Disappointing personal trainer session

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Disappointing personal trainer session

Postby khendar » Tue May 15, 2012 11:39 am

I signed up for a membership at the Adelaide Aquatic Centre last week. I'd been going three times a week for the last month and it made more financial sense to get a 3 month membership rather than pay the casual entry fee every time. As part of the membership they throw in 3 free PT sessions.

He started with a health evaluation, checking BP and HR, height/weight/waist measurements. Then he gave me a basic workout plan which looks like the same one they give to everyone. I explained that I had been working out regularly for a month, and what intensity of training I was doing, what my goals were etc (lose weight, improve fitness, get stronger on the bike, upper body development).

He then proceeded to get me to walk (not run) on a treadmill for 5 minutes (I had been doing 20-40 minute interval sessions on the bike), and 1 set on a selection of the pin-loaded weights machines (I had been doing 3 sets on each machine), followed by a few body weight exercises. He corrected my form on some of the machines, which was good, but I was using about half the weight that I normally do and barely felt it in the end. By the end of the session I had barely broken a sweat, and felt like the whole thing is was a waste of time. I ended up swimming 40 laps of the lap pool just to feel like I'd done something. I tried telling him that I wasn't really feeling challenged by the program but he didn't seem to listen.

I was expecting to really be pushed by the trainer, but it felt more like he was just going through the motions rather than give me a proper workout. I figure either he didn't think I could handle it (understandable, I'm probably stronger and fitter than I look) or he was playing it safe to cover his arse in case I injure myself. Either way I feel like ignoring his plan and going back to doing what I have been doing. I guess being an in-house trainer at an aquatic centre probably means he might not be as good as a self-employed trainer, but it was still pretty disappointing.

So what do you think ? Should I follow his plan or should I take some of his advice on board but keep doing what I have been doing ?
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by BNA » Tue May 15, 2012 12:15 pm

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Re: Disappointing personal trainer session

Postby nescius » Tue May 15, 2012 12:15 pm

In my experience, a great many people have vastly inflated opinions of themselves and their abilities, the trainer was probably just getting a feel for how capable you really are rather than just taking your word for it. Having said that, if he is not a dedicated personal trainer but rather an employee of the aquatic centre who has been told he's the personal trainer whether he likes it or not, then your feelings are probably justified.

If I were you I would use the free sessions, and if it hasn't improved or you don't feel they are of any benefit after you have used them up, then just do your own thing. I would also do some research and figure out what I should be doing, injuring yourself at the gym is not fun (and it's embarrassing).
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Re: Disappointing personal trainer session

Postby gururug » Tue May 15, 2012 12:23 pm

I did some work with a trainee trainer last year. It took a few sessions for us to develop an understanding, then he pushed to a better level, sometimes too much.

He was intent on weights / strengthening which IMHO was a bit overboard.

I think there is a middle ground and you both need to communicate to get the most out of a training schedule.

You do come away with some new exercises and techniques though so even if there is no "gel" between you, it's worthwhile to see how others approach training.
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Re: Disappointing personal trainer session

Postby khendar » Tue May 15, 2012 12:38 pm

He introduce a few ab and lower back exercises which I had previously been ignoring, which was good. As I said he also corrected my form on a couple of the machines so that I'm doing them properly.

I guess I was just annoyed that I'd tell him the weight we were using was barely noticeable, and then he'd move the pin down, one notch. It was still barely noticeable. He did say that I can modify the program to increase weights etc which I'll definitely be doing. I think the 5 minutes on the treadmill was probably him making sure that I was capable of walking half a km, after I told him that I had had some problems with my ankles in the past (hence why I'm a cyclist, not a runner). My normal routine is a 20+ minute cycling interval session; I increase the duration by 10% a week and the resistance by 1-2 levels per week.

The 3 free sessions are spread out over the 3 months of the membership, one per month. At the second session they do a review of how you're progressing so I guess I'll just tell them at that point that I felt the program wasn't challenging enough and so modified it accordingly.
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Re: Disappointing personal trainer session

Postby Ozkaban » Tue May 15, 2012 1:59 pm

nescius wrote:In my experience, a great many people have vastly inflated opinions of themselves and their abilities, the trainer was probably just getting a feel for how capable you really are rather than just taking your word for it. Having said that, if he is not a dedicated personal trainer but rather an employee of the aquatic centre who has been told he's the personal trainer whether he likes it or not, then your feelings are probably justified.

If I were you I would use the free sessions, and if it hasn't improved or you don't feel they are of any benefit after you have used them up, then just do your own thing. I would also do some research and figure out what I should be doing, injuring yourself at the gym is not fun (and it's embarrassing).


I think this is on the money. My PT absolutely smashed me when I first started, but he's my brother (younger by 1 year), so sibling rivalry probably played a huge part in it :mrgreen:

Seriosuly though, your PT should be measured, work out your strengths, weaknesses and your general level of fitness and come up with a plan with your personal goals in mind. If you're not getting smashed by the third visit then I'd change.

I'm not sure how this aquatic centre works, but in a lot of gyms with PTs where they offer free sessions, the PT isn't getting paid for them - they're doing it as a lead in to get you to do regular sessions with them where the PR gets the money (the PTs are self employed and rent access to the gym). If they don't give value in 3 sessions then they get no business, so there's a strong incentive to demonstrate the benefits pretty quickly.
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Re: Disappointing personal trainer session

Postby PawPaw » Tue May 15, 2012 2:15 pm

Whether you understand or not, you entered a commercial relationship with the PT. He and his employer are liable for the advice he gives, and you were an unknown commodity. You could tell him anything, as people often do.....and then if you'd strained your rotator cuff, and had ongoing pain which compromised your income, your solicitor would be after him.

