Trainers & Bad Information

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 08, 2007 1:58 PM GMT
    Removing all my posts from the forums...bear with me....
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 08, 2007 7:51 PM GMT
    Having been a trainer for many years, I'm afraid you already know the answer to this question - and you don't like it any more than I do:

    You cannot intervene. Period.

    1) You don't know the client's medical history, so you could be advising them to do something injurious.

    2) You have no standing. You are NOT the person's trainer.

    3) You might be held liable by the client in case of injury, or might be expelled from the gym for interfering with the trainer/client relationship (if the trainer is an employee).

    I, too, see things going on in gyms which curdle my blood - some at the hands of other trainers, and some by the blind leading the blind....and I once tried to intervene, and almost got expelled by management.

    Just put your ears on, and close your eyes.

    Joey
  • art_smass

    Posts: 960

    Sep 08, 2007 8:14 PM GMT
    "I hate to start this post, simply because I am afraid it will make me sound like I hate personal trainers."

    Don't worry about it. You contribute valuable input to these forums. I, for one, appreciate what you have to say.

    I'm in Canada where getting sued for a zillion dollars is less likely, but it is still considered a legal issue up here, too. At my gym we only allow facility access to our own trainers. The rest of us are told to butt out of personal training sessions unless we notice that a client is in "imminent danger." It's sort of like an old-fashioned "Good Samaritan" law. We are encouraged to compare notes when clients aren't present, but unless someone is doing something really, really stupid, we're told not to intervene.
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    Sep 08, 2007 10:02 PM GMT
    I'd never even thought about the legal implications but I have rudely intervened several times -- not during a session but afterward, with either the trainer or client separately. The last time was when I saw a gym trainer prescribing upright rows to a guy with a shoulder injury!

    Of course, they had absolutely no interest in hearing me. After all, I don't have the certification that the trainer earned after a weekend workshop. By which I mean to say that certification rarely makes a difference, anyway. It's experience that seems to count most.







  • art_smass

    Posts: 960

    Sep 08, 2007 10:59 PM GMT
    I'm just curious to know this (and it's sort of related because it's been mentioned), but can people seriously become trainers by taking weekend workshops? It's a little tougher than that to get the actual designation up here.
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    Sep 08, 2007 11:08 PM GMT
    I may be mistaken, but I believe you can get certified by taking an online course.
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    Sep 08, 2007 11:13 PM GMT
    I remember reading an article in Men's Health I believe where this guy seriously almost died because he was following these tips from a trainer who worked at the gym. The trainers at the gym don't care to get to know you, your medical background, what you should be doing, etc. Instead, they just follow what they are supposed to by the gym. It's really horrible.
  • art_smass

    Posts: 960

    Sep 08, 2007 11:15 PM GMT
    The wannabe trainers who come to my gym to take their practicum are part of a two-year college certification. I just figured it was like that everywhere.
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    Sep 08, 2007 11:17 PM GMT
    Is that required under Canadian law?
  • art_smass

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    Sep 08, 2007 11:31 PM GMT
    I'm not sure about that. We only hire people with a recognized designation, which I believe can vary from province to province, but under the standards of an umbrella-type professional organization (CSEP-CPT).

    There are probably gyms all over with crappy trainers. I've just been going to this one for seventeen years, so I don't know about the others.
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    Sep 08, 2007 11:41 PM GMT
    OW - a couple of things:

    1) There is one highly-regarded organization which certifies people via an online, open-book test. But don't think for a second that it's a pushover - it's almost all essay, and requires candidates to extrapolate, synthesize, and demonstrate a real understanding of how to integrate information into a valid and safe exercise strategy. It also has a textbook that, in my opinion, outshines NSCA and ACE by far - it's ISSA.**

    2) More than even experience comes INTENT. I know of highly experienced trainers who are burned out. They simply don't care any more - they are going through the motions. I also know fairly green trainers who will research a problem when one comes up, and will give their clients a ton of attention and care.

    ** Just for the record, I'm not ISSA - I'm NSCA, and after certification reviewed both ACE and ISSA texts to get their take on things.

    Joey
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    Sep 08, 2007 11:48 PM GMT
    In my 20 plus years at the gym, I have seen many crazy stupid things. The worst was one case where a trainer worked a guys so hard he fainted. We thought he had a heart attack, but an EMT came and carried him out. I knew when I saw him sweating profusely and turning pale that he was going to fall. The man was very over weight, out of shape, and older and should not have been pushed so hard. Thank God for those rubber mats. The trainer was justifiably embarrassed.

    Even these day I see trainers trying to come up with all kinds of tricky exercises maybe trying to impress people that they have some secret. A simple curl or push-up doesn't seem to be enough.

    Recently, I saw a trainer have someone standing on this half ab-ball thing (like an air pillow on a base) while having the beginning person curl the dumbbells that were reasonably heavy for him. I kept thinking as the person wobbled, one wrong twist or loss of balance, and that persons back is going to be very hurt.

