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  1. #1
    Fitness Proprietor SageFit's Avatar
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    Top 5 ways to come off as douchebag personal trainer and ruin your business

    I recently made a post about this on my fitness marketing blog here http://sagefit.wordpress.com/

    I figured you guys may have some more input on this. What have you seen trainers do that just screams "douchebag".

    Here are some surefire ways to come off as an unprofessional douchebag personal trainer. Do any of these on a regular basis and I can promise you that you’ll never have a real business.

    1) Use your cellphone while training: Whether it’s texting, calling, or doing anything, you will come off as an unprofessinal douchebag. People pay you good money for your time, all your attention should be on them.

    2) Checking yourself out in a mirror: Look, everyone likes to make sure they’re looking good at any given moment but spending time staring at yourself while training is the epitome of douchebaggery. Pay attention to your clients form, not your own. Your form standing there doing nothing is going to be fine, no need to check on it every few seconds. If you flex at yourself in a mirror consider yourself king douchebag.

    3) Talking about your own lifts: I once had an independant trainer working in one of my facilities and he once said to a client “how much do you think I can bench press?”. He is no longer working for me. If you want to brag do it somewhere else. Douchebag.

    4) Sitting while training: The only time you should be sitting down is if a client is on the floor right next to you. Then and only then does it create the proper image of control and professionalism. When you have a client doing a heavy squat and you’re 10 feet away sitting down, you sir, are a douchebag.

    5) Dressing unprofessionaly: Sure, we’re in a gym, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t still a business man. I’m not saying you should come in a suit and tie but a backwards hat and wife beater is not appropriate, well in any situation. Frankly, even if you aren’t training someone you’ll look like a douchebag dressing that way. Dress how you want people to see you, as a professional in the field, not a hoodlum.

    Post your thoughts below
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  2. #2
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    I've actually fired people for doing 1 and 4 before. Great points. I would add that things like vulgar language, checking out girls and just basically being unprofessional are fast paths to douchebaggery.
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  3. #3
    Fitness Proprietor SageFit's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by WoofieNugget View Post
    I've actually fired people for doing 1 and 4 before. Great points. I would add that things like vulgar language, checking out girls and just basically being unprofessional are fast paths to douchebaggery.
    Number 1 really gets to me. I actually fired a trainer the same day I hired him because of it. I even told him "if you text while training you're done" and he did it outside on our usable terrace where he thought I couldn't see him.
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  4. #4
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    I already added on to 4 on your blog

    Another one...talking about YOURSELF the whole session, or even part of the session. Sure, our clients look up to us and want to know about us, but the session is about THEM and they should feel like the most important subject of the session. As a professional, you should keep your personal life details to a minimal anyway (although I know this can be hard as a personal trainer at times with clients who we grow close to).

    I trained at LA fitness VERY briefly when I moved back to Dallas from out of state. One day, a male trainer's girlfriend had broken up with him and kicked him out of the house and he spent entire session with all his clients that day talking about his situation. Not motivating to the client and makes him look like a self-centered DB.
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    Ignoring the clients goals. I was looking to hire a trainer for a few sessions and I told him specifically that I wanted to learn olympic lifts and have him monitor my form and teach me properly. He proceeded to tell me that that was nice, but he was going to start me on some interval cardio training and resistance band work so I wouldn't put on too much size. :|
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  6. #6
    Training For Chest Hair rdferguson's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SageFit View Post
    I recently made a post about this on my fitness marketing blog here http://sagefit.wordpress.com/

    I figured you guys may have some more input on this. What have you seen trainers do that just screams "douchebag".

    Here are some surefire ways to come off as an unprofessional douchebag personal trainer. Do any of these on a regular basis and I can promise you that you’ll never have a real business.

    1) Use your cellphone while training: Whether it’s texting, calling, or doing anything, you will come off as an unprofessinal douchebag. People pay you good money for your time, all your attention should be on them.

    Pretty much agreed. This one gets talked about a lot, and it's come up that there are very good reasons to use your phone in a session, but even if you give a good reason to your client and they understand what's going on, the 100 members watching you train probably won't be so understanding. Bad for image.

