Beware: Personal Trainers

They lie, steal, and sin . . . don't they?

by Phil Kaplan

My eyes are closing.  It’s late on a Wednesday evening and I’d just gotten into bed.


I grumble, roll over, and grab the phone seeing a familiar name on the caller ID panel.

“Hey.  Can we talk tomorrow?  I was just going to . . . “

“Phil, quick, turn on MSNBC.  They’re talking about a personal trainer who was arrested for murder!”

For some reason, I’ve become call center central whenever some personal trainer somewhere commits a misdeed.  I received over a dozen emails about a personal trainer in San Diego arrested for child molestation.  Even my mother called to tell me about the personal trainer indicted for selling steroids to his clients.

Over the past two years I’ve received calls, emails, texts, and posts telling me about the personal trainer who raped, the personal trainer who stole, the personal trainer who ran off with his client’s wife, and the personal trainer who was arrested for voyeurism.

Last week I received another email report,  this one with a link to an episode of People’s Court where a personal trainer was on trial for . . . well . . . I’ll just pass it along..  Check it out (then continue reading):


Here’s the question that plagues me.   Why doesn’t anyone send me reports of trainers doing heroic deeds, or at the very least, helping someone find betterment?   How about, “personal trainer saves baby,” or “personal trainer cures herpes,” or “personal trainer wins intelligence competition,” or at the very least, “personal trainer helps old lady across the street without stopping to check his texts.”

There’s a public perception of the “personal trainer” that is anything but the perception of a true professional, and it seems that criminal personal trainers bring great joy to the media.  They love these stories.

Can I say the stories are untrue?  Absolutely not.  They’re true!  I’ve personally known trainers who lied, deceived, stole, committed adultery, used drugs, sold drugs, even smuggled drugs internationally.  I’ve even known personal trainers who were arrested for manslaughter.

I know there’s an inclination to stop me, to jump in with, “Hold on Phil.  Aren’t personal trainers just people, and aren’t there individuals in any field that commit crimes?”  I’d say yes, but people are shocked by a doctor who is convicted of a crime.  They accept wall street moguls as corrupt, they frown on legal ethics, and they recognize big business corruption, but, those stories are BIG stories, stories that show the underbelly of long-respected fields.

The challenge for personal trainers is, we’ve never, as an industry, had credibility or a position of respect, so these stories and reports represent hundreds if not thousands of instances where dishonest individuals who happen to call themselves personal trainers further stain the perception of our chosen avocation. 

I’m inclined to get a spandex suit and cape and begin fighting personal trainer crime . . . but nobody wears spandex anymore.

Let’s get real.  Let’s get honest.  Let’s get real honest.

The barrier of entry in our field is ridiculously low.  An industry that supports practices conducted by individuals without any recognized credential  is going to have its fair share of cons and scams.  Worse yet, most personal trainers, even the good honest ones, fail to earn the money they hope for, and that leaves them vulnerable in the realm of building long term security.

If you’re reading this, you’re likely one of the good ones, one of the fitness professionals who can work to establish a new standard, a new ideal, an adjusted representation of what the public comes to recognize as a powerful, competent, viable, dedicated, result-producing personal fitness professional.

For over 20 years I've been working hard to raise the bar, devoting energy, inspriation, and alliances to bettering the field, but I became so upset by this latest round of "check out the trainer screwing people over" calls I wanted to do something more. What did I do? I called Kelli Calabrese.  You know Kelli. She's the crednentialled to the max personal trainer who served as editor of the industry's trade magazine, speaks worldwide, and has an unofficial role as the person on the receiving end of my sometiomes odd thoughts and ideas. I called Kelli and I told her about an action I’m about to take to give good personal trainers the direction, the support, the perspective they need to rise above, to go beyond mastery of exercise and to put aside their fears and limits to find their careers the unbending source of joy and reward.  Immense reward. 

Want to know Kelli's response? Here it is.

"Phil, you're out of your mind."

She wasn't referring to my desire to help, nor was she referring to the validity of the lessons and perspectives I have to share. She was referring to what she called the insanity of the offer I was about to make.

My response? "So be it. I'm still moving forward with this ridiculously affordable absurdly generous offering to those personal trainers who honestly seek betterment."

Want to join present and future personal training industry leaders upon a platform that sits far above conventional personal training, a platform that commands respect not only from the public, but from the entire medical community?  Want to understand what it takes to enter the next decade prepared to prosper?  Click here and consider joining us on the platform.


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