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19 Signs of a Bad Personal Trainer (Does YOURS Show These?)

Wondering whether or not you've actually hired a good personal trainer?

Personal trainer helping client with yoga stretches

One of the biggest expense for many fitness enthusiasts and beginners in the gym when they first start is the price of hiring a personal trainer.

And unfortunately, despite the fees being quite expensive, there is certainly no guarantee that the trainer you've hired to help make progress towards your goals is actually a good fit for the job.

If you're starting to think that your personal trainer is bad, or you're starting to reconsider your choices and wonder whether or not you're getting your money's worth, you've come to the right place.

In this post I'm going to go over the 19 best indicators that a personal trainer is bad, and that you should look to get a new one if possible.

Without further hesitation, let's get into it!

What Are the Signs a Personal Trainer is Bad?

Like we've mentioned in other blog posts, it's actually not that difficult to become a personal trainer and get your foot in the door.

However, it IS hard to do the job right and actually bring about some real results for your clients.

That's why it's so important that anyone working as a personal trainer is professional, and actually knows what they're doing and/or cares about it.

Otherwise, they need to be replaced!

So here are the signs (in no particular order):

1. Your Personal Trainer Overcomplicates Things

One of the biggest problems in the gym has to be the fact that people are willing to blindly listen to their personal trainers and those that give them ay sort of advice, without any sort of fact checking or second thought.

And personal trainers know this!

Some of them are more than willing to make things seem very, very complicated for you.

Sure, it'll be hard for you to differentiate between what's good and what's bad when you're first starting out, but that's why self-education and doing your own due diligence is so important.

Some personal trainers do make things seem extra confusing so that their clients feel the need to keep on booking sessions with and paying them, as they feel that they otherwise wouldn't know what to do.

In reality, it's not actually that tough to understand once you can get a grasp of the basic concepts, which you can learn about online.

There are plenty of good sources out there where you can get your information from.

These could include:

  • Jeff Nippard

  • Jeremy Ethier

  • Eugene Teo

  • Scott Herman

  • JPG Coaching

  • Cayle PT

  • Athlean-X

  • Evan Holmes

And many more!

Our blog at Gympulsive is also a great option if you like to read instead of watching videos!

2. Your Personal Trainer Can't Show Any Past Successes

Proof of past client successes with personal training

If you've previously asked your personal trainer to see any past successes that they've had with clients and they were unable to produce any, that might be a telltale sign that they're not a good option for you.

Unless your personal trainer is new in the industry and you genuinely see something in them, there's a pretty good chance that they're not all too sure what they're doing if they can't provide you any proof of success with previous clients.

You should always ask to see proof of past successes (in a polite way) so that you can get an idea of what you're getting yourself into.

Because if they really can't produce anything, you simply have no idea and no way of knowing.

3. They Try to Sell You Supplements and Other Things

Let's be real.

The point of any job is to earn money and make a living.

Personal training is no different.

However if your personal trainer is actively trying to sell you supplements, trying to recommend you certain clothing, or trying really hard to sell you anything else, then that's something you should be wary of.

Some personal trainers do have their own supplement brands, or are affiliated with one in some way.

And when you buy a supplement through them, they might receive a commission (a percentage of the sale for promotion) for it.

While there is no law that prohibits personal trainers from recommending you supplements, if they're constantly pushing you to purchase a certain type of supplement or something else, then it might be an indication that they care more about the money you're paying them than they do about your results.

4. They Don't Take the Time to Educate or Teach You

One of the most important things in fitness that you can do for yourself is to learn, and become self-sufficient as quickly as possible.

This is not only going to save you time and money, but it's also going to ensure you can differentiate between what's good and what's bad, as well as help some other people at a basic level should you ever need to.

If your personal trainer is never taking the time to explain concepts or the reasoning behind what they're getting you to do, and they avoid giving you any meaningful explanations upon request, this is a bad sign.

Whether this is due to your personal trainer not actually knowing the reasoning behind their instructions, or they want to keep you uneducated so that you keep on booking sessions with them is tough to determine.

But either way, it's a bad sign.

5. They're Out of Shape or Unhealthy

Personal trainer eating fast food and not living a healthy lifestyle

I know some of the best sports coaches and trainers wouldn't actually be able to do what they're teaching, but personal training is a different story most of the time.