    Anyway, if the person was my friend or someone I knew pretty well, and was concerned about possible injury, I would probably say something off premises, but otherwise I would leave it alone.

    I think though, PsychExerSci, that the best thing you could do to help, is get clients or friends you could train with your knowledge and education, and teach them simple safety along with exercise techniques. I think if you teach people what NOT to do, maybe other people watching will get a hint and question things, without you having to be confrontational. If you teach thing in terms of helping your own trainees, you won't look like you are trying to run someone else down and come across as more confident and knowledgeable.

    Congratulations on all your education and good luck on the PhD! Its good to be an expert in something you love doing, especially if it means helping other people.
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    Sep 09, 2007 12:35 AM GMT
    "2) More than even experience comes INTENT. I know of highly experienced trainers who are burned out. They simply don't care any more - they are going through the motions. I also know fairly green trainers who will research a problem when one comes up, and will give their clients a ton of attention and care."

    That sounds like what happens in just about every helping profession. ...Well, it's cool that the online program is good. I know that a lot of online education is high-quality, but I've seen a bunch of quicky $49.99 instant certifications online too.
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    Sep 09, 2007 1:26 AM GMT
    Let me talk from a different perspective. Although I'm one of the older guys on the site, I'm very new to the gym and must rely on the trainers. In the year or so I've been going, I've probably had eight different trainers. Not one has asked about my physical infirmities (perhaps that info is in my profile on their computer), but I have finally learned to tell them when an exercise hurts me and that I need to tell them to stop. When I first began with my current trainer, he overdid the exercises and I began feeling faint and, according to him turned pale and was very cold to the touch. We quit for the day...he did try to call the paramedics, but I told him not to. He's been much more attentive since then and gives me a much longer break between sets and exercises. I've mulled over whether I would want some of you more experienced guys to chime in when you KNOW an exercise is wrong, and I think I would want you to do so. I think I'm learning to distinguish a good trainer from a bad trainer, but I'm not the only ignorant customer in the gym, and some of us need help.
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    Sep 09, 2007 1:52 AM GMT
    Rigsby, if a trainer does not take a complete health & medical history AND administer something called a Par-Q (to evaluate risk factors for cardiovascular disease) - DO NOT EMPLOY THEM.

    Every major certifying body drills the necessity of this screening into their candidates. So either the trainer is certified by a slipshod organization, or they flatly don't care.

    AFTER all that, there's the question of are they any good.

    Joey
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    Sep 09, 2007 2:03 AM GMT
    There just isn't enough education out there for customers. I've had a number of trainers over the years and learned the hard way from my first trainer that it takes very little to become a trainer at some gyms.

    I asked my frist trainer what he had done and it was one of those quick classes. That was it. He was in good shape, but he told me later that he had taken steroids. Wow.

    This was at 24 Hour, where it seems that anyone can be a trainer. I just did a quick query and turned up these reqs for a trainer position on craigs:

    -Must be at least 18 years of age
    -Must have a high school diploma or a GED
    -CPR and/or AED certified
    -Personal training certificate preferred
    -Must attend new hire orientation prior scheduled shift in assigned club

    (Note the PT cert is preferred, not required)

    I've learned to ask trainers what their background is, what certifications they have, how long they have been training and if training is their career goal. Then, I tell them about my work out history and various injuries (if it doesn't come up) and ask them if they've worked with someone else that has these injuries.

    Also, if you're going to pay for training, don't be stingy. There's a reason why some trainers are $50/hr and some are $150/hr. It can get expensive, but so can a trip to the ER.

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    Sep 09, 2007 3:17 AM GMT
    Something else might be talking to the gym, and asking about their trainers and certification etc, or even just mentioning what you saw, and based on your knowledge, why you thought it dangerous. But yeah, probably not that much you can do while he's there with the client.

    Personal note: when you pick a trainer, like everything in life, pick with care.
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    Sep 09, 2007 3:28 AM GMT
    Trainers come in two broad classes: Gym Employees, who are generally there to sell memberships or training packages, and Independent Trainers, who pay a professional membership fee or a per-session rate to train clients in a facility.

    In the former case, the gym is generally not particularly interested in the quality of the training, but in the sales numbers (there are, fortunately, a few exceptions - but usually not in a "big box" gym). In the latter case, to preserve the "Independent Contractor" status, the gym has NO input in to the training styles or expertise of the trainer. They only have the requirements imposed on them by their insurance - usually a national certification and CPR/AED training and that the trainer must have his/her own liability insurance with the gym as a named insured.

    That's it. If the gym does more - controls the trainers hours, client roster, directs them on how to train, or pretty much anything else, they are no longer "independent" and the gym has to treat them as employees, paying Social Security, Workers' Comp Insurance, etc....
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    Sep 09, 2007 3:52 AM GMT
    Joey said: "...Trainers come in two broad classes: Gym Employees, who are generally there to sell memberships or training packages, and Independent Trainers..."

