5 Ways to Tell If Your Personal Trainer is a Fraud

Featured Article, Fitness, News and Advice
on June 18, 2013

Sure, your personal trainer looks amazing and is always eager to rehash the latest episode of The Voice with you, but does she truly have what it takes to help you safely reach your get-fit goals? Even more important, does she know enough about the body to keep you from getting injured in the process? “You owe it to yourself to comb through the details of who you’re hiring,” says Sandy Todd Webster, editor in chief for IDEA Health & Fitness Association. Here are five ways to tell if you need to ditch your trainer pronto—and what to look for in a replacement.

She changes the subject when you ask if she’s certified. Think about it: You’re asking this person to help change your body, so it’s important that she be completely up to speed on workout techniques, exercise physiology and injury prevention. Make sure she has a degree in an exercise-related field and/or is certified by a well-regarded fitness organization such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), American Council on Exercise (ACE), and/or National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).

She never gets nosey. A good trainer will ask lots of personal questions, including whether you’re nursing a past injury, if you’re taking any medications, whether you have any chronic aches or pains and how much exercise experience you have. That’s crucial info when it comes to creating a shape-up plan that’s right for your body. Someone who doesn’t ask the right questions can easily lead you down the road to overtraining and injury, says Webster.

She charges $10 an hour when other local trainers charge $50. A trainer worth her salt knows that with her expertise, she’s worth the going rate. “If one gym or studio offers the same service as another at a super-low price, I would say buyer beware,” cautions Webster. Ask around so you’ll know how much cash you should expect to lay out for your sessions—then leave the bargain hunting for your next shoe-shopping spree.

She claims she can turn your butt from Jell-O to J-Lo in no time. Unless you’re willing to run the risk of throwing in the (sweat-soaked) towel a month down the road, you need a personal trainer who will be open and honest with you about what you can realistically achieve and how long it will take to do it. Basically, it’s like shopping for a used car: If what your trainer tells you sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

She acts like a dictator. The two of you should be a team, period. Any personal trainer who comes up with a program for you without taking your wishes and goals into consideration (or, even worse, pulls out the same plan she uses with all her clients) is not worthy of your money or trust. Now we’re not saying your trainer can’t be a drill sergeant-type—if that’s what motivates you best, more power to you. Just be sure those commands she’s barking are designed especially for you.