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Don’t Take What Some Trainers Say as Gospel

  • 6 min read

by Matt Weik

Sure, the trainer at your local gym might look jacked, but he very well might not know jack. It’s unfortunate these days that many trainers found in gyms and health clubs simply aren’t educated to do their job properly. They are people who enjoy working out, got a quick certification (some don’t even do that), and are now asking you to open up your wallet for training sessions. Everyone works to make money, but some people do it in a sleazy way.

Shut up and give me your money

Recently I got an email from someone who was referred to me. She mentioned that her trainer at her local gym was a buff guy who said he competed in bodybuilding shows. Her issue with this trainer was that he continually pushed her to buy products from him which she knew nothing about—specifically, Shakeology shakes. It turns out that her trainer was a Beachbody coach and therefore wanted her to buy the shakes so that he could make a commission off of the sale. I asked her if he was certified as a trainer or as a dietician/nutritionist. She didn’t believe so from what others in the gym say about him and when she asked he danced around the question. She has since stopped working with him.

In the lengthy email I received from her, she mentioned that he would tell her everything she was doing in the past was the wrong way to do it—mind you, she is a triathlete who trains for endurance, not for bodybuilding. He changed her program to lift heavy, and everything was 6-8 reps. He also told her she was eating too many carbs—something endurance athletes obviously need. So he told her to make sure she was getting 1g of protein for each pound of bodyweight and to cut her carbs in half. Needless to say, she found her endurance training for triathlons suffered—this ultimately was the nail in the coffin for her working with this trainer.

You can practice what you preach and still be wrong

We are all in this industry because we have a passion for health and fitness. Our goal is to better ourselves and those around us. But not everyone knows the difference between right and wrong when it comes to information. For year’s people have been using “bro-science” in the gym and kitchen. Nowadays, we have great research that has been published disputing a lot of the bad information we were all led to believe. The days where everyone believed a workout put in a magazine from a pro bodybuilder was going to make you look like them has been debunked (and you shouldn’t need research to prove that theory was dumb to begin with). But “noobs” as we like to call them don’t know any better, they look at what the pros are doing and think if it worked for them then it’s got to work for you—which is rarely the case.

We are all different. Our body responds to muscle stimulus and macronutrients differently. What works well for me, might not work at all for you. Maybe your body responds better to lower carbohydrates where your buddy responds better to lower fats. Everyone is different and there is no cookie-cutter nutrition plan that works across the board. Likewise, the same with exercise programs.

Can YOU give clients nutrition plans?

In case you weren’t aware, not everyone can give out nutrition plans. Sure, your trainer might know a ton of information about nutrition and knows what he’s doing, but unless he is certified/registered in certain states, it’s illegal for him to give you a plan to follow. Some states allow trainers who aren’t nutritionists/dieticians to give out nutrition advice and plans without any repercussion. However, if you’re in a state that forces you to be certified/registered in order to do so, getting caught handing out nutrition plans can get you in quite a bit of trouble. Make sure you know your laws if you are a trainer to ensure you know what you can and can’t do with the nutrition knowledge you have.


This was touched on earlier in the article briefly when I spoke about a woman who emailed me concerned about a trainer who was telling her she needed a certain shake to get better results. But let’s look at this from a bigger picture. If your diet isn’t figured out and dialed in, supplements aren’t going to help you anyway. Sure, you could argue the point that everyone could use a multivitamin and even fish/flax oil and for most that is accurate that they need to be taking those on a daily basis. So if you are working with a trainer who is constantly talking about tons of supplements other than the ones I just mentioned, RUN!

Pay close attention to the products a trainer tells you to consider also. Are they always wearing a shirt with a certain brand on it? Are they constantly mentioning the same brand of products to you? More than likely they are an ambassador for that brand, similar to the example earlier. They get kickbacks on anything you buy from them. Or, they get free supplements themselves from a brand to entice them to tell everyone they work with and on social media about the products they use.

Either way, you need to pay attention. There are cases, however, where you have a person who is simply loyal to a brand. He might enjoy what the brand has done in the industry, know someone who works for the brand, or found that a certain brand of products has given him good results so he sticks with that brand. There’s always an exception, but more times than not, there’s an underlying personal beneficial reason behind why someone is pushing certain supplements to clients.

Do your homework

While you pay good money to work with a trainer or nutritionist, it’s always best to continually stay up to date on research and educate yourself if you truly take your health seriously. While there are great knowledgeable people out there who can help you, it’s always good to take charge of your health and life and be aware of the constant changes in the industry and research. Knowledge is power, and without it you’re just like all the other average people out there—only you’re on a path to greatness, so read up.