The Dark (and Light) Side of Personal Training

These words might bruise a few egos, so let’s focus on the key points:

  1. Coaching can be VERY EFFECTIVE in creating positive change that lasts.
  2. Coaching can create rewarding relationships that last a lifetime.
  3. Coaching can break a person down mentally and physically.

Coach and personal training clientThe primary goal of this article is to help you know what to look for, and what to look out for when it comes to coaching.

Truly it can be the greatest investment you make in your life…or a catastrophic step backwards in power and peace of mind.

First realize this, all decisions can be made from a place of love, or fear…choose wisely. If you decide to hire a coach, do it from a place of love—not fear.

Seeking expert help is a great way to faster progress and less risk.

…and sometimes it leads to even greater self-destruction. I realize that’s pretty bold, but give me a chance to explain.

Creating change that lasts is both art and science. It requires a thorough study of human motion and human emotion.

A good coach will listen to you, and help you organize your thoughts and goals in a way that is constructive. A coach will help you discover the root cause of why you want to lose 10lbs or bench press 200lbs (spoiler alert: we just want to be loved).

A good coach will guide you through the process of navigating these ideas and learning how to avoid the most common traps. Some of the more common traps are (comparing to others, attaching your sense of self worth to your appearance or performance).

A good coach will help you develop skills that make life easier and more fun.

A good coach will teach you how to run, jump, fall, roll, climb, carry, throw and move with ease, skill, and power. Your body will thrive in ANY situation or challenges!

A good coach listens, learns and adjusts to the individual.

A good coach helps YOU LEARN. The human body is a wonder to truly behold: The more you understand its function and practice movement, the greater you will come to love and appreciate living in it.

The bottom line: Every coaching session is another hour of your LIFE. It should be an enjoyable, educational experience that leaves you feeling greater power and peace of mind than before.

Sometimes, even with the best intentions, a coach or trainer can actually do more harm than good.

There are varying levels of suck when it comes to personal training, so I’ll be brief with these more obvious (to me) warnings:

Phone in hand guy:

Scrolling through the infinite entertainment while the client suffers through 100 crunches. This kind of thing makes me sick! This is a huge red flag. If your coach isn’t focused on you, what the hell are they focused on? Do they even care? Gimme a break with this amateur-level disrespect and apathy! Dear this guy, please find a different career.

Pain = Progress myth perpetuators:

This is especially destructive because it also prevents a lot of people from even getting started with exercise in the first place out of fear. Pain is not weakness leaving the body, it is simply a signal to “please do something different, this might break us.” Exercise should be a fun and rewarding experience that you look forward to WITHOUT FEAR.

Square Peg Round Hole Coach:

This story usually goes like this:

Step 1: Trainer drinks Kool Aid of popular “guru”

Step 2: Trainer subjects all his clients to guru’s “magic movement tricks”

Step 3: People are different so some thrive and some break

Time Waster:

This isn’t so malicious as it is ignorant, but the effect is actually a little more sinister. A time waster will use reasonably safe exercises. They’ll help you “burn some calories” and “get off the couch.” They’ll even help you build some muscles to fill out your T shirt or Pants in the right places. But ultimately there is a low-ceiling for your potential here. They’ll focus on your beach muscles and you’ll look different, but you won’t feel more athletic and capable of participating in any situation. You won’t move past the superficial level of what training can truly be.

These are just a few examples of people who are STEALING LIFE AND MONEY from people who assume it’s “normal.”

The #1 most important thing to consider is this: What do you want and why?

Be sure to ask “why” several times to get to the root cause of your desired change. (The root cause is usually that we all want to be healthy, safe, and loved).

A person’s body is their temple, their ship, their home. Without it, all is lost.

With proper training, that temple is a beacon of light, a ship worthy of any expedition, and a home that you love unconditionally. Yes LOVE IT!

So what’s the risk in starting now? You know all the main things to look out for, and you’ve seen a small glimpse of the treasure that awaits you.

You know the truth. Coaching can be the best investment you ever make in your life.

When it’s done right, both the coach AND athlete look forward to it every time, and savor the experience.

Dark or Light? Love or Fear? The power of choice is yours!

Better every day,


PS: Not sure what to do next? We can help:

In-Person Coaching at Ambition Athletics 

Online Coaching through the M3 Academy:

Online Training Resources at