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My Worst Personal Training Experience Ever--and What You Can Learn from It

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Last month, I joined a new gym. (So did my boyfriend, and we hope to work out together more often.) Each new member is offered one free session with a personal trainer.

The reason I wanted to join a gym is because although I exercise regularly--I run three times a week and practice yoga most days--I (gulp) skimp on strength training. Though I do build strength with yoga, I know I need to add some cross-training to my regimen. My excuse: I'm busy! But, by rejoining a gym, I have committed to strength training at least twice a week. So far, I've stuck with that goal.

I arrived at the gym, ready to work out. The trainer started with a fitness assessment. My body fat had dropped a half-percent since April (yay!), and my weight was about four pounds higher (I was wearing shoes, but I haven't been running as much in this heat). I felt pretty good about myself. And then we started talking…

The trainer asked me a little about my fitness background:

"Well, I haven't been to a gym since last fall…"

"Last fall?" he asked, his brow furrowing.

"Yes, but I'm a yoga instructor and I've been training for various races. Between running and yoga, I didn't need a gym. I work out at least five days a week."

Trainer wasn't pleased, but he moved on.

"Why aren’t you in the best shape of your life?" he asked.

I cleared my throat, contemplating my answer.

I am in the best shape of my life. I'm not the thinnest I've ever been, but I'm definitely the strongest. I ran a half marathon three months ago, and I'm starting to train for my second one. My shoulders and arms are getting stronger and more defined, and I just feel good.

"What's keeping you from reaching your fullest potential? What's your weakness?" he asked before I could respond.

"I like a glass of wine with dinner," I said. "I like good food. I eat right, but I eat."

"Well, it sounds like nutrition is an issue for you."

"Actually, I'm a vegetarian who cooks mostly from scratch. I work for a healthy living website, and nutrition is one of the topics I cover. I eat when I'm hungry, but I eat pretty healthy most of the time."

He changed gears.

"Let's look at your body fat percentage."

He pulled out a chart.

"Yours is here," he said, pointing to his chart's section for above average. I looked more closely at the chart. I'm familiar with the categories for body fat percentages, and the gym's chart was off. According to the American Council on Exercise, a woman with 21%-24% body fat is in the "fitness" range; 14%-20% is "athlete" range. ACE tells me I'm in "fitness" range; the gym tells me I'm "above average."

"We want to get you here," he said, indicating the "fit" range on his chart, which started much lower than the ACE chart. "Now let's get started."

He called over another trainer, who started my workout.

For 25 minutes, the trainer led me through a series of exercises that pushed my limits. Full pushups to plank to forearm planks, several kettlebell exercises, more squat than I care to remember, and several straight-leg abs exercises.

Just halfway through the workout, when the trainer was checking his phone instead of checking my form, I knew that this would be the first and the last workout I would do with him. (Better to break up with a trainer sooner rather than later!) I couldn’t wait to get to work today to tell Coach Nicole all about this workout--there were so many things he did that would have made her cringe!

From giving me no instruction on kettlebells to asking me to go way too low in squats, then focusing on abs exercises that--I repeatedly told him--compromised my lower back by forcing it off the mat, I knew I had a blog post in the making.

I will continue to go to the gym, but I will look to other fitness professionals (and our Exercise Demos) to help me integrate strength training into my routine.

Not only is my body in the best shape of its life, but so is my mind. I'm confident about my body, and I accept my flaws. I will never have a bikini-ready belly, and I'm OK with that. I love myself, and anyone who tries to tear me down--even for the sake of "toning me up"--has no place in my life. I could have much lower body fat if I spent more time in the gym or restricted my eating. I don't want to do either of those things. I eat right, exercise regularly, and I'm at a happy weight.

Let my experience be a lesson for you.

1. Don't let anyone try to deflate your self-esteem. Regardless of your fitness and health goals, your self-worth is not determined by a number on the scale or your body fat percentage. If a trainer doesn't respect the hard work you're doing to reach your goal, find someone who does!

