Top 10 Signs of a Bad Trainer

1. Selling or Suggesting Supplements

Selling or suggesting the use of supplements is the biggest and most glaring issue I have with trainers and I know that I will probably get a bunch of angry personal trainers taking issues with this but I don’t care. If a trainer, live or on a video, suggests the use of or even worse tries to sell you supplements, walk away. First, when it comes to fitness and health gains, supplements are not necessary. Secondly, unless you have come across a trainer who is also a doctor they can not legally or ethically give supplement “prescriptions” or suggestions. The only reason supplements are promoted at all is because of money. Supplements are a multi-billion dollar business and most of the hype and “benefits” of supplementation come from the mouth of the people who make and sell them.

2. Body Shaming to Motivate 

There are many ways to motivate a client to exercise but the most mentally detrimental way to motivate is by shaming someone into action. Body shaming especially breeds all kinds of disordered thinking, feelings of guilt, and inadequacy. If a trainer uses these type of tactics to motivate they are not looking out for your best interests for long term health. If a trainer belittles your physical appearance to try to get you to exercise or to adhere to a specific diet then drop them and look for a trainer that motivates you by making you think more positively and constructively about yourself, your body and your physical ability.

3. Only Promoting One Training Style

There are hundreds of exercise training styles out there from Olympic Weightlifting, Plyometrics, Agility, Mass Building, and Toning, to Cardiovascular, HIIT, Yoga, Pilates and Flexibility (just to name a few). All of these styles have pros and cons but there is no shortage of trainers that will argue to the death that their preferred style of training is better than all the rest. It is a narrow-minded and short-sighted trainer that thinks that everyone should train the same way or with only one training style. For overall health you need to exercise in different ways to challenge the different physical abilities of the human body, for strength, endurance, flexibility, coordination, balance, agility, etc, etc. Depending on your own personal goals you may want to lean slightly more towards one training style than another but never focus on just one. Any trainer that does not look at the whole picture is not one you want to train with.

4. Don’t Properly Develop Workouts

This is a bit harder to explain but very important when it comes to the effectiveness of a trainer. Not all programs are created equally and many trainers don’t check their programs for balance. Not the standing on one foot kind of balance but rather balancing the body front to back left to right, and top to bottom. For example, I was watching a workout video the other day by a well known and well-funded trainer and I was watching them do a squat in a circle where one foot stayed stationary and the other took steps forward to complete a circle. They did a couple of sets and the whole time I was waiting for them to switch directions and step backward but they never did and to top it off they never even switched legs. Another good example would be a workout video by a well known YouTube trainer who starts their warm-ups with deep pile squats to start with which is much too rough of a range of motion on cold muscles and joints, and just asking for an injury or pulled muscle, purely due to poor programming. These might seem like small things to nitpick but using a trainer that does not think about the balance of the body’s muscles can easily lead to muscle imbalances which can cause chronic issues or can increase your likelihood of injury.

5. Promote Weight Loss Before or Instead of Muscle Building

Trainers who only focus on weight loss and not muscle/strength building are doing clients a huge disservice. Those who only focus on sheer calorie burn through cardio, toning (lightweight training), or core exercises, as their only form of exercise, are working with a limit to how much they can burn and typically have to heavily restrict caloric intake to see progress. On the other hand, if you start with strength training to build a good base of muscle you can increase your resting metabolism as well as max calorie burn for any given exercise, therefore, burning more calories with the same relative level of effort. Your body’s Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), the rate at which your body burns calories just keeping itself alive, is set not only by your body’s natural functions but also by the amount of muscle tissue you have. So, if you add more muscle tissue you add more calorie burn potential both during exercise and daily life activities. This increased BMR due to more muscle mass makes it easier to not only drop fat weight but to also keep it off in the long run. The best thing is that it does not take much muscle mass to make a huge difference in the number of calories you need in a day. So, especially for any ladies out there who are worried about getting too bulky or masculine from weight lifting remember that a little goes a long way.  If you are trying to lose weight and your trainer only does lightweight training, cardio or core exercises it does not necessarily make them a bad trainer just one that will be less effective for helping you lose fat content (and keep it off).

