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Who knows your body almost as well as you do? Your personal trainer. He knows your weaknesses and has helped you turn them into strengths over time, pushing you to achieve more than you ever thought possible.
The best way to avoid having a bad breakup with your trainer is to develop a good relationship from the start. Take our quiz to find out if you need a personal trainer in the first place, and if you do, learn how to choose the best trainer for you. Ask your friends for recommendations and schedule a trial workout with several different trainers to find the one who best suits your style. After a sample workout or two, you should know whether or not you're compatible with this person. If not, nip things in the bud and move on before you feel obligated to stay on as a client or buy a large package of sessions.
But even if you've been with your trainer for a long time and feel loyal to him, you may eventually reach a time when you want to end the relationship with your fitness professional.
When to Break Up with Your Trainer
How many times have you had to find a new hair stylist because your usual one just wasn’t meeting your expectations any longer? The same problem can happen at the gym. Your relationship with your personal trainer can break down over time, just like any other type of relationship. Here are some possible signs that it might be time to part ways:
You’re not seeing results. Your muscles get used to doing the same exercises all the time, so changing your program every few weeks is essential. If your trainer seems to be in a rut and you’re not making progress, even with some program adjustments, it may be time to find a more challenging trainer.
Your trainer pushes you too hard. Being pushed past your physical limits all the time is dangerous. If your workout leaves you injured, perpetually sore, or overly exhausted, ask your trainer to modify the routine. If he or she won’t or insists that your comfort isn’t important, find a new trainer who will respect your limits but still challenge you in a safe way.
Your workout isn't customized for you. Have you noticed that all (or most) of your trainer’s clients are doing the same cookie-cutter routines? Your exercise program should be tailored to fit your unique fitness level and goals, whether you're looking to gain muscle, increase flexibility or lose fat. These all require specific exercises and what is right for you isn’t right for the person on the next treadmill. If your trainer doesn’t tweak a program to fit your goals, it’s time to find a new trainer.
You're ready to move on. If you hired your trainer when you first started out, but feel comfortable working out on your own now, that's okay too. The honorable thing to do is finish your package that you paid for and then branch out on your own.
Your trainer tries to sell you things. Does your trainer encourage you to buy specific products? While some nutritional supplements may enhance performance, your trainer should never encourage you to buy supplements since none are regulated by the FDA for safety or effectiveness. Many gyms carry a particular line of products, but your trainer should not pressure you to buy them—you should be able to shop around for comparable items and make your own decision. If you trainer is adamant about you using a particular item and pressures you to buy (a sign that he or she is making a commission off the sale), find a trainer who is unbiased.
Your trainer is unprofessional. If your trainer puts you down, shows up late, holds conversations on his phone (or with other people) during your session, cancels your workouts with little notice, or makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, then it's time to make a break. In some of these cases, you may be able to back out of a contract or receive a refund from sessions you've already paid for.
How to End Your Fitness Relationship
If your trainer is not meeting your needs any longer, here are some ways to bow out of the relationship gracefully:
Tell your trainer why you're leaving. Don’t leave him guessing. If your trainer is a professional, he or she will take your recommendations seriously and use your comments to improve things with future clients.
Accentuate the positive. Tell your trainer the good things you learned and how his program helped you.
Treat the trainer like an employee. Remember, you hired this trainer to work for you! If your trainer’s performance is poor, treat him as you would an employee and let him go calmly and with kindness.
Let the manager do the dirty work. If your trainer works for a gym or other training business, tell the manager why you want to stop training with him. A good manager will want to know why so she can help keep future clients happy. If your trainer was unprofessional, unsafe, or didn't play by the rules, it's especially important that you let someone know in case disciplinary action is necessary.
When it comes right down to it, it’s your money and your body. Even though it may be a bit awkward to fire your trainer, in the end you owe it to yourself to get the best service possible. Put emotion aside and do what’s best for your long-term fitness goals.
Find a certified personal trainer or fitness professional in your area using this simple search tool, brought to you by SparkPeople and powered by the IDEA Health & Fitness Association.
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