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4 Reasons to Break Up With Your Trainer


Having a personal trainer to help educate, empower and motivate you toward your fitness goals can be a great investment in your health. That's why it's really important to choose the right trainer for you.

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But like any relationship, there may come a time when you're just not on the same page anymore and it's better to move on. Here are a few signs it's that time:

1. When your trainer is a Debbie (or Donnie) Downer. Your trainer is supposed to be a source of motivation and inspiration. Everyone has an off day here or there, but if your trainer is constantly complaining about their finances, workload or dating status, it's time to have a serious talk with them or move on.

2. When your trainer shows signs of orthorexia nervosa. Yes, there is now a name for having an obsession to eat healthy all the time. Due to the nature of the business, trainers should eat healthy and walk the walk. However, when it borders on the line of being obsessive, this can be unhealthy and definitely doesn't set a good example for clients who seek balance in their lives. I've seen trainers posting pictures of their dinner that consisted of three grapes and sliver of watermelon with a proud hashtag #ItsWhatsForDinner.

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3. When your trainer gives you bad nutrition advice. Being a personal trainer does not automatically make you a nutritionist and it doesn't qualify you to prescribe meal plans to clients. Most PT certifications cover very little, if any, nutritional information in their basic courses. Some do offer more in-depth nutrition certifications, however, unless you have an undergrad or graduate degree in nutrition, you technically are not a nutritionist.

Over the years, I've heard of trainers giving all kinds of bad advice to clients when it comes to food. Statements like:

"Only eat egg whites."
Fact: Egg yolks contain much of the protein in an egg. Yolks are a great source of B vitamins and choline, which are an anti-inflammatory and a pre-cursor to happiness hormones like serotonin and dopamine.

"Carbs are bad."
Fact: Our bodies need carbohydrates, as much as we need protein and fat. Without a large variety of vegetables, fruits and legumes, we would be missing out on so many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, plant-based protein, and let's not forget: clean-burning energy.

"Cut your calories to 800 per day."
Fact: Not only is this bad information, it could be very dangerous, especially during a workout. On that low amount of calories, you could pass out during a workout from low blood sugar. Every person has a different caloric need based on their body mass, weight, height and goals. Extreme deprivation may lead to short-term weight loss, but it's not sustainable or healthy.

Be sure your trainer is qualified to give nutritional advice and if you have medical conditions, be sure to seek out a nutritionist or RD.

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4. When your trainer tells you to work through the pain. There's the "good" kind of pain due to lactic acid build up when you are working hard. Then there's the kind of pain that is a signal to your body to back off and can often times save you from a big injury. Get in touch with your body so you can tell the difference. No one else can differentiate that for you, not even your trainer.

Here are some tips on how to find a qualified trainer:

Do your research. Make sure your trainer is a certified personal trainer. NASM and ACSM are highly regarded organizations in the fitness industry. Many professional trainers will also have qualifications in specialty areas like pre- or post-natal fitness, martial arts, triathlons, etc.

Research your candidates online for reviews by other clients. If they don't have an online presence, don't be afraid to ask for personal references.

Don't be duped. Certain multi-level marketing companies call their salespeople "coaches." These salespeople grow their own businesses by recruiting clients to join their fitness challenges or by using their products. Being a salesperson for fitness or nutrition products does not qualify people to coach clients in fitness.

Do a trial session before committing to a package. Many gyms offer trial sessions for free, but if you're looking for a private trainer, you can still ask them for a trial run (paid or unpaid). This way, you can see how you get along and if he/she pushes you enough or not. The first session should always include an intake to check for medical concerns and to set goals.

If they are a good fit for you, you won't have buyer's remorse after purchasing a 10- or 20-pack of hour-long sessions. That's a lot of time to spend with anyone, so be sure you've found a qualified fitness professional with a personality that's a match for you.

– Jennifer

Readers — Have you ever worked with a personal trainer? How did you find them? Do you feel like they did or didn’t help you reach your goals? Have you ever gotten bad advice from a trainer? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Jennifer Cassetta, CN, MS, is an author, speaker, third-degree black belt, clinical nutritionist and personal trainer. She works with global business leaders traveling the world as their personal health coach. She just co-wrote her first book, Hear Me Roar: How to Defend Your Mind, Body and Heart Against People Who Suck, which empowers women to be strong, safe and sexy through self confidence, self-defense and nutrition advice. Read more at


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