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Why Personal Trainers are a Scam

By: Stanley Dutton

June 26, 2015

Yes, you read that right. And yes, I am a Personal Trainer.

That’s why this is one of the hardest blog posts I’ve ever written.

This is where it all started.

Growing up, I had a fascination with the underdog winning against all odds -- movies like Rudy, The Karate Kid, and Rocky only fueled my passion for watching the little guy (who I associated with as a scrawny little kid) come back after getting beat down, beat the bully (I also dealt with bullies on a daily basis), and get the girl.personal training

To this day, I love watching movies like Cinderella Man, The Fighter, or Dodgeball. (Seriously, it’s a great underdog story.) There really is nothing better than the feeling of watching someone win against all odds!

And that’s why I got into personal training.

I got into personal training because the thought of watching someone turn their life around, lose weight, and become healthy despite what everyone else thought made my little 16 year old belly fill with warmth.

So, at the age of 17, I jumped at the first opportunity that I got. I became a personal trainer at the local YMCA. It was a summer gig since I’d be moving to Boston for personal training school in a few months, but I really wanted to get my feet wet, and man was it awesome. I’d spend between of 12-16 hours every day at the gym, training clients, wiping down machines and (of course) flirting with every possible female.

I was making anywhere between 2-4k each month, and my bank account was skyrocketing, which to 18 year-old me, meant that I could finally buy a sweet stereo for my car.

Every morning I’d wake up at 5 with or without the help of my alarm. But the truth is, I didn’t need it, I loved my job. I’d envision the lives that I’d be helping change every single day and (as any 18 year old) all of the girls I’d get to meet.

But, it wasn’t what it seemed.

Once I moved off of my little rock (I grew up on an island) and got my first job in the big city, everything changed.

In my head, up until that point, people who became personal trainers did so so that they could change the world.

They didn’t put profits before people and they always practiced what they preached.

Then, I found out, all personal trainers are SCAMS.

Quantity over Quality: The turn-and-burn client system
and why it will NEVER work for you.


We trainers have a weird, psychological disorder that makes us do just about anything for someone else's approval. This usually manifests in great people skills (good), the ability to get just about anyone to trust us (very good), and the fact that most of us will say exactly what you want to hear, just so you’ll like us (very bad).

What does this combination get you?

Well, thanks largely in part to the (extremely) low barrier to entry in the fitness industry, this will almost always get you someone who is 1) a fitness fanatic, 2) because of their dashing looks, very, very self-absorbed, and 3) someone who would rather be at the club, but it doesn’t open until friday at 7pm. That 2-4k they make every week is perfect for a night on the town in some nice clothes, the latest supplement stack, and maybe rent.

Sounds great, right? I mean, I am literally telling you this from the place of having been “that guy,” that it does feel great... except for ya know, the whole part where you’re practically stealing from your clients. We’d rather distract ourselves from the truth with selfies, more instagram followers, and attention from the opposite sex.

Here’s how we (personal trainers) do it:

Step 1. Initial consultation - Personal trainers will build trust, give a quick assessment (this is actually useful), then a 30 minute workout, and finally a sales pitch. They’ll promise you that you’ll reach all of your goals before you know it and they’ll stroke your ego in all the right ways. You say yes, even though you or someone you know has been burned before, and take the deep dive.

Step 2. Here’s where things get weird. One of two things happens. Either:

A) All of a sudden your trainer can’t remember what you did the last time you two met, would rather text than pay attention to you, and leaves you on a treadmill “warming up” while he goes and flirts with the front desk girls. OR,

B) You are pretty sure that your trainer is a devil and drinks 10,000 souls before each workout. They absolutely smash you during every single workout. You puke, nearly faint, and want to die after every single session.

This lackadaisical or hellish training doesn’t get you any of the results that they promised you. Your body hasn’t changed and your joints are starting to hurt. After all, most trainers are being encouraged to hit their quota, not to change anyone’s life.


Even if you make it shiny, it’s still garbage.

tin man suitsauna suit


Do you see any difference? Me either...

Here’s another way that personal trainers will scam you.

They will do whatever it takes to get you results (and you won’t even know it).

I once worked at a commercial gym that ran 3 month transformation programs. Each trainer had a team, and the winner of each competition would get some sweet take home prizes. This was awesome, except for the fact that reigning champions (my boss' team) would always lose 10+ pounds in the last week.

Now, to 99% of people that sounds FANTASTIC. Who wouldn’t love to lose that much weight?

But here’s the problem -- they’d sit in the sauna, wear sauna suits, and (despite being dangerously dehydrated) go through hellacious 2 hours workouts.

Did they win? Yes sir!

Did everyone say that the competition had “changed their life?” Yes sir!

Did anyone make lifestyle changes that they could use after the competition? Absolutely not!

Ladies and gentleman, that’s what happens when you try to make garbage shine.

It’s still garbage.

If you want to change your life (i.e. live longer and be sexier), you cannot go for “quick fixes." Life-long change comes from changing habits, learning self-compassion, and staying consistent. 



Here’s the honest truth. I was “that guy” for a long, long time. Every single thing that I spoke about in this piece came from real experiences. I was the guy that didn’t care at all and was in it just for the easy paycheck, hurting people more than I actually helped.

But that all changed when I became a coach.

One of my mentors, Martin Rooney, put it this way:

“Anyone can make someone tired. But it takes a coach to make someone better.”


bad personal training Exhibit A

That, my friends, is where everything changed. Hearing that stung a little. It hit the truth that I was too uncomfortable to investigate.

From that moment on, I made the decision that would shape how we do things here at UpLifted.

I promised myself that no matter what, I would always do what was the absolute best thing for our members. Non-negotiable.

And it’s working!

Here are a few of our longest-standing members, to tell you all about the difference between UpLifted and most personal trainers.


See what our members have to say:

Vikki Soutiere



Rob Ames




Are you ready to #BecomeUpLifted?

Join our 8 Week Transformation Program and get results like Vikki and Rob!


Topics: Fitness

Stanley Dutton

Stanley Dutton

Born and raised on Martha’s Vineyard, he found fitness at an early age and worked his way up to a 2nd Degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. A TFW Level 2 coach, and a graduate of the American Academy of Personal Training.

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