    I've been aghast at the quality of some of the former category at my gym (Golds) in Oakland. I have a feeling that some have gotten their certification or training out of cracker jacks box. And there are other issues...I've seen one female trainer, clearly on steroids, by the way, openly flirting with one of her clients...let me put it more bluntly...while her client is doing machine chest presses, this woman has her knee up against her client's crotch, and sometimes sits on her lap.

    I heard another trainer there talking to a nearly obese client there who was complaining about being overweight despite all the workouts...and the trainer reminded him to make sure he doesn't eat carbohydrates before bed time. (By the way, I often trained near those two guys...and the trainer spent much of the time talking to the guy, and very little time training him...and not once did I hear the trainer give his client the little equation (calories in - calories out) = weight change.

    There are a few good trainers there...but, generally speaking, they're awful.

    John
  • iHavok

    Posts: 1477

    Sep 09, 2007 4:01 AM GMT
    I make sure to only consume Carbs after bedtime...They dont count if you're a sleep right?
    LOL

    This makes me topic is great because i was wondering today if I wasn't doing myself a disservice by not paying the $380 for 3 sessions my gym offers as a "great deal."

    Stupid advertising.
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    Sep 09, 2007 5:18 AM GMT
    I really hope that you guys are kidding. $50 - $150 per hour from taking an on-line test? Maybe I totally wasted ten years of round-the clock studying and research. (plus many many kilobucks in tuition).

    Oh, sorry, did I have a point?

    I used to belong to a big-box gym with questionable sales associates/trainers, when I became aware of a much better gym in town. About a dozen guys, who weren't interested in racquet sports or the pool, got together and rented an old garage. They used it to deploy all of the weight benches and equipment that they owned, and they shared the workout expertise that they had. Every month or so, they'd buy another piece of equipment. Each month, they paid a small fraction of the cost of belonging to the big-box gym.

    Seems like a good model to me.
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    Sep 09, 2007 7:52 AM GMT
    MindG - do NOT think trainers are rolling in cash. Here are some ballpark figures for an independent trainer in our area:

    Professional fees: 4800-6000/year
    Continuing education: about 300-700/year
    Insurance: 200-600/year
    Licenses, etc: 200-300/year
    Other: Transportation Costs, Advertising, Travel (to classes), Phone, Business Cards, Misc - maybe 1500-4500/year

    totals 7000-12100/year BEFORE TAXES

    training 6 clients/day, 6 days/week = 36 session/week or 1800/year = 90000 gross

    90000 gross
    7000 expenses
    83000 net before taxes
    16000 taxes state & fed
    67000 net income - or just under 5600/month

    ...and that's working your ass off 6 days/week @ $50/hour with no unemployment, no paid vacations, no "personal days".

    ...as for $150/hour - well, the top rate around here is $75. Maybe in Beverly Hills you get $150 - but not out here.

    No one becomes a personal trainer to get rich - at least, none that I know.
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    Sep 09, 2007 12:51 PM GMT
    Joey, does this mean I owe you $50 for that phone call? :)

    -Joe
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    Sep 09, 2007 1:05 PM GMT
    I'm definitely not working towards my personal trainer cert for the sake of getting rich. I'm doing it so I can share my experiences and mistakes with other like-minded people and prevent them from tripping up where I did.

    Since I'm not actually certified yet I don't feel right charging people for the help I give them, but I've taken about 4 people on my base (in Afghanistan) under my wing and put together workout plans for them. Since I don't have the time to actually go to the gym with them (it's a side thing, not my actual assigned job on base) I just made sure to go over each exercise with them and how to perform them properly.

    I will honestly say though that I am better suited, based on my experience, to work with guys who fall under the category of "hard-gainers" (even though there is no such thing) who are ectomorphs trying to put on muscle mass. This is only because I fall into the same category, so my personal experience is tailored towards that. I also inform people of that when they ask me for assistance, but I do have some experience in other areas like weight loss or weight management and injury recovery. Considering that my husband is recovering from three fractured vertebrae from a helicopter crash, I've become fairly well versed with injury recovery and prevention, and know what exercises not to proscribe based on someone's injury history. Medical journals are the SH!T! LOL. Seriously though, most of my free time is spent reading med journals and learning from the experiences of others before I decided to change something for myself or someone I'm helping out.

    I could of course take the perspective of doing whatever the hell I want only because another member of the military can't sue me, but I don't want to do that. I genuinely enjoy helping other people and sharing my experiences and I would never want to see anyone get hurt attempting something I incorrectly proscribed to them.

    Once I'm back in the states and out of the military, my goal is to work for the on-base gym (under MWR [Morale, Welfare, and Recreation], which is civilian run) helping other service-members reach their fitness goals. I have no interest what-so-ever in working for a 24-hour Fitness or Powerhouse Gym as I don't want to be viewed or pressured into being a careless trainer only concerned about the almighty dollar sign.

    I'm in it for the people, not the money.
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    Sep 09, 2007 2:26 PM GMT
    Joe,

    FYI = our rate is actually 60-75 depending on the gym, and we do NOT believe in internet training in any case.....

    Joey