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11 Things you can recognize a bad Personal Trainer by
The myth: All personal trainers know what they are doing. They have studied, passed several trainer licenses and have enough anatomical knowledge to respond to all injuries and ailments. The reality may be harsh, but the availability of a good personal trainer is rather limited. How to recognize a bad personal trainer and when it is better to flee, you can find out here.
Here you will find a short overview of the 11 points. 

  1. The minimum requirement.
  2. Health questionnaire.
  3. Don't be a baby.
  4. The toughest coach in town.
  5. My goals are your goals.
  6. "How are you? I've already set three new PR's today."
  7.  I'm so tired.
  8. I'll remember that.
  9. Gradations?
  10. The count
  11. The telephone man

If you read this article yourself as a personal trainer and recognize yourself in some of the points, you will probably not be able to avoid being self-critical. In my opinion, it is not enough if "only one of the points applies to me, I do the others all right." This is an unprofessional attitude.
If your pilot tells you before your flight "I am a great pilot. I do almost everything right. Only when landing I have difficulties, but otherwise everything is top", you would not be happy, would you?
Self-reflection and the will to improve yourself will lead to your own quality increasing. If every personal trainer had that mentality, we wouldn’t have such a bad reputation!
The quality of a trainer is a topic that has been on my mind for a long time. Since I am a personal trainer myself, I always try to get the best out of myself. 
During my time in commercial fitness studios as a student, trainer, studio manager or even simply as a customer, this topic and especially negative examples inevitably come up again and again.
The profession of a personal trainer is an activity that involves working with the health of third parties, with the aim of securing and improving it in the long term. 
Therefore, it should be expected that personal trainers need to undergo training and further education in the basic medical field, as well as various training fundamentals in order not only to understand the anatomy but also the medical history of the client. This includes their definitions, causes, symptoms, rehabilitative measures and contraindications (i.e. things that should not be done with this condition in the first place), and to be able to handle it effectively.
Unfortunately, the situation in Germany is different. 
In order to acquire the designation "personal trainer", you need nothing more than a fitness trainer B-licence. 
What are the contents of the B-licence?
Simply, anatomical basics are taught so that trainers know which muscle sits where and what function it has. For this purpose, modules such as "training control" are used to lay the foundations for creating basic training plans. 
With a passed B-licence, this is enough to call yourself a "personal trainer" in Germany and to go on the hunt for customers. 

Why is this so?
The term "personal trainer" is not protected in Germany and is therefore not subject to any major restrictions. A fitness trainer B-licence is therefore sufficient to qualify for it.

Therefore we start directly with the list.

1. The minimum requirement

Lets say your trainer has nothing more than the minimum requirements to train you. That doesn't make him a bad trainer in general, but missing additional qualifications raise some questions and should make the alarm bells ring. Does your trainer know which cardio machines are suitable for your knee surgery or which exercises are taboo for your blood pressure?
You have just come out of your spinal disk rehab, do knee bends really make sense?
Maybe your trainer knows that, maybe not. Do you want to risk it? Do you want to pay 60 € upwards per hour for a 50/50 chance that your health is in good hands?

If a trainer can't provide any further qualifications or refuses to provide you with such proof, then you should start looking for another trainer right away.
You should not take a chance when it comes to health. Which brings me straight to the next point.

2. Health questionnaire

It is clear that the main clientele for personal trainers are not top athletes, who all have a solid basic fitness and are athletically excellent, but are mainly people who are (have become) aware of the importance of their health and now seek professional advice to improve it. In 98% of the cases Personal Training clients have one or more complaints ranging from simple tension, back pain, slipped discs, torn cruciate ligaments or high blood pressure. 
So if you find a trainer in the gym or meet with a possible personal trainer and he starts training with you right away without having filled out a medical history sheet or asked any health questions, then run! 
How will someone adjust to your level of performance, your level of health and your goals if they don't know what they are?
This is an act of gross negligence and you should be aware that Russian roulette is being played with your health. 
In my opinion, physical complaints are the lesser evil. If he sends you to lift your calves with a freshly operated Achilles tendon, your body will signal very quickly that the exercise is not the right one.
But if you show up for training with high blood pressure, and your trainer sends you to the leg press like any other person, has you train to muscular exhaustion. Then sends you to the back extensor, where you are supposed to train over the full range of motion of your spine (as it is generally taught with healthy people), your body will express itself "only" by a bright red head. A red head in connection with sports is basically no concrete indication of something dangerous. 
But exactly this can become extremely dangerous in combination with high blood pressure and cause ruptured vessels, which can actually lead to heart attack.
A medical history or at least health questions are a MUST. If your coach does not do this, find a new one! Now.

