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Is It Time to Break Up with Your Personal Trainer?

From the Show: Train Your Body
Summary: It may not be easy, but there are ways to make a clean break on good terms.
Air Date: 4/14/15
Duration: 10
Host: Melanie Cole, MS
Guest Bio: Neal Pire & Grace DeSimone
Neal Pier better resized-horzNeal Pire is a nationally noted expert on fitness and personal training. He is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and has served on the Executive Council of ACSM's credentialing arm, the Committee on Certification and Registry Boards. Neal served as vice president of a leading national health management company and now serves as an Exercise Physiologist at HNH Fitness, a medical fitness center in Oradell, NJ. He is widely sought after as a consultant for athlete training programs, performance enhancement centers and fitness industry management. As a 35-year veteran with deep understanding of the subject matter, he is often asked for background, commentary or analysis by media covering wellness, fitness, and personal training.

Grace DeSimone has been in the fitness industry for over 30 years and brings a variety of experiences in commercial, corporate and community settings. She is the editor of ACSMs Resources for Group Exercise Instructors (LWW, 2011) and is an ACSM certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor. Grace is the National Director of Group Fitness for Plus One Health Management, an Optum Company.
Is It Time to Break Up with Your Personal Trainer?
Are you and your trainer just not seeing eye to eye on your goals?

Or, maybe you just don't like his style anymore... or want to hear his long-winded stories day after day.

It may be time to break up with your personal trainer.

It may not be easy, it might be uncomfortable, but there are ways to make a clean break.

There are also things to consider after the break-up. For instance, are you thinking of switching to a new trainer in your gym? Are you worried that your old trainer will speak ill of you or tell your new trainer bad things about you?

How exactly do you break up with your current trainer and switch to a new one?

On our "He Said, She Said" segment this week, Neal and Grace offer you their best advice on breaking up with your trainer or switching to a new class without the uncomfortable feeling you are worried about.

After all, it is YOUR workout, right?

RadioMD PresentsTrain Your Body | Original Air Date: April 14, 2015
Host: Melanie Cole, MS
Guests: Neal Pire & Grace DeSimone

Train your body. Here's exercise physiologist, Melanie Cole, MS.

MELANIE: On our He Said/She Said segment this week, we are talking about when do you know that it's time to break up with your trainer and how hard is it to either switch classes and stop going to a particular class or switch to another trainer in the same gym. Yikes! Are they going to speak badly of you? Are they going to tell the other trainer stuff about you?

My guests are Grace DeSimone. She's the National Director of Group Fitness for Plus One Health Management, an Optum Company, and Neal Pire. He's an exercise physiologist at HNH Fitness, a medical fitness center in Oradell, New Jersey.

So, guys. Neal, I want to start with you because the trainer thing, absolutely. I have been there so many times. I've been on both ends. I've had someone leave me and then I've had people come to me and go, “Oh, my god. I had to get away from that other trainer.” What is your best advice when you can feel it, right? You can feel when the time is right. You're snipping at each other. You don't like the stories. There's silence when you're working out. Tell us about breaking up with your trainer. How do you do it?

NEAL: It's like any relationship. One of the things I tell trainers all the time that I work with on their professional development is that, you know, there is a personal side to this whole personal training thing and it's very easy to open up the vault, if you will, and you know, share parts of your personal life and personal things and it's very easy to become “chummy-chummy” with a client and for a client to become “chummy” with you because you're actually working with them on a very personal basis. You're touching, working, training their body. You know? How much more personal do you want to get? And, it's very easy for them to lose the spark, if you will, that you always feel when you're starting something new like any relationship. Then, you know, after a while, it becomes a little repetitive, a little ho hum and you don't feel that spark any more.

M: So, what do you do? So then, what do you do about it? Do you actually tell the person? Because this is what everybody always asks, Neal. Do you tell the trainer, “I need to stop seeing you now and I need to go find...” or do you just silently go to the front desk and say, “I'd like to make an appointment with that guy over there because he looks really great,” and then you just don't make another appointment with your trainer or, if they're an in-home, how do you do it? We don't have a lot of time here.

N: Disclosure is key. You have to be honest as you go and as you're feeling things. You have to be honest with the trainer and tell them, you know, what you're feeling at the moment. You know, “I don't feel as excited or as enthusiastic as I did when we first started. You know? Do I need to do something or...” and that's a signal for the trainer to have to do something.

M: Okay. So, you be honest. You tell them. And the trainer says “Let me see if I can fix it. Let me see if,” and you say “You know what? I don't want to hear about your kids anymore. I just can't really...” I mean, the silence. For me, Neal, I've had too many uncomfortable sessions before I've stopped working with somebody and it goes both ways.

