Warning signs your personal trainer is a dud.

My biggest frustration in the health and fitness industry is when I have new clients come to me from a previous personal trainer (usually after not getting the outcome they needed) and they proceed to fill me in on the details. This usually includes one or a number of the following list;

1. They prescribed you a meal plan to follow, before they get to know you.

This says two things. a) They’re lazy and don’t want to take the time to get to know you or understand the subtleties that make your lifestyle unique. Sure, suggestions along the way are okay, but every meal for every day? You’re kidding right. b) They’ve stopped learning. If they think the have the “magic bullet” of meal plans it means they’ve stopped looking at research, they’ve stopped caring because they’ve become good at selling.

2. They told you you’ve got “want it more”

This is trainer code for “I couldn’t figure out how to make these lifestyle changes applicable and valuable in the context of your life”. Your trainer didn’t listen to you or they didn’t want to but it’s simply a case of blaming the student instead of the teacher. A good PT will always feel disappointed in themselves if something doesn’t go according to plan.

3. You went in wanting to be healthier, and came out believing you weren’t good enough

This one kills me. People arrive at a gym or recreational group wanting with hope in their eyes. They’ve taken the plunge into an uncomfortable environment with the belief that they deserve to be healthier. Their motivation is high and their possibility for change has never been higher. Then disaster strikes, they get judged, shamed, criticised, overworked to a point of failure and walk out completely dejected. As a health professional we have a duty to understand people’s context when they come to us. To treat them with

compassion and respect. Treasure and foster the hope they arrived with.

4. They emphasise your flaws instead of your strengths

Just like the last one. Your PT will constantly be telling you what you’re not good at. Often these are things that are completely arbitrary to your life as well. What, your bulgarian split squat wasn’t low enough? Gimme a break, who cares? All people should finish their exercise or recreation feeling empowered with new knowledge of what they are capable of.

5. Guilt is their main motivator

“I can’t believe you had pizza for dinner, do you want to stay fat your whole life?” If your health professional places a moral value to your lifestyle behaviours, they need to be given the flick. Our lifestyles are so much more than diets and workouts, we socialise, we are spiritual, we stress, we celebrate. Everything that makes us human. Unless you’ve done something that moves against your core values, then guilt has no place. So as long as you didn’t smother someone with that pizza you’ll be fine.

Your time dedicated to your health should make you smile, you should feel empowered about progress and excited about the future. Don't be afraid to ask questions of your professionals to make sure you are all on the same page. Teamwork makes the dreamwork.

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