2. A trainer is not a dietitian, a therapist, or a pharmacist. Know what they can recommend and what they can't. (Learn more about what to look for in a trainer.)

3. Don't be afraid to say no. I knew heading into my "free" session that the trainer would try to sell me a year's worth of sessions. Though I told him early on that I usually work out at least five days a week, he tried to tell me I wasn't committed to fitness. I thanked him for his time and told him I didn't want any sessions. "You won't be back," he said. Um, to the gym, yes. To you, no.

Trainers can be a valuable resource along the road to a healthier you, and I know people who credit theirs in large part for their success. My experience was, I hope, a rare one. I don't want to single out one person or one gym (I won't name names), but I hope you'll remember my experience when you're out shopping for a gym or a trainer. A few years ago, when I first tried to lose weight, I went to gym that offered a free session every three months. The trainers there were wonderful, and I wish I could have afforded regular sessions because then, unlike now, I needed the motivation. (Take our quiz: Do You Need a Personal Trainer?)

Have you ever used a personal trainer? What results did you achieve? What would you have done if you were me?

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I think you're a wuuss..seriously - and no turning back...you are a wuuss!! .I love when my trainer pushes me past what I think I can do..that's what they're there for....I lost 44 lbs in 12 weeks and I thank God and my trainers for it! They changed my life. They made me know that I can be in charge of my life ...but on the other hand.....I'm really not in charge of my life cause, my trainer is in charge of my life!!! Report
Sounds like the trainer - and the gym apparently - were out to make a sale. They made jabs at your self-esteem and your fitness level to make you feel bad to pressure you into buying training sessions. Too bad for them - and good for you - that his crap didn't work.

I was really happy with the gym I went to before I got pregnant (then I got lazy and then I had a baby and can barely leave the house - I run and do videos at home now) - they were no pressure, very positive, and VERY affordable. They were the complete opposite of the vibe that you seemed to get from Mr. Jerk-Trainer. Report
What kind of training does a person have in order to be called a "personal trainer"? Do they take classes or go to a special school?
This was a great article and opens my eyes to just what a novice would experience. Luckily, you knew a lot about the subject. Report
I am so sorry you had such a horrible experience. But I got to tell you, that's how it's done if you are only going to be there for just one session. Generally, if a person is really interested, they have to be committed to two things: 1) is the money you will fork out for a good trainer, it's not cheap by any means; 2) to get to know your trainer, discuss your goals, share your physical limitations, and be willing to go the extra mile in training and not complain! After all, you are there to take advantage of their expertise. But you need to be wise about what is safe and what is not safe in doing exercises which they recommend. I just finished my last session today with a personal trainer. I had worked with her for 18 weeks. I found out that I have an issue with my back and was recommended by my chiropractor not to ever do crunches. As a matter of fact, he said no one should do crunches because it was the worst thing for the spine. Akin to taking a coat hanger and bending it back & forth until it breaks. I told my personal trainer, (lady), that crunches were out of the question. Then at a future session she wanted me to do crunches on the stability ball which is where I have done them before, but I told her not that I was not going to do ANY crunches anywhere. She asked me again, and again I told her no. So that was that. We moved on to some other exercise which I could do. But you need to be wise about your health and don't be afraid to speak up for yourself. You can do it in a nice way. But if your instructor wants repeat business, then they will generally bend over backwards to work with you because word of mouth is a whole lot stronger when it comes to generating more clientele. As a result, my personal trainer and I were able to move forward and we had a very good rapport. I will miss her. But have the opportunity to check in with her like every 6 to 8 weeks to fine tune what I am doing and will continue to do, put to use all the exercises and information which she had instilled in me in the past 18 weeks. But mind you, I will pay for even that. So decide a head of time if that is what you want to do, just like eating clean & exercising, then put your mind to it and then do it. If you are going to complain when they push you to do more so that you can become stronger, and hopefully lose weight, then you would be better off not hiring a personal trainer at all and save yourself some money. I truly hope that this helps you as well as others. Report
Great article Report
I constantly refer to Spart People for new exercises and routines. I live in a university city where many of the personal trainers are in their young 20's and use a one size fits all approach to whomever they are working with, regardless of the person's unique needs and personal characteristics. Report
Thank you for sharing all that valuable information. For many years I did not use the services of a personnal trainer. I had friends with enough experience who could help me create a program to maximise my results at the gym. I resumed my training at the gym early this winter and found myself getting lost and exhausted trying to create a program for myself. I was reluctant to hire someone from the gym because I doubted how competent they really could be. I wondered if it was a scam, just trying to sell costly programs to people. I finally gave it a try. I clearly stated what my goals were as well as my expectations of the trainer's training, competence and experience. I wanted someone to take me to the next level but that would be respectfull of my needs and wants. I can say that I was blessed to find a pearl. The guy is a true athlete not a gym bodybuilder. He has a healthy approach to exercise, relies on the canadian food guide for healthy eating and does not promote artificial supplements. He is convinced that an intense gym session should be followed by equally intense rest and recuperation. Finaqlly, he is very creative with exercise programs so I get to train upper, core and lower body in a balanced way. I am very pleased with the results I am getting from my program. My trainer is definitely a healthy source of motivation and inspiration. He walks his talk and it shows in his body, his mind and his soul. Good luck if you are looking for someone to support you in that way. I am completely in agreement with the fact a trainer should raise your slef esteem not bring it down. Report
My experience was mixed: great workouts, bad diet advice.

