Most Dangerous Exercise Trends of 2018

A lot of things seem to come and go in the fitness industry, but one thing remains.....the fact that humans are extremists and we will try just about anything if we think it will get us fit faster.

Some in the fitness industry would like to blame the consumer for being un-educated and chasing ridiculous trends, but funny enough some of these are perpetuated by Personal Trainers themselves.

The following are just some of the things trending in our industry right now that could be doing more bad than good, as well as what Fitness Pros should be doing about it.

(1) Waist Trainers

"Hey Fitness Consumers! Look over here, if you wear this waist trimmer (aka fitness corset) it will make your waist thinner. All you have to sacrifice is smashing your organs a little bit, altering the way you breathe, and probably a little bit of acid reflux if you wear it too long (which you will)."

But I mean.....if it worked for the Kardashians then why not for me?

Nothing against the physique and bodybuilding world but here's another great example of looking 6 inches in front of your face. I may not have the research to show long term damage from this type of training tool but common sense tells me it sends the wrong message to clients looking to make long term changes.

This is right in line with fellas in the gym putting on their weight belt as soon as they start drinking their pre-workout, only to take it off after their post workout shake.

Does squeezing in that mid-section make you look like the superhero you've always dreamed of while you're repping out lateral raises? For sure! I just question how it might be impacting your core activation one day when you come into deadlift and forget your belt at home.

Everything has it's place but as a Fitness Pro or consumer I'd look further into the impacts of this kind of training before going down that road.

All of this is likely a product of the blind following the blind. Leading us to our next Dangerous Trend.

(2) Instagram Coaches

No don't get bent out of shape if you're currently getting DM's on the gram and selling Training Programs. Instagram is an amazing tool for building a large social following and creating social impact on a massive scale.

AND I know there are plenty out there doing it and making a big impact

The dangerous part of this trend is that you can jump on any given day and find thousands of hot bodies who have put enough provocative photos out to get some likes & followers (and probably some creepy DM's) trying to sell their training programs to the masses.

Many of these coaches have no education or experience actually working with people in person, which presents a few major problems. For the Coach themselves, they put themselves at a major risk of liability.

Call me old school for looking at the risk side of the equation, but anyone providing a service (or) product in exchange for money is going to be assuming some legal liability for anything that may happen to clients they're working with.

There is always an assumption of risk, but just like there have been major law suits in the In-Person Personal Training industry, it's a matter of time before they happen in the on-line space as well and shape the way Coaches must operate.

On the consumer side, I'll always submit to the fact that most clients just need to move more often, stay consistent, and have some

BUT most in-experienced coaches in this space are just going to sling out workouts that they did last week and that work for themselves. Is it the end of the world and will clients' body parts explode after doing these workouts?

Unlikely.....but why commit to be anything but the best? I challenge all coaches to commit to being more than a round peach in spandex (cue emoji) and a set of washboard abs.

Online Coaching certifications like John Goodman's Online Trainer Academy are great resources and will allow you make even more money and better help people while looking super cool on the Gram Gram.

(3) Cross-Hitty Workouts

Now I have to immediately pass along credit for this term to TC Luoma - Editor of T-Nation, as he's the first I saw use it but he hits the nail on the head.

I personally like both CrossFit and HIIT training and think both have super valuable places in the fitness space, and getting people to move and enjoy it is more than half the battle.

Sadly, like all things we tend to take things into our own hands as Fitness Enthusiasts and Coaches and make our own hybrid approach and forget the principles that made something great on it's own.

Like somehow we know better than those who created it. So we throw away the principles of overload, safe volume, and necessary rest periods. Only to trade it in for face smashing intensity and awesomeness.

No need to sit on our high horses of perfect programming and movement mechanics, but just make sure to ask yourself: Is there is a better/safer way for clients?

If the answer is yes, why are you not doing that?

(4) Trying to FIX Everyone

This one can be kept short but there exists a slippery slope between helping people move and feel better while working towards their goal........and going about trying to fix everything about everyone.

We all have imbalances. PERIOD.

Pull over 100 of the best Fitness Pros in the country and I am sure most of them would not score perfectly on any version of the overhead squat. Does this make them broken and unable to work with intensity and train relatively heavy?

Not at all. It just means that you have to get intelligent with exercise selection and have a toolbox big enough to know that not every client should be performing every exercise.

Round hole square peg kind of thing....get it?

I also don't think this mean's what you might consider to be correctives have no place. They absolutely do! It just means that you can still work on helping them get stronger, lose weight, etc. while you are working on getting them moving better than when they came to you. It's at the extreme ends of the argument where run into issues (seeing a trend here?)

I think one of the deeper problems with this approach is the mindset it ingrains in clients as well. Our job as coaches is not to place shackles on our clients and what they are capable of but to open doors and open their mind to what they think they are physically and mentally capable of.

One of the favorite thing my business partner, Paul Christopher, at G+O Fitness says is:

"Unlike many doctors, we live in the world of cans, not cant's. Let's explore what you CAN do instead of focusing on what you can't"

It's a small philosophical shift in mindset that empowers clients and will undoubtedly increase their trust and commitment in you as their coach.

In the end I believe we live in the greatest time ever to be a Personal Trainer or a Consumer of fitness. The availability of information and constant connection has driven some of the issues above, but overall there are far more Fitness Pros & Personal Trainers doing good out there and bad!

The only way to continue to elevate the industry is to support the growth and development of those just getting started and help them to skip the kinds of mistakes above that many of us make along the way.

If you're local here in South Florida and would like to find out more information about how you can get started off on THE RIGHT foot with solid evidence based direction and hands-on training then check out this link for info on our next 8 Week Personal Training Course.

Best of luck out there!

- Joe Drake -

Joe Drake is co-owner of Gravity + Oxygen Fitness, a successful training Studio in Boca Raton, FL. Joe is also co-owner of the Axiom Fitness Academy where he works closely with new fitness professionals to go from getting certified to finding success in a competitive fitness market. Joe also holds a Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology from Florida Atlantic University and is a Technogym Master Trainer. You can connect with him more at

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