How to spot a "cowboy" Personal Trainer

There are loads of PT’s out there which is great to hear as more people are striving for a truly rewarding career. Other PT’s reading this will recognise one of the traits below and completely understand what we are talking about. We don't know exact numbers but there are people out there training others claiming to be personal trainers. Look out for the following: 


1. Are they actually qualified?

Unfortunately there are quite a lot of people training others claiming to be a personal trainer without the essential qualification. The typical type is one who goes to the gym a lot themselves and is essentially self-taught. Their knowledge might be quite good, however, there will be qualities that they severely lack. Most will have the L2 Fitness Instructor qualification so they can get some form of insurance (even if they own a fitness studio), but it is not enough for the full insurance. They require a bare minimum of the L3 Personal Training Certificate which is accredited by an awarding body. Simply ask to see it.


2. Getting you to lift heavy weights with poor technique. 

There may be a perfectly good reason why the client cannot get in the desired position, be it poor mobility or muscle restrictions. Someone that is not qualified will not know how to test for tight or weakness of muscles. For example, somebody might squat and show a lot of forward flexion of the spine. This could be a result of very tight hip flexors. Continually squatting in this way will be straining the lower lumbar spine. Getting the clients mobility is very important before getting them to lift x2 their body weight.


3. They sell you supplements as a side business. 

We understand that some supplements may be required for small deficiencies in the diet but I’ve seen “trainers” recommend supplements for knee pain when performing heavy squats. This is simply quite ludicrous, seriously unprofessional and morally incorrect. If something is out of a coaches grasp they should refer them onto someone with more professional know how. Coaches cannot be good at everything.


4. Steroid Trainers. 

We have no issue with trainers taking steroids for personal use. We have seen throughout the years though that some trainers prescribe a similar exercise protocol to their clients and hope that they get the same results. Simply saying “try harder” or “give it time” is not fair on the client. Due to the steroids the muscle physiology will be completely different to the clients.


5. They are always right.

I think every PT goes through this at some point. The great PT’s own up at some point though and recognise room for improvement. This is called continual professional development (CPD). This is essential for any PT. There is so much to learn. A quick fix 6 week course will not teach you everything. We take a minimum of 8 weeks, trust me that extra two weeks is an investment in your career!


Personal training courses are pretty robust as awarding bodies ensure strict standards. Even our tutors here at The Personal Training Group continue to seek the latest and most up to date information to stay on top of their game. Want to know more about courses? Click here.