I have been wanting to write about this for a while now but have been hesitant to share it. I don’t want to discredit anyone and their style of business, but once I heard from a few others that they had (past tense because they too have left) the same experience, I knew it was time.

To be upfront, I was presented with the opportunity to receive discounted personal training in exchange for social media posts. For me, this sounded great as I was hesitant to jump back into personal training due to some poor experiences in the past, but I also wanted to take my fitness journey to the next level and give personal training another shot. This opportunity seemed to come at the right time and even more so at the right price.

As I was still a bit of a newbie in the whole fitness scene, I didn’t really ask any of the right questions or know what standards to expect. I was also hesitant to speak up because at the end of the day, I felt as though I was “getting a deal” and should be grateful for that. That was probably my first mistake. Quick side note on that, you should never not ask questions or demand something more, especially when you are paying and equally providing something (in this case promotion) in return.

I had to pay first and last month upfront, like I was renting a property. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but looking back on it, it made it more difficult to leave as he always had a month’s payment in advanced. I ended up not using most of my last month because the 30 days’ notice when applied to a “breakup” makes shit awkward as fuck to say the least. So, I stopped going and lost out on a full month of what I had already paid for.

In the beginning, I would describe the session as “tough love” to anyone who asked, and would tell people that he was not fucking around. I actually admired and respected this at the start, as I wasn’t looking for a friend in the gym. I wanted to learn and grow in my fitness journey not chat about the weather. 

It was challenging at first, being somewhat yelled at and spoken to in a way that I do not welcome easily or condone, but I was trusting in the process and standing strong. There is one memory that I have where I actually told him off mid set because I couldn’t hold back a reaction anymore. I immediately knew I shouldn’t have been speaking like this, but looking back at it, I also shouldn’t have been provoked to speak like this…

Occasionally, I would end up double booked with another client and having more of a two on one session. I don’t think either of us were ever made aware of the fact that the other one was going to be there until we were both starring each other in the face. This was one of those moments that I let slide as I thought to myself “well I’m getting a deal”, but I can’t imagine the other girls he was training at the same time were too. They were probably paying full price for one on one training and ended up with me in their session instead.

As time went on, I would have some great sessions where I felt amazing, and some not so great sessions where I couldn’t get out of there fast enough and hardly spoke a word. The not so great sessions usually came along with a lot of criticism, and then a lot of self-blame. I eventually realized what made it a “good session” versus a “bad session” and could pin point whether it would be one before we even got started. It wasn’t my “lack of focus” as he would say. It was the fact that he sat half way across the room with his phone in his hand, attached to a charger, with his face buried in it. I used to watch him not watch me and with that get lazy and not fully care about what I was doing, because frankly, at those times, it felt like he didn’t either. I would wait for him to look up and yell at me for poor form or “lack of focus” and literally want to scream “fuck you” back in his face.

The sad part about it all is that the potential was there. I saw incredible change physically, but I didn’t feel it mentally. His program worked for me on the outside but didn’t build me on the inside. At times it almost felt as though he should have been coaching a boy’s football team rather than women who can be delicate, insecure, and self-loathing by nature. I have written about my fears with lifting heavy weight and personal transformations in the past and as much as you can feel like you’ve overcome those hurdles they can definitely creep back in to your mind during a workout. I like to consider myself to be a very strong person, but no matter how strong you are, certain words and more so tone of how they come across can really get to you.

Looking back on it, I wish I would have spoken up and been stronger in demanding what I wanted out of the whole experience. We both would have benefited. He would have been given some feedback to hopefully fix some issues and I would have been happier in the long run. Instead, I ended up creating such a negative connotation with him and the gym that I actually didn’t want to go half the time. I remember dreading the days I had to meet him knowing I was just going to get yelled at. And that IS NOT and SHOULD NOT be how you feel with a personal trainer. I want to feel excited, encouraged and defeated, but in a good way. Not in a way that breeds negativity.  

So, after all that, my takeaways for anyone looking to work with, or who are currently working with a personal trainer are this:

Don’t be afraid to ask questions:

            What level of certification do you have?

            What is your client turnover like? Why have past clients left you?

            How have you handled unhappy clients in the past?

            Why am I paying in advanced for your services?

            What happens if I am late, or if you (the trainer) are late?

Don’t be afraid to set some ground rules outside of their contract that they may present to you:

   I am comfortable with x amount of tough love, or not.

   I am okay with you training multiple clients at once, or not. OR if you need to double book me with another client I would like an extra session or discounted session.


Some of my top recommendations for personal trainers in the city of Toronto:

Myodetox PerformanceMartin, Steve, or Alvin

All Day Fit - Cassie Day

SWAT Health - Kyle Ardill