The fitness world has failed you. Those of us in the gym world have taken sides and, as a result, our clients and their results have suffered.

Trainers and coaches have created a world of division rather than unity. We make ourselves “experts” in a specific area and leave other aspects out or dismiss them all together. Ask a personal trainer their opinion of crossfit, group exercise, yoga, pilates, power lifting, bodybuilding, etc. You’ll find a series of opinions not facts. The industry demands specialization. In doing so we create vision – everything can be solved with hot yoga or some sort of strength training. The truth, however, lies in the middle. By being specialized and arrogant we limit our ability to help clients achieve their goals.

Have you ever been in a gym or done an assessment and a trainer tells you, regardless of your ailment, they can help you? Yet, asked about their credentials they have only one, maybe two certifications. I’ve heard trainers flat out lie to potential clients simply because their ego is in the way or because they want the sale. Fitness is dominated, sadly, by sales and ego not a true desire to help others.

How do we fix this? How do you protect yourself? The first step is becoming aware of the credentials of any fitness professional you work with – remember, you get what you pay for! Second, make sure your trainer collaborates with other professionals, especially those qualified to handle needs outside of their scope of practice. For instance, in Maryland, it’s illegal for fitness professionals to write meal plans unless they hold very specific credentials. The worst part, most fitness professionals don’t even know this law exists. The danger is when coaches prescribe diets yet have no real understanding of metabolic, endocrine, or medical conditions. Third, find a trainer who treats the body as a whole rather than separate parts. Finally, if your trainer isn’t making recommendations outside of the sessions you won’t get the results you want.

The human body is an amazing piece of equipment. It deserves a high level of regard, it isn’t simple, and it shouldn’t be viewed as such. It’s not enough to just work your arms or abs … it doesn’t work. Sure, you may see basic “results” but if you’re a woman and you want to get rid of the fat on the back of your arms and your trainer doesn’t know low testosterone is a key culprit then all the rope press downs and kickbacks in the world won’t fix it. Or, if you want to lose belly fat and you’ve been given a meal plan by your coach, yet they aren’t talking about cortisol (our stress hormone) or sleep they are doing you a disservice.

The world of fitness has failed you, but you don’t have to accept our failure. Find trainers and coaches who are fully qualified, degreed, and hold multiple certifications in multiple facets of fitness. Utilize multiple resources to help you, we need to combine strength training, mobility, physical recovery, medical professionals, and treating our mental health to fully achieve our goals.

Joshua Buchbinder, MS, is co-owner of B-Strong Athletics. He holds advanced certifications in many facets of fitness and has over two decades’ experience. B-Strong Athletics is committed to helping others improve their health, well-being, and to becoming the best version of themselves.