12 Ways to Spot a Bad Fitness Coach

If you’re trying to lose weight or even get ready for something like a competition, you’re generally going to want to find a coach who can fast-track your progress so you can see results sooner rather than later.  It would be great to say that all coaches are on the same level but that’s unfortunately not the case – you’re bound to find a bad fitness coach during your journey.

The problem many people face is that they aren’t sure what a bad fitness coach looks like.  Is it their personality?  Is it knowledge?  Is it their physique and whether or not they fit the part?  To a degree, all of those things come into play when deeming someone a good or bad fitness coach.

To help you understand what to look for so you can be aware and get out before you waste your money, here are some key ways for you to spot a bad fitness coach.

  1. They have a “do as I say” mentality

When paying someone for their service, it’s not unreasonable to ask why you are doing a certain exercise or workout.  A good fitness coach would tell you the exact reason so you fully understand.  A bad fitness coach will simply tell you to do as they say.  If you’re not getting answers, move on.

  • They never asked for a health history

The first thing you should receive after agreeing to work with a fitness coach is a health history form.  Your coach should want to know if you have any medical condition, injuries, risk factors, etc. before getting started.  This is for both your safety as well as their own liability. 

For instance, if someone just had open heart surgery and is supposed to keep the intensity down, that would be a good thing for the trainer to know so they don’t push you too hard too soon as the consequences could be deadly.

  • They ignore pain or injuries

If you walk into a workout with your fitness coach and explain to him or her that you’re in pain from your previous workout or the current and they don’t care… RUN!  An experienced fitness coach will be able to work around soreness and will NOT push the envelope if you’re in any type of pain or may be injured.  The whole “no pain no gain” is absolutely ridiculous and if those words ever come out of your coach’s mouth ask for your money back.

  • They shame you into doing something

A bad fitness coach pushes you through shame.  There is no reason for a fitness coach to tell you the results will never come with your poor effort or that you’ll never lose all that fat if you aren’t putting in the work (and that’s regardless if you’re working hard or not).  Shaming someone due to the way they look currently is never a good idea and definitely not something a professional would ever do.

  • They gave you the same workout as your friend

In the industry, there are things called “cookie-cutter programs.”  These are programs that are recycled from client to client.  Each client should have an individualized workout, not something that is reused or repurposed with every single client.  A bad fitness coach isn’t capable of providing you with a specific workout to achieve your goals and generally when working with them, you rarely ever see results.

  • They are not correcting your form

If you aren’t sure what proper form looks like, it can get you severely injured.  If looking around the gym and your form looks nothing like everyone else, it should throw up a red flag.  Your coach should be checking your form each and every rep and making adjustments on the fly to keep you safe.

  • They promise you fast results

Any promise of something happening fast is a flat out lie.  Nothing in the gym will ever come “fast.”  It takes time to gain muscles, lose weight, build strength, enter whatever goal you wish here.  If they claim they can get you quick results, they’re lying and a bad fitness coach.  Or, they’ll have you doing things that are unhealthy or dangerous in order to speed up the process.

  • They aren’t checking your progress

How do you know if you’re progressing if your fitness coach isn’t checking your progress every week, every other week, or every month?  The whole reason you’re working with them is to get the results you desire, right?  So, why wouldn’t you want something measurable that you can actually see and track your progress?

This can be taking measurements, weight, body fat percentage, strength tests, etc.  Make sure your coach is constantly checking your progress so you can make the necessary changes to continue seeing results.

  • They aren’t taking any notes during your session

Does your coach walk around with a notebook or clipboard?  If not, how are they understanding your strengths and weaknesses?  How do they remember things you should work on next workout?  Here’s the answer – they don’t.  Your coach should be adapting to you from workout to workout and making the necessary changes to allow you to see progress from your work in the gym.

  1. They are on their phone while training

This is a huge NO-NO and one that drives me insane.  There is no reason for your fitness coach to have his or her phone out unless they are using it as a timer or to show you your form by videotaping you performing a movement. 

Far too often I see coaches in the gym doing Facebook or Instagram Lives or stories when training with clients.  Exactly how do they have their focus on you when they are out there on social media focused on how many people are going to see their video?

And texting… where do you even start with this?  You’re paying them to spend time with you.  If they are busy texting during your session, ask to be compensated for the time they wasted or mention if it happens again, you’re done working with them.  It’s unprofessional for them to be doing anything with their phone that doesn’t directly help you during the training session you’re paying for.

  1. They seem to only count your reps

If I were to guess, I’m sure you can count up to at least 15, right?  You don’t need someone to count for you as you could do that yourself if you really wanted to.  Your fitness coach should be educating you, motivating you, encouraging you, and pushing you.  You should be asking questions and trying to understand the method behind their madness and the reason you are doing certain movements. 

A bad fitness coach simply stands around and counts.  If this sounds like your current coach, it’s time to move on.

  1. They don’t ask you questions

Another thing a bad fitness coach does is not ask questions.  Your coach should be asking you how a weight felt, if you’re feeling it in the right muscle group, how your recovery has been, how your nutrition plan is going, etc.  They should be asking these things so that they can make changes based on your response. 

If you’re not recovering properly, they can recommend a solution.  If you’re not feeling a movement in the muscle group, they can then diagnose the issue and make sure you have a solid mind-muscle connection and have the correct muscle fibers firing.  Not asking questions shows they aren’t really interested – which is never a good thing when you’re paying them.

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