6. Focus on Intensity Over Form

This issue is especially prevalent with the bodybuilder culture as well as some of the boot camp style trainers out there. Many of them will choose to focus on how much you lift or how hard you push yourself over all else. We have nothing against pushing yourself or wanting to lift heavy but what we can not agree with is letting form and proper technique slide just to lift a bit more weight or push for a few more reps or seconds.  Proper form is by far the most important aspect to focus on during any type of training. If the form is not maintained then the returns from that exercise or movement start to diminish quickly. One thing I see a lot especially with weight lifters/bodybuilders is a limitation of range of motion so they only target the strongest portion of their range rather than moving to a lighter weight and moving through their entire range of motion for maximum muscle development. Not only can this create or intensify weak spots but it can also change posture and joint tracking which can cause long term issues with chronic pain, discomfort, and overall joint stability. If a trainer knows what they are doing they will always know when to lower intensity to favor better function and long term results. So, if you have a trainer that tries to push you past your comfort zone or does not teach proper form look for someone else.

7. Trainers that don’t Educate or Empower Clients

There are some professionals, found in any industry, who feel that you should give just enough information to keep a client coming back so they can fill up their schedules and make more money. I believe that, ethically speaking, this is a huge flaw if you’re actually trying to help someone. With our videos now and back when I was still doing one on one training and group fitness classes I would aim to teach clients everything they need to know to be a more active participant in their own health and fitness. I want each person to know why they are doing each exercise and why they are doing them in that specific order. It was my goal as a trainer to teach a client to the point that they did not need me anymore, which sounds stupid if you are trying to make money but if you have a trainer that really wants to change people’s lives and help long term then they won’t get caught up in the money. However, if you teach a person well, they will not only be empowered, they will also trust you and know that you have their best interest in mind, which may make them more likely to use your services anyways.

8. Believe In or Promote Spot Reduction

This has two sides to it, number one is just literally a trainer that believes that spot reduction is possible and tries to sell you on it. It is not possible, and a trainer that tries to tell you otherwise you need to avoid. The second part of this is a trainer that dispenses any false information either willingly or unknowingly (for example women should not lift weights, low-intensity exercise burns more fat, if you exercise you need more protein supplements, ab exercises burn belly fat, or cardio is the best way to lose weight). It comes down to the facts that they are either intentionally lying and will say anything they need to make a quick buck or they are not educated enough in their field to be a safe, or effective trainer. Either way if you hear a trainer saying something double-check it until you know they can be trusted, especially if it sounds too good to be true.

9. Promise Quick Results

Many people start into an exercise routine with the hope that it will be easy to hit their goals as long as they put in some effort for a while. I know that it can be discouraging to some to hear that they are not going to drop 10 pounds in a week without serious health repercussions and that they need to realise that exercise and health are things that need to be a permanent part of their life. Infact I have lost a number of potential clients because I have told them that their goals will take longer to reach than they want. A good trainer will make the hard decision to address false hopes and help people set new attainable ones. Whereas a bad trainer will keep their mouth shut just to get a paycheck or even worse plant that false hope just to close the deal. Improving physical ability takes time, weight loss takes time, gaining flexibility or balance takes time and anyone trying to tell you otherwise will never have your best interests in mind.

10. Talk about Lower Abs

This is a very specific one and really falls under dispersing false information but it is one that really bothers me. Any trainer that says they are going to show you an exercise to work on your lower abs does not know what they are talking about. There is no such thing as lower abs! I could go on and on forever about this but I am not going to in order to keep this short. If you want to know the specifics then let me know in the comment section and if enough people are interested then I will make another article and vlog about it. But for now lets just keep it at, if you hear a trainer talk about working the lower abs, they are a either completely clueless as to how the human body works or they are just trying to tell you what you want to hear.

I hope my list helps you find great trainers to help you and more importantly helps you avoid the bad ones. Afterall there is more at stake here than just your waistline. Finding the right well educated personal trainer can be the difference between becoming a happier, stronger, fitter, smarter individual or becoming a person who hates exercise, and feels that they will never succeed. There are many good trainers out there, and finding one that works for you can make a huge positive impact on your progress towards your goals and overall outlook on health and fitness.

