Breaking up with your personal trainer

by Michelle Fiscus. 0 Comments

The relationship between a personal trainer and his/her client is a delicate one. In some situations, there comes a time when breaking up is the right thing to do, but there are some unwritten rules about when it’s called for and how to do it.

Take a look in the mirror. Do you notice any differences? If your size 12 pants are still tight and you haven’t seen a drop in the scale in over a month, that’s a pretty big clue it might be time to part ways. The stagnant progress might even be your fault (like those extra handfuls from the office candy bowl and the weekend ice cream cones). But, if your personal trainer does not check in with you outside the gym, it’s time to cut the cord. A good trainer gives you tools to stay accountable the other 23 hours of the day when you aren’t together.

If you find yourself dreading the workout because you have to play therapist to your trainer as he hashes out his overly complicated love life, it’s definitely time to drop him. Besides being unprofessional, when a trainer brings his personal problems to your workout, the session loses focus. It’s not supposed to be about him (or her), but you. A little chit chat is fine. But, if you really want to catch up on the ins and outs of the weekend, save it for a post workout stroll outside or while you stretch after the session. When you are training (in most scenarios, not including rehab work), you should be working hard, building up a sweat, catching your breath, and feeling challenged. If anything less is going on, look for someone else.

An obvious sign to search out someone new is when your trainer doesn’t take your workout seriously. Remember, you are paying him/her for a service. That means you deserve to be treated with respect. Your trainer should show up on time, put the I Phone away, and not gaze off into space. If he is checking out the girl running on the treadmill or she is flipping through the latest edition of People, it’s time to scope out a replacement.

Once you make that decision, you owe it to your current trainer to explain why you are not continuing with his/her service. Most likely, you will be under contract and will have to see that through. Once the contract ends, sit down with your trainer and explain that it’s not working for you. Sure, it might seem easier just to say you don’t want to continue or lie (and pretend you don’t have the money this month). But, for the benefit of his or her professional growth and success of his or her future clients, you have to give it to them straight.

Think of it like a performance review at work. You might have some general statements about the overall experience, a positive comment (“You really have an understanding of weight training!”), but then lay out exactly why you are moving on (“My weight hasn’t changed and I noticed we are doing the same workout since our second session together”).

Like all breakups, it can go good or be completely ugly. If he or she begs for you back, stand your ground. Most likely, your trainer had several sessions to prove him or herself.  If you don’t click by your third or fourth meeting, it’s probably not meant to be. It may be a high tech world, but don’t do it via Facebook or text message. In person communication is best, followed by a phone call if there is no other way. 

Once you have tied up loose ends with your trainer, begin a search for a new one. Maybe you have seen someone at the gym who really knows what he/she is doing. Another great way is to talk to your friends and family. See who they recommend and follow-up with their suggestions. Have a fitness or health related question? Email the author at

Michelle Fiscus writes a regular column for Michelle and her husband own a personal training and nutrition business based in Frederick County and hold industry certifications and credentials.

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