I have had some wonderful personal trainers who paid attention to my limitations and explained how to adjust my workouts accordingly. For example, doing walking lunges next to a wall so I could steady myself as needed, or doing chair squats so I would not go down too far. I get muscle cramps very easily and my trainers would help me work out the cramp then return to the exercise.

However, the trainers did have delusions of nutrition knowledge, and would not listen when I explained that I have a lot of foods I need to avoid. At the time, I did not know that my problems were because of gluten and dairy. The program the trainer designed had a twice a day snack of crackers and cheese (even specifying the brand of cracker), both of which I now know cause me to bloat (I can gain 5 pounds in one day if I eat wheat crackers and cow cheese just once). We had some serious disagreement about the workability of the gym's nutrition plan.

If you DO try a gym's plan, and you stick to it and still don't lose, talk to a professional with dietary knowledge, such as your doctor or a nutritionist. A personal trainer may not be able to troublshoot dietary issues.

I have since had some discussions with my doctor about what happened. Among other things, I learned that one of my medications causes low potassium, hence the cramps. And I have at least stopped gaining since I cut out the cow dairy and wheat. Report
My only experience with a trainer was about half positive half negative. I loved the way he pushed me and the way I physically felt after working out. However, he really was pushing calorie counting on me, and at the time I was not ready to calorie count. I was pretty honest about how calorie counting led me to calorie deprivation (basically I would get worked up over it and then try to limit to under 800 or so per day), and I really wanted to focus on the fitness side first. He pushed and pushed, and I ended up skipping my last sessions (expensive sessions!) because of it. Then I stopped going to that gym because I felt guilty any time I saw him!
Luckily, I am ok with counting calories now, but not then. A good trainer knows how to LISTEN!! Report
I had a similar experience. The person who gave me my body assessment was rude like that too. I was so annoyed that I didn't even want to work out afterward. Then I rarely went to the gym after that since I had such a bad experience, even though I had paid for a membership! Report
I'm so sorry about your experience, but I see similar situations everytime I go to the gym. Personal trainers working out someone for the first time way too hard, using bad body mechanics, using exercises that are clearly unsafe for the person's abilities. I'm a physical therapist and I cringe when I watch the "trainers" at the gym that I go to. In general, personal trainers don't have to have any training, licensure, or certification. They are not monitored at all in my state. There are some really great personal trainers out there, but it's important to keep in mind that they are trainers, not therapists. They cannot treat injuries, although many try to.

