Making A Clean Break: How to Fire Your Personal Trainer

Most people spend the beginning of the New Year recommitting to their fitness goals. For some, this means reevaluating their relationship with their personal trainer. Have they experienced the results they expected? Are the workouts challenging enough or impossible to master? Have you simply lost that loving feeling? These are common experiences for those who work with trainers.

As a fitness coach, I have had many clients come to me after a nasty break up with their former trainer. While the breakups were often warranted, rarely are they handled properly. Feelings were hurt and bridges were burned. Not good for anyone. To help you keep fond memories long after the thrill is gone, I present to you, my “Dos” and “Don’ts for making a clean break with your trainer.

Don’t: Jump the gun by placing blame.

Often we don’t speak up until we have one foot out the door. While you might feel fed up, it is always best to discuss your feelings calmly and without accusations.

Do: Carefully consider your reasons for parting ways.

Why aren’t you seeing results? Have you followed your trainer’s recommendations? Sometimes an honest evaluation of the experience can lead to an open discussion with your trainer. Let him know that you are frustrated with your lack of progress. If you haven’t done your part, own up to that too. You might need your trainer to hold you to a higher level of accountability. If he is not willing to provide that, you need to find a trainer who will.

Don’t: Make up a reason to let them go.

While there are plenty of legitimate “It’s not you it’s me” reasons that training relationships end, don’t use one if it is not the primary reason for the breakup.

Do: Tell your trainer the truth.

If she is a professional, she will appreciate the feedback. It is said that honesty is the best policy and, while potentially uncomfortable, it does hold true in this situation.

Don’t: Think that because you have gotten into shape that the problem is solved.

This is the #1 reason I have lost clients. It is also the #1 reason they’ve come back. While getting in shape is what any good trainer wants for her clients, we also know that fitness is a lifelong experience. Don’t become fit and then quit.

Do: Have a plan.

So you’ve met your initial goal and you feel confident moving forward without personal training. Your trainer should respect that. Sit down with him and discuss your next moves. I have transitioned many clients by offering a monthly consultation in which I give them a plan to follow between visits. This works great for clients who want to step out on their own. You might want to try something all together different like a yoga practice or joining a CrossFit studio. In all likelihood, your trainer has connections with other fitness professionals that might help you make a smooth transition.

Don’t: Trash your trainer’s reputation.

I realize that there are some terrible trainers out there. I’ve seen clients working hard while their trainer chats with other members or on the telephone. I’ve also seen trainers show up late to appointments. Unprofessional behavior is not acceptable. Neither is spreading your dissatisfaction around the gym. Why is this bad when what you are saying is true? Because it makes you look bad. Gossiping is never an attractive quality. You will isolate yourself from the quality trainers if they feel that you are one of ‘those’clients. It is just not worth it.

Do: Maintain a cordial relationship if possible.

Sometimes personalities don’t mesh. It doesn’t mean that the trainer or the client was bad. It just was a bad fit. Some people respond well to the drill sergeant-style of training–Definitely not my approach–so a client who is looking for that would be almost certainly be disappointed. Making a mutual decision to find a better connection is always best. I have actually become very good friends with clients I decided were not a good fit.

It might seem odd to be discussing letting go of your personal trainer at the time of year that most people are just developing a relationship with a fitness professional. If you are just starting out, hopefully these dos and don’ts will help you create a lasting relationship with your trainer. If you are revisiting your goals, remember to tread lightly. Relationships take work; your connection with your personal trainer is no different.

Happy New you!

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