15 Secrets Your Fitness Instructor Will Never Tell You

Whether you have a personal trainer or like to take part in group fitness classes, you probably have come to see gym instructors as a type of superhero. They’re super fit and full of energy and motivational sayings, even in the wee hours of the morning.

But just like your gym has secrets, your gym instructor has a few tricks up his or her sleeve that might surprise you. Read on to find out what secrets your gym instructor is hiding. Oh, and don’t forget to clean out your gym bag as soon as you get home tonight.

Not all personal trainers are certified

Personal trainer writing on clipboard

It’s so important to check a trainer’s credentials before signing up with them. Some trainers use their basic knowledge of fitness along with their bulging biceps to convince people to pay them $100+ an hour to train with them. A certified trainer will be able to show you proof of their certifications. You can check with the National Association of Sports Medicine to see if your trainer is certified with them. You can also check to see if your trainer is certified with the National Federation of Personal Trainers.

You can get a discount if you bring a friend

Group of girls at the gym

You can usually score a discount by bringing a friend or two with you to a personal training session. A lot of personal trainers will charge the same price for the session, and you get to split it up with your friends. Ask about this before you sign up if you have a friend who would commit to attending personal training sessions with you on the regular.

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Gyms purposely overbook members

Busy gym

Gyms make money when people don’t go to them. And the sad fact is, a huge portion of the population signs up for a gym membership with good intentions only to bail on it. Recent statistics show that the 62.5 million people who belong to a gym in the U.S. only use the gym less than a third of the year (104 days). Because people are rarely consistent, gyms overbook members. That’s why you might have a harder time finding an open treadmill in early January, when most people get gym memberships, than in April, when everyone’s given up on their New Year’s resolutions.

Summer can be the best time to join a gym

Woman signing up for the gym

Gyms are super busy in the winter, especially after January when everyone has a renewed commitment toward wellness. But by summer, people have all but forgotten about the gym. A lot of people also turn to working out outside instead of inside at the gym. This means you can score major discounts by signing up with a gym or a personal trainer in the summer. If you combine the summer slump with end of the month specials, as gyms hurry to meet their quotas, you can walk away with a low-price on a high-quality gym membership that includes personal training sessions.

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Gyms are gross

People working out with barbells

There’s no getting around it. Gyms are filthy; even the nicest gyms that have cleaning solutions stationed around the gym for anyone to easily grab and use to wipe down machines. In particular, free weights are dirty since people tend to only clean up after they use a cardio machine. A study from Women’s Health magazine concluded that a free weight can have as much as 362 times the bacteria as a public toilet seat! Wiping down equipment before and after you use it and avoiding touching your face before you hit the showers can help you stay germ-free during your workout.

Gym instructors can have motivation problems too

Bodybuilder at the gym

Personal trainers are people too, which means they have their days when it’s hard to get the motivation to go to the gym, let alone spout encouraging words at their trainees. So if your trainer seems to be having an off day or isn’t as “peppy” as usual, remember that they’re human too and might just be having a moment. Pro tip: Seeing you work hard and get stronger during your session can help give your trainer the motivation they need to get through the day.

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Sometimes they’re wrong

Woman and man training at the gym

Just like any professional, gym instructors do the best job they can based on the information they have. Sometimes, it turns out their information is incorrect or out of date. A better way to perform a lift or get a specific result could come along that throws off your routine. So don’t take it personally if your trainer has you do something a new, different way. It doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. It just means they’ve found a better way to do it so you can get the results you want.

They aren’t impressed with how much you can lift

Man doing a deadlift

Gym instructors are, usually, really fit people who hang out with other really fit people. That means they aren’t impressed with how much you can bench or how fast you can do a set of burpees. What does impress them is your commitment to getting in shape by practicing correct form and working hard during every session. They want to see you get better and don’t really care where you’re starting from. If you can only bench a PVC pipe to start with and eventually move to benching the bar plus weights as you get stronger, well, now that’s impressive.

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Trainers can smell you

A woman holds her nose to avoid bad smell

Sure, gyms are full of sweaty, smelly people. But when you’re working up close and personal with a trainer, it’s hard not to notice the stench coming off that shirt you’ve worn for the last 3 sessions without washing. Do your trainer a favor (not to mention your skin) and wear a clean shirt during every session. If you can’t swing that every time, at the very least swipe on some deodorant before training.

You’re doing sit-ups all wrong

Man doing crunches

A lot of us learned to do sit-ups by clenching our hands behind our head, but this is super ineffective and adds unnecessary strain to your neck and shoulders. The best way to do sit-ups is with your arms at your side or crossed on your chest. Or, you can skip sit-ups altogether and target your core with more advanced exercises like the superfly crunch or paloff press.

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Nutrition is just as important as training

Healthy black bean wrap lunch

Your personal trainer wants you to show up for your bi-weekly sessions, of course. But what they might not be telling you is that you could be seeing similar results on the scale if you skipped the sweat sesh and focused on eating a clean diet instead. This is especially true if you want to get a nice set of abs. You can do a thousand crunches a day, but you won’t have anything to show for them if your diet is high in carbs and fat. To get the best of both worlds, workout regularly and eat a clean diet.

Your personal trainer doesn’t need the perfect body to get you in shape

Personal trainer

Nobody has a “perfect” body, but we tend to think of personal trainers and gym instructors as demi-gods who have an amazing physique and perfectly toned abs. And sure, they are probably in really good shape (or at least better shape than we are). But their job is to focus on increasing your level of fitness, not to get themselves in shape. Choose a gym instructor based on their experience and attitude, not on their physique.

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It’s sad when you don’t work outside of the gym

Man watching TV on the couch

Personal trainers get job satisfaction when you, their client, succeed. So it’s disappointing when you only put the time in during your training sessions. Eating whatever you want and never exercising outside of the gym aren’t going to help you reach your goals. While your trainer wants you to keep coming in for sessions, it gets frustrating if you never make any progress. A little effort outside of the gym can go a long way.

Gym instructors are not your life coach

Personal trainer helping girl at gym

Getting in shape is a big part of your life, but that doesn’t make the person who trains you your automatic life coach. Your gym instructor is there to guide you through your training session or fitness class, not to hand out life advice. It can be easy to confuse a personal trainer for a life coach, especially when you find a particularly motivating one, but don’t get wrapped up in the moment and start thinking that they owe you advice on things unrelated to the gym.

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They see through your lies

Young woman lying on gym floor

You might think you’re pulling a fast one on your trainer when you try to stall by taking an extra water break or leaving to get a dry towel. But gym instructors have seen it all, and they know when you’re lying. If you need a break, just say so. Your trainer might have you train through it, but that’ll just make you stronger. If you really need to stop because you’re feeling dizzy or like you’re about to pass out, then stop and let them know. Otherwise, keep pushing.

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