What made me completely blow a fuse was the day that the personal trainer was wearing a name badge with "PT" after his name. I have a license and a degree to practice PT. In addition, I am in the process of completing a doctorate degree and have to complete 30 hours of continuing education to maintain my license...I've spoken to the trainers and managers about my concerns. Unfortunately, it's mostly fallen on deaf ears. Maybe that's because I don't look like a trainer with bulging biceps and pecs. But, muscles don't necessarily indicate knowledge....

Anyway, enough of my ranting....my advice is to interview your potential trainer, find out what kind of training he or she has, talk about your goals and your expectations, and if you are uncomfortable with what is going on during your session speak up. Remember, you are PAYING for the service that a personal trainer provides....

Finally, if you are injured or have complicated medical issues, seek out assistance from physical therapist (PT) or even a certified athletic trainer (ATC) who specializes in your injury or sport.

sometimes free is not free . you pay in what mistakes they make with harm to your body . You only get one body in life . no new bodies to have at least not without you working on it right . Report
this was an interesting read. I have heard of trainers who are like this, and if I were you... I would have said exactly the same thing!!! Kudos to you!

I had an awesome trainer for a while, actually trainers and I still remember everything they told me. Husband and wife team, great people, and they really knew their stuff. If I told you his list of credentials, well, it would just amaze you. Not going to do that cuz he is kind of a private person. I had known both of them for some time but when I went to the gym, walked into his office saw it wallpapered with phots of him with people you just would never imagine that he could possibly know... I was dumb-struck, the mouth fell open, and I finally regained my composure and said Wayne... and I just motioned to his collection. the walls were literally covered. He said, ya, people I have encountered in my work. That was it! Talk about humble! BEST TRAINERS I HAVE EVER HAD! He and his wife really know their stuff! Report
I had a great session with a personal trainer. It was free, and I was so surprised that she didn't try and give me any sales pitch at all! I asked for a routine I could do on my own, and that's exactly what she gave me, plus a lot of encouragement! I say trust your instincts--I've had a lot of great experiences at my gym (the only instructors I haven't liked have been the substitutes) so I thought it'd be pretty likely that I'd like their trainers, and I feel comfortable enough there that I know if I had a bad experience I could talk to the front desk about it. Trust your instincts. Report
I just had a very similar experience (and was thinking about blogging about it)! I joined a new gym about two weeks ago and went to my free personal trainer session. I told her I was training for the Portland 1/2 marathon, and she gave me the once over and asked if it was my first. No, it will be my seventh. "So you are more of a trotter?" I should have left right then! She proceeded to put me through 45 minutes of horrible and inappropriate leg strength training (to help my running speed). I couldn't run for two days after! While I go to the gym regularly now, if I ever decide to purchase personal training sessions, it won't be with her! Report
I'm sorry for you!!! I have had a personal trainer for 4 years. I love him! He started training my son for football, since I had to be there anyway, I joined him. My son graduated high school, but I continue. He celebrates my accomplishments and picks me back up when, I fall. He's great and it's too bad all trainer's are not like mine! Report
I had that exact experience a few years ago with a big gym.
Feeling that uncomfortable being there at all was enough of an experience to not go back to that particular gym, but to meet someone who's supposed to help you, that just doesn't believe in you because you haven't already reached your goal, was just it.
Luckily I've now found a small gym with only personal trainers, a gym where only clients can come and work out without having a session and it's right on my corner.
I love it there, all the trainers are so helpful and friendly and many of the clients have been where I am, or just starting out, like me. It's like my second home now! I see my trainer twice a week for strength and I go do cardio on my own all other days. I hope everyone get as lucky as I got! Report
Thank you for the great blog. I also had a horrible experience with a personal trainer when I joined a gym a few years ago. Like yours it was a free session, and the woman paid no attention to what my goals were instead telling me that I needed to lose x number of pounds and body fat even though according to her charts both were in the normal range for my height and weight. Her plan was to train me 3 days a week at a price that made me laugh out loud. Then she tried to sell me a cheaper package, but warned me that I wouldn't see as good of a result with it. After that session I canceled my membership and vowed never to join a gym again.

