than 72 hours is too much. In addition, any soreness which causes a person to modify the way they walk, have discomfort from standing up, and requires medication to relieve pain is a huge red flag. Walk away while you still can.
2. Working Through Pain – This is another big one. Any trainer who presses you to “work through the pain” needs to find another job and you need to call me. Pain should never be a part of any workout for any reason whatsoever. Pain is a guarantee something is wrong and if your trainer is having you work through it, they are the biggest pain of all.
3. Not Monitoring Heart Rates – The absolute biggest indicator of how hard you are working is your heart rate. Regardless if it’s weight training, cardiovascular training, or anything in between; your trainer should be taking, recording, and monitoring your heart rates before, during, and after your sessions. The heart can be damaged if it stays above a certain rate for too long and the scary part is, you may have no clue it’s too high. If your trainer isn’t monitoring your heart rates, what else are they ignoring?
4. Pretending to Rehabilitate – Wow! This one is far more common than you think. Just because a trainer may have a certification in exercise therapy or corrective exercise doesn’t mean a thing. I personally am a certified exercise therapist and it too doesn’t mean a thing unless you have extensive experience and you always apply correct methods of therapy. This may be the most dangerous of all and if your trainer has attempted to diagnose an injury or pain, told you they can heal an injury by rehabbing you, or didn’t advise you to see your doctor before continuing exercise…cut your losses and don’t go back; ever!
5. Teaching Harmful Exercise Habits – This could very easily be number one. If your trainer is not having you warm up and stretch before every single session and also stretch afterward, they are leading you down the wrong road. Secondly, if your trainer doesn’t teach you slow and controlled movements without jerking, popping, or cheating… your body will soon pay the price. And lastly, if your trainer doesn’t seem to have your workouts planned out and can’t explain rhyme and reason, get a refund.

For the record, I’ve spent 25 years watching trainers take years off of their client’s lives by the way they train them. The “Go Hard or Go Home” mantra is alive and well, but in most cases; it’s the trainer who needs to go home. If your trainer thinks extreme soreness is great, barks at you to work through pain, ignores heart rates, plays doctor, and doesn’t teach you safe and functional exercise, those hourly sessions for which you’re paying could most likely be a down payment for your new arms and legs.

Bobby Whisnand
“The Exercise Doctor”