No matter how you slice it, breakups suck. Regardless of whether you’re the breakup-er or the breakup-ee, at one point you had a genuine connection with someone that just didn’t work out, and that bites the big one.
Of course, it’s one type of thing to call it quits with a romantic partner (see ya later, morning sex). But when it comes to parting ways with a personal trainer? That’s a whole different manner of bummed.
Just like in a romantic relationship, you have certain needs that need to be met in the trainer/client relationship. We connected with the experts to find out how to best choose the right trainer from the get-go, and tell-tale signs you need to move onto the next one.
What to Do Before You Commit to a Trainer
You have a laundry list of things you look for in a good partner: organized, maybe into sports, family-oriented, etc. You’re totally normal if you have a set of credentials when it comes to finding someone to help you with your fitness, too.
Before you sign on the dotted line with a new coach, make sure you’re open and honest about what it is you’re seeking and get on the same page.
“It’s important to make sure that you have set up a clear and candid dialogue with your trainer about your specific goals and about their capabilities as a trainer, including their methods/plans for you and their education,” says Austin Lopez, C.S.C.S. and trainer at Diakadi Body in San Francisco. “If there is an obvious disconnect—for example if they don’t work on diet with their clients and you are a weight loss client—then that needs to change right away.”
In this instance, a good trainer will refer you out to someone else if your needs and their expertise don’t line up, or if what you’re looking for isn’t necessarily in their realm of expertise, says Lopez.
Also, take the time to sit down for an initial meeting and get a vibe for the person’s personality and habits. In most cases, you could be spending more time with this person than some of your good friends, which means that it’s important that the two of you get along.
“The relationship goes both ways. It’s a personal training session, so it’s bound to get personal,” says Kenny Santucci, coach at Solace New York. “You have to jive, otherwise why would either of you want to spend an hour together? Like any good relationship, the more you share views, beliefs, and a sense of humor the longer that relationship will blossom and you can grow together.”
Still, Lopez suggests a little separation between barbell and drinks at the bar with your new sweat leader.
“You’re going to get along on a deeper level than you may with some of your friends, but it is important to keep separate the results side of things,” he says. “If the trainer needs to have a hard conversation with you because you have been slacking off or not putting in the work; or conversely, if the trainer is slacking and not responding to scheduling requests or something like that, then it is important to not let the personal relationship get in the way of a necessary discussion.”
When You’ll Know It’s Time to Move On From Your Trainer
Something feels off, and you know in your gut that maybe it’s time to move on in a different direction. Let’s talk some clear signs that you need to part ways:
- 1. If you’re not achieving your goals: The most obvious sign that it’s time to move onto the next one is that you’re not achieving your goals—whether that’s weight loss, performance, or learning new skills, says Ben Lauder-Dykes, trainer at Fhitting Room in New York City. Have an honest conversation with yourself: are you doing everything you can on your end to stay committed to your goals, and nothing’s changing? If that’s the case, it’s time to reevaluate.
- 2. Your trainer isn’t focused during your time with you: “If you don’t want your other half on their phones during your dinner date, then why should your trainer be Instagramming or texting during your workout session?” asks CJ Koegel, inventor and New York City fitness professional. Having a personal trainer is an investment, and that means that the time you’re paying for should be spent focused on you and your goals.
- 3. This isn’t fun anymore. Let’s be real: not every workout is a walk in the park. But there’s a big difference between dreading a few heavy squat reps and the session as a whole. “If you are dreading your session with your trainer each week then it’s unlikely a productive environment for you to be successful with your goals,” says Lauder-Dykes.
The Hardest Part
There’s no perfect way to cut the cord in these situations. Whether it’s over email or in person, don’t feel like you need to give a lot of reasoning for ending things, suggests Lauder-Dykes.
“Ending relationships is tough, but if you’re honest and polite there’s always the chance to still have a friendly relationship after it’s all said and done,” says Koegel, who suggests offering up at least two weeks notice before ending things. As is the case for serious IRL relationships, don’t just ghost and disappear. Your trainer is also counting on your money, so they can’t afford to hold open slots or strategize for your training plan if you’ve already checked out on them.
Remember: As personal as this relationship might feel, it’s ultimately a working arrangement. If there’s something affecting your progress, you’re not doing anyone any favors by sticking with an unproductive partnership for too long. You’d want the same courtesy if you were on the other side.