Two years ago I ended up checking out a gym and signed up when they offered me a good deal. I got a free session with a trainer and was very reluctant to attend. I'm glad I did because it was absolutely wonderful. He listened to me and created a plan that was based on my goals. Just goes to show that you need to shop around a bit to find the right trainer. I would recommend checking credentials before attending a session. Report
My one daughter in-law had a private trainer also. She paid for it big dollars. He did the same thing. When she came home she was dizzy and sick. Went to bed. Headaches. . She still thought it was the way she should be. You know that saying, no pain no gain. Well she went on for months. Sicker, tired.

She quit. He was getting the dollars from her, pushing her over her limits. Making her run the tack till she was exhausted.

Who hires these guys. People go in heavy, lets face it. So for goodness sake. Go into it easier. Report
Seems that this personal trainer needs to be brought to the attention of management. If management won't do anything, then the gym needs to be reported to some type of authorizing group/organization. Is there one? This is dangerous. Report
I had a similar experience with my gym's free training sessions. I told the trainer exactly what I was looking for -- I had just finished physical therapy and needed to learn to use the strength training machines so I wouldn't be back in my doctor's office -- and then she went off and tried to sell me protein shakes, their brand of BodyBugg and, yes, extra training sessions at $105 for 45 minutes. I'd told her at the start that I couldn't afford personal training, but then she put me on the spot and told me that I should drop everything else I was doing to continue with her because I was going to hurt myself and develop more bad habits. It was all really uncomfortable. I had a decent workout with her, but I felt like I was being put through the wringer by all the sales pitches and weird information. She also had those charts where you learn your BFP. At 113 pounds, I'm wary of anyone who tells me to lose weight, but that was her first question: "You're five pounds overweight. How quickly do you want to loose it?" I was very happy that I'd been reading SP for a year and working out on my own because I already knew what I was looking for and didn't let her overwrite my own goals. I was intimidated and felt deflated and mad afterwards and I could have easily never shown up to the gym again. It took me a full two weeks to go back to the gym after that because I knew how to work out on my own with weights at home, but she failed to teach me how to work out at the gym. I eventually called a friend who was just starting out as a personal trainer and she gave me a quick tour of the machines at the Y where she works. In fifteen minutes flat I felt like I knew enough to go experiment on my own.

I used to belong to the Y near me and I wish everyone did what they do. They didn't have fancy machines, but their free personal training session was an orientation to the gym. No one weighed or measured me. We talked about how to use each machine and I did a few reps on each of them to try it out. I asked the trainer then about how to improve my posture and she had a few tips. She didn't even try to sell me more personal training sessions. That's what I expected but it sure isn't what I got. Report
If a personal trainer can intimidate someone as physically fit and active as you are, can you imagine how he would make someone who is 60 lbs. overweight feel? And your experience just proves to me that in the eyes of the world there is no such thing as thin and fit enough. Sometimes I feel like gyms have become religious organizations you have to become whole-heartedly sold out to, and "There's no such thing as thin and fit enough!" is their mantra. No wonder more of us don't go to the gym. (Even ASIDE from the cost.) Report
Idiot... sorry, not nice, but its the first thought that popped into my head with this "trainer". I remember years ago, I joined a gym and finally got up enough courage to do the aerobics class. The size 0 twit told me that "if you don't kick your leg higher, its NEVER going to work" as loud as she could, so everyone could hear. I hate confrontation, but somewhere found the courage to say, "If my leg didn't weigh as much as your entire body, I would, which is why I'm here". Sadly, tho, I didn't have the courage to go back, since everyone else in the class was nearly the same size as the "instructor". Report
I do not normally respond to these blogs. But I just had to with this one! In April of this year, the gym that I'd been going to for over 10 years closed. So I joined another one and got 2 free sessions with a trainer. I must say that unlike yours mine was a very good experience. We talked for quite some time about my goals. I explained what I could and could not do due to arthritis. She took me thru all the excerises and stayed with me and helped me. I was impressed as I had worked with a trainer at the other gym and he pushed me to my limits and "made fun" of my arthritis. I complained to the management there. But I must say that my experience with the trainer at the new gym was great and if I could afford it, I'd hire her all the time!!! Report
I have been working with a personal trainer for 2 years now and he has been the best. There are 6 trainers at the gym I belong to and when you join they just pick one for you and that's who you get. I do know that are probably only 2 others that I would even consider training with just from my observations over the last 2 years. Guess I got lucky when he was "assinged" to me! Report
Wow, I'm sorry to hear about your negative experience, and I'm so glad that you blogged about it! I am the exact opposite in attitude; I would've dissolved into a puddle of tears before beginning the workout session with that trainer. I don't have the self-confidence that you have and rely on the opinion of "professionals," even if they don't have the best advice. This blog really gave me a lot to think about, thank you! Report
"No one can make you feel inferior without your permission." - Eleanor Roosevelt

