Are Personal Trainers Mean And Scary In Real Life?

I totally get why people are worried about hiring a personal trainer.

They can be intimidating people, and I’m sure you’ve heard plenty of stories of trainers being mean to their clients so they get results faster (the sort of stuff you see on weight loss TV shows).

In this article, I’ll be explaining whether or not personal trainers are mean or scary in real life. I can do this because I was a PT for nearly a decade, so I’ve got a pretty good idea of what they are like. This should help calm any nerves you have about them.

Sound good?

let’s go…

That’s one scary personal trainer, right? The sort you’d run a mile from if they come up to you in the gym.

You might have seen a few people in your local gym that look a little like this, and a good few of them are probably the gym’s personal trainers. They can look pretty tough, you might have seen them shouting at their clients and you may even have heard a whole bunch of negative stuff on the internet, but are personal trainers actually mean to their clients, or are they just old wives tales?

Well, I’m about to tell you!

Top reasons people think personal trainers are mean

They shout all the time

Shouting man

You’ve seen it on TV shows and in movies, PTs scream at their clients to motivate them, this can make them look like they’re pretty mean people. But, the reality is, this really doesn’t happen often or even at all.

I worked with tons of different clients over the years and I never felt the need to shout or scream at them, that’s not going to help anyone, it’s more likely to make them want to throw everything down and walk out of the session.

I’ve also worked with some trainers who were huge, no, I mean seriously, huge! Full-on bodybuilder types that were true alpha males, and even though they had a really good rapport with their clients and may have been a bit more forceful than others, they never shouted at them.

Trainers will encourage you not to give up, but they don’t shout at people, don’t worry about this.

They make people work out until they throw up

I’m sure you’re sick of walking across the gym floor trying to avoid all the buckets of vomit and passed-out trainees slumped next to them.

Wait, what do you mean you’ve never had to do that, personal trainers make all their clients puke right? It’s on the TV after all so it must be true.

Well, people are sometimes sick during personal training sessions, this is true, it actually happened to one of my clients during the warmup of our first session. This showed me that I was going to have to go pretty easy on the guy.

This is what happens most of the time you see a person feeling ill with a trainer. The trainer is probably working them a little harder than they are used to and they feel a little ill. It’s not a big deal at all, they can go off, be sick if they need to, and come back, but we certainly don’t encourage it.

As personal trainers, we never saw our clients being sick or feeling unwell as a badge of honor, it just showed us that our clients were more out of shape than we expected, so they needed to be treated with extra care.

They say horrible things to “motivate” people

crying man

I can’t think of a single better way of retaining clients than being horrible to them, after all, who doesn’t want a trainer that makes them feel terrible the whole time they are training huh?

I want to make it very clear in this article that what you’ve seen on TV is not what trainers are like at all. I would never even think of talking to my clients the way the guys on TV do.

Trainers are more than people that just help you lose a bit of fat or gain a bit of muscle, they are coaches and get involved with quite a lot of your life (in a positive way of course), and so helping our clients not just physically but mentally plays a huge part in our role.

Personal trainers will not scream terrible things to “motivate” you, that’s stupid and wouldn’t help anyone in the real world. They will encourage you, motivate you and show you that you can improve yourself way beyond what you thought was possible, but they don’t need to be horrible to do that.

They make you lift weights

Oooooh interesting, this is the first point so far that I think that a lot of trainers (if not all) will do.

And, I think that every single personal trainer who knows their stuff would always make their clients lift weights.

Now, you may be worried about getting “bulky” because you’ve seen muscly people in the gym with a physique that you wouldn’t like yourself, but I can assure you this won’t happen by accident. It takes years and years of dedication with strict nutrition management to build up the muscle that you see people walking around the gym with.

PTs making you lift weights is not something that makes a trainer mean, it’s what makes them professional. Lifting weights is the fastest and most efficient route to whatever your goal, if it’s changing your shape, losing weight, or both, lifting weights is the fastest way to do it.

They like it when you’re in pain

Personal trainers like their clients being in pain

“No pain, no gain”, that’s a phrase you’ve probably heard plenty of times around gyms, so obviously trainers and coaches revel in the pain of their clients, there should be plenty of pain during the sessions and even more in the days afterward, right?

Whilst it’s true that you might feel a little soreness after your sessions, especially at the start of your training, you shouldn’t be in agony at any point. If you feel like you can’t walk for days after a session, talk to your trainer and see if they can take things a little slower.

Working out with weights creates tiny tears in the muscles you’ve used in the session, so your body will need to repair itself. This is what makes your body feel a little sore for a day or so.

Trainers themselves love the feeling of DOMS or “Delayed onset muscle soreness”, but we appreciate that our clients don’t, so we would never try to make it our mission to put our clients in as much pain as possible, it’s not something we want.

They don’t reply to emails or texts

If you’ve heard of trainers ignoring emails, texts, or generally not giving a damn about their clients once they have been paid by them, it’s probably because they are a terrible trainer that you need to get rid of.

It’s very common for trainers to work 16 hour days, so if they forget to check their emails or return messages every now and then, you don’t need to worry too much, it’s almost certainly not down to them not caring about you, they were probably just fantasizing about finally being able to get something to eat and then go to bed after a crazy hard days work.

Of course, there are some bad apples out there, and if you think your trainer is ignoring you, call them on it! Don’t be scared to stand up for yourself and ask them why they haven’t responded. Give them a chance by giving them a day or so to respond, and then maybe message again, but if not replying becomes a regular occurrence, talk to them about it.

9/10 a trainer not replying to your messages will be a complete accident.

