A break up is never easy, even at the best of times. And breaking up with a personal training client can be awkward too, like any relationship that’s past its use-by-date.
At first, new relationships are exciting! You see so much potential and have mutual goals.
You start out seeing each other at least three times a week and it’s fun!
You share stories, laugh, work hard…and suddenly, in the blink of an eye, the honeymoon period is over.
As you grow more comfortable with each other, that sunny personality you once found refreshing morphs into being sullen and moody—eye rolls accompany every exercise rep.
You find yourself being stood up more frequently and your client stops making an effort. They’re even seeing Ronald McDonald behind your back.
As tempting as it is to use the catchphrase from The Apprentice and yell “you’re fired!”, letting a problem client go isn’t quite that straight-forward.
The prospect of losing earnings or bad online reviews may deter you from making a clean break.
Your break-up speech shouldn’t be the first time your client hears you’re not happy with the way your relationship is progressing.
Best-selling author of The Suitcase Entrepreneur and named one of 2017’s 50 Must Follow Women by Huffington Post, Nancy Sisson recommends getting rid of the bad apple clients to attract the red carpet clients.
But when it’s time to break up, how do you effectively say to a client, “I think we should start seeing other people!”?
Excuses you can use to break up with your client
1. Blame schedule clashes
“What a shame! Unfortunately, I’ve got [family commitments/study/leprosy/watching paint dry] and am no longer able to train at [insert time] for the foreseeable future.”
It’s at this stage where you can suggest another fitness coach they may benefit from seeing.
2. Release them back into the wild
“I feel like I’ve taught you all that I can, and now it’s time to let you fly free and learn how to work out alone.”
Suggest ways they can apply the skills you’ve taught them in group fitness classes or individual sports such as swimming, running marathons and group fitness classes.
3. Be brutally honest
Clients are a walking testimonial for your abilities as a trainer.
If when you say “exercise”, your client thinks you said “extra fries”, you may need to be cruel to be kind.
Telling the truth is not going to win you flavour of the month, but at least you can honestly say you’re feeling they’re not as invested in this relationship.
4. Charge like a wounded bull
That’s right, put your prices up. The more difficult the client, the higher your prices go.
Blame it on inflation or wanting to afford the lifestyle you’ve longed to be accustomed too.
At least, if your client agrees to your highly inflated rates you’re being fairly compensated for your time.
5. Reverse psychology, make them dump you
You don’t want to kill them, but step up the workout to a hellish level where they’re certainly reconsidering their choice of personal trainer.
You want them to leave broken enough that they do breaking of the relationship for you, but not so broken they press charges.
An example: “Did you just roll your eyes or sigh? Get down and give me 20 push ups!”
6. Change gyms or relocate
Long distance relationships don’t work. If you move further afield, chances is your client won’t follow you.
It seems like a lot of work to ditch a client, but it depends on how committed you to getting out of the relationship.
The National Federation of Professional Trainers (NFPT) recommends screening clients before agreeing to take them on.
It’s a great way to safely identify any major risks, their expectations and motivations, and ultimately avoid having to sit down for the “It’s not me, it’s you,” conversations.
If you’re a trainer looking to “see other people,” then register your profile on Morfus and start attracting new clients today.