woman doing exercise

Personal Trainer Red Flags

Why personal trainer red flags? A client relayed a very upsetting experience she recently had with a personal trainer to me this week. While this experience was truly egregious, unfortunately, some of the behaviors this trainer engaged in are not uncommon. And, even more unfortunately, many folks feel discouraged and embarrassed after experiences like this and give up on their fitness goals. So I wanted to share with you some things I view as red flags from my perspective as a nutrition coach, fitness instructor, and someone studying to become a personal trainer.

Red Flag 1:Your trainer continuously tries to upsell you

While your trainer’s pay does depend on their ability to sell sessions, their time spent with you should be focused on you and your workout. They should respect your boundaries and your time and avoid pushing you to buy more.

Red Flag 2: Your trainer gives the same workouts to everyone

Everyone has different needs. Everyone has different goals. You pay for individual attention from your trainer. Therefore, your trainer should not be giving all their clients the same program. It’s laziness.

Red Flag 3: Your trainer pushes you too hard

Two integral parts of being a trainer are meeting a client where they’re at and recognizing when to increase or decrease workout difficulty. If you are telling your trainer you’re in pain or the workout doesn’t feel right, they should respond to that promptly and appropriately.

Red Flag 4: Your trainer strays outside their scope

Your trainer should not be offering nutrition advice unless they are properly trained in nutrition. Likewise, they should not offer medical advice. Doing so demonstrates irresponsibility and carelessness with your well-being.

Red Flag 5: Your trainer does not obtain consent

Your trainer should not ever touch you without your explicit consent. Ever. Additionally, if you tell your trainer you do not want to discuss eating habits, that should be sufficient for them not to bring it up. It’s about boundaries and respect.

Red Flag 6: Your trainer spends most of your session looking at their phone

Last time I checked you were paying them to watch you, right? If they’re absorbed in their IG feed, they won’t notice when your form is off or you’re at risk of injury.

Red Flag 7: Your trainer doesn’t cheer you on

Your trainer should be a source of encouragement and motivation. They should be telling you when you’re doing well and celebrating that with you. If they only focus on what you need to improve, that’s discouraging.

These are some of the personal trainer red flags I think you should look out for. Are there any you would add?

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