Personal Fitness Trainers and their clients are not married to each other. It is a business relationship that eventually comes to an end. Here are various scenarios and how to make the best of it.

The Client Breaking Up With the Trainer

There are various circumstances under which a client would want to end off working with a trainer:

  • Contract ends
  • Injury (in or out of the gym)
  • Disagreements, bad vibes, trainer shows up late and is unprofessional
  • No results
  • Moving away
  • Financial troubles
  • Pregnancy
  • Medical issues
  • Family problems

There are all sorts of possibilities that could arise. But in the end, there will be clients who will do whatever it takes to get out of a contract.

As a client, when you sign a contract, you should run through various scenarios and make sure that they are included in the contract and that the trainer is also in agreement with you on anything which may come up. Don’t assume that the trainer knows the fine print of that contract by heart.

If you’ve got a job that may move you or get to be too busy for you, then make sure that it is in the contract that you can end it.

Other Options for the Client Ending It

Depending on your reason for leaving your trainer, you can play a few other cards.

You can pause the contract. If it is going to be a busy or bumpy few months, then tell them to put you on hold. Make sure it is written into the contract beforehand.

If you can’t stand your trainer for any reason from bad breath to his funny laugh to the fact that he won’t stop staring at your boobs, you tell him to transfer your contract from him to another trainer at the gym. Fitness trainers do swap clients and it isn’t as off the wall as you think.

This is a big one here: You could correct your trainer. Bring up the bad breath, the “make it up as you go” workout plan or the boob staring and just give it to him straight. Tell him to fix it and give him an honest chance to do so. If he doesn’t, then fire him and make sure the manager of the gym is aware of the details of your situation.

I believe in having an ethical environment. We are all there to better ourselves and if someone isn’t contributing to that type of environment, then they should be called out for it.

Trainer Breaking Up With the Client

Sometimes a fitness trainer needs to let a client go. This could be for any of the following reasons:

  • Client never shows up on time
  • Unwillingness to follow directions
  • Creating a bad vibe for other clients
  • Not following their diet and blaming you
  • Creating dangerous situations by throwing weights
  • Any unsafe behavior whether it results in injury or not
  • Hitting on random people and making it awkward

It should be in the contract that you, the trainer, can refuse to service this individual at any time.

I have had difficult clients before. Many, many of them. I’ve always tried to work through whatever it was that was happening. Sometimes it was just not salvageable.

Usually I’ve found it pretty easy to move on. I just tell them that things are obviously not moving forward in their fitness goals and that I am going to let them out of their contract. This could go one of three ways:

1. The person could be thankful. It could just be the right decision for both of you. You part ways and you both get more control of your lives.

2. The person decides that they want to stay and that they want to renew their dedication to their fitness goals. They realize right then and there that they’ve been acting like a child and will henceforth follow your every instruction.

3. The person is a functional psychotic and will do or say whatever they have to so that you stay with them. They will start crying, pounding the floor, say they love you, say they hate you, accuse you of mansplaining, bigotry, sexism, cry some more and then plead that you don’t end it because they will otherwise have to commit suicide. Then no matter what you do, they’ll spread every rumor about you that they can and it will probably be to the tune that you drugged and raped them. Be careful who you sign up as your client.

But 99% of the time it will be #1 or #2.

You can avoid running into this problem in the first place by picking your clients. You will develop a feel for who you like to train, who you get along with and you’ll know what training style they respond to.

I regularly match clients up by personality with their trainer. If it is a super laid-back person, I’ll put them with my laid-back trainer who doesn’t get too excited or yippy about anything. If it is a high-strung woman, I’ll pair her up with my girl from Los Angeles who can talk 10,000 words per minute (it is seriously something to watch).

These are often the best matches. Sometimes a guy wants to be trained by a girl. Sometimes a guy would never be trained by a woman. Everyone is different. You’ve got to feel these things out in the first 10 minutes of talking to someone without them knowing that you’re probing them. They get paired up with the right person and you’ve helped everyone.

Other Options in Breaking Up With Your Clients

You can offer that another trainer (God willing that there is one around) take up their contract and continue training them.

Or you can do the big thing: You can address the person’s behavior straight on. Tell them that constantly hitting on other members and heavily grunting during stretching is causing problems for the other paying members. You can offer your help to correct them with these habits.

I personally love doing that option. There are 15,621 ways that a person could react. You could be laughed at, spit on or even get a death threat (I have). But I do think that this is the most responsible way to handle it. It shows that you are taking responsibility for this person’s behavior and are willing to work with him to correct it.

But there is always the option of refusing to let them in the door.

The Trainer Is Always Responsible

In my view, it is always the trainer’s fault. This doesn’t mean that the client is always right. If I get myself into a bad deal, I always assume it is my fault for not doing enough research beforehand.

But I say it is the trainer’s fault because he could have refused to take the person on in the first place. He could have addressed the guy’s behavior as soon as he threw the first weight, grunted loudly or spoke to a lady in an improper manner.

There are 13,732 ways that a trainer can control the gym environment. He just apparently didn’t apply the ones that he should have.


I was once talking to a Stage Manager backstage in a very expensive venue. I was looking at the books on his shelf. He noticed me stop on one and had me open a chapter and read a section about how everything is the Stage Manager’s responsibility and that if he accepted that, then he had a chance at doing his job well.

It applies to every job and especially personal fitness trainers. This profession has a ton of variables and the fact that you’re handling people and not boxes or groceries is a very, very big difference. You’ve got to be on your toes, an amazing communicator and you’ve got to be responsible for every little thing.

So be the bigger person. Look at what is best for you, for the gym and for the client that is obviously having difficulties.

Everyone wins that way.

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