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19 January 2010 ~ 3 Comments

Women and Personal Trainers – Part 3 – When is it Time to ‘Fire’ your Trainer

In my previous blog post I discussed getting the most from your trainer; how to do it and what your responsibilities are as a client. So why are we talking about whether to end the relationship with the trainer? Fact is, like any relationship, things can feel ‘old and stale’, or we reach the point where we are no longer ‘feeling the love’. Though these generally apply to a male-female romantic relationship, the metaphor applies equally to the trainer-client relationship.
As women we are pretty sensitive and intuitive and can sense when things are ‘just not working’. If you are unsure of your instincts, then ask yourself the following questions:

• Do you sense the trainer has started to lose interest in your workouts? Sure signs are taking calls during your session (and not just to say ‘call you back’); checking out the other cute women instead of focusing attention on the exercise you are doing; not giving corrections or encouragement like before; or not suggesting a new routine when the current one has become ‘routine’ or boring. These and similar actions are signs that the trainer is likely no longer a good match for you.
• Has the relationship become too cozy? Friendly is good; sharing tales of the weekend date, or gossiping about other gym members/ trainers is not. Talk during a training session should be about 90% work-out related.
• Have your goals changed, and was this trainer selected because he/she is an expert in the area of fitness that you were originally interested in? Having competed successfully in a couple of powerlifting events, is your goal now to climb Mt Whitney (one of the highest peaks in continental US), or perhaps participate in a triathlon? Either way, even though your trainer may be well-rounded and could help with your new direction, seeking out someone who specializes in your new area of interest, will definitely help you be successful.
• You have learned a great deal from your trainer; the contract is about to run out, and you feel you are ready to train on your own (or perhaps with a training partner).
• Have you simply outgrown your trainer? He/she was very good when you set out – perhaps showing you the ropes and being very patient as you learned. Now you feel the need to shed the ‘training wheels’ and be more challenged. Your history with the trainer could be holding you back – he/she continues to train you in the same way with the same patience; when what you need is more intensity in the workout and someone who will push you harder.

If any of the above apply or you have some other reason for ending the relationship, you may be wondering how to go about it. If you are a strong and confident woman (or have become thanks in part to the workouts), and have no hesitation telling your trainer ‘it was fun and thanks, but I am moving on’, then go for it and read no further. If you are strong and confident but still a little intimidated by the all-knowledgeable trainer then perhaps the rest of the blog will help you out.

How do you go about firing your personal trainer? This is really akin to “it’s me not you…” conversation, and there are factors to consider, since you’d like to end amicably when possible:
• If you followed the advice in the previous blogs and set up a finite contract period, then (assuming the contract is ending), you can use any number of reasons that feel comfortable, such as wanting to train on your own for a bit, and will check in with the trainer in a couple of months, etc. (Make sure you also followed the advice of getting your workout program specified and written down, so you have it to follow.)
• If the contract is not ending, you may be stuck till is does end. Then you have to decide if it is worth ending sooner and losing money, or sticking it out. This may be the time to discuss what isn’t working and ask for it to be different. It is amazing how accommodating trainers can be if they see you are taking a proactive stance and asking for what you want. You may find that this changes the whole dynamic and the relationship starts working again. At least you’ll get the most from the remaining sessions.
• If the arrangement was fairly loose – like ‘every Tuesday and you pay cash’, then the reasons of wanting to go it alone for a bit can also apply.

Issues can arise when the trainer works in the gym you frequent; and you will be seeing him/her day after day. The advice here is to keep the explanation simple, don’t tell a lie that may backfire, and definitely end amicably. I have worked with a trainer at the gym I go to, and when the sessions ran out, I worked out on my own and after a while he/she realized I was likely not returning and we became ‘friends in the gym’ with no awkwardness.

Other things to consider:
• Did you date the trainer and have since broken up or want to break up? This is really a question more appropriate for “Ask Amy”, and less to do with fitness. My rule of thumb is that it is fine to joke and flirt, but never date your fitness trainer; just as never date your boss at work – it hardly ever turns out well.
• Are you ending the relationship because of ‘inappropriate behavior’ on the part of the trainer? This is a tough one and I won’t go into the legal and moral implications. What I will advise is ‘don’t stick around’ – extricate yourself from the situation as quickly as possible.
• Are you ending it because another trainer at the same gym seems to be a better match for your needs. Best bet is to be honest; say your needs have changed and you’d like to try a different type of trainer to advance your goals. If the trainer is employed by the gym and therefore has a manager, you might want to discuss this with the manager. Make sure to say your trainer has been great, and you could benefit from change, and you’d like the manager’s help on how best to make the transition.
Despite the awkward situations discussed above, personal trainers can be your greatest ally on your path to higher fitness/body-building goals. Treat them and the relationship with respect, whether you continue to use their services or not. You never can tell when you might again. Plus I love being friendly with the trainers I see and know – I often learn something from a brief conversation, and I share in return when I come across things of interest. Makes the workout really pleasant when the gym atmosphere is friendly.

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