What to Do If Your Personal Trainer Is Mean | Exercise.com Learn: Your Fitness Business Resource

What to Do If Your Personal Trainer Is Mean

Tyler Spraul is the director of UX and the head trainer for Exercise.com. He has his Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medicine and is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist. He is a former All-American soccer player and still coaches soccer today. In his free time, he enjoys reading, learning, and living the dad life. He has been featured in Shape, Healthline, HuffPost, Women's...

Full Bio →

Written by

UPDATED: Aug 25, 2020

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about your brand. Let us do the heavy lifting.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident fitness software decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. Our partners do not influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Editorial Guidelines: The Editorial Team at Exercise.com is dedicated to providing fair, unbiased information about the fitness industry. We update our site regularly and all content is reviewed by credentialed fitness experts.

Get the Basics...
  • Every personal trainer has their own unique style.
  • You should never feel intimidated by your personal trainer.
  • Snide comments, eye-rolling, and smirking are all forms of aggressive behavior.

Firing someone, even your personal trainer, is a hard thing to do. If you’ve invested a lot of money in training packages, it can be a nightmare. But what do you do if your trainer is more than a little aggressive? Yes, it’s their job to motivate you and even push you harder than you would push yourself. Unfortunately, some personal trainers take things too far.

If your trainer’s tough love turns into aggression, it might be time to make a change.

The trainer-client relationship is not always business only. If it were only that, it would be easier just to accept that you aren’t a match and move on. But if you’ve signed a contract or paid for your sessions in advance, it’s not simply a matter of walking away. And if your trainer crosses the line and becomes overly aggressive, it could become a legal issue.

Find trainers that you feel comfortable with by signing up for an Exercise.com PRO plan. Go PRO today!

The Aggressive Trainer

Aggressive trainers are usually gung-ho about their job. They have a specific way of doing things and want it done just that way. In many cases, they may even have an outlined plan and will tell you what you need to be doing and how often.

They will show you how to perform each exercise and expect you to do it that way. And while this type of training works well for people who have thick skin, it can be unnerving for others. When does a gung-ho attitude turn into something more?

Walking a Fine Line

Yes, we all know the type: trainers who bark orders at their clients like a drill sergeant. And while it’s been a source of comedic relief for most, it’s never okay for your trainer to yell, scream, demand, command, or physically make you perform an exercise. Smirking, snickering, and eye-rolling are also disrespectful behaviors.

While it’s normal for your personal trainer to nudge you out of your comfort zone, it is never acceptable for them to push you to the point of physical harm.

Unfortunately, many trainers feel the need to shame their clients, thinking it will make them work harder. If you have a somewhat personable relationship with your personal trainer, tell them your concerns. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind.

Code of Conduct

All certified personal trainers must adhere to a code of ethics. Trainers have a moral obligation to respect their clients. They also must respect the right of their clients to make their own decisions about health and fitness activities.


The welfare of clients is the focal point of every trainer-client relationship. Trainers are obligated to recognize both their clients’ and their own boundaries with regard to competencies. At no time should your trainer demand you do something you aren’t comfortable doing. You should never feel threatened or intimidated by your trainer.

Find a Respectful Personal Trainer Today. Go PRO!

Sign Up

Training Methods

Every trainer has their own personal style. Some are super cheerful, and others may take a more professional approach. But when something that started out as a stern-but-gentle form of motivation goes downhill quickly, you need to take action.

There’s a dramatic difference between someone telling you not to give up and someone blatantly ridiculing you because you physically cannot perform the exercise. Frequently, people try to convince themselves that their new trainer is just trying to push them to succeed and that they need to stop being so untrusting. But as the adage goes, if your gut feeling is that something is wrong, it usually is.

How to Deal With an Aggressive Trainer

Dealing with an aggressive trainer can be overwhelming. Above all else, you need to stand your ground. If your trainer works at your local gym, contact management immediately. Give specific instances of when and where you felt uneasy with your trainer. Since most trainers acquire new business by word mouth, keeping quiet will only allow your trainer to abuse someone else.

Typically, management will step in and assign you to another trainer. If not, you have several options. If you paid for sessions in advance, you can request a refund. If the answer is still no, you may want to consider contacting corporate. Unfortunately, far too many people have inflated egos, so going above them may be the only way to rectify the problem.

If your personal trainer works for themselves, make a clean break. If you signed an agreement, verify that you won’t face legal action for breaking the contract.

If by chance there is a clause stating such, send a certified letter to your trainer stating the exact reason why you do not feel comfortable working with them.

Again, cite specific dates and times when the unsavory behavior occurred. Since most freelancers don’t want their image tarnished, receiving a certified dismissal is sufficient. However, if this only causes more aggression, it’s a good idea to contact the proper authorities to find out what you can do.

A personal trainer should always have your best interest at heart. And even though some may be a little overzealous, there is an undeniable difference between someone who is eager to please and someone who is just mean. Follow your gut feeling and do what’s needed to protect yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How do I find a personal trainer?

You can either search directly online, ask your local gym, or use our PRO membership to access online personal trainers.

Can personal trainers come to your house?

Yes! Some personal trainers do train clients in their own homes.

What if I don’t like my personal trainer?

That’s completely okay! Finding a personal trainer that you connect with is important. If you do not like your personal trainer, make sure that you cancel any upcoming appointments to avoid being charged and either ask your gym for a new trainer or ask friends or family if they have any recommendations.

For access to online certified personal trainers that will respect you and your goals, sign up for a PRO plan today.

Learn more about Exercise.com Fitness Business Management Software.

Schedule your demo today.