They force you to buy stuff

Personal trainers forcing you to buy products

You shouldn’t be worried about trainers trying to force you to buy stuff from them. Protein shakes, equipment, and memberships for friends are things that some trainers will try and get you to buy from them.

It’s kind of rare these days, but a good few years ago when I first started working as a fitness instructor, this was a fairly common practice. Here’s why it’s actually a brilliant thing if you see your trainer forcing you to buy stuff from you.

You can sack them straight away and find a better trainer!

This kind of behavior is only usually shown by really desperate trainers that need to get some extra cash wherever they can. This almost certainly means they don’t have many clients and aren’t a great trainer. This is a massive red flag.

By firing them straight away, you are not wasting months of your life and your money with a crummy trainer, they’ve done you a huge favor. But, I say again that this is very rare, I’ve literally never sold anything to any of my clients, I’ve never needed to.

Are Personal Trainers Scary?

We’ve all seen it, screaming at their clients, faces all red and puffy, sweating profusely even on a cool day, trainers can look pretty intimidating.

But what’s the reality here, are personal trainers scary? Or is that just what we’ve seen on TV?

Are personal trainers mean and scary

I can totally understand why people would be nervous about using a trainer in the gym, I mean look at them, walking around with their muscles, picking up weights that you would get a hernia from just looking at, and then seeing them shouting at their clients? Who the hell would want to pay for that?

Are personal trainers Scary?

I don’t think you can answer this question with a simple yes or no, because every trainer is different, so it’s not fair to pigeonhole them all. Instead, I’ll take a look at the main reasons why people think trainers are scary in the first size and break them down.

Main Reasons People Think personal Trainers Are Scary

Hopefully, you’ll see some points here that you agree with, and maybe even some that you have found have been putting you off hiring a trainer. I’m going to quickly go through these and explain why you have no need to worry about them.

Remember, I’ve been a personal trainer for a very long time and met a lot of PTs and fitness instructors, so I’ve got a pretty good idea of what they are actually like as people because I spent a lot of time with them in the staff rooms and become friends with a lot of them too.

You’re getting proper insider knowledge here!

They’re judgemental

Trainers want to keep their clients, and they don’t keep clients by being jerks. If you sign up with a trainer, they will want to help you as much as possible. It’s in their best interest too, because if you get great results because of their training, hopefully, you’ll recommend a friend or two.

They won’t be judging you on your appearance, how well you can do exercises, how much you sweat, or anything like that, at all. They have been taught how to train people from all walks of life and all ability levels. Never worry about this.

They’ll be disappointed in you

Most trainers have probably trained hundreds of people before they see you for the first time. They’ve dealt with the strongest, the weakest, and everyone in-between. If they prescribe a set of exercises for you and you can’t do them because they’re too complicated or the weights are too heavy, they’ll make it easier for you.

PTs are taught and examined on exercise progression and regression to make sure we would be able to help people of all levels, so never think that a trainer will be disappointed in you not being able to perform exercises.

If it’s a case of a lack of results, again, your trainer will work with you to find out why that’s happening and put it right, they won’t give up on you, if they are disappointed, it’ll more likely be that they’re disappointed for you, rather than with you.

They have intimidating physiques

Yes, your trainer will usually be in pretty decent shape, but PTs aren’t always that fit, and if they are, it’s not really surprising, it’s their business after all. Trainers usually need to be in good shape because they are walking billboards of their training ability and knowledge, however, this heavily depends on the type of clients they are seeking.

You should never compare yourself to your trainer, they have been training for years and spend their entire day in a gym, so it’s part of their life. They don’t expect you to be in the same shape they are, otherwise, you wouldn’t even need their help.

They’ll make fun of you with other trainers

Do personal trainers make fun of their clients behind their backs after they leave the session?

Rarely, but some do, and if they do, they are jerks, plain and simple.

The good news is anyone that I have ever seen behaving like this and not treating their clients/customers with respect has failed miserably, and never lasted more than a few months in the industry.

It’s seriously rare, and not only have I hardly even seen it happen, but I have seen trainers fiercely defending their clients if they see or hear of gym members or other trainers making fun of them.

Trainers and clients have a strong bond, and much like you wouldn’t want to see any of your friends being made fun of, we don’t want to hear of it happening to our clients.

The extra great news here is that you are in charge, you’re the boss and if you suspect your trainer has made fun of you, call them on it, confront them and if needs be, fire their butt!

You’re trusting someone else with your body

Completely agree, and this is a 100% valid point!

Putting your health and the safety of your body in someone else’s hands can be scary. Why do you think so many people are scared of going to the dentist, the doctor, or having jabs for their holiday.

All these things can be scary because you are allowing someone else to take control of your body, even though all of them are for your own benefit and ultimately, to better your health rather than harm it.

Hiring a personal trainer is no different, after all, these guys have to be fully qualified for a gym to even consider hiring them. And it’s actually harder than you’d think to be a PT, they don’t just let everyone who pays for the course pass, they do fail people if they aren’t good enough.


Working as a personal trainer in London for nearly a decade has taught me that personal trainers are not the mean, scary, intimidating people that I thought they were when I was new to exercise.

I’ve learned that they are funny, kind, and deeply respectful of their clients. There’s no need to be scared of trainers, and please don’t ever think that what you have seen on reality TV shows or in movies are what trainers are like in real life, it couldn’t be further from the truth.

I’ve continued to be friends with my clients from the first gym I worked in years ago, so we can’t be all that bad.

Go get ’em!

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Chris Walker

Chris Walker worked in the City of London as a fully qualified REP's level three personal trainer for just under ten years. He built and maintained a client base of 40 individuals and worked with several high profile clients, including actors, actresses, comedians and politicians.

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