    2) Checking yourself out in a mirror: Look, everyone likes to make sure they’re looking good at any given moment but spending time staring at yourself while training is the epitome of douchebaggery. Pay attention to your clients form, not your own. Your form standing there doing nothing is going to be fine, no need to check on it every few seconds. If you flex at yourself in a mirror consider yourself king douchebag.

    I've got to wonder how many trainers do this. It seems fairly obvious to me, but obvious to one man is a complete mental breakthrough for another. I should know, I've had a lot of mental breakthroughs.

    3) Talking about your own lifts: I once had an independant trainer working in one of my facilities and he once said to a client “how much do you think I can bench press?”. He is no longer working for me. If you want to brag do it somewhere else. Douchebag.

    I think the issue here is more bragging about your lifts than talking about them. I think there's a place for talking about your own training, especially if it relates back to something the client's going through. For example, your client is having trouble keeping their chest up, and they think getting so picky with form is just going to slow down their progress. I could legitimately counter that with: "I actually used to feel the same way, and at the time I could lift more without keeping my chest up. But when I decided to decrease the load until I could do each rep with good form, I was then able to keep adding weight with good form, and quickly overtook my previous strength levels." It all comes back to the issue of THINK before you speak: is it True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary and Kind? Bragging might be true, and it has the vague potential to be inspiring, but there's not much more to it beyond that.

    4) Sitting while training: The only time you should be sitting down is if a client is on the floor right next to you. Then and only then does it create the proper image of control and professionalism. When you have a client doing a heavy squat and you’re 10 feet away sitting down, you sir, are a douchebag.

    Just like how above I think the issue is more about bragging than talking, here I think the issue is more relaxing than being in a seated position. I can think of plenty of times when it's appropriate to be seated or down on one knee for the sake of identifying things that you might miss by standing right in front of/beside/behind the client. However, you still want to be engaged and attentive, and using your position productively.

    5) Dressing unprofessionaly: Sure, we’re in a gym, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t still a business man. I’m not saying you should come in a suit and tie but a backwards hat and wife beater is not appropriate, well in any situation. Frankly, even if you aren’t training someone you’ll look like a douchebag dressing that way. Dress how you want people to see you, as a professional in the field, not a hoodlum.

    Definitely agree with this. Most gyms I've been to have their trainers and staff in specific uniforms, so it's not something that has ever been much of an issue in my experience, but it's still something to be aware of, especially if you're running your own business outside of a commercial gym setting.

    Post your thoughts below
    I'd add to this list that you need to have a method to your madness; and that you do need a bit of both when it comes to your sessions. The method is so that what your clients are doing is relevant and useful to their goals....the madness comes from the fact that not all clients have the same capabilities and you won't always have the same resources available. If you only apply madness (as many trainers do), then you and your clients may be entertained by the fact that every workout's different, but it takes the reliability and effectiveness out of each session. If you only apply method, then when things don't go according to plan, you'll create a lot of undue stress for yourself and for your client.
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  7. #7
    Training For Chest Hair rdferguson's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Tynk View Post
    Ignoring the clients goals. I was looking to hire a trainer for a few sessions and I told him specifically that I wanted to learn olympic lifts and have him monitor my form and teach me properly. He proceeded to tell me that that was nice, but he was going to start me on some interval cardio training and resistance band work so I wouldn't put on too much size. :|
    Reminds me of a gym I used to work at, there was a trainer who wanted to train me primarily for the sake of being seen to be training people. He was upfront about that motive, and I was cool with it. All good. Then we talked about how we'll be training. At the time, I had only one thing on my mind, and that was powerlifting. He wanted me to do Mike Mentzer's Heavy Duty, in which my primary lower body training would be pre-fatigued leg presses, instead of something a little more appropriate to someone who just wants a heavy 1RM in his squat, bench and deadlift.

    Once the consultation was over, we agreed not to have him as my PT.
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    You can work out without training, but you can't train without working out.

    The noob effect, as explained by Greg Everett: "You take someone who's totally sedentary and you can get 'em stronger by making them pick their nose vigorously for an hour a day."

