When a Personal Trainer Gets Too Personal
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image by Matt Reinbold

Recently two clients shared stories with me about a not uncommon problem in the fitness industry. They both have female friends who both hired a male personal trainer. Shortly after they started working with their personal trainer he started making inappropriate comments about their appearance, asking questions about their relationship status. For both of these women, these comments in sessions moved to text messages and phone calls asking to meet for drinks or to get to know each other better. Each led the woman to rightfully become uncomfortable and question their course of action. Should they just stop going? Should they just “tough it out” till the package they paid for ran out?

My answer is an emphatic NO.  What is happening to these women, and unfortunately many others, is sexual harassment and should not be tolerated in any case. Yes, they paid for his services. His PERSONAL TRAINING services, nothing more and nothing less.  This type of behavior is inappropriate and unprofessional in any context. If you or anyone you know is facing this situation, here are the steps you or they should take.

  1. State to the person crossing the line that is behavior is not okay. You need to assert your rights and state that the behavior should not continue.
  2. Discontinue seeing this personal trainer. Be honest in why you are discontinuing the relationship and ask for a refund for any unused sessions. Or, if you are comfortable staying at the same gym or facility, ask to be reassigned to another trainer.
  3. Speak to the gym or facility manager. They need to understand what happened and they need to take action to address the situation. Present any data you have, like emails or text messages, to back up your complaint.
  4. Contact the personal trainer’s certifying body and file a formal compliant. Again, this type of behavior is completely unprofessional. It is against the code of ethics the personal trainer agreed to when they became certified. They need to be held to that standard.
  5. If there was a physical altercation, seek legal help.

If it’s happened to you I am 100% certain it has happened to others. You did nothing wrong. The personal trainer who decided to betray your trust did.

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