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3 workout red flags not to ignore
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3 workout red flags not to ignore

May 14, 2020 at 3:10pm

By David Jenkins

Knowing what you want in a workout is usually pretty easy. Finding out what you don’t want in a workout can be more difficult if you don’t have quality indicators.

As a personal trainer, I have identified specific red flags that indicate to me when an online workout is or isn’t for me.

You can apply my red flags to your search to help raise your standards in online workout selection.

1. The coach doesn't provide modifications for exercises

This is a massive red flag for two reasons: Efficiency and risk of injury.

If an exercise is done incorrectly, the targeted muscles may not engage, which leads to a counterproductive workout.

Doing an exercise wrong can also lead to injuries, so your coach should be able to recognize when things are not being done correctly and when you as a participant could be injured.

Your virtual coach or online workout should have modifications in place for nearly each exercise if a change is needed.

2. Excessive pain when performing certain movements

A good rule of thumb is... if it hurts, don’t do it.

I often tell my clients that you know your body better than anyone else, so make movement decisions based on comfort levels.

If an online workout is saturated with movements that your body does not respond well to (such as deep squatting or excessive jumps), it may be best to steer clear.

It is also very important to identify the differences between pain and fatigue.

Oftentimes pain persists no matter what, while fatigue is time sensitive. If the discomfort significantly reduces in seconds to minutes, it is likely fatigue.

Everyone’s body is different, and pain is subjective. Thus, you should explore your body and consult a physician or fitness professional to find what works best for you.

3. Going from 0 to 100

Another standard for me is the level of difficulty. If it is too challenging too quickly, then that’s a red flag.

If you've been sedentary for an extended period of time and would like to perform high intensity workout there’s a few questions to ask yourself to determine if it is too difficult: Have I done anything like this before? Do I feel comfortable doing this? Is this exercise useful for me? These are great questions with which to start.

There should also be transparency from the creator of the workout.

If you have uncertainty, consider asking him/her what the exercise is for and what muscle group it works on.  If the answers to any of these questions do not please you, or you’re unable to get in touch with the workout creator, then the online workout in question may not be for you.

To reduce the challenge of finding safe and quality online fitness programming, the FIU Wellness and Recreation Center offers both live and pre-recorded group fitness classes and virtual personal training services led by our highly experienced, educated and certified team of fitness professionals. Access the Virtual WRC for FIU's online fitness content today. 


David Jenkins is a certified personal trainer with a bachelor’s degree in sports and fitness. He specializes in weight management and sports skills and has experience in exercise for musculoskeletal injury prevention and rehabilitation. His fitness philosophy is "change your body, change your mind."