On the other hand, he could have assessed the risks better, and started you at a level more commensurate with your level of fitness. His doubts and concerns would have been allayed by getting you to sign a statement to your previous training.

Everyday, people hurt themselves in gyms from ramping up intensity and volume too quickly because they are not educated in what is an appropriate rate, or what are the most appropriate exercises. We live in a litigious society where people want to push themselves unrealistically to get results tomorrow. A deal for 3 PT sessions, once a month, is a serious compromise on making solid and safe gains. You get what you pay for. Obviously, it's a bait to get you to buy better/more service.
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Re: Disappointing personal trainer session

Postby vander » Tue May 15, 2012 4:10 pm

I think he may be doing the right thing (maybe not with cardio) but with weights you need to get your technique right on a lower weight then increase the weight while maintaining the proper technique. By using a poor technique you not only risk injury but you do not work the muscles properly. That is why I think he would of done it on a low weight he said you can up the weight. I wouldnt go putting it right up but a bit at a time maintaining the good technique. Cardio wise he may have been able to work you harder but the 6min walk test is a common test (though more for the clinical population) but maybe because of your ankle problems he didnt want to risk a more stressful test.

On another note, most PTs are clowns and dont actually have much idea and they work to set programs and have no idea how to customise anything.
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Re: Disappointing personal trainer session

Postby arkle » Tue May 15, 2012 10:57 pm

Hmm, when I was trained by an extremely well qualified and respected PT I spent the first two months doing lots of reps of literallly laughably light weights, during which time my muscles were conditioned and grew in size (though not particularly in strength) and my form was honed to perfection. Thereafter we progressed (over 4 months) to lower reps of increasing weight (still fairly easy), and strengthening my muscles. At no point did I have any soreness or injuries at all. At the 9 month point I looked extremely fit, about three times as strong as when I started, and was finally deemed ready to **start** a proper strength training programme.

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Re: Disappointing personal trainer session

Postby sonj » Tue May 15, 2012 11:03 pm

khendar wrote:I explained that I had been working out regularly for a month...


selective quoting aside, I hope this is a typo. If I was a PT and heard this I'd have you walking on a treadmill for 5km too. What did you actually tell him? I can see you have a few posts on BNA but even the best PT (who probably doesn't read this forum) has only what you tell him, and maybe your appearance to go on. He/we don't have much else to go on.

There are liabilities to be considered. As some have mentioned it takes time to get to know you - good PTs *AND* Clients should never expect to get it 100% right after one session. I can only take from your post these possibilities:

- he took the zero-effort option by prescribing a canned test followed by a canned workout, and he doesn't care
- he was not allowed to follow up with a better assessment, ie the centre doesn't care
- better communication might result in a better ongoing relationship (talk more and don't accept miracles from a one-off visit)

If you are expecting a heavy weight challenge using classic lifts in one initial tyre-kicking test - forget it. No professional will be reckless anough to prescribe this because technique is so important. Just sink the $$$ into a few paid sessions with someone you feel comfortable with to get a good workout plan. And if you are already doing 'stuff', a good PT will be smart enough to adjust it outside of your comfort zone or knowledge. Weird core strength exercises and interesting supersets is what I pay mine for, so make sure you're specific and knowledgable about your goals.
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Re: Disappointing personal trainer session

Postby khendar » Tue May 15, 2012 11:44 pm

sonj wrote:
khendar wrote:I explained that I had been working out regularly for a month...


selective quoting aside, I hope this is a typo. If I was a PT and heard this I'd have you walking on a treadmill for 5km too. What did you actually tell him? I can see you have a few posts on BNA but even the best PT (who probably doesn't read this forum) has only what you tell him, and maybe your appearance to go on. He/we don't have much else to go on.

There are liabilities to be considered. As some have mentioned it takes time to get to know you - good PTs *AND* Clients should never expect to get it 100% right after one session. I can only take from your post these possibilities:

- he took the zero-effort option by prescribing a canned test followed by a canned workout, and he doesn't care
- he was not allowed to follow up with a better assessment, ie the centre doesn't care
- better communication might result in a better ongoing relationship (talk more and don't accept miracles from a one-off visit)

If you are expecting a heavy weight challenge using classic lifts in one initial tyre-kicking test - forget it. No professional will be reckless anough to prescribe this because technique is so important. Just sink the $$$ into a few paid sessions with someone you feel comfortable with to get a good workout plan. And if you are already doing 'stuff', a good PT will be smart enough to adjust it outside of your comfort zone or knowledge. Weird core strength exercises and interesting supersets is what I pay mine for, so make sure you're specific and knowledgable about your goals.


I told him exactly what I have been doing: 20-40min intervals on the bike + weights + 1km swim 3 times a week for the past month plus weekly road riding for the last 5 months. To then be told to walk for 5min (not 5km) is frankly insulting.

I only went to the session because they were bundled with the membership. If I had to pay for the sessions I would not be bothering.
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Re: Disappointing personal trainer session

Postby sonj » Wed May 16, 2012 12:33 am

Then I think you got an average 'bundled effort' :) It would have been nicer to get a better direction after 3 'free' sessions, but if you don't care for the result ignore it. It seems you have a very clear idea what you know you can do in comparison to what he proposed. The 2nd 'free' session is/was your opportunity to be blunt (like I was).
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