I'm not saying that your personal trainer has to look like a fitness model or boast anything world class, but they should at least be able to practice what they preach.

If your personal trainer is telling you to do all these things, but doesn't train, doesn't eat healthily and generally doesn't take too much care when it comes to their own body, then this should be taken as a a signal.

When you hire a personal trainer, you expect a certain level of fitness from them. After all, they ARE the person helping you get in shape!

If they haven't been able to do it themselves, there's a little bit of uncertainty there.

6. They're Tough to Get in Contact With

One of the most important things in any relationship, including that with your personal trainer is communication.

You need to be able to contact and get in touch with your personal trainer when you need it.

Read more:

Sometimes life gets in the way and you have to cancel or reschedule sessions.

Maybe you've hurt yourself and need to change the game plan for the upcoming sessions.

Whatever the reason might be, it's always important that you're able to reach your person trainer when you need to.

If you're unable to, say they never check their phone or never reply to text messages/pick up when you call, then that is a big problem.

7. They're Constantly Asking You to Reschedule Sessions

Like I said above, sometimes life does get in the way and you have to reschedule some sessions.

However if your personal trainer is constantly asking you to change times to a better slot that suits them more, then this is a problem.

Your needs should generally come first.

I know it's considerate, and once or twice every so often is absolutely fine, and it would be make you a pretty bad person if you weren't okay with it.

However if it's happening multiple times a week with no valid explanations, then this is a big problem and you should probably find someone else to do the job.

8. Their Prices are Unusually Cheap

Some personal trainers believe that if they're not able to offer real, meaningful services to their clients, then it makes more sense for them to be cheap.

And while some personal trainers simply might not know what they're worth, this can certainly be a problem if even the personal trainers themselves know that they're doing a bad job but are still selling their services to you.

Watch out for this.

9. They're Distracted During Your Sessions

One of the biggest telltale signs of a bad personal trainer would be constant distractions away from their clients during their workout sessions.

Personal trainer busy and distracted on their phone during a client's workout session

Whether personal trainers are getting distracted on their phones trying to sort out their next sessions, or they're constantly mucking around with their colleagues in the gym, it's all the same.

If they're not focused on you and what you're doing, they might be missing out on crucial things that you could fix or do better.

In this case, you certainly should go find someone else.

10. They Promise You Quick Results

Many personal trainers are more than willing to make false promises that they can't keep in order to attract more clients and ultimately earn more money.

They might tell you that you can easily get a six pack within a month or two, or that you can pack on 10lb or 5kg of muscle in a couple of months.

These promises are false, and it's simply not achievable.

If what your personal trainer is telling you sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

Do your own due diligence and research.

Know what's possible and what isn't.

11. They Don't Offer a Free Consultation

All personal trainers should be offering their prospective clients free consultations to see whether or not they really are a good fit.

Often times, what you're trying to achieve isn't what a personal trainer specializes in.

For example, some people might want to increase their flexibility and become more comfortable doing yoga, or others might want to lose weight and start body combat training such as boxing or MMA.

If your personal trainer isn't giving you a free consultation to see whether they're going to be able to genuinely help you, then this should be taken as a red flag.

Not all personal trainers can help everybody.

If they're not taking the time to consult you, they probably care more about the money than they do about your actual results.

They should be asking about your previous fitness history, past injuries, goals, motivations and other things as well.

12. They Have Bad Reviews

Most of the time, personal trainers are going to have reviews that they've been given by their previous clients.

This is more common if you're in a local gym that supplies some of their own personal trainers.

If you're searching around and you find that your prospective personal trainer has some bad reviews, well, like any other product, this is a bad sign and should be taken seriously.

Personal trainer with bad reviews due to poor service

Now if your personal trainer has NO reviews, then this can be a little tricky to interpret.

If your personal trainer is still new to the industry or job, then that makes sense.

However if they've been going for a while, and they have no reviews while the others in your local gym do, then this can also be a bad sign.

Some people will purposely hide their reviews if they've been bad, or they haven't liked them.

It's not a surefire sign, but it might edge you in the right direction.

13. They Talk to You Too Much About Non-Fitness Related Stuff

Don't get me wrong.

It's great to have somebody to chat to during you workout session.

It prevents the gym from getting boring and can really be a driving force that gets you into the gym every day.

However if you and your personal trainer are always getting into ridiculously long conversations during your workout, then this might be a sign that you two aren't great to work with each other.

