How to Spot a Terrible Personal Trainer in Five Easy Steps!


For the most part, I’m a pretty positive thinking dude. My football coach told me that if I didn’t have something positive to say that I should keep my mouth shut. Good advice and it’s served me well.


Breaking that promise to my football coach is a tough one but necessary with this blog. Why? Because I literally hate seeing clients with their trainers at times. 


If you are a trainer or coach. Take note of these 5 steps and don’t EVER do them! If you are a client currently working with a trainer or coach who does practice the 5 steps and not willing to change; hire another fast!


Step #1

Does your trainer do most of the talking and hardly ever listens to you?

My advice to trainers…

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listen more, talk less. You’ll also seem smarter by doing so.

Learning is done by listening. Talking is the ability to ask enough questions to learn and solidify that learning. Learning about your client. 

Ask enough questions about your client and you’ll get a clearer picture of who they are. Makes sense right? If you know them, you can help them. 

My challenge to trainers is to try the above for one full week with your clients and see what a difference it can make in your clients life. You’ll also notice that you will benefit as well!



Step #2

Does your trainer seem to focus only on themselves or others during your workout?  

My advice to trainers…

If you really want to be a terrible trainer; take your clients money and keep your attention on anything but them.

A few weeks ago I almost vomited, not from a tough set of squats, but from watching a trainer using his iPad on Facebook instead of watching her client. The WHOLE freaking workout! Seriously?!

Or the male trainer who continuously poses in the mirror during a session. What? I’m serious, it happens. 

Come on trainers; you are better than that! You’re a professional. Focus ALL your attention on your client or clients. Don’t allow distractions to thwart a potential great workout session. 



Step #3

Does your trainer assess your progress at regular intervals?

My advice to trainers…

Ok, I’m a little guilty here from time to time or from client to client. 

If your client is motivated by regular assessments to evaluate their progress, assess them! If they prefer not to be assessed, try and explain why it’s a good idea to do so. If still not desiring compliance, find other ways to inspire and motivate them!



Step #4

Does your trainer ask you questions before each workout session?

My advice to trainers…

It’s so important to ask everyone of your clients every workout session questions such as…

  • Did you sleep well last night? Why or why not?
  • When did you eat last? What did you have? How’s your intake of fluids/water?
  • How do you feel? Everything going well? Why or why not?
  • Are you sore from our last session? Where? How do you feel about that?

These are really important questions to ask your clients before every single workout. 

I can’t stress it enough! What would happen if you gave a client a really tough workout and he/she hardly slept well the night before?

Do you think that may have something to do with their performance for that particular workout? What if they’ve not had any fluids for a long period of time? Not good. 

Make these “teaching opportunities” for you and your client. Isn’t this what “personal training” is supposed to be?



Step #5

Does your trainer shame you for not reaching a workout or outcome goal(s)?

My advice to trainers…

Stop doing this immediately. 

Note: Workout goal example can be performing a certain number of repetitions above the number from the previous session. Outcome goals can be a specific weight loss goal.


Final advice to trainers…

Standing out from other trainers and coaches is not hard these days. Really! I see what goes on and it’s not good most of the time.

However, I do see it when a trainer or coach stands out. It’s like a breath of fresh air! 

I know my advice may seem harsh but I don’t care to be totally honest with you. Clients deserve better. Many have never worked with a trainer or coach before and don’t understand the difference. 

Plus, this type of behavior gives the public a bad perception of what a quality trainer or coach is supposed to be like. 

If you don’t get up in the morning excited about working with your clientele, find another vocation. You’ll be happier and your clients will be happier when they find a better alternative. 

There are many more ways to spot a terrible trainer or coach. These have been bothering me for the most part! Thanks for letting me vent…I mean share.

1 Comment

  1. Garret LaPratt on March 4, 2021 at 7:52 am

    Trent, this was extremely well put together !!! It shows a deep concern for your clients, and your profession !!! Anyone would be pleased to have you as their trainer !!!

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