10 Signs You Need a New Trainer (or Cycling Coach?)

[Mash this link to skip my blather and go straight to the article in question.]

I’m back in the gym a lot these days and loving it. I know gyms are full of sweaty people doing shitty workouts that probably won’t work. I know that gyms are full of Meathead Dudes gettin’ all up close and personal with the wall to wall mirrors.  I know that gyms are full of (mostly) airhead trainers who don’t have a clue what they’re actually doing.

I know all that.

Still – I admit to being a Gym Rat – I’m OK with it. I find the sociology of it all fascinating. I love walking in and seeing 50 people on treadmills, running nowhere. It’s so completely messed up it actually makes me smile.

But what really breaks my heart is when I see people working out with the seriously suspect trainers. Usually they’re doing what look to be pretty decent workouts, but I look into the eyes of these trainers and I have to question their experience.

I had a 24 Hour Fitness trainer once and he was pretty good but I wasn’t ready for him. He was like, “Switch to light beer and only have one or two.” and I was like, “Why don’t you just shoot my cat while you’re at it?”

My next trainer was a guy at Golden Gate Fitness (I always train at whatever gym is closest and most convenient to either work or home – I don’t care much about facilities or anything else – convenience is key for me) and we became great friends. We accomplished some really rad things together back in San Francico and he taught me a lot. We’re still in touch – I even workout with him every now and again. (He’s in Portland so if you’re looking for a great, independent Personal Trainer in PDX, let me know).

What I’ve learned is twofold: Training is effective. Training is expensive. On an advertising salary? No problem! These days? Not so much. Luckily, I’ve gotten pretty good at Ye Olde Fitness Thing and I can put together solid programs on my own.

Back to that expensive thing: At $50/session (low end) working out twice a week (again, low-end) you’re spending $400/month. For some people, that’s rent. With a more expensive trainer and greater frequency, you’re into the thousands. That’s a lot of green!!

Yet people routinely end up with mediocre trainers because they don’t know any better. This makes me nuts!

I woke up this morning to see that John Berardi just wrote an article called “Ten Signs You Need a New Trainer“. I think it could also be applied to cycling coaches (except the clipboard bit). Either way, it’s solid advice and contains some good nuggets about Outcome vs. Behavior based training, integrating nutrition, etc.

This is the one I love the best because it seems like common sense and yet I still see people getting fitness training from people who really aren’t that fit:

#4: They Aren’t Healthy or Fit

Just like realtors who’ve never owned a home and financial planners who are broke, out-of-shape trainers and nutritionists piss me off.

Now, let me clarify. You don’t have to look like a fitness model to be fit and healthy. So that’s not the standard here.

However, if a trainer doesn’t have more muscle, less fat, and a better health profile than the average person, why would I listen to any advice on building muscle, losing fat, and getting healthier from them?

It’s a no brainer. If a trainer or nutritionist isn’t healthy and fit — and doesn’t practice the behaviors necessary to remain that way — they can’t be my coach.

You can check out the rest here.

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  1. Although I would generally agree about 24 Hour Fitness trainers, I got one who’s awesome! He knows his stuff, integrates my workouts with my cycling plans (and is a cyclist himself), and tries to get me to listen to his very solid nutritional advice (I’m not such a good client in that area). Look him up if you’re in the market – Will Balough at Hollywood!

  2. That’s my club! (Wait, Hollywood in Portland, right?)
    I agree – you can get lucky at 24 Hour for sure.
    The guy who runs the boot camp that I did for a few years started as a 24-Hour trainer and he’s amazing.
    That’s great to hear about the cycling integration, too. That is tricky business.

  3. Massimo Jaboffo

    Recently, I fired, then re-hired myself as my coach/trainer. As my own coach, my behaviors affect the outcomes from my prescribed training metrics, and as my client my outcomes are derived from these same behaviors. Unfortunately, I have been unable to master riding my bike holding a clipboard (let alone writing on it), and my coach thinks Guinness is good for me, should I be re-fired?

  4. I’ve seen way too many horrible trainers; including those employed at colleges to help with sports teams. The absolute best one I’ve come across was actually at a 24hr fitness near Denver. Mike was an awesome trainer and still does independent training as well – he influenced my wife and I enough that we still keep in touch with him as well.

  5. As someone who cannot afford a trainer, or a gym membership, I’ve found that my sweetie makes a darned good personal trainer. She’s taught me some yoga (which we do together three mornings a week now), and she knows me and my body well enough after 9 years with me that she can figure out when I need to be shoved out the door for a short brisk ride or when I need to be tied to the recliner for some active recovery. Add my warehouse gig and daily commute into the mix and I have much of the cross-training I need.

  6. Thanks for this post, this is a big topic and one that seems to be frustrating to a lot of people. Coaches are a bit like good hairdressers (not that I know that many myself!) – find a good one, keep them close, tell all your friends, etc. Is there a US coaches register, or some way that people can comment on a coaching experience and see how others got on? I think there is in the UK, but it’s not that widely used.


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