Should You Dump Your Trainer?
What should you do if your personal trainer disappoints you? A trainer offers some advice to handle four awkward situations.
Problem: He’s poorly organized, and he’s always running late.
Scenario: A trainer routinely shows up more than 15 minutes late for a client’s appointment. When the client asks why, he says: “I’m just really busy.”
Advice: Being late every so often is acceptable, (for example, if your trainer ran late with another client due to the client’s own lateness). But any wait time over 15 minutes is grounds for (at the very least) walking away and rescheduling the session. Most trainers are not particularly prompt, according to a 2005 study.
If you decide to wait, ask your trainer if there is anything you can do to minimize his delay next time. You should also ask him if the delays are normal, or if it’s an exception. He may admit to running behind frequently, and you’ll know to spend some extra time on the cardio machine in advance of your next session. If being on time is very important to you, and a trainer tells you that delays are part of the experience of being his client, you may want to look for a new trainer.
Problem: His reputation is tarnished in the gym or fitness community.
Scenario: Your trainer offers to sell you steroids or controlled substances.
Advice: If your trainer is using his practice as a steroid distribution point, you have grounds to fire him/her immediately. While it may seem uncommon, trainers are easy targets for this type of business—yet trainers that use their business as a “front” for illegal activities are the bane of the fitness industry. You don’t need to tell a trainer why you’ve decided to stop training under such circumstances. Instead, you may choose to go a step further and write her a letter detailing your reason for leaving, or take it a step further and report her to the better business bureau.
Problem: The trainer has trouble with boundaries.
Real-Life Scenario: A 41-year-old woman is seeing her new trainer. After the fitness assessment, he stares at the client’s thighs and suggests that she should try endermologie treatments, which can be “conveniently” provided by his girlfriend, saying: “You’re so attractive, but you’ve got all that cellulite: how gross!”
Advice: Every trainer makes his/her own share of embarrassing remarks—it’s part of developing what I call “bench-side manner.” Try to evaluate whether the person was just running at the mouth or whether he was really trying to manipulate you by insulting you. After the dust settles from the off-color remark, ask yourself: Do I trust this person? Am I impressed with his abilities as a trainer? If so, do your best to look past his quirky personality. You can also tell him you don’t appreciate his odd remarks, by making a joke, like: “It’s YOUR job to help reduce my cellulite, mister!” or a bit more directly: “You know, endermologie is a medical treatment, and you’re not a licensed medical professional. Maybe you should entrust my health care to my doctor — after all…I do.” The bottom line is that your trainer should treat you with respect and trust.
Problem: He’s narrow minded
Scenario: You tell your trainer you’re seeing an acupuncturist, and he laughs: “HA!” he says. “Acupuncture is total bullshit. The only thing that works for me is chiropractors. They’re the ones who really ‘jolt’ your bones. Acupuncturists are for weenies.”
Advice: Everyone pretty much agrees that alternative modalities such as hypnosis, acupuncture, reiki, and massage have some scientifically valid and proven health benefits. A trainer who discredits them is probably not worth his salt, because he’s not keeping up on current research. Most of what a trainer learns in “training school” is generally changed when he begins his career working in the field, and continues to evolve well into his career. If you’ve expressed your desire to try one of these ancient healing arts and your trainer isn’t really that interested, perhaps it’s the time to move on.