Fitness Articles

Breaking Up With Your Personal Trainer

Because Breaking Up is Hard To Do

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.

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Member Comments

    I recently made an observation at a gym I was using while on vacation. One of the personal trainers was texting on his phone while his client was using the stepper!!!

    As a CPT, I find this to be a disturbing trend.
    Sadly I lost my trainer after two plus years. He helped me lose 60 lbs and at age 63 I am doing wonderful. The last month before he dropped me he started being a little mean to me. I don't know what was going on in his life but I have my own issues too. We stopped communicating and I became more sullen each session. I went to him 3 times a week but he couldn't deal with me understandi that
    he is only 25 years old. So I committed a great error, I gave him a expensive holiday gifts way more than I should have and then he didn't even thank me verbally in our next session. I guess I felt foolish and then angry. So he decided the hostility that we created wasn't conducive to any future workouts. What a hard situation for me. I blame myself because I can use some curse words when I'm so perturbed. So that didn't help. Today I'm interviewing a new trainer. Anyone ever do something stupid like. I'm also a female
    I have had three trainers. One produced a very cookie cutter program. I lived out the program that I had paid for (3 months). I told her about my interests (preparing for a beginner-type triathlon) but she did not adjust my program to response to my needs. It was my first time with a trainer and I did not really know what to expect (now I have a better idea). In the last month, she spent a lot of time chatting me up during workouts about buying more sessions. I did not like that, it made me uncomfortable getting a sales pitch during time I was paying for. The one thing I will say, she was always on time and she never cancelled at the last minute.
    The second time was very strange. It was a concept of semi-private sessions and web-based training. In the first session I found the trainer to be vulgar in his language. (Example: to give a visual of doing a squat then thrusting the pelvis forward while doing a lift, his saying was "shut the door, f**k the whore". I told him exactly what I thought of his language, it was like working out with frat boy. It was not a surprise that there were other things wrong that brought me to cancel. I am in Canada yet he charged me in US (a detail buried in the fine print of the contract). That meant , with the currency exchange, I was paying about 20% more along with transaction fees. I protested this, he said that was the way it was. I called the Consumer Protection Bureau, who informed me that it is not illegal to charge in other currencies, however, one cannot charge more than advertised, and must point out exceptional points in a contract before signing. So my contract was invalid. He was very quick to give me a full refund when I asked for it (I imagine he did not want me to go further with my complaints). However, he did not cancel the monthly deductions - I had to go back and chase him for that, which again, he quickly resolved. Boy, that was a learning experience.

    My current trainer is a woman who is friendly but firm and professional. We set it up so that she creates a program for me, writes i...
    Check out those "trainers" very closely, ask others about theirs and notice how the person looks. Sometimes people who look fit are hired off the street and not given proper safety training. And many don't like really over weight people and make fun of them.
  • SH5678
    I joined a fitness gym and had a personal trainer for two sessions ending up with a torn rotator cuff. He would not pay complete attention to me, and had the cookie cutter approach. When I brought all this to the gym owners attention, it became my fault. I left the gym. They refused to refund my money. I am now in physical therapy facing surgery if I don't get better. Please don't make my mistake. Check out your trainer thoroughly.
    I became disillusioned with my trainer when I realised it that even though I told her the reason I was hiring her was because I wanted to learn to how to work around my back injuries in a safe way. She didn't write anything down and when I went back for consecutive meetings she had forgotten and given me things I knew I shouldn't be doing. She would apologise and say she forgot. I was so disappointed as she came with a recommendation. She has a great personality and I think that is why she's been in business for so long. Even though my old trainer is inconveniently a lot further away from home and work I have returned to her because she is much more professional and not a "cookie cutter" trainer and I get a great workout.
    Yes, I agree. It is very effective. I am grateful to all the people for sharing nice and informative information That I had not available earlier .I have learnt a lot from this information. Thanks again for nice posting here.
  • Thank you. I needed this and it's really reinforcing/valid
    ating my decision to fire my trainer. I have about 4 sessions left. I initially thought about pausing it, but I grow less and less comfortable with my trainer because she's a control freak and has boundary issues. I don't really need her to learn new exercises because I am doing a lot of reading on my own and I've been following fitness videos as well. As for nutrition advice, omg, the advice she's been giving is so so very bad that I have been shaking my head in despair. She doesn't understand how calories work, what BMR is, I don't even know how she got her PT certification. She was teaching me lunges the wrong way the other day. If that's not enough, she keeps flitting from client to client, and then lying to me when I ask if she's busy with other clients (because if she is, we can reschedule). And now she's been making imputations that I am flirting with other gym trainers and changing their schedules around. (I've actually been training at different times to avoid her). I love the gym but the gym would be so much better without her. :/
    We developed such a good relationship that I started to get a crush on him!!! Not to mention, he's totally hot!!! So I just stopped going for like a few months and then booked a session with a female at the club. He saw me training with her and didn't look too happy even though I still say hello and smile, he gives me the cold shoulder. I've been married almost 10 years and I even talked to my husband about my feelings. I made the decision that training with same-sex trainers is best for me.....the articicle says to be honest but I don't see myself telling him the truth.
  • I didn't have any trouble breaking up with mine he was lazy and USELESS even with a bachelor's in Kinesiology.
  • RECLAIM2012
    I've had two trainers and the worst part is always the end. My issue right now is finances - I can't afford paying two hundred dollars each month for sessions. I believe that I can do a good workout on my own - I've done it. The only reason I was with my 2nd trainer was because I was given four free workouts as a gift. Now we are at the end, and I already feel pressured to buy more sessions. Unfortunately, I can't go to the manager because he is worse than the trainers - he doesn't take no for an answer without heaping on the guilt. It makes me want to avoid my own gym, which really stinks.
    Interesting article, but the choice of pronouns implies that all trainers are men. Perhaps you could alternate pronouns in the future (write one example with "he", the next with "she").
  • My trainer became my friend, and I had to leave him when we moved (not by choice) out of state. I still use what he taught me - and it still works. I miss him every day.
  • Thank you for this article - it is helpful and actually needed! My current trainer needs to be fired.
    "They say that breaking up... is... ha-a-ard to do
    Now I know, I know that it's true..."

    ...with a wink and a nod to Neil Sedaka!

About The Author

Leanne Beattie Leanne Beattie
A freelance writer, marketing consultant and life coach, Leanne often writes about health and nutrition. See all of Leanne's articles.

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