Don't Trust It: Red Flags in Coaches and Training Programs

Among the vastness of social media, seemingly anyone can be a coach these days. Sadly, you can say you're a trainer, even if you are not. Online, anything goes. For a lot of us, finding an in person trainer just doesn't work for our schedule or budget, so finding an online program seems like a pretty good idea. It can be. It can also be detrimental for your health (which happened to me) if you don't know what to look for and get stuck with someone who doesn't actually know or care about your body. So I'm going to list some important things that you should keep in mind when you're searching social media for a trainer.

  1. If it is just a lifting program, try it if you like how it looks for what you are able to do. Lifting programs allow you to change the weight for what you are physically able to do and can cater to both weight loss and weight gain goals. Lifting programs typically give some good ideas for you to try, even if you don't follow it strictly. Resistance training is very flexible and anyone who is a beginner can do what advanced lifters do, simply how heavy you go will change as you build strength. Be sure to take out any movements that you can't physically do if you've been injured. 
  2. If it is a lifting and cardio program, make sure the cardio portion isn’t set out for you beforehad. Cardio needs to be personalized to you and your body - you shouldn’t be going from doing no cardio to an hour right away, for example. Think about it: if you automatically jump to an hour of cardio in the beginning of your program, where will that leave you in 2 months? Doing 2 hours to still see weight loss progress? That’s crazy and unreasonable. Cardio needs to be adjusted from the starting point of your current training and continuously adjusted based on your progress, which no one can predict. Some people can see weight loss goals with very little cardio - so give your body time to progress without overdoing it right off the bat. So if the program has all your cardio planned out already without knowing who you are, that's a red flag.
  3. If it is a lifting and cardio and nutrition program, make sure both the cardio and nutrition are catered to you personally. Like cardio, you need to adjust your intake based on what you are currently eating and where your metabolic rate currently is. If a program has a set meal plan for you without any contact with you or inquiry about your current intake, red flag again! All for similar reasons, not all people are the same.
  4. If a coach tries to hide something from you or won't have a consultation with you prior to payment, don't work with them. You should be able to talk to them about where you're at and what you're looking for before paying for anything. They should be able to tell you how they coach and their vision, mission, and mindset for training that they will be imparting on to you. If they can't do these things with you, they don't care about your health, they care about your money.

Basically, I see so many cookie cutter coaches create programs that give out one cardio and one nutrition plan for anyone who buys it. This is a huge red flag! You are not the same as every single other person looking at this program. A girl who is underweight trying to gain muscle shouldn’t have the same cardio and nutrition plan as a girl who is trying to lose weight who has been working out for years. A girl who is 5'3" and does no cardio shouldn’t follow the same cardio plan as a 5'8" girl who is a runner. I can go on, but you get the point. Your body is used to what you currently do, and your programs cardio and nutrition should be catered to your starting point. Not everyone starts from the same point! So if you want a program that includes a cardio and nutritional breakdown, a consult and check-ins for adjustments are absolutely necessary! If it is a lifting program, resistance training can be used by anyone at any level because you simply adjust by your own strength and capabilities.

By Brendan Bannister |

I mentioned at the beginning that I had a negative experience with a coach. I wish I hadn't, but it taught me all of these things. It's easy to ignore these points and just choose a "popular" coach or a cheap option. I did, and it completely ruined both my mental and physical health and I wouldn't wish my experience on anyone. The thing is, you're putting your health into their hands. That's no small thing. This is your mental and physical health you are letting someone control. Your metabolism, strength, aesthetics, and wellbeing are only some of the things that you are allowing them to change. Be smart, cautious, and curious when you are searching.