It’s probably not something you had considered when you hired him or her: you disclosed all of your goals, your fitness history and concerns, and really seemed to hit it off during your first meeting. You subsequently forked over hundreds of dollars and put your trust in someone you felt could get you on your way to a fitter, healthier body.

Here’s the thing: not all relationships are destined for success. However, you can learn a little something from every single one of them.

A few indicators that there’s a bit of trouble in paradise:

  1. You’ve done the same exact workout for the past 6 months. For obvious reasons: once your body has “figured out” how to perform certain exercises and patterns of exercises, you simply won’t reap the same benefits as you did in the beginning. This doesn’t mean that you never repeat or revisit an exercise, just that by keeping your body guessing and varying your program you will continue to make progress. Been 3 or 4 weeks? Time to move on.
  1. Your form is never corrected. Unfortunately, I see this one all of the time. You likely sought out a trainer for this sole reason: to ensure that your form is proper and safe. Beyond that, all individual characteristics need to be considered and each program tailored to suit your specific needs. If your trainer is not “nagging” you regularly about your potentially harmful movement patterns (or worse, not even watching you at all), find someone who will. We all have physical habits that need to be corrected for optimal movement.
  1. Where'd she go?

    Where’d she go?

    You’ve ever heard, “Go ahead and hop on that treadmill/elliptical/recumbent bike for the next 15 to 20 minutes.” One of my all-time favorite clients came to me from another trainer who did this every time they met. Her worst example? The time this client found herself banished to the treadmill while her trainer left the gym altogether to go get McDonald’s food for her kid (who was in the gym’s daycare center). Not only should this trainer never work in the field, but it’s a miracle that the client ever gave personal training another thought. Intermittent cardio during your program can be enormously valuable, but it should never be the bulk of your program. You can walk for free.

  1. The guy before you and after you did the same workout you just did. Lazy trainer 101: put together one workout for the whole day and run everyone you see that day through it. Regardless of their age/weight/gender/abilities. Oh, and charge personal training prices. What you’re really getting in this situation is a glorified, private group exercise class. That should cost you closer to $15 – $25.
  1. Your trainer never writes anything down. How will you know how far you’ve come if you can’t remember where you’ve been? If you routinely show up for a workout and your trainer wings it, trains off the cuff, or more aptly, bullshits their way around the gym, consider that a red flag. The reddest of flags. In order to get anything out of your hard work, you need a record of what you’ve done, how much you’ve lifted, and how many times you lifted it. Bragging rights aside, if, down the road you experience any overuse issues, you need a reference to see where this could have occurred (for example, your upper back feels tweaked and you did a lot of TRX low rows the same week you spent 3 classes at Orangetheory on the rowing machine without telling your trainer).

Okay, so maybe the word hate is a bit potent. But if your doctor or any other “healthcare provider” treated you with similar disinterest, I doubt you’d feel very warm or fuzzy. It’s your body. Do the legwork necessary to find the best match for you. And don’t give up if you come across one of the above-mentioned schmucks. There are plenty of fitness professionals out there that will have your best interest in mind who won’t hate you. You may hate us from time to time, but we’re okay with that.

PT-color-headshot-I3Jodilyn Stuart is the Health & Sports Senior Staff Writer for 303 Magazine, owner of ModaBody Fitness, and has been a professional fitness geek since 1997. If you have questions, feel free to email at: [email protected]