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  8. #8
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    These all seem reasonable to me. It doesn't seem reasonable to fire a PT on the spot for these things, you could, you know, try talking to them first.
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  9. #9
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    A biggie, especially for young inexperienced male trainers, is leering at the customer or other women while training. That will make them very uncomfortable and they might not even return. I've seen this time and time again.
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    community gym PT KyleAaron's Avatar
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    Mate, come on! Most of us only signed up for the hot chicks in lycra!

    Or hot guys in tank tops, depending on your own gender and sexuality.
    Elite coaching is about getting the last 5% out of a person's performance, personal training is about getting the first 50%.

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    Something else that really bothers me is gum chewing. I can categorically state that no one, including Kate Upton, looks good chewing gum. It gives one a casual, almost nonchalant attitude look that is not conducive to good customer relations...and if he chews with his mouth open...so much worse. leave the food and gum at the desk.
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    Originally Posted by SageFit View Post
    Number 1 really gets to me. I actually fired a trainer the same day I hired him because of it. I even told him "if you text while training you're done" and he did it outside on our usable terrace where he thought I couldn't see him.
    What about showing clients apps such as MyFitnessPal, or showing clients how to record their own lifts/routines on the "Notes" on the iPhone?
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  13. #13
    Fitness Proprietor SageFit's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by LionRiver View Post
    What about showing clients apps such as MyFitnessPal, or showing clients how to record their own lifts/routines on the "Notes" on the iPhone?
    That's fine. I'm talking about doing something which is quite clearly not helping the client, like texting. Unless he's teaching the client how to text of course
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    Fitness Proprietor SageFit's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by KyleAaron View Post
    These all seem reasonable to me. It doesn't seem reasonable to fire a PT on the spot for these things, you could, you know, try talking to them first.
    Seriously? Even after telling them they'd be fired if they did it? You're nicer then I
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  15. #15
    R[̲̅ə̲̅٨̲̅٥̲̅٦̲̅]ution Mr.ILL's Avatar
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    Trainers that sleep with their clients=douchebag.
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    R[̲̅ə̲̅٨̲̅٥̲̅٦̲̅]ution Mr.ILL's Avatar
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    22 things trainers should never do.

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    How about personal trainers acting like massage therapists, rubbing down clients after workouts. Its unprofessional and opens the door to potential sexual harassment lawsuits. Unless they are a massage therapist they should not be giving massages while acting as a personal trainer!
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    Registered User NorwichGrad's Avatar
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    Pretty much spot on, Sage!!

    My only addition is if you injure your clients because you’re a meathead, not only are you a douchebag, you should get your nutsack stapled to your left thigh as well.

    People go to the weight room to get fit and strong, not to get all effed up and $hit.

    We have this arrogant prick trainer who has caused a lot of injuries. I’m surprised the gym owner has not fired him yet.

    Carry on.
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    Venison Warrior Footballa_19's Avatar
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    Don't be a clockwatcher, the client doesn't need to feel like they are rushed, or wasting your time. Pretty much, just give a sh** about the client in the same respect that you would want to be trained
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    Good list!
    I do sit down sometimes.I have a powerlifter client and with heavy poundages the rest periods are longer.
    We talk between sets about how things felt on the set and how it looked and correct any minor technique issues or other things that need to be addressed.
    Other than that other more traditional clients we are moving and recording sets, reps, and weight and the sit down has no place.
    I would also add trainers should be clean and groomed,clean clothes.Nothing worse than smelling BO,or bad breath from your trainer.
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  21. #21
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    Originally Posted by NorwichGrad View Post
    Pretty much spot on, Sage!!

    My only addition is if you injure your clients because you’re a meathead, not only are you a douchebag, you should get your nutsack stapled to your left thigh as well.

    People go to the weight room to get fit and strong, not to get all effed up and $hit.

    We have this arrogant prick trainer who has caused a lot of injuries. I’m surprised the gym owner has not fired him yet.

