Lessons on How to Break up with Your Personal Trainer from my 17 year old and Sex and the City that doesn't include a text, email, or a Post It note. 

My youngest kid has been the pied piper for girls, kids and animals since he was very young.   He had been dating a sweet, genuine girl for some time and she was very intelligent, talented and had some very amazing parents.  We love her.  We love her parents.  Personally, I think this is a very rare thing to meet a great teenage girl with exceptional parents, but me and the hubby were willing to embrace it.  We were not at first because we thought, "They're just teenagers, why get attached to parents who we weren't going to get to know for that long?"  Hindsight, I'm sure they thought the very same thing.

Anyway, they dated for some time and it was cool for them until it wasn't.  Like any teenage boy, my son was ready to break up with her and move on and struggled, I mean really struggled with how he was going to tell her.  One afternoon she had called and wanted him to come over, so I dropped him off that afternoon so they could spend some time together.  Before this time however, we had had numerous conversations about how and when he was going break up with her before this point, as he was really dreading it and dragging it out.

On one particular afternoon, he had not planned on breaking up with her because it was just before she was going on a fun vacation with her parents and his concern was not to tell her just before it because he didn't want to ruin her vacation time, so his plan was to tell her when she returned from her vacation.

You may have guessed that it never worked out that way, she knew something was up with him fairly soon after I dropped him off that afternoon.  She began by asking him why he was acting so strange and started crying before he could say anything.  He said he had already started to feel even worse about it and hated to see her so sad.  He made the decision to tell her and they talked for a while after that and decided to remain friends, which I think is great because she really is a terrific girl.

(Stay with me, I promise you this is going somewhere…)

Sex and the City is probably one my favorite shows of all time.  Brilliant screenplay, brilliant writing, dry humor, sarcasm in just the right places-but not too much that it's selfish, annoying and hateful; life lessons, not raunchy given the title, but respectfully raunchy if there could ever be such a thing.  I adore Michael Patrick King (writer and executive producer for the show) and what he'd done with the series and thought his adaptation from the novel could not have been done better.  It just couldn't.  I own every single episode and both movies.  I, for fear of appearing obsessed (too late right?) cannot tell you how many times I have watched each and every single episode.  Seriously.  I could go on and on, but then I'd be off subject;o)

Anyway, there was an episode (Season 6, Part 1 Episode 7) called the Post-it Always Sticks Twice.  Carrie, who is the main character of the show had been dating a writer whom she affectionately called "Berger" as that was his last name.  In a nutshell,  she decidedly fell in love with "Berger" after a brief courtship and careful examination of her relationship with him.  "Berger" confessed to the same feelings and so when they turned in for the evening, Carrie was feeling pretty ecstatic and secure in her relationship with him.

The very next morning to Carrie's surprise she woke up only to find that "Berger" was gone and had decided to break up with her via a Post It Note that he left for her stuck to a computer screen.   The note simply said this: "I'm sorry, I can't, Please don't hate me".   I still laugh out loud even now when I think of the look on her face and how she smacked a vase full of flowers he had given her the previous evening across the room (in slow motion for effect, of course) and stood there and looked at it.  LOL!  Too funny.  The relationship established up to that point had been negated by that Post It note!

Now, while I do realize that both of these situations are entirely different; one being a very adult situation, the other a teenage situation.  Even though one of them is a fictional tv series, that post-it incident did actually happen to someone.  What's even more peculiar is that the teenage situation was handled in a very adult way, and the adult situation was handled in a very childish way.

Both of these situations have a few of the same qualities:

  • there was an uncomfortable situation to be dealt with
  • a difficult decision had to be made
  • a decision was made based on the person's moral compass

Now, given these two situations, which person do you think did the more honorable thing?  Would it have been better for my son to break up with his girlfriend via text or email?  Why not? It's what kids are doing these days.  How is it that my son thought that, that was highly inappropriate and unacceptable way to handle his situation and he's only 17?   He never once considered doing it via text, or email.  His only consideration was in thinking that it would be cruel and not an admirable way to do it at all that he could live with.  I am glad (and so was he) that he took the time to meet with her face to face and let her know how he felt and was sincere even though it was very uncomfortable for them both.  It was a decision he came to on his own and I'm proud of him for that.

When you train with a personal trainer, you essentially become part of our family.  We genuinely care about you, it's not an act.  We listen (and talk), we want what you want for yourself.  We can only do what you are willing to invest in and do for yourself.  We can only take you so far.  The rest is up to you.

I'm certainly not ashamed to admit that I have certainly been "broken up" with before in my lengthy career.  It's expected and I make sure it's YOUR decision.  I think it's hilarious when clients think we haven't dealt with it before and that it's the end of our world when it happens…and I'm not being inconsiderate of the feelings of my client and how it looks on their end, nor am I trying to be facetious.  It happens.  If truth be told, we are happy to see you go!  That's the comical part.  I don't mean that in a negative way as in "Get the hell away from me," but in a "Fly birdie fly!" kind of way.

However, if you're a client with a poor track record, then kudos to you for firing yourself before I do.  Even then, I still try to make that your decision.  While I'm not trying to claim any kind of perfection here, I always find it interesting when a client can't take a dose of their own medicine.  In other words, they are nowhere near as understanding for you as you had been for them when they had unexpected things crop up or happen in their life.  

There are times I do think people tend to hold on to a trainer for too long, or they simply like saying to people that they work out with a trainer and that's an entirely separate article altogether.

The bottom line for me is this: I don't want to train anyone who does not want to train with me and I'm happy to set you up with someone who I think would be better suited for you, or who may be able motivate you differently.

I can tell you speaking from personal experience that those who told me to my face impacted me way differently than those who just sent the uncomfortable  text or email.  Those who just stop showing up are in a category all its own.  It's extremely rare that I get that anymore.  I used to think, "Wow. Just wow," when that one would happen. 

We see it coming every single time, so try not to spend too much time with it?  A face to face would take less time than it would take for you to compose that uncomfortable email or text you trying to make sound nice that you brooded over.

The only three things a trainer has on their mind when we depart ways, is "Did I teach them anything?", "Are they going to be able to maintain it?" and, " How am I going to make up for this income?"   If truth be told, if you created a checkered track record for yourself, we learn not to rely on you as any kind of resource anyway.

The moral of the story is this:  You must have the uncomfortable conversation in my book.  We get that it's going to make us both uncomfortable, but we want to make it as pleasant of a departing as it is difficult just as much as you do.    Be an adult, your dignity will thank you, and your trainer won't feel like an afterthought, or something you had to cross off your "to do" list.   

I respect and appreciate SO much more the person that sat me down and had the uncomfortable conversation or even shared some tips on how that I can improve.  It shows respect, consideration, and honors the relationship you've come to establish up to that point.  Honestly, anything else feels like flippancy and it's a long road back to gaining what was lost.   I get that it's hard, I get that it's not fun.  We get that...and such is life for everyone?   That still does not make it okay.  It just does not make it okay in my book.

No matter how you choose to do it, we will survive, but just know our minds will be forever changed about you in a negative direction, or a positive direction and that's your choice.  Whether you care or not is entirely up to you. 

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