A few years ago, I received a coupon for a free month of personal training in the gift bag of a Kentucky Derby party. Growing up, I loved having my dad, a retired pro football player, motivate and push me to stay in shape, so I decided to test it out.
Our first meeting went fine. He was really very nice. He took some measurements and told me a few things I already knew—like how I should try to eat more protein and that the margaritas at Mi Cocina have a considerable number of calories—but I just nodded politely. I wanted to make a good first impression.
We started seeing each other Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons. It was pretty casual, and things were going well. At the time, I happened to have a pretty predictable work schedule. After a couple of months, though, work started to pick up, and I often had to switch out days. Sometimes he’d be fine with it, but every now and then he’d say something like, “That’s actually really hard for me to schedule and plan for,” when I knew he had nothing better to do. I thought that was the point of a personal trainer: to train around my personal schedule. Our communication was totally off.
When my workload got even crazier, I knew I wouldn’t be able to make afternoon sessions anymore. I asked if he could do mornings, but 8:30 am was as early as he would do it. He couldn’t even compromise. I began dropping hints about how busy I was to brace him for our impending breakup.
“Well, if you’re dedicated, you’ll make it,” he said. It’s not that I wasn’t dedicated. I just needed a paycheck.
Shortly after that, I texted him to say I needed to take a break. I couldn’t do it anymore.
“If you really cared, you would make it work,” he said.
For the next three months, he would text me every other week to try to get me back. “Are you coming back soon? We’d love to have you!” I stopped responding, hoping he’d realize he’d been ghosted, but that only made him work harder. He connected with me on LinkedIn, friended me on Facebook, and repeatedly messaged me to come back, or at least write a testimonial.
Two years later, I was jogging in the State Thomas neighborhood when a car slowed beside me. A man rolled down the window and waved. I popped out my headphones and heard him yelling, “It’s me! It’s your personal trainer!”
Unless they come personally recommended by a friend, I will never work with a personal trainer again. Breaking up is too hard to do.