Thinking about getting into sick shape this fall? A professional, no-nonsense personal trainer can be a big help.

The best ones teach you, encourage you and help you reach your goals. But there are a lot of lousy trainers out there, so you’ve got to be careful.

Here are some of the dumbest statements bad trainers make. If your prospective fitness shaman drops any of them regularly, we’ve got two words of advice: Keep shopping.

Practically everything you can do at the gym, you can do at home. You just won’t have a psyched-up person in Lycra yelling at you while you’re doing it.

1. “I can help you lose your gut—and only your gut.
Spot reduction is not possible. It needs to be a total-body thing. So if you want to reduce the fat around your abs, you need to reduce the fat everywhere. To do that, you should actually work below your waist and target your body’s three biggest muscle groups: glutes, quads and hamstrings. That’ll burn the most calories.

2. “You want a tight stomach? One word: crunches.”
On a related note, crunches don’t really work. They won’t get you a tight stomach. They’ll just get you a hunchback. If you want six-pack abs, you have to cut calories from your diet. Besides, for actually improving abdominal strength, it’s much better to do front and side planks than crunches and sit-ups.

3. “You can’t get a decent workout at home.”
Yes, you can. Practically everything you can do at the gym, you can do at home. (Heck, some trainers are even making that their business.) You just won’t have a psyched-up person in Lycra yelling at you while you’re doing it. Which might be a good thing. (And will definitely be a cheaper thing.)

4. “You can only get the body you want with me.”
Not true. You could get the body you want with any number of personal trainers. Or with no personal trainer at all. Your trainer is just saying this because he wants you to become totally dependent on him. So that you’ll keep coming back—and writing checks—week after week. Many psychologists do the same thing, by the way.

5. “Sorry I’m late. Had to grab a coffee.”
One, a trainer shouldn’t be late. And if he is, he shouldn’t charge you for that time. Two, a trainer should never drink coffee, water or anything else while he’s with you. (And he definitely shouldn’t be downing a turkey sub.) Your personal training session is about you, not him. If you went to the doctor and he came in with a chicken burrito, you wouldn’t let that slide, would you?

6. “You’ve got shin splints.”
A trainer should never diagnose anything. That’s a doctor’s job. Which means your trainer also shouldn’t be saying, “Sounds like you’ve got a torn ACL” or “You might have ruptured a bursa sack in your knee” or “Yep, you definitely broke your femur” or anything else.

7. “You know what you need? Whey protein.”
Unless she also happens to be a certified nutritionist, a trainer should never recommend or prescribe supplements. Remember, she’s a personal trainer, not a GNC employee.

8. “Got any interest in a 42-inch Samsung TV?”
A trainer should never sell you anything. This includes a training session. But it also includes a “spectacularly high-def” television. Or a “ridiculously comfortable” futon. Or a “killer” apartment.

9. “Dump her, dude.”
A trainer should never dispense personal advice. He’s not your therapist. He’s the guy who tells you to do 10 more push-ups. Also: a 50-year-old working at Crunch might not be the best person to get your relationship tips from, anyway.

As a top certified strength and conditioning coach, personal trainer and sports nutritionist, Jay Cardiello has helped Hollywood A-Listers, Fortune 500 CEOs and NFL players sculpt the best bodies of their lives. Learn more at