Personal trainer courses became very popular in recent years and the number of course providers increased rapidly. Unfortunately, a lot of providers got the problem with the quality of services and provide courses which are well below the par.

A basic search like “[provider] reviews” in Google most of the time will reveal some opinions of former students. They are an important part of choosing the right personal trainer course. But can they be trusted?

Services like Trust Pilot, or even Google are great platforms for gathering customer feedback but can be gamed. And some providers will take their chances.

I’ve been working in marketing long enough to understand how it works and why providers will do everything to make you believe they are the top-notch company. This combined with a fact that over 80% of us trust online reviews and testimonials just like we trust word of mouth opinions creates some great opportunities for companies to attract new clients.

How to recognise a fake review?

It is easier than you think to recognise a fake review. The fake review usually lacks details. Compare it to any real review and you will quickly realise real review is 5 times longer and includes names, dates and other crucial details.

While you are reading the reviews on any review platform online go scroll through all the reviews company have – don’t focus on the recent ones only. If provider got 50 plus reviews and all of them got 5 stars you may sure that something fishy is going on. There literally no chance to have completely satisfied customer based. All 5-star review mean company is faultless every time. It is virtually impossible.

Another trend you may spot is a streak of 5-star reviews shortly after few negative ones. Clear attempt to cover up the bad ones. Of course, a bad review may happen to any business and then positive ones after – but pay attention to the dates. You may notice that business which was getting one review a month suddenly received a streak of positive reviews within a day or two.

Self-hosted testimonials on provider websites?

I have no doubt that a lot of the testimonials you are going to see on personal trainer course provider websites are real. But let’s be honest here – they are the easiest ones to fake. Some providers go as far as to self-hosting reviews from their own customers. They actually publish 5-star reviews on their websites! I haven’t seen any of the companies practising this to get anything below 5 stars(surprise, surprise). You can imagine how trustworthy are these self-published reviews.

Do all course providers fake their reviews?

Of course not. There are companies which take their business seriously and simply try to improve their service rather than cover up the fact they don’t deliver.

PT courses market is a very competitive one. Providers use different tactics to attract customers. Sometimes they choose shortcuts. As a customer, you need to examine the company you are going to do your qualifications with.

Can you trust fitness celebrity endorsements?

You will see more and more providers using fitness celebrities (ex-athletes, fitness bloggers and models) for endorsements.

Obviously, some of them are being paid. Others receive free qualifications. In each case, their opinion about the provider will be biased. You are being paid so you are obligated to say something nice. Fitness celebrity takes some responsibility for a quality of the product they endorse and I’m OK with it.

What worries me is the special treatment they get. Even if professional fitness blogger or model what to provide some honest opinion – she can’t! Why? Because the course she was on and support she got is often completely different from what your average Jo will get.

However, if you trust the person endorsing the course – go for it.

OK, what personal trainer course reviews can be trusted then?

For sure you can trust negative reviews. Yes, sometimes competitors attack each other with negative reviews (during my career I’ve noticed only one case) but these reviews are being removed quickly. There is a low chance you will ever see one.

Negative reviews reveal weaknesses of the provider of your choice but they also help you to see how the business responds to them. Are they apologetic? Did they offer a sensible solution? Is their response timely and polite? Is the issue resolved? You see – any genuine business will receive a poor review from time to time. Good businesses do not hide the fact they are not perfect – they learn from poor reviews and improve.

Another review-type you may trust are the ones you find on fitness forums, especially if they come from a long -time members with a proportionally high post count. Some forums have really closed communities who help each other and are open and honest.

Of course, you may rely on word of mouth testimonials. Nothing beats a testimonial from the honest friend who did the course with providers of your choice.  Unfortunately, it is not often possible.