Sometimes the difference between a good workout and a kick-your-butt, feel-it-the-next-day kind of workout is someone pushing you past your comfort zone. A good personal trainer can motivate you when you’re just not feeling it, can challenge you with new moves, and can even help ensure your form is flawless so you don’t get injured.

“Trainers provide personalized structure and commitment to your goals, whether you’re recovering from an injury or decided to commit to a healthier lifestyle and are not sure where to start,” says Joanna Stahl, a personal trainer and the founder of Go2Practice. “The desire to try something new or evolve your workout routine is also a great reason to hire an expert; training for a specific event or a life goal are also reasons to recruit the guidance and support of a personal trainer; and sometimes, just wanting to be held accountable is a good enough reason.”

That said, when you do make the decision to hire a personal trainer — or if you’ve already hired one — you want to make sure that you’re working with someone who is top-notch and worth every cent (PT sessions don’t come cheap). If a personal trainer possess the below qualities, then you’ve definitely found a winner.

Their motivation style works for you

While some