Remember that this is just my opinion and if you think there is something else that should be on this list please include it in the comment section below as I would love to hear it. Also if you don’t agree with any of my top ten let me know which one and why.

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How to choose a Personal Trainer

People use personal trainers to assist them reach their individual health and fitness goals. A personal trainer will tailor an exercise program to meet your goals and personal health needs, teach you the best way to exercise and motivate yourself.

Good places to start looking for a personal trainer include local gyms, health centres or fitness centres. When you’re at the gym, watch trainers with their clients and see how they interact. Make a note of trainers who get along with their clients and seem fully involved in their workouts. Ask friends and workmates for word of mouth recommendations.

Take your time before you make your final choice. Make sure your personal trainer is qualified before entering into any agreement.

While professional credentials and experience are vital, it helps to rate personality and communication high on your list of priorities as well. You may be spending a lot of time with this person.

Role of a personal trainer

A personal trainer should have relevant qualifications and be registered with a recognised industry association. A personal trainer’s job is to work with your health and allied health professionals, discuss your goals, assess your fitness level, design a program for you and help keep you motivated.

A personal trainer can:

  • help you exercise safely and efficiently
  • help motivate you
  • help you with technique
  • monitor your progress
  • adjust your exercise program in response to your changing fitness level
  • offer general advice on good nutrition according to national guidelines
  • vary your exercise options to keep you motivated, interested and enjoying your workouts
  • help you to manage some exercise on your own.

Personal training qualifications and experience

It is a good idea to:

  • Ask about their professional qualifications. They should have proof of their certification, including first aid.
  • Ask about their experience. How long have they been working as a personal trainer?
  • Ask what sort of results they’ve helped other clients achieve.
  • Ask how they keep up to date on health and fitness research. For example, they may take refresher courses, attend industry seminars or subscribe to exercise science journals.
  • If you have a specific medical problem, injury or condition (such as being pregnant, or having heart problems or diabetes), make sure your trainer has education in these areas and will work with your doctor and other relevant allied health professionals.
  • Ask if they (or their employer) have professional liability insurance. They should have proof of this.
  • Ask if they are involved in any type of quality accreditation program.

Choosing a personal trainer

When making your choice, factors to discuss with the personal trainer include:

  • How much does it cost to hire their services and what types of payment options are available? Do they offer a discount for larger training packages, for example, for more than one session a week?
  • What about other fees, such as extra services or cancellation fees?
  • Will they offer a discounted trial period before you commit? It is important you feel comfortable training with this personal trainer.
  • Are they available at the particular times and days when you’re free to exercise?
  • What range of physical activity options do they offer? Would you be working out in a gym, at home or outdoors?
  • How do they tailor exercise programs for clients? How would your preferences be taken into account? What sort of services do they offer to support you in achieving your goals?
  • What about updates to the exercise program that accommodate your improving fitness levels?
  • What allied health professionals networks do they have (for example, dietitians, physiotherapists) and work closely with?

Other things to consider include:

  • Make sure you feel comfortable with their training approach.
  • Check out the fees and their policy on contract cancellations.

Consider some more personal aspects that relate to the relationship with your trainer. Trust your instincts about the impressions the trainer makes upon you. Your personal trainer will ideally be:

  • someone you like. Ask yourself if you think you could get along with the trainer and whether you think the trainer is genuinely interested in helping you
  • a good listener – a good trainer will listen closely to what you say. Make sure they understand your goals. Make sure you feel comfortable asking questions
  • attentive – a good trainer will be focused only on you during your sessions
  • tracking your progress – a good trainer will regularly assess and monitor your progress, and change your program as required. They should also provide regular reports to you on your progress and associated health outcomes.