You have the right attitude. If the person you're working with isn't "doing it" for you, find another trainer. It's like anything in life, I've come to learn. There are ways to do everything, and all of them different. Some of them you can understand, agree and work with without a problem. Others you couldn't get the jist if you tried. When that happens move on and find someone you CAN work with.

No one has the right to use your own lack of self-esteem to make money. It's the same as so-called "diet centers" that prey upon the desperation of people that are looking for help with their physical self-image. You could walk in there with a perfect BMI and body fat percentage, have a heart rate as strong as a horse, and they would still try to sell you on their individual program, healthy or not. Same with a gym or personal fitness trainer or anything.

Find a program that works for YOU, makes YOU comfortable, and is within YOUR budget. Everything else is secondary.

Good for you for not only standing up for yourself, but for having the guts to encourage others.

Yay YOU! Report
I've had both good and bad experiences with personal trainers. My first unfortunately was when I was at a decent weight, but needed toned and needed to be more active. The trainer advised me to eat a high protein diet, against my diabetic care provider's advice, had me try a energy drink that pushed my blood sugar to dangerous levels and almost had me in ketoacidosis and wanted to push products instead of fitness. Once she had me committed to a year gym membership with the personal attention I needed as a blind gym user, she quit. I did too and was going to college and put on most of all the weight I have now! Now I am a member of my local YMCA and have a great support system and a great trainer willing to work with me when I need him. He doesn't give diet advice and he watches my form and challenges me without pushing me.... I schedule sessions with him when I want to learn something new or change up my strength routine. Shopping around is the best advice! Report
Wow, thanks for sharing! I like Jillian Michaels tough love approach, but caring and respect are even more important. Report
I went to a personal trainer during the winter months for 2 years. I didn't lose much weight, but I did lose inches and body fat, which made me very happy! The personnel were wonderful - kind and encouraging, nothing like what you described. I'm sorry to hear of your negative experience. Report
I too have had a few bad trainer experiences.... the worst was a trainer who treated my like I had no knowledge of nutrition or exercise of any kind. I may look like I don't know how to work out or eat right, but I do. I've had trouble putting it into practice. After a back injury at work and shoulder surgery, I went to a trainer to get back into training with supervision given my new weaknesses. Not only did he not listen to anything I tried to tell him about my background with exercise and injury, he did not supervise me appropriately and pushed me way too far, too fast. I routinely would barely be able to walk for several days after the training sessions. When I confronted him about these issues, he acted like he didn't know what I was talking about. Ultimately, I ended up going to another gym in the same chain and several more trainers before I found one that I clicked with. It was not a pleasant experience and I would think twice about working with a trainer again. Report
How unfortunate for you and how unprofessional of him!

