Why Hiring a Trainer Doesn't Work

It seems like a crazy thing for a personal trainer to say, but hiring a coach does not always work. Don’t get me wrong! I believe full-heartedly in personal training and coaching! But the truth is that there are countless individuals out there who believe that the solution to all their fitness woes is to hire a personal trainer. To their dismay, and despite the efforts of the trainer, they fall short of their goals.

Over the years I have noticed a few popular trends that just don’t cut it. These are some of the reasons why hiring a personal trainer doesn’t work:


1. Hiring a trainer for one session.

Almost ALWAYS in this situation the client fails to reach their fitness goals. It is much like saying “I will eat one good meal” and expect to lose a ton of weight. It just doesn’t work that way. Being healthy is a lifestyle choice; an ongoing process in which an individual is constantly making decisions that will affect his or her health for the better. It is a not a one-time thing!

Individuals who buy one training session are expecting a world of change with very little effort. They believe that all their problems can be fixed in one short hour. Even more ludicrous is that they expect to see results (and fantastic results at that) immediately. It’s true, you should be able to see some changes right off the start – increases in strength, endurance, etc. But to lose 10 lbs in one week?! Unfortunately, unrealistic goals are too common and often a result of watching too much TV. You MUST be somewhat patient with your goals! You MUST stick with your trainer longer than one hour!

And believe me, that one hour goes by fast! This literally leaves very little time for the trainer to get to understand your goals, your physical activity history (or anything else for that matter). If a trainer cannot understand where you are coming from, they might as well give you a very generic exercise program, because they know very little about your capabilities. At this point it becomes a guessing game for the trainer, and the session is very rarely personalized.

All this, and I still haven’t mentioned that one of the clients’ biggest motivations, the trainer, are out of the picture once that only session is out of the way. Hiring a personal trainer is often the motivation an individual needs to stay on track and reach their fitness goals. Without this continued source of accountability and motivation, the client comes a few times and then drifts away. I’ve seen it time and time again.

2. Training with a personal trainer infrequently.

Another popular trend with people is to meet with their trainer every couple of weeks, or even once a month. I understand they want to save money. BUT, this is by no means a more cost effective way to go about making a healthy lifestyle change. If you want to get your money’s worth, you will meet with your trainer AT LEAST once a week. Anything less will result in lack of motivation, lack of direction in your training, and ultimately unreached goals.


3. Not following the directions of the trainer.

It seems like a silly thing, but it happens more often than you would think. Disregarding a trainer’s advice or direction leads to the question: “why are you hiring a personal trainer anyway?!”

You are paying for results. If you have hired a knowledgeable and qualified trainer, they know how to get you those results.

4. Hiring an unqualified personal trainer.

It is very unfortunate, but there are many, many personal trainers out there whose qualifications are questionable at best. The industry is not well regulated, and with that countless individuals are able to become “certified” as trainers. You would be amazed to hear that there are many organizations who offer weekend certification workshops to become certified. How can one become qualified to instruct others to reach their fitness goals over a weekend?! It is a disgrace to the industry and profession.

There are, however, qualified individuals out there who have the knowledge and expertise to give health and fitness advice. Seek out these professionals who have had to work hard to get where they are at. The Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology is the gold standard in Canada for health and fitness professionals. Certified Personal Trainers through this organization are required to have post-secondary education in Kinesiology, Exercise Science, or other related fields, as well as countless hours of practicum experience; not to mention passing a quite extensive written and practical exams.

Do your research and question your potential trainers on their qualifications. I always appreciate it when a potential client asks me for my qualifications.

There you have it! Four reasons why personal training doesn’t work; but maybe even more importantly, you now have four ways you can make personal training WORK!




Kyle Jensen is a B.Sc. Kin., CPT, NCCP Competitive triathlon coach from Calgary, AB. Kyle is the Head Coach of the Kronos Triathlon Club and T1Triathlon.


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