Lack of Education or Experience
I will lead off with a no brainer to most but, this will lead into the other points as well. As a younger coach myself, I know that my knowledge base is continual and will never be to where I know everything. However, it is important to get an education and to continue the education as you progress through your career. The fitness industry is saturated with people who either neglect or do not put any emphasis on learning. The industry is full of “gurus” who have either competed in one bodybuilding show or one power lifting meet and then open up an Instagram to “coach” others. This blind leading the blind approach cheapens those who take the time to coach correctly. You do not need a PhD to be an effective coach but, reading from time to time does not hurt either. Clients will develop a trust with you that is strong. They will listen to you and if you tell them to run through a wall to lose weight, they most likely will. Have an ethos with your training standards that never takes advantage of this. Always give sound scientific information and do not guess at questions that they ask. If you do not know, state this and look it up for yours and their benefit.
Neglecting to Instruct Proper Technique
It is easy to get caught up in the numbers game. We often consider our worth as trainers or coaches as the amount of weight that a client can lift. In return, we are often compelled to force heavy loads on clients or athletes to show that our techniques produce results. The specific “technique” that I see often is an over zealous spot. Instead of allowing the client to lift the prescribed load on their own, the trainer will “spot” them through most of the lift. This ego boosting does more harm than good and does not promote the adaptation that is necessary to build strength. Subsequently, you need to be active as a trainer. Do not give them a million things to fix at once…work in segments. Allow them to develop good kinesthetics with what you taught them and then move on. Squatting, dead lifting and over head pressing does not cure all. I catch myself thinking this often and more times than not, helping a client learn a regressed version of these mechanics keeps things fresh and more enjoyable.
Attention to Detail
Not everyone wants to be a power lifter or a bodybuilder. Pushing your ideologies onto your client is a surefire way to decrease your retention. However, being flexible is one of the most important traits as a coach or trainer. Your job should be to keep people safe and to encourage growth with respect to the individual’s goals. Anatomically, the small things need to be paid attention to as well. If you are not promoting mobility or working out the smaller muscle groups, asymmetries can occur. If this happens, then you will be on the radar of the local physios and chiropractors. As mentioned above, you need to be active. Do not stand in once spot and fix. Start in the sagittal plane and then move from there. If one thing looks good in the front, chances are other planes will be messed up as well.
Poor Nutrition Guidance
When working with a client, understanding basic nutrition is important. Teaching them the basics of pre and post workout nutrition is often not discussed…This leads to poor performance and breaks the body down. I have come across a lot of clients who have been put into dangerous deficits and over eat the incorrect foods. Teaching them the correct foods to eat and when, can sometimes be the difference between success and failure.
Not Understanding Recovery
Exercise is stressful on the body. We as a whole (me included) sometimes forget that always pushing at maximal intensity and volume is not good. Clients have a life outside of the gym and much like the average person, they are stressed and fatigued. This is where you provide proper programming and rest for the client to keep them going in the long run. If you are seeing a client more than once per week, split your workouts accordingly. If you have them programmed completely, make sure you are working on the program that you gave them so that they are more confident moving forward.
Copying and Pasting
I have worked at a facility where the staff would copy meal and workout plans, paste them on a word document and sell them to clients. Not only is this plagiarism but this is pure laziness. To coincide with this, they would save these programs and hand them out to every client regardless of the client’s abilities. The dangers behind this are obvious but this shows an unwillingness to learn and further yourself as a trainer or coach.
I am not perfect and have made a lot of mistakes in my carrier. More than I would care to admit and I am positive I will make more in the future. What makes you effective is learning from these mistakes and not repeating them. The great thing about mistakes is they are opportunities to learn and improve yourself…Personally, I am glad that my mistakes have been made because they make me a much better instructor!