Now, before we continue that, Grace. What about the same thing with classes? Is it different than a one-on-one with a trainer. If you just don't want to go to this person's class anymore, but you go to the class after them, but you feel like you want to hide from that first instructor. You never want to see the in the gym because they're going to be like, “How come I haven't seen you in class in 3 weeks?” What do you say to them when they say that to you?

GRACE: Well, it is a relationship and it really depends on how deep your relationship is with that instructor. I mean, some people, you're friends outside, you go out for drinks, you get your families together. So, sometimes it can be really uncomfortable, but I'll give you two strategies. One, thank them. “Thank you so much, Melanie. I love your class. You've taught me so well, but you know what? I need a little change and I'm going to try something different,” because most of us tell the class, please include variety. So, it's something that I preach all the time. So, first all of all, “Thank you. I love you. I'm going to try something different like you tell me I always can. I'm going to be brave and I'm going to make the change. You know what? I'm hoping that I'm going to come back, too, but I want to do something a little bit different.” That's easy. If you really can't stomach that, and then you say, you tell a little white lie. “I've had a change in my schedule.”

M: That's what I was going to ask. Are you allowed to lie?

G: Yes, sure. You can. I think the easiest thing is just to face the person. Saying thank you, it will go, you know, such a long way and make you both feel better and very often, deep down inside, you are grateful, it's just that you really do need a change and all of those things that you were describing before, you start getting fussy and antsy and you don't like them and you don't like their music and all of that and you get agitated. It really is better for you to move on, make the change, maybe you'll say, “Wow. I really appreciate that. I'm going to go back.” Or, “You know what? I really needed the change.” So, having a little time to refresh and sort of think about what you're doing is great. So, rather than stomach—people feel like they're obligated to keep coming and usually make it worse. I say, we all understand that. And, you know what? Sometimes, we're sick of you, too.

M: Well, that's why I said it. Sometimes it goes both ways, doesn't it?

G: It does. Oh, yes.

M: And, as a trainer, I know that sometimes I've just dreaded going to a client. It's like, “Oh, my god. I've been with this person 10 years,” and it's just I dread the session and that shouldn't be a good situation for either of them.

So, Neal, back to you for some specifics if you are, say, an in-home trainer and do you just say, “I'm sorry. I need to go in another way?” Do you lie or tell that little white lie and say, “My schedule has changed and I'm not sure our times will gel anymore?” But, what about in the gym when they see you with another trainer.

N: Well, the best approach, I think, is truth. Telling the truth and keep in mind that most of the time, variety, motivation, inspiration is really your job as the fitness professional to keep moving the process forward to meet the participant's expectations while providing an experience that exceeds their expectations. So, if you work within those parameters, you usually keep things on the up and up. The big then is, whether you cut them off or they cut you off, never take it personally. And, that way, there are no regrets. That's why I like the truth up front. Being up front. “You know what, Mary? I think it's time for me to throw you out of the nest just for the time being. See how you feel. Work with what I've given you and see where it takes you.”

M: What if they say to you, what if they go with another trainer? Do they worry that their trainer's going to be, “Oh, yeah. She's so difficult, man. She's so difficult to work with.” I mean, because we all know that there are difficult clients.

N: Yes, there are.

M: So, you know, how do they actually make that break? Go to another trainer, start working with them and then look over at that other trainer working with somebody else. It's such an uncomfortable situation. Just in the last 30 seconds, Neal, give us some of your best advice for the comfort level of switching your trainer and seeing that person with another trainer.

N: Again being open and expressing your—not frustration, per se, but you know, “I need a little change. I want to try this on my own.” Maybe, “I saw this trainer doing this or that.” Tell them up front and I say, “You know what? Try it. Give it a try. Do something a little different and see where that takes you.”

M: Grace, last word to you now. You have about 1 minute, so tell us about classes, trainers, things you've seen at the best way to switch it up when you need to.

G: As a reminder to the listeners, it is all about you at the end of the day. I know sometimes, trainers impose their own personal stories and you feel guilty because they really need the money, but at the end of the day, do what's right for you. I agree with Neal, be as truthful as you can and use this tactic to say, “I'd really like to come back.” Because that will reduce the tension, you know? “I'd like to try something different, but I'd like to come back.” That way the door's always open. Maybe you'll go running back with open arms and say, “Wow. I didn't realize. I really like this better.” But, really, the consumer is in charge of the process and you should do the things that you feel are appropriate for you.

M: Absolutely. That's totally true. Leaving the door open. Even with people that I've had that said, “You know, we have to stop, but I might want to come back,” five years later, I still haven't heard from them. But, you know, I still want to wish them well, but at the end of the day, as Grace and Neal said, is about you, the client, it's about your workout. So, if you need to switch classes or trainers, you've just got to knuckle up and do it. It may not be as uncomfortable as you think.

You're listening to Train Your Body right here on RadioMD. This is Melanie Cole. Stay well.