How to spot an unqualified Personal Trainer
Updated: Jan 5
When looking for a Personal Trainer there are lots of things to consider in the first instance. One of the main points of consideration is the question.. are they qualified? In a place where Personal Trainers are a dime a dozen, especially in Brighton & Hove, you get a wide range of different experience levels, training styles, qualifications and competence.
So how do you spot if a PT is unqualified?
You can rest assured that 99.9% of trainers who work in gyms are qualified due to the fact you need documentation to start working in a fitness facility. If you don’t have the Personal Training certificate, you can’t work as a PT in a gym. Simple. However, there will still be people working outside or working in their home gym, delivering Personal Training without the correct qualification or public liability insurance needed by all Personal Trainers to protect their clients and themselves. And unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that all in gym PTs are fully competent either..
The fitness industry is one of the biggest industries which is unregulated.. That means that anyone can call themselves a Personal Trainer and start training clients with no qualifications, insurance or first aid at all. There are even PT courses out there that do not teach you the basics of Personal Training but they continue to operate due to a lack of regulation.
So what are the signs of Personal Trainers working without the appropriate qualifications?
The biggest red flag is a lack of public liability insurance and professional indemnity. Personal Trainer Insurance is difficult to get without the certificate, furthermore, any unqualified Personal Trainer with public liability insurance and public indemnity will be completely invalid without the Personal Trainer Level 3 qualification. All you need to do is ask for a copy of your trainer’s insurance policy. If they’re not insured.. Run a mile!
Although it’s the biggest red flag, the lack of insurance isn’t easily spotted from afar..
The easiest way to assess your trainer is to look at how they operate. The trainers you’re most at risk with are those who operate outside any fitness facility at all. These trainers use the great outdoors to train their clients, safe in the knowledge they don’t need to produce any documentation or insurance certificates to start working. This is especially dangerous down to the fact that the great outdoors is very unreliable in terms of weather, making injuries much more likely due to the wet and cold.
Not warming up
Warming up clients prior to exercise is a must- we have to prime the body for specific movements in order to avoid injury and achieve full ranges of movement. Unqualified PTs will jump straight into workouts without much regard for movement preparation.
Conversely, not cooling down and stretching your client is another sign of incompetence or lack of qualifications. Stretching is very important, especially at the end of the workout.. trainers who miss the stretching aspect are not thinking about their client’s body as a whole which is one of the first things you learn as a PT.
Not accounting for injuries
One of the reasons people go to a Personal Trainer is because they want to work around their injury. There’s a huge amount you can still do whilst injured which will keep your progress ticking over however there are still some trainers out there who don’t account for your injuries and do not offer alternative exercises or workout styles. PTs should be highly adaptable and think on their feet which is drilled into us at an early stage. Sadly, this adaptable attitude seems to have been lost in a lot of PTs.
Doing the same workouts
Variety is the spice of life, and the same can be said for your workouts. While there needs to be an element of repetition in your programme, your workouts should be varied to some degree. If you’re doing the same workouts as all the other clients, that’s also a red flag! There’s no way you have exactly the same needs, goals and fitness/experience levels as other clients. We call this a cookie-cutter approach and demonstrates the trainer’s inability/unwillingness to write bespoke programmes.
Upselling nutrition products
Personal Training is a career in helping people to become healthier, happier and more mobile. The earning potential for a trainer is pretty high so when you’ve got a PT aggressively trying to upsell products like juice plus or herbalife, you know that they’re not able to support themselves on Personal Training alone. A qualified and competent PT will tend to have a busy diary so ultimately won’t need to sell other products to supplement their income. Furthermore, the products being promoted are more for profit as opposed to genuinely helping, so beware!
The best exercises are always the basics, besides, super complex movements take a lot of time to truly master.. If you've not learnt the basics already, that's where your PT should start.. If you're launching into crazy exercises from the word go, it's not a good sign!
How can I avoid an unqualified Personal Trainer?
Unfortunately, there are many PTs operating without relevant qualifications and insurances in Brighton & Hove and a huge number more across the country. So how do you know for sure? If you’re not convinced by your PTs performance or professionalism all you need to do is ask for a copy of their qualifications and/or insurance. However, if you’re having to ask for these documents, you’re probably not going to sign up with that trainer anyway!
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