How to Break Up With Your Personal Trainer

Local trainers offer six tips for ending your relationship amicably.

When your relationship with a personal trainer isn't working out, the best way to end things is to be honest. Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

No one ever said breaking up was easy—and that goes for dumping your personal trainer, too. So many issues can crop up, including the super-uncomfortable moment when your trainer sees you working out with a fellow employee at the same gym. And it’s not like fitness professionals can drown their sorrows in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.

“Yes, it may be awkward to ‘fire’ your trainer, but in the end you owe it to yourself to get the best service possible,” says Inez Sobczak of Fit-Nez. So what’s a well-meaning gym-goer to do? We turned to various personal trainers in the area, who shared stories of their best and worst breakups with clients, plus what they want to hear from you when things just aren’t working out (no pun intended).

1) Be honest.
Even if it may hurt to hear it, personal trainers want to know why you’re ending the relationship. “Don’t leave him guessing,” says Sobczak. “If your trainer is professional, he or she will take your recommendations seriously and use your comments to improve interactions with future clients.”

2) Don’t cheat on us.
Laurent Amzallag of YaLa Fitness understands when things don’t work out. But like any bad breakup, it’s the worst when a trainer sees you after three months—with another trainer. “It feels like a spouse cheating on you,” he says. “The decent thing to do is talk to your trainer and tell him you like this other trainer’s style and would like to try him or her out. But when you don’t hear from a client for months and then see them with someone else, that hurts!”

3) A compliment or two couldn’t hurt.
When bosses have to fire an employee, it’s likely they begin the process by complimenting him or her on past accomplishments. The same goes for breaking up with your trainer, says Sobczak. “Tell your trainer the good things you learned and how the program helped you.” Adds owner of Fit DC Michael Everts, “Probably the best thing to hear is when [past] clients tell me they are still training after years and are continuing to learn.”

4) As a client, be in control.
Here’s the thing: You’re likely forking over a good sum of money to get fit and stay healthy. So even though trainers are the ones telling you to do that fifth set of pushups, “you control where you spend your time and effort,” reminds Sobczak. “So end the relationship calmly and respectfully if it’s not working for you.”

5) Show some respect for us, too.
Sometimes it’s the personal trainer who does the so-called dumping. As with any relationship, respect from both sides is crucial. Grant Hill of My Bootcamp and Revolve Fitness recalls having a client who routinely canceled his sessions last minute, even though he was well aware of Hill’s 24-hour cancellation policy. “I understand that things come up, but I would get texts from this guy in the middle of the night that would wake me up,” he says. After the third time, Hill ended it with the client. “Respect your trainer’s time, just like you would with your doctor, dentist, lawyer, or psychologist.”

6) Go to management.
Sometimes it takes going to upper management and expressing your concerns about your current situation. “Approach the owner of the gym and be straightforward,” says Everts. “Let the owner or manager know that while your respect the trainer, you find that the trainer is not the correct fit.” Management will likely act professional and understand that even the best trainers need chemistry with their clients—and sometimes it’s just not there.