I had hoped to read that you called him on checking his phone instead of WORKING with you - his client. If I were in the same situation I would have spoken to management about his conduct immediately after my session.

NOT saying anything about this trainer's lack of professional behaviour means that he will keep doing what he is doing - being unprofessional, uncaring or worse - than he was with you.

I'm disappointed to hear you said nothing and did nothing to alert his superiors as to his weaknesses as a personal trainer. Now this guy could potentially get a client with less going for him or her than you, and real damage could ensue.

I'm glad you got a blog out of it and have alerted us to the things a trainer should NOT do, but this guy is still out there. If you keep your silence all that can be hoped for is that his future clients don't get injured doing squats that are too low, or crunches that compromise their lower backs or trying to use kettle balls without instruction. Report
Well, I certainly wish and hope that someone will post a blog detailing their BEST training experience, sort of even the playing field -- and that SparkPeople ALSO profiles this in dailyspark.com as well. Let's see some positive experiences as well. It's so easy to write negative things and agree/comment on them that we sometimes forget to broadcast the good things that happen to us.

So I challenge any of you to write positive effects of your lives, as this has time and again been shown to corrolate with weight loss, as well as other dealings of your life.

Having said that, I'm sorry that you went through that...Still appreciate your honesty. Report
Great blog. I get so upset when I hear a trainer tell someone what to cut out of their diet. They have no business doing that unless they are dieticians which this person was not. Report
I went through a 6-week training program at my local 'Y' and had a wonderful trainer. If I can ever afford it I'll definitely go back to her! Report
What...a...LOAD, Stepfanie! What kind of a he-man huckster *was* this conniver and conjurer?? HIS purpose is to sign people up, not to assist them in enhancing their personal fitness, and I'm so glad you saw through his nonsense! I'm sure your fitness level could run blocks around his own... My fitness level was nearly nonexistent when I sought the help of a trainer at a local hospital's gym. Plus, I have some physical limitations. After doing a thorough evaluation, he designed a program that was doable and affordable, encouraging me along the way. Perhaps the fact that my experience was in an area hospital helped, but I'm so glad you saw right through this "trainer's" crappola! Report
My advice is to watch the trainers train others for a few weeks before deciding which one to go with. That's what I did before I hired my coach who trains me for figure competitions. Also ask around the gym, it sure worked for me. Report
OMG - I thought it was just me. I also went for a visit with a personal trainer at the gym. I filled out a form and stated that my purpose for being at the gym was to maintain my Cholestrol and osteopenia as I don't have a thryoid and need all the help I can get. I mentioned that I dance four to five nights a week and workout two days. He proceeded to call me "Fat" I laid into him as I didn't say anywhere on my form that I wanted to lose weight and how dare he talk to me like that. I am old enough to be his mother. Several friends that go to that gym also laid into him about the way he talked to me. IT IS CRIMINAL the way that they talk to their clients. I go to the gym for classes for seniors now and also yoga. But will not even think about using one of their trainers. Report
Kudos to youI never did get my free session at the gym probably for the same reason - I had no intention of extra sessions for sale. No one was around to make sure I was using the equipment necessary but they came around to see if you had a towel. Go figure. Thanks for the article. Report
Wow, I can't beleive you were at my gym! It has to be my gym because there can't be TWO horrible trainers out there! When I had my free personal training session, I informed the person I had a bad knee and was told by my doctor no squats, no leg lifts, no running, no hopping...well the trainer 'had surgery on his knee years ago" and knew EXACTLY what exercises to do. He had me doing everything the doctor told me not to. Stupid me, I went along with it and for a week my knee flaired up worse than ever. It is obvious that this person was not trained and was only interested in selling training contracts. I've had good personal trainers before at other gyms, so not all free personal training sessions are bad experiences but please remember just because they SAY they are a trainer does not mean they know what they are talking about! He was just a salesman. Report
The first, and only, time I worked with a trainer was for an orientation/goal setting session after I joined a gym for the first time in my life of 59 years. He was great, but demanding. And I don't think he listened when I told him I'd never used those machines before. So he pushed me to do two sets of 15 reps on each machine. Then he put me on the treadmill on a slight incline for 10 minutes. After that, we got down on the floor and he showed me various floor exercises, pushing me to complete full sets for each movement. I left satisfied but hardly able to walk. I woke up the next day in so much pain that I could barely get around. It took four days (I'd wanted to go in everyday for 30 minutes--still my routine--when I joined the gym. His hour and a half session with me my very first day crippled and hurt me. When I finally did go back, I was still limping. I told the manager of the shop and asked she keep my name anonymous, and that she use my experience as a talking point with him rather than a reprimand. She's a good person and has great people skills. Obviously, the trainer figured out who this was in regard to, and he approached me about a week later. Apologizing profusely and saying he'd learned to listen, he then scaled down all my reps on each machine. In another week I was good to go and have been following his good advice.