3. Don't be so stupid

Yeah, sure, a personal trainer is supposed to motivate you. That's one of the reasons you picked one. He should give you the motivation to persevere in stressful situations. And honestly, you will be surprised what you are capable of if you can turn off the little voice in your head that tells you to stop. 
It is always a difficult line for a trainer to know if someone wants to avoid tricky exercises or if something really doesn't fit.
However, it is fundamentally important to use a little "common sense" and to be able to realistically classify situations. 
A few years ago, I was training in a gym where I was only a customer myself. While I was exercising, a course took place next door on the functional training area. The trainer drilled the participants from front to back. In itself not too bad.
But one lady wanted to throw in the towel at some point, she was a bit dizzy and everything was still a bit too much for her at the moment. The trainer was not impressed by this and only issued a "Don't be a pussy", so she would eventually "lose the last pounds for the summer holiday that was so important to her". After all, he knew her goals. She then continued and 2 minutes later suffered a complete circulatory collapse. 

Motivation is all well and good, but if your coach ignores your obvious physical ailments, which only develop during training, and thus puts your health at risk, then it's time for a change.

4. The toughest coach in town

Self-experienced and perceived as bad. "Yesterday I had four more trainings, only one of them lasted, the other three all had to puke." A trainer once boasted that to me.
Cool story, and how many of your 4 clients had "puke" as their training goal?
Some coaches plan their workouts with the goal of simply getting the client tired and exhausted. No matter what.
But please always remember: EVERYONE can make you tired. EVERYONE!
This is not an art. A 5-year-old child can make you do jumping jacks for 60 minutes just because he has seen the exercise and knows the name. After 60 minutes, Rich Froning is tired too (The "fittest man in the world").
But is that something that will bring you closer to your goals? Do you want to be unable to move after a workout for 14 days because everything hurts?
The really difficult thing about planning your workout is to tailor it to your individual needs so that you make long-term progress, establish that progress, set new goals and always keep your health in mind. And long-term health also includes a healthy relationship with exercise and sports.
Just imagine the following: You're someone who hasn't done sports in a lifetime. You don't know what that feels like. You are 30 kg overweight and have Type II Diabetes. Because you know that you have to do something, you hire a personal trainer or have registered at the gym. And now your trainer pushes you so hard in your very first training session that you get three lunches during the workout and you can't turn over in bed for a solid 7 days afterwards. 
All you can think about now is: "Should I do this for the rest of my life? Three times a week?? No way!"
From now on, you're going to associate every gym and personal trainer with 7 days of pain and vomiting 3 times per workout. 
Such methods in no way promote a positive connection to a sporty, healthy lifestyle and they will result in 99% of you never setting foot in the gym or ever doing sports again.
If you just want to be exhausted and tired, okay. To each his own!

If you want to get better, relieve discomfort and build a healthy connection to sports, then you should turn your back on a coach who just drives you crazy.

5. My goals are your goals

Every person who does fitness sports has his own goals and sporting preferences. 
There are powerlifters that love to lift super heavy weights.
There are bodybuilders, who do not attach importance to weight, but more on thick muscles.
There are cardio addicts who want to run at least one marathon every day.
There are the bodyweight advocates who train without adding equipment and weights. 
And there are many more.
It is the same with every coach. Every trainer has his own preferences in training, one prefers to train with TRX sling trainers, another does power lifting(squats, bench presses, cross lifts) and yet another does classic strength training only on equipment.
This is all completely legitimate and everyone should do what they prefer and what is best for them personally.
It only becomes critical when your trainer tries to transfer his goals and methods to you by hook or crook. 
If your goal is to lose 10kg of body fat and your coach lets you do heavy bench press because "more strength has never hurt anyone", then working together makes no sense. Of course, more strength hasn't hurt anybody yet, but we are on a path that doesn't lead to your goal, but to mine. 
I have often seen how personal trainers train their clients 1:1 with their own training plan. With 5 consecutive clients.
Unless your wish is specifically to go through the same training as the trainer, that is not the purpose of personal training.
The purpose of personal training is to individualize the unit to each client. A training that is focused on you, your performance level and your goals from the big cycle to the single repetition.

If in this context the trainer's goals match yours and you want to train like him, you can talk about it. 
If this is not the case, then it is time for another trainer.

