excuse mePersonal trainers, like every other person on the planet, have their moments of making silly remarks or insensitive comments to their clients. We are human, which means we are fallible. That’s ok!

But, in the world of fitness, there are certain comments or promises trainers should refrain from making in order to build their business and retain their clients.

Here are the top five statements that are guaranteed to offend clients, lose business, and brand you a fool.

Say What?!


“It’s quantity over quality.” Yikes! This statement violates the very premise of physical training – to develop the form and functional movement of the human body. This means a client should not be told to sacrifice form to squeeze out another repetition. When a trainer notices a client’s form starts to deteriorate, the exercise is done. Quality repetitions and movements will always take priority over quantity.

“Let me introduce you to this (insert name of fad diet) plan.” It’s not just the statement that’s wrong; it’s the scope of practice that is being overstepped.

First, fad diets are just that – fads – fleeting trends that are sure to result in nothing substantial or sustainable.

Second, personal trainers are not, by virtue of their personal trainer certification, licensed dietitians. Yes, we can and should be talking to clients about what healthy eating looks like. However, it is not our job to prescribe a specific diet or promote any unhealthy practice.

If a client has specific needs, refer him or her to a registered dietitian. Stay within your scope!

“If you want to get fit, it’s essential that you buy X.” Truthfully, getting in shape does not require gadgets and gizmos galore. It requires commitment from the client and realistic goal setting. There’s no need to promote the purchasing of fancy equipment when you have enough knowledge to teach your clients about healthy lifestyle practices. Instead, encourage your clients to invest in themselves to get the job done.

“Let me recommend this supplement.” Wait. Woah. No. This is not ok. In most cases, recommending any dietary supplement is against a certifying agency’s code of ethics. Dietary supplements are largely unregulated and grossly understudied. In a nutshell, supplements are not food and only a qualified nutritionist, pharmacist, physician or dietitian can and should be recommending any supplement. Period.

“This exercise will get rid of body fat here (some nondescript part of the body)”. Nope. Not going to happen. Spot reduction is a myth through and through. Fat loss is largely dictated by genetics and involves more than exercise – clean and consistent eating is a critical variable to the fat loss formula.

However, it is possible to strengthen all muscles of the body by performing the right combination of exercises, but “targeting” an area for fat loss is not. Instead, promote a well-rounded program for total body strength, endurance, and muscle definition.


Even well-intended people say things that are out of bounds or just completely ridiculous. As personal trainers, our clients look to us to guide and teach them. This means we need to tailor our advice and recommendations in such a way that they reflect knowledge of sound scientific principles and effective training techniques. The lesson here – be a conscious trainer and you’ll also become a successful one.

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Erin Nitschke

Dr. Erin Nitschke, NFPT-CPT, NSCA-CPT, ACE Health Coach, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, Therapeutic Exercise Specialist, and Pn1 is a health and human performance college professor, fitness blogger, mother, and passionate fitness professional. She has over 15 years of experience in the fitness industry and college instruction. Erin believes in the power of a holistic approach to healthy living. She loves encouraging her clients and students to develop body harmony by teaching focused skill development and lifestyle balance. Erin is also the Director of Educational Partnerships & Programs for the NFPT. Erin is an editorial author for ACE, IDEA, The Sheridan Press, and the Casper Star Tribune. Visit her personal blog at belivestaywell.com