Rethinking the “Friends Training Friends” scenario

Unless your friend(s) are qualified, certified and experienced personal trainers, avoid allowing them to train you. While they may have the best intentions in mind for you, the program they are performing is their program and not designed for you. Even if their program is designed by a professional personal trainer, it is specifically designed for them with their limitations, goals/objectives and compensations in mind.

Additionally, your friend is not a trained personal trainer, consequently, even if the program you would be performing was designed for you, the friend is not qualified to train you. It is fine to work out with friends, and we encourage it as this tends to promote exercise adherence; however, working out at the same time and performing the same workout are two different matters. You should each have your own professionally designed program to perform and then you may encourage and motivate one another throughout the work out.

Follow the tips detailed below to manage a well-meaning friend who wants to “train” you but does not possess the professional skills, training or expertise to safely and effectively do so. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.

Tip #1 Usually, how the “friend training friend” scenario begins is that your friend is looking pretty buff and you ask them what they have been doing to achieve these results. They invite you to come work out with them and they will show you how to perform this transformational program. In the fitness industry, qualified, professional trainers do not design programs for one-on-one personal training clients that are meant for groups, even small groups. The “personal” in personal training means just that—individualized programming ensuring the paying client that the program is designed specifically for them with all of the assessment and evaluation information, client goals/objectives and safe/effective training modalities combined to create that specific program. Consequently, while there may be some resemblance between a program for one client and another, there are specific differences which may be huge in terms of safety and effectiveness elements. Therefore, hire your own trainer, have them design a program for you and then, join your friend for a work out.

Tip #2 Watching videos/DVD’s, infomercials, reading fitness books and working out for years, being a current or former athlete, observing others in the health club performing their program or attending exercise classes does not qualify your friend to train you. What we often observe when the friends-training-friends scenario occurs is that the tempo of the movement pattern may be way too fast, the increment of weight is too heavy to maintain the integrity of form/technique, the range of motion is not adequate, and often, the friend does not possess proper spotting techniques, so you are not in good hands!

Tip #3 If you are concerned that your friend will be offended if you do not permit them to train you, just explain that you have specific goals/objectives and limitations that require a professional trainer’s expertise but that you would really enjoy working out with them as long as you are free to perform your own program. If they are a true friend, they will not only understand, they will encourage you to do so.

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