Short answer: Yes, kinda. In fact, when I asked Rachel Sussman, a licensed psychotherapist and relationship therapist and the author of The Breakup Bible, about this, she laughed. “Well, my sister has been dating her personal trainer for years,” she said. “So yes, it really does happen!”
Sure, your relationship with a personal trainer is a professional one. But it’s intimate too, Sussman says. “You’re both in workout clothes, he or she is touching you, he or she is probably in pretty good shape … Plus, you’re working out, so your endorphins are pumping,” she lists. “It’s very understandable to develop a little crush.” (Here’s why you and your S.O. should work out together.)
It’s not just physical closeness that might spark feelings. “Trainers often see you at your most vulnerable, and it’s their job to validate you and encourage you. That can feel good,” says Gloria Petruzzelli, a licensed clinical sport psychologist in Sacramento, CA.
A small crush can be harmless and may even motivate you to keep up your workout sessions. But Sussman and Petruzzelli agree that there should be healthy boundaries in a trainer-trainee relationship. At the very least, says Sussman, if the attraction seems to be mutual, you’ll need to talk about what that means, what you both want, and how your professional relationship may need to change. (Follow these celeb trainers on Instagram.)
Petruzzelli says that in her view, a trainer dating a client is unethical. “There’s a power differential in that relationship—the trainer has more power,” she says. A trainer who makes a move without discussing it first, or suggesting you find a new trainer, should raise a red flag.
But if you’re just in the habit of falling for every instructor you meet, you can take it easy. It happens, and it’s fine. If only a six-pack were so easy to catch.