Is your trainer trying to kill you?: Choosing the right coach

The day I took my final practical assessment to get my cert I saw and heard some very interesting things. It took place in a big gym, full of all the latest machines and as many pink dumbbells as you could fathom. As I waited for my turn I watched from the balcony as various staff members went about their business on the gym floor; I watched a PT giving his client a solitary demo of the barbell deadlift, barbell clean and the barbell thruster before setting her off on a complex (each exercise back to back for a given number of rounds/ reps) of the three moves against the clock.
If you’ve ever trained those lifts you’ll know that they require a high level of technical and physical ability to perform.
As he hit the start button on his stopwatch he immediately moved into drill sergeant mode, shouting useless words of ‘motivation’ at his client as her form inevitably broke down almost instantly- Not her fault!
It was like watching a car crash about to happen.
To me, the fitness industry appears to be becoming more and more diluted. It’s fairly straight forward to become a “Personal Trainer”, yeah you need to do some study and learn off some anatomy facts and yeah you have to pass some exams but to be honest, it ain’t all that hard.
The way I see it there just isn’t enough scrutiny during the training process; if you can teach someone how to sit down on a machine and push a lever back and forth you’ve basically passed, you’re in!
I sound like a snob I know but I believe there’s a place for snobbery when it comes to dealing with people’s health and well being, with more and more people looking to become fitness professionals it’s becoming more and more lucrative for the PT factories to churn out thousands of certificates seemingly with a licence to maim.
So how you can tell if your trainer might try to kill you?
Below I’ve put together a simple 3 point checklist to help you when choosing a prospective trainer/coach.
1) Qualifications/ Further education/ Reading:
Call me mental but I don’t think it’s out of the question to ask to see a prospective trainer’s CV; or at least a rundown of their qualifications, further education and specialist interests.
If it’s as easy as I say it is to become a PT then we have to separate ourselves from the pack, that is to say we must strive to further our education at every possible chance. A trainer who stops his/her learning with the obtaining of a PT certificate is robbing themselves and their clients of potential in my opinion; the real education begins after you get your cert.
Look or ask for evidence of further education, even if that’s just in the form of reading and/ or experimenting with their own training; a trainer that has an interest in physical exercise/ sport/ whatever you want to call it, is a trainer that cares.
2) Does your trainer train?
Like I said at the start, I saw, heard and experienced some brow raising things while studying for my cert, one particular memory from a practical training day illustrates my next point perfectly...
A small group of trainee PT’s in a room to learn about callipers, measurements and various fitness tests for the day. We’re strangers but are getting on nicely. As we take turns weighing each other, going through the motions and ticking off criteria one of the lads makes a wise crack about steroid abuse as I’m stood on the scales. I don’t know whether to take this as a compliment or not to be honest; having never touched steroids in my life, a part of me is slightly offended that my physical presents has been attributed to enhancement drugs. On the other hand there must be something about my profile that prompted this comment, and so my ego is somewhat massaged.
Now, I personally don’t have an issue with anyone who chooses to use steroids in the pursuit of their goals, but to me it seems like a complicated, time consuming and costly endeavour that I simple don’t have space in my life for right now, I quite honestly I wouldn’t know where to start- hence why I’ve never used them.
Making conversation with this lad later on in the day I asked him what he did with regards his own training. He looked at me quizzically, asking me to repeat the question. I said, what are you into, sport? Lifting? Etc. His quizzical expression deepened as the words evaded him.
My point here is that this peer of mine decided to make light of my physical appearance and whether I took it as a compliment or not is irrelevant; firstly anyone with even the briefest knowledge of steroid use can see quite clearly that I do not use them. I’m not that big, if at all big.
And secondly, anyone who makes comments about someone’s physical appearance in jest or not, clearly doesn’t take the industry seriously.
Not only that but this “fitness professional” didn’t even practice any form of training himself, how can someone who doesn’t practice what they preach be capable of teaching a person to perform even the simplest of exercises safely.
3) Does your trainer promise the world? 
We’ve all seen them; some of you may also have had the misfortune of being involved in them. I’m talking about ‘weight loss challenges’, ‘quick fixes’ and ‘bargain package deals’.
I’m all for challenging people to become healthier and strive towards their dreams however I have to drawn the line at challenges that set people up to fail.
Pitting ten people against each other in a race to lose weight is a sure fire way to alienate the majority of the group and leave them feeling defeated.
You see, as individuals we progress at different rates, we lose weight at different speeds and one approach definitely doesn’t fit all.
Goals and targets are all good and well but there’s a fine line between attainable goals and setting a client up to fail.
A trainer that addresses health, movement, strength and fitness is what you should be looking for. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t make quick progress but like I said everyone’s different.
If your trainer is promising you X amount of weight loss or gain within a certain time frame, he’s probably setting you up to fail.
Wrap up:
Dig, delve and quiz you trainer, find out what they’re all about and then make a decision as to whether they’re right for you.
Your trainer doesn’t necessarily have to look like Joe Rugby but they better know what they’re doing or you could find yourself out of pocket and no closer to achieving your dream.
Go lift stuff,