I should have put my foot down, my butt down, all of me down during the session. I could have avoided this. I could tell during the ordeal that it was an ordeal and hurting me. Yet, I felt intimidated. I say use trainers but let them know your realistic starting point. Report
I have never felt the need for a personal trainer. When I go to the gym I know HOW I should strength train. Its bad enough going to aerobic classes and zumba and knowing that the Instructor is NOT instructing properly - poor warm-ups, stretching technique etc. Sometimes I think I should never have taken the Fitness Instructor course!!!! Report
I was very disapointed with my last experience. I trained at night with a great trainer who knew how to help someone with joint disease. I wan't lazy, I love to exercise but can't give it my all until toned. I had to switch to am training and heard guff from the "drill sergeants" about "give it more and you're slacking". I walked out and never went back. I know I'm the looser in this one but when the owner was the idiot, I'll find something somewhere else. Report
If I got that kind of trainers, I might be too scared to say no to exercises that even I know not proper technique and then I willn't go to the gym. I've never have a personal trainer so going to one might be an intimidated idea for me. If I can find trainers like coaches in SP for first try- friendly, patient but at same time very motivating to others - I'll be so fortunate! Report
Thanks for a good blog! It is needed to show that just because someone says "you need..." doesn't mean they really know what "you need..."! -- From what you shared, you weren't even being listened to in what you communicated.

Unfortunately, the industry forces trainers to push for sessions and push for you to "need" them. It is their bread-and-butter so to speak.

Yes, I have had 3 different interactions with trainers. Only one has provided useful help. (I'm done with 20-something "jocks" who cannot relate to my older, female body / system.) They really don't know what they are talking about!

The one gal means well and has pointed me in a helpful direction. However, it is a definite expense to figure in and not required. Regular use would cause me to make headway toward my goals quicker, but alas I will take the slower route and seek out info. for building my ongoing program for life. (cheaper!) Report
Unfortunately that sounds all too familiar to me. My niece was hired as a trainer at a gym but soon discovered it was more of a sales person job and not a trainer position at all. She hadn't really been trained in the fitness field at all but looks good so I think that played into it too. I hope to find a decent trainer some day but having been burned by about three, who didn't want to hear what I was asking for, have left me gym/trainer shy. Report
That trainer didn't sound supportive at all! It's a wonder he gets ANY repeat business. You were very polite in the way you handled it.

I have used a couple trainers at the fitness facility in my workplace and they were very supportive and wonderful. They were either fresh out of college or still getting their degrees so maybe they hadn't had a chance to get 'jaded' yet...still excited to have the knowledge and burning desire to help others. Report
At least he didn't try to sell you nutritional supplements. Report
I've had only one personal trainer and whenever I asked to learn strength training, she would say "not yet" and my 6months in the program were over and I never learned it. Now, I have to learn it on the internet with no one to show me how in person. I wasted my money. Report
I have a great personal trainer. She starts out with what do I want to get out of an exercise routine and how much time am I willing to spend on it. Then she works the exercises around my limitations and strengths. Report
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