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Is Your "Trainer" Pushing You Too Hard?

Updated: Jul 9, 2021

For the vast majority of people, the benefits of physical exercise outweigh the risks. However, if your "trainer" is unqualified you could be placing yourself at risk (especially if you have an underlying health problem), the risk is real.

I have said this for years... Crossfit is NOT for everyone! Likewise, neither are many of the "bootcamp" group-style training modalities. Every person should follow a program made specifically for them and the latest research further supports this notion.

Recent Research

For most people, the benefits of exercise far outweigh the risks, however, extreme exercise (for people who aren't accustomed to high-intensity exercise) can raise the risk of sudden cardiac arrest, atrial fibrillation (a heart rhythm disorder) or heart attacks, according to a new Scientific Statement "Exercise-Related Acute Cardiovascular Events and Potential Deleterious Adaptations Following Long-Term Exercise Training: Placing the Risks Into Perspective-An Update from the American Heart Association," published today in the Association's premier journal Circulation.

Exercise is medicine, and there is no question that moderate to vigorous physical activity is beneficial to overall cardiovascular health. However, like medicine, it is possible to underdose and overdose on exercise. It is imperative to seek a qualified, credentialed, professional in the field of Exercise Physiology when considering an exercise program.

After reviewing more than 300 scientific studies, the committee found that, for the vast majority of people, the benefits of exercise and improving physical fitness outweigh the risks. Physically active people, such as regular walkers, have up to a 50% lower risk of heart attack and sudden cardiac death. However, the committee also identified potential risks with intense exercise training.


Check out this article from Men's Health: "How I Became a Certified Personal Trainer Overnight"

Not all trainers are created equal

There are now anywhere from 400,000 to 500,000 full- and part-time fitness trainers in America, according to the nonprofit Coalition for the Registration of Exercise Professionals. The problem is that most people looking for a trainer can’t differentiate between a good certification and a bad one. According to the ACE, there are more than 100 providers offering non-accredited certifications.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that about half a million people hurt themselves using exercise equipment yearly, according to fitness-business journal Club Industry. In 2016, a 42-year-old Connecticut man complained of blurred vision and begged to stop mid-session, but the trainer pushed him to go harder on the rower, resulting in a stroke.

Ill-trained trainers often push clients too hard. ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal identified three common issues in negligence: unnecessary high-intensity training, training outside the scope of practice, and improper instruction and supervision. Unqualified trainers can’t always spot bad form or teach good form, making injuries more likely, says Jordan Metzl, M.D., a sports physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York and author of Dr. Jordan Metzl’s Workout Prescription.

Unqualified trainers also can’t design efficient programs, limiting gains and motivation. This is what happens when an industry lacks regulation, says Walter Thompson, immediate past president of the ACSM. Some steps have been taken to solve this: The Coalition for the Registration of Exercise Professionals, which is made up of NCCA-accredited organizations, keeps a public database of all the nation’s NCCA-accredited certified trainers.

Thompson would like more stringent requirements: “Preferably a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and a certification should be required for trainers to get hired.” None of this makes it easy to separate good trainers from dangerous ones right now. Here are five red flags to watch out for when you’re looking for a new trainer.

The Fitness Doctor Represents The GOLD STANDARD in personal training

In addition to being a Doctor of Exercise Physiology, Dr. Peters also possesses the top credentials in the field through the American College of Sports Medicine.

Furthermore, all Fitness Doctor trainers possess a degree in the field, as well as a nationally accredited certification.

The Fitness Doctor Method

For people who want to become more active, I suggest that most people can start a light program of exercise and build up slowly to a moderate to vigorous exercise regimen without seeing a physician first, unless they have physical symptoms such as chest pain, chest pressure or severe shortness of breath while exercising.

In addition, people with known heart disease (such as a previous heart attack, bypass surgery or angioplasty) should get their doctor's approval prior to starting an exercise program.

For currently inactive/sedentary people, I suggest checking with your doctor before engaging in any strenuous activities which create rapid increases in heart rate and blood pressure and greatly increase the strain on the heart.



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