Commitment, passion, support… these qualities don’t only apply to romantic attachments. PTs explain how you can use them to nurture a lasting and productive relationship with your gym and fitness instructor. 

Do you have commitment issues? Perhaps the excitement has gone and you’re wondering how best to avoid a messy breakup. We’re not talking about your partner – we mean the other relationship in your life: the one with your gym.

Making the time, staying passionate, learning give and take… whether it’s with your gym or personal trainer (if you’re fortunate enough to have one), sticking to a few relationship ‘rules’ can help you stay motivated, healthy and happy. Here’s how.

Find ‘the one’: choose a gym that suits you 

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“My personal trainer became the unexpected go-to for emotional support”

So many gyms, so many different vibes… and not all gyms will be a good match for your personality. If only there was some sort of dating app for gyms… but wait, perhaps there already is.

A way to ‘date’ different gyms and studios is via ClassPass (could this be the Hinge of the fitness world?). If you’re not already au fait with Class Pass, for a monthly subscription fee you can browse and book thousands of fitness classes, gym visits and wellness treatments. They also offer a month-long free trial.

Or you can trial different gyms via Athlo, an app that allows you to ‘rent’ gym slots that members don’t use (you can also sign-up to rent out your unused membership). It’s fairly new so choice is limited, but more fitness brands are set to join, including F45, Sweat by BXR, More Yoga and others. 

Many gyms run promos throughout the year, particularly during quieter periods, so keep an eye on their social media feeds for news about free access. Or tap up any friends who may be able to blag you a one-off guest pass to their gym. 

Get over your commitment issues

A friend of mine visits her local gym on a pay-as-you-go basis. When I pointed out that this is costing her more than a membership fee, she confessed that she is a commitment-phobe. As a member she would feel guilty if she didn’t make the most of it all the time.

“It’s very easy to start with an all-or-nothing mentality, believing we must exercise six times a week for the foreseeable. However, those goals are short-lived, so be realistic,” Martena David, a PT at GymBox, tells Stylist.

“If twice a week is what you can manage consistently and sustainably for the long term, then commit to that. When it fits into your weekly schedule, fitness becomes part of your life,” she says.

Emma Vincent, a PT at PureGym, believes you shouldn’t be scared of committing to a plan as it will garner results. “Know what you’re doing and on which days you’re doing it. Set yourself small manageable goals each week in terms of attendance and what you want to achieve at the gym.” 

Make time for them (meaning: your gym)

“But I never see you anymore!” (is what I imagine your gym might be saying right now). If you’re starting to resent that membership fee disappearing from your account every month, you need to get a grip on your schedule.

“Visit a gym that is close to either home or work – when it’s en route, it’s easier to make it part of your routine,” suggests David. But experiment by visiting at different times. In her book How To Change, Professor Katy Milkman explains that people who avoid rigidity and allow for variability in their routine are more likely to build a lasting exercise habit. 

Reignite the passion

You may be full of enthusiasm at the start of something new, but after a few months, familiarity can feel dull. Try something new – researchers at the University of Florida discovered that adding variety to our workout routine increases enjoyment and makes us more likely to stick with it.

“For inspiration speak to a PT, look online for exercise advice and workouts or join a new class at your gym,” suggests Vincent. 

Show your gym some love

All relationships flourish with a bit of care and attention. Be a decent gym goer and you’ll not only create an atmosphere of friendliness and respect among your fellow members, but you might get the odd perk like a free coffee from the staff (shout out to my gym).

Both Vincent and David recommend you practise good gym etiquette such as wiping down and replacing equipment after use, not hogging machines during your rest periods and helping someone out if you see them struggling. 

Build rapport with your PT or class instructor

When it comes to the one-to-one relationship with a personal trainer, communication is key.

“Communicate with us. If your health or goals change, let us know so we can adjust around it. And be respectful of our time – if you can’t make a session, give as much notice as you can,” says Vincent. Don’t be afraid to chat, she adds: “We like clients who talk and are interested in building a rapport – you’ll enjoy the session and the PT will enjoy it too.”

Honesty and trust are also important. David explains: “Trust your trainer with their guidance – fitness can be very confusing, and sometimes conflicting, especially online. A good coach will know how to keep you on track towards your goal. 

“Always be open and honest, share your wins and your struggles. We’re human too; we understand, and most likely have been through the same thing which is why we can help you overcome barriers.” 

How to say goodbye (and avoid a messy breakup) 

Does the cost of living crisis mean you simply can’t afford a gym membership or personal trainer right now? Or perhaps you’re just not feeling it anymore. A good relationship also means knowing when you’ve reached the end of the road.

Work out if it’s worth it

David suggests that how frequently you visit is a good indicator of whether to call it a day on your membership: “If it’s once in a month, it might be worth looking for other ways to keep fit if you can’t find ways to motivate yourself to keep going.

“A gym environment isn’t for everyone. Do you find joy in being active elsewhere? Do you prefer to train at home or outdoors?” 

Be honest

Of course, the trickiest breakups are the personal ones with a PT or an instructor whose classes you have been supporting for years. Again, honesty is always best if you decide to leave.

“It could be that your financial circumstances have changed, you want to try it on your own or explore something new. Be honest with your reasons and your PT will appreciate it. All coaches know that personal training is a short-term commitment for most people. The goal for us is to get you confident in sustaining your fitness habit for the long-term,” explains David.

Vincent agrees, adding: “We don’t expect clients to stick around forever, but we do like to know the reasons why they leave in case it’s something we can rectify.”

Don’t diss your old PT in public

Above all, never badmouth an ex. “Be respectful – they might not have been the PT you were hoping for but they might be perfect for someone else,” says Vincent. “And give praise where it’s due – thank them, let them and others know that they did a great job!” 

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