    Carry on.
    Funny you should mention that. Way back when, I was dabbling in resistance training at a Vic Tanny gym. I was doing bench presses on a horizontal machine with maybe 120lbs. This monster PT comes by and says I should be able to do much more. So he jacks it up to 190lbs and then drops the handles on my arms....injured my right shoulder...
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  22. #22
    community gym PT KyleAaron's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SageFit View Post
    Seriously? Even after telling them they'd be fired if they did it? You're nicer then I
    Well, it's the same with clients who are often late, or keep doing too much or not enough outside sessions, whatever. It takes a while to break old habits or establish new ones. Now, if the person is a whole bundle of bad habits, okay, don't take them on in the first place. But if they're basically good apart from a couple of things, give them some time to establish new good habits.

    Especially with the younger ones. If you hire a trainer or take on a client who's 21, well they need some experience to sort their sht out, of course they'll be hopeless at first.
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  23. #23
    Training For Chest Hair rdferguson's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by JoeCannonMSCSCS View Post
    How about personal trainers acting like massage therapists, rubbing down clients after workouts. Its unprofessional and opens the door to potential sexual harassment lawsuits. Unless they are a massage therapist they should not be giving massages while acting as a personal trainer!
    Is it stepping beyond what their piece of paper says? Probably. Is it unprofessional? Not necessarily. A sensual massage is probably out of bounds, but massage techniques can be used appropriately in warming up/preparation and in cooling down/recovery. If the trainer has the knowledge and skills to be able to use such techniques, does so only when the contact is solicited, and does so in an unsexual manner, I don't think it's such a bad thing. Granted, it would probably be better (most of the time) to use tools such as foam rollers and teach the client to use these tools on themselves, but there are always exceptions.
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  24. #24
    Kamehameha! KarmicEffects's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Tynk View Post
    Ignoring the clients goals. I was looking to hire a trainer for a few sessions and I told him specifically that I wanted to learn olympic lifts and have him monitor my form and teach me properly. He proceeded to tell me that that was nice, but he was going to start me on some interval cardio training and resistance band work so I wouldn't put on too much size. :|
    This should be on that list. 6) Training people the way YOU want instead of training them for what THEY want.
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  25. #25
    Registered User RohanFLB's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by KarmicEffects View Post
    This should be on that list. 6) Training people the way YOU want instead of training them for what THEY want.
    Agreed
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    Also, I see people doing 1) all the time.

    Saw a PT on the phone today (playing some farm game) while he had a middle aged woman doing star jumps.

    lol
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  27. #27
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    Standing around, during the client's set, drinking coffee from an open top paper cup.
    It screams "I don't care what happens to you, I'm not going to move very fast for anything"
    At least use a plastic mug with a secure top and don't drink DURING their set.
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  28. #28
    Registered User silvrmoos's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SageFit View Post

    5) Dressing unprofessionaly: Sure, we’re in a gym, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t still a business man. I’m not saying you should come in a suit and tie but a backwards hat and wife beater is not appropriate, well in any situation. Frankly, even if you aren’t training someone you’ll look like a douchebag dressing that way. Dress how you want people to see you, as a professional in the field, not a hoodlum.

    Post your thoughts below
    Lulz, Agreed and repped.
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  29. #29
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    Don't throw around big words and over-explain everything to the client, it doesn't impress them, and chances are they don't really care. They are there to train, not get a physiology lessen.
    My daily diet = Venison, oats, spinach, and water.

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  30. #30
    O_o \m/ Keltron's Avatar
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    Good list but I disagree on one point. If sitting isn't interfering, I don't think it's unprofessional. If I don't NEED to stand, why should I have to do it? Granted, if I need to move around to watch form on all angles or if I need to spot then OK. But If I'm coaching someone on Clean and Jerks, I don't need to stand. 9/10 I will probably stand just because I don't have much reason to sit but in that case, if I wanted to sit for whatever reason, I don't think I should be deemed lazy.

    Originally Posted by Mr.ILL View Post
    Trainers that sleep with their clients=douchebag.
    So much this...
    I do snatch pulls in the gym so I can do snatch pulls in the bars. And I ALWAYS use a hook grip.


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