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Five Ways Personal Trainers Are Ripping You Off

From a former fitness personal trainer

By Varga NorbiPublished 2 years ago 6 min read
Five Ways Personal Trainers Are Ripping You Off
Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

The fitness industry has risen in both popularity and value at an exponential rate in the 21st century, with more people going to the gym with hopes of getting that perfect summer body than ever. However, many of us set off on this journey without knowing much about the fundamentals of strength training, muscle growth or weight loss, and hiring a personal trainer seems like the go-to option.

Most often than not, these trainers will indeed do their best work in order to help their clients achieve their goals, but every once in a while, I’ll encounter trainers who seem to be holding on to certain pieces of information which the clients would benefit greatly from. Realistically speaking, this is likely done intentionally, in order to keep the clients tied to paying for monthly personal training.

Today, I will be revealing five things regarding fitness routines through which personal trainers could be getting the better of your money!

1. Setting unrealistic objectives

Most clients will step into the gym with rather unrealistic expectations, such as getting a six-pack or losing a considerable amount of weight in a small two or three month window (speaking of summer bodies).

By i yunmai on Unsplash

Scam trainers will tell clients that anything is possible, while good trainers will likely claim that although it’s a tough goal to reach, their expertise and knowledge combined with the client’s efforts do make it achievable. On the other hand, great trainers will keep a purely objective position, letting the potential client know that despite their best efforts, achieving this objective in such as short timeframe is unrealistic, but they are willing to give it a try.

Trainers who have just recently joined the scene will be tempted to say anything in order to seal the deal with new clients, because while you may only seek physical improvement, to them it is pure business. This also applies for experienced coaches who are looking to make more money by stockpiling clients.

2. Supplements

It is frankly impossible to step into a gym without bumping into countless shakers scattered across the facility, but honestly, why?

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Supplements are, as the name suggests, supplementary, to a healthy and balanced diet, designed to match the nutritional requirements of your physical goals. There are professional bodybuilders and massive gym rats who don’t consume protein powder at all, or when they do, it is solely for convenience related reasons, not for any special benefits.

Indeed, in the industry we do often recommend protein powder to clients who struggle to get their macronutrients from regular meals alone, but some personal trainers are not afraid to make an additional income from selling them to their clients. There is nothing wrong with trainers giving their promo codes to clients who’d normally buy supplements, but especially in the years leading up to the pandemic, more and more trainers were inflating the importance of protein powder in they clients’ eyes, as they would get a cut from any sale involving their promo code.

If you happen to notice your trainer emphasizing more on supplements than on a proper nutritional plan, consisting primarily of real food, this might be an indicator equivalent to a dating red flag.

3. Bigger trainer, bigger costs

It is perfectly understandable to expect your trainers to be in great physical condition, but that should definitely not reflect in the price of your training plan.

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Some people think that because an individual manages to look a certain way, they will be able to get you looking like that too. Note that fitness enthusiasts who look like Greek gods have likely spent many years under strong discipline, a feat which you cannot replicate over the span of a couple of months or even years.

More importantly, however, some of the best-viewed personal trainers in the world are considerably smaller and less ripped than most of their actual clients. If we stop and think about it, what are you paying the trainer for? They won’t be able to diet or do the workouts or for you, as the primary value provided by personal trainers is their knowledge and understanding of the craft.

Considering that most pro-level bodybuilders who become trainers are also very likely to be using steroids, which make becoming huge significantly easier, it becomes of utmost importance to check the average price of personal training services in your area, and see why your trainer may be charging more.

4. Repeating the same workouts

Physical training requires some level of diversity, even in terms of the exercises performed for individual muscle groups.

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Indeed, some base exercises will always be part of a strong workout routine, namely squats, bench presses, pull-ups, etcetera, but we also need to engage our muscles from a variety of movements, instead of repeating the same workouts time and time again. Having two leg days consisting of the same exercises for two consecutive weeks is definitely alright, however some trainers may insist on sticking to that routine for many months.

There are plenty of movements and exercises to choose from in order to bring diversity into your clients’ workouts, and trainers know this. However, instead of having to explain new movements each week, it is frankly easier to simply repeat what the client already know.

Some trainers may insist that this is the right approach, but out of personal experience, trainers who practiced this were also commonly involved with doing the previously mentioned bits, so keep an eye out on suspiciously repetitive routines.

5. Schedule

Depending on where you live, personal trainers may work with monthly or per-session fees, and this last point is going to focus on the first category.

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Assuming you pay your trainer on a monthly basis, were the number of monthly or weekly sessions pre-determined when you first contacted them?

From my personal experience, trainers who charge a flat fee per month of assisted training will generally provide 3 workouts a week, which would seem normal at first glance. However, that does not mean that working out three times a week is the ideal range, as that would be somewhere in the four or five workouts area.

Muscle protein synthesis can last up to 48 hours after training, but individuals can train different muscle groups on different days in order to keep the process going, effectively maximizing their potential for muscle gains or weight loss over time.

If your trainer claims to be at your service all month, yet they recommend training only three times a week, make sure to politely confront them about it, asking to add at least one more weekly training day to your schedule.

How to find a good trainer?

By Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Besides the strong track-record showcasing impressive transformations of past clients, some of the most respectable and successful trainers I’ve had the pleasure to encounter had one thing in common.

Educating your clients as a personal trainer is, in my opinion, the most important aspect of your professional activity.

Explaining just why we are doing certain exercises, what muscle groups they target, providing valuable tips and tricks and so on are all part of the education activity, ensuring that the client grows and develops, eventually becoming capable of training individually, without requiring your assistance.

This might seem counter-productive from a financial point of view, but truth is, great trainers will never run out of business, as their former clients will inspire others through their results, which are always traced back to the coach who helped achieve that.


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