Sure, you might enjoy your time there, but remember, the time spent in the gym is meant for working out.

NOT chatting the whole time.

If they're talking to you about what you could do better or continuously giving you tips, then that is fine.

But if it's just talking about the weekend all the time, you're wasting your money.

You're essentially paying for someone to chat to you.

14. They Aren't Taking Any Notes

Your personal trainer should ideally be taking notes during your workout sessions so that they have things to refer to in the future when it comes to deciding on what you're going to do.

Your personal trainer needs to know the weight you were lifting, the number of reps you did and possibly ask you for feedback on how tough a set was or what it felt like.

This isn't as much of a telltale sign as some of the others, but it's still an indication nonetheless.

15. They're Giving Other Clients the Same Workout as You

One of the main jobs of a personal trainer is to be able to give custom, personalized workouts to their clients based off of their needs and goals.

Everybody is trying to achieve different things, and it simply wouldn't make sense for a personal trainer to give the same workout routines/programs to every single one of their clients.

For example a person who's wanting to become more athletic and build a functional body is going to require severely different workout programs to someone that's purely wanting to build muscle and look good.

So if you see that your personal trainer is giving their other clients the same workout routines or programs as you, this might be a bad sign that they're not actually able to cater to individual needs and goals.

It might also mean that the program you're on isn't catered to you specifically either!

16. They're Not Open to Feedback

If you find that your personal trainer is not the type of person who's accepting of feedback and can improve upon themselves, then it might be time for you to find somebody else.

I'm sure you've heard that not everybody is perfect.

This applies to personal trainers too!

No trainer is perfect, and there are undoubtedly going to be things that they can do better for their clients.

If you find that you're shot down or not listened to when you try to give your personal trainer some constructive feedback every single time, then this can be a sign of a bad trainer.

Now a lot of the times, the trainer is going to know more than you.

However if you're shot down every single time and you genuinely think you're making valid points, then this, paired with others on the list might be a sign.

17. They Don't Assess You

Your personal trainer should constantly being doing tests and assessments on you to make sure that you're not only on the right track, but also that they're giving you the right information and leading you in the right direction.

Your personal trainer could be doing some basic performance tests, checking for injuries and limitations (such as tight hamstrings) or anything along those lines before engaging you in any intense activity.

Personal trainer doing fitness tests on their clients

If they're not, they may not know all that much about successfully helping clients reach their goals in fitness.

18. They Break Barriers

Some common barriers that bad personal trainers break would include touching you without consent or in inappropriate ways, insulting you, or making you uncomfortable in general.

If, at any point during your session your personal trainer makes you uncomfortable and you want to leave, you have every right to do so.

If you've asked them not to do something because it makes you uncomfortable and they continue to do it, then this is definitely a bad sign and you need to run.

19. You're Not Seeing Results

Now this is a tough one, because as much as people hate to hear it, sometimes a lack of results is due to the trainee, and not the trainer.

However if you're sure that you're working hard all the time, you genuinely think you're giving it your all and you're keeping everything else on track (sleep, recovery, diet, etc.), then this might be a sign.

To be completely honest it's quite difficult to give a back workout program that genuinely doesn't work.

However if you think your personal trainer is causing you to see a lack of results, have a chat with them about it.

If they shoot you down and aren't willing to review the stuff they're getting you to do at all, then this is definitely a bad sign.

However if they carefully reconsider it, then maybe there's something on your end that you could be doing better.

Ask someone else who's experienced and see whether the program they've given you is effective!

Make sure you tell then what your goals are, so that they'll know how to judge the workout program your personal trainer has given you.

For an article on how to determine whether you're training hard enough or not, click here.


Personal trainers are a great investment for many beginners in fitness.

However with so many people in the industry and such a low barrier for entry, it's easy to hire someone that either doesn't know how to do their job, or doesn't care enough.

Follow the signs on this list, and see whether your personal trainer is a good one or a bad one!

Just one bad sign shouldn't cause you to immediately start looking for someone else.

However if you're finding that a lot of these signs apply to your personal trainer, then it might pay for you to consider someone else.

I hope you've enjoyed reading this post, and have learnt something from it!

If you did, remember to share it with your friends so we can reach more people and help more reach their goals in fitness!

Do YOU like your personal trainer? Why or why not?


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