You didn’t want to see the guy your cousin said to call. You didn’t like the idea of letting random chance match you up. Instead you took your time and did your research. You made sure your choice checked off all your boxes. At that first meeting, it was like chatting with an old friend. It felt comfortable yet with a hint of anticipation.
You really felt like you had the perfect personal trainer match. He said all the right things, sharing a fitness philosophy that felt like your own. He talked about nutrition and didn’t mention supplements once. The price and schedule were both right. You made the commitment. You kept all your dates but it didn’t take long for something to seem not quite right.
After only a couple of months together, you’re starting to questions your choice. The meal plan he’s given you seems impossible to follow when you’re cooking for a family. You find yourself dreading his intense workouts that leave feeling you sick, tired and soooo sore for days. You cringe when a training appointment reminder shows up in your email. You are wondering, where you did it all go wrong?
Or maybe it’s a relationship you’ve invested a lot of time and energy in. In the beginning you were excited for your twice a week workouts and you were seeing great results. Now, after a year or two, it feels like the magic is gone. Your goals have changed but your workouts and plan haven’t. You feel like you aren’t being heard and you’re both going through the motions.
If either of these scenarios sounds familiar it may be time to fire your personal trainer.
If you’re considering ending your relationship with your coach, think about the same things you did when you hired her. Review this checklist of questions to consider when hiring a personal trainer and see if your coach is still hitting the mark.
Do my goals still match her style? You can enter a training program wanting one thing but learn you’re really after something else. Fat loss may have brought you there but with time you may realize you care less about weekly weigh-ins and more about being challenged with new exercises or transitioning to a plant based diet.
Has my (or her) schedule changed? Maybe Mondays at 5:30 pm used to be perfect but demands on your time have changed. If now you need 5:30 am to make your day work but your trainer says nothing before 9, it’s okay to find a better fit for your needs.
Am I really getting the help I need with exercise homework and nutrition as well as support outside of sessions? One or two days of exercise a week isn’t enough to meet most fitness goals. If your not getting help on what to do on your off days, you probably need a new guide. Nutrition has to be part of the game as well to look and feel your best. If a restrictive meal plan isn’t your style and he won’t dial it back, it may be time to move on. Or if there is zero help with eating despite requests to do so you need to make another choice
Remember, a good relationship still has its up and downs. There will be miscommunications and frustrations. In a healthy relationship these things are addressed and resolved. If you are not satisfied with the direction of your plan or the service you are receiving from your personal trainer, you should give him an opportunity to make it right. Take some time to make a list of your current goals and challenges. When you start a fitness program you may have one goal in mind but over time you and your goals will change. Perhaps your trainer has not asked and you have not shared this shift in focus. Ask your trainer for a few minutes outside of session to discuss your concerns and your updated goals. Have your meeting off the training floor, if possible, and in a private setting that allows you to minimize disruption and speak candidly.
During the meeting be honest but fair about how you are feeling and the needed change in direction. Use “I” statements as much a possible and give specific examples of any problems you may be experiencing with the personal training sessions or the program. A true professional will be open to your feedback and accommodate changes when possible.
It is important to understand when these challenges are too big to overcome. It may be best to part ways. Be honest, open and firm about your desire to end your personal training relationship. If you end on a positive note your personal trainer might connect you with someone who better fits your needs. Just like dating, it is great if you can agree to just be friends.
There are other important reasons to end the relationship. There are behaviors that are both toxic and unprofessional that should NEVER be tolerated. These things should be grounds for automatic dismissal. They include:
- Training with you. Your training session is about you and he should not be getting his workout at the same time. He should be checking form and coaching you to make sure you are doing the exercises safely.
- Taking phone calls, texting or tweeting during your session. As I mentioned in number one, his full attention should be on his clients not his Facebook page.
- Telling you to push through the pain. Yes, being challenged is part of the experience of working with a personal trainer. Muscle fatigue is normal but pain is not. Anything that is sharp, shooting or sudden is a signal to stop – not push on.
- Sharing your personal information. While not governed by HIPPA, a personal trainer should still protect your privacy. She may be anxious to share your success on her web site or Facebook page but she should always get your permission first.
- Canceling or moving sessions on a regular basis. Whether it is due to financial necessity or family needs, many personal trainers train as a second or part time job. While we all need to take a vacation on occasion, however unscheduled absences or constantly shifting schedules are not normal.
- Becomes too personal. If your trainer uses sexual language, makes vulgar suggestions or touches you inappropriately stop training with him immediately and speak to a manager or, if necessary, law enforcement.
No matter what the situation, remember that while this is a personal relationship it is also a working relationship. You call the shots, including when it is time to end it or just take a break. Be kind, be clear and be honest with us if you decide it’s time to part ways with your personal trainer.