Beware of dubious personal trainers

If you’re concerned about the qualifications of an exercise professional, ask to see their proof of professional credentials, or you can check if they’re registered with Fitness Australia. Occasionally, trainers have been known to be unethical, even though they have the correct credentials. Generally speaking, warning signs of a personal trainer who is unethical include that they:

  • don’t undertake any form of pre-exercise screening
  • can’t or won’t provide proof of professional credentials
  • can’t or won’t offer references
  • try to force you into a contract during the first session – before you’ve had a chance to see if you’re compatible
  • try to sell you supplements or dieting aids, or insist that particular supplements or dieting aids must be taken as part of the program
  • prescribe dietary advice for which they are not qualified or attempt to diagnose and treat injuries
  • advocate exercise aids that may be dangerous, or weight loss techniques, such as saunas, passive exercise machines or body wraps
  • have a ‘one size fits all’ exercise program that doesn’t take your individual health and fitness into account
  • insist that their method of training is the only method that works
  • at your first session, take little notice of your goals and personal health and fitness requirements, and instead want you to do a workout
  • don’t turn up on time (or at all) to appointments and are difficult to contact by phone or email
  • promise immediate and spectacular results – realistically, you’d expect to see some sort of improvement in approximately six weeks, although this will vary enormously, depending on factors such as your age, exercise history, gender and types of activities.

Our app will help you find a personal trainer. Visit our website and join the mailing list:

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Testing strategy for our application

In this article it’s time to talk about the way how we are testing our application and the strategy for testing we laid down in the application design phase. The experience in the past showed us that one of the good design outcomes is easy testable application. Therefore from the very beginning along with the application architecture we were designing our testing strategy.

The goal of the testing application is to achieve a flawless work of it. The simplest way how to test an application is to do a manual tests, but these tests definitely are not the most effective. Along with the software development evolution test approaches evolved as well. We already new and applied in our other projects such tests as unit tests, integration tests, functional tests and regression tests. But since in our team we don’t have a person who knows about testing techniques, can develop and design an application, we developers decided to explore different testing strategies together with QA who mostly does the tests manually. So we started to investigate other teams experience, information in books and on the web, and started to lay down foundation for our own test strategy that would fit our needs.

The thing we decided to start with was “Test pyramid” the term Mike Cohn came up with in his book Succeeding with Agile. The pyramid gave us some understanding how to start to organize the tests.

Unit Tests. Taking in to account our own experience, and the information we obtained it was clear that unit tests will be foundation for our test suite. To be able to easy and what is most important quickly write unit tests one should be able to isolate different peaces of software. In case of OOP the paradigm we are following we should be able easy isolate classes. In my opinion this is one of the core principles to successful unit tests. But in order to do that we must have a design that would allow us to isolate the classes. And that is why the dependency injection became very important technique in our software and I even dedicated the whole blog article to it. And to make it easier to implement this principle in our Android application we chose to use Dagger 2 framework. Once we wrote a use case implementation and accompanied unit tests we ask are our QA to test it. Very soon we discovered that despite the fact that we had a quite good coverage of code by unit tests QA still was finding bugs. And as you can guess the errors occurred in the code that interacted with framework, in our case Android framework. So now it became obvious we needed integration tests to make sure that our code callings to third party libraries or framework work flawless.

Integration Tests. According to Test pyramid these tests should be less than unit tests and indeed we already had tests that cover our own code logic, and so in these tests we decided to test only the connection points between our code and the third party libraries. For example in our application we are fetching data from the server and caching the data in database. In our Android application we are using Room persistence library. There is no really way how to test DAO interfaces, without performing the operations on database. And so we had to write tests that involve Room library. Another example is our code that interacts with our back end server via Retrofit library. And again we had to write tests that involve Retrofit library. Although these tests were written in the same manner as unit tests using Junit test framework they covered more than our class or method and were considered as a separate type of tests.

UI tests. The main reason why we decided to write UI tests is because we wanted to fully automate the test process and make it a part of Continues Integration (CI) process. So for Android we chose Espresso framework and as a firsts test we wrote navigation tests, that made sure that we can navigate to every page we have in our application. Then we wrote the tests only for the errors that QA reported and so comparing with the rest of the tests these are making only small portion of all tests.

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