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Top 17 Mistakes New Personal Trainers Make

Eric BachIt’s early fall. You just wrapped up your 400-hour internship for your undergraduate exercise science degree.

You have experience working in the field, a great four-year degree, and a burning desire to help others achieve their dreams.

You have it all figured out, don’t you?

No, you don’t. There’s much to be learned. Over my first couple years I made a lot of mistakes on my road to becoming a better coach. Here are my top 17 — I hope it saves you from making the same mistakes I did.

What do Personal Trainers Make as Their Top Mistakes? Here’s the top 17:

1. Thinking that the workouts are about the tool and not human movement.

Don’t fall in love with the newest gadget or the oldest tool. Master the skill of human movement and coaching. Everything has its place.

2. Not knowing that the body is the most important tool in your toolbox.

When it comes down to it, personal trainers must help clients improve their ability to move about space and work to reduce injury.

3. Thinking that it’s the clients fault.

Client is hurt? It’s your fault. Tendonitis? Your fault, too much volume or improper loading. Did they sleep funny and now have back pain? Acute trauma to the back doesn’t generally occur during sleep; again, your fault. Take responsibility for every nick and pain your client has when they are training and find out the source.

4. Not knowing the difference between “Feel & Real.”

Just because a client “feels” something doesn’t mean you’re creating an adaptive response. Exercise is not about difficulty. Exercises can seem easy but focus on the important components.

You can perform 50 curls with a 15-pound dumbbell, but are you improving your client’s athletic performance?

5. Thinking that experiences don’t matter.

We become more biased as we age. Our experiences helped mold our direction and some bias is expected. But don’t let your background cloud your vision.

6. Not questioning everything.

As the late George Carlin said, “Don’t just teach your children to read, teach them to question what they read. Teach them to question everything.”

Using research as an example — who wrote it? Who funded it? What was the demographic being tested? These questions all help you see the full picture of what’s in front of you.

7. Over-cueing your clients and not working on small, incremental changes.

In the book Switch, authors Dan and Chip Heath state, “Big problems are rarely solved with commensurately big solutions. Instead, they are most often solved by a sequence of small solutions, sometimes over decades.”



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