6 ."How are you doing? I've already put up 3 new PR's today"

Number six, it's rare, but it does exist more often than you might think. A coach who tells you more about his workout and progress than he does about yours.
Classics in this context are sentences like:
"The weight you train with is great. I warmed up with it yesterday."
"How are you today? I've already put up three new PR's (personal records)"
"What we do is just the beginning. At some point, we'll come up with as much weight as I move. By the way, here is a video of me doing XY kg squats this morning"

It's okay if your trainer can also tell you about his experiences related to your training and exercises. But do you pay someone €60 or more to listen to their progress and life stories, or do you rather pay them for an hour that is about YOU and YOUR training?

7. "I am so broken"

I'll make it short. 
If your trainer - in your personal training unit - tells you how tired and broken he is after his hard day at work, then he should look for a new profession and you should find a new trainer. 
"Oh, I've had 5 trainings already and after ours I can go home after work, I'm so tired."
Guess what?! 
Even if it's his sixth coaching session of the day, it's your first. 
For the money you put on the table, you can expect the coach's energy in the 6th hour to be the same as in his first.

Otherwise, he can offer you a discount if he can't perform at full power due to the number of hours he has to work.

8. I will remember that

A printed training plan, a clipboard and paper is always included. I would never be able to remember the sets, repetition numbers and weights with break times from all customers. Not even for 5 minutes. No way until the next training in a few days.
If your trainer doesn't write anything down during your training, it is a sign of bad training planning and simply unprofessionalism. There are so many things that happen during a workout, that come up during an exercise, during a conversation, that affect the next sessions. The training period depends on which exercises you train with how much weight. The next unit is based on this. 

If your trainer does not note your base, how does he or she plan to get you to a result?

9. Gradations? 

Again I try to keep it short. 
If a trainer is not able to prepare a certain exercise in different levels of difficulty, then you can better invest your money and time elsewhere. 
There are always possibilities to make a certain exercise easier. If in doubt, there are certain things, such as tape, that should be part of the basic equipment of every personal trainer.
You cannot do squats with the barbell?
No problem. Try dumbbell goblet squats. If that doesn't work, we can do body weight squats. If that doesn't work, we'll use the TRX sling trainer, which you can hold on to, and limit the bending movement with a box.
A good trainer will find an easier alternative for every exercise.

If your trainer can't do it or if he lets you do all the same exercises as a matter of principle, you better invest your money elsewhere.

10. The Count

Coaches who just stand next to you and count the reps show that they paid attention in primary school. Nothing more.
You look for a personal trainer because the trainers in the gym can't give you the kind of attention that you get in a 1:1 training session. This is not an accusation against the trainers in the gym, but it is just not feasible. A gym with almost 1000 members will rarely have more than 5 trainers. Let it be 10 trainers (which will never be the case), then there will be 100 members for every trainer. How can a trainer give you full attention in the 60 minutes you train unannounced?
But, that is exactly what personal trainers are for. It may cost more, but that's what personal trainers are for: full attention and constant corrections of the execution.
I think so!
It happens repeatedly that trainers are obviously paid to pick out exercises and check that the previously agreed number of repetitions is kept. Therefore it is necessary that the trainer lists each repetition out loud. So in the end no more is done than agreed. That would be cheating.
Let's be honest: 
Your personal trainer doesn't get paid to count to 10. 
You should at least expect him to count to 20.
No, let's be honest: Your personal trainer is there to check every movement in every repetition and - if necessary - correct it appropriately. Especially in strength exercises, joint angle, movement speed, standing width, breathing etc. make an enormous difference and can decide between adequate muscle stimulation in the target muscles and no training stimulus or even complaints.
You can count yourself. 
Correct yourself? That will be difficult.

Find a trainer who corrects you appropriately.

11. The telephone man

Short and sweet: If your trainer is on their mobile phone more during your session than attentive to you and your exercises, say goodbye.

Exceptions are stopwatch and timer apps.
Otherwise, mobile phones are an absolute no-go.


Not all the points mentioned above make your trainer a bad trainer. However, they are definitely indicators for you to distinguish a good trainer from a bad one. Especially if you are looking for your first personal trainer, this will certainly help you in your choice.
The quality of the service should correspond to the price you pay. And everything above the 60 € limit entitles you to expect the above mentioned points in the right execution from your trainer. 

I hope you found the article helpful. 
If you are looking for a personal trainer, please contact me by mail (
All other information about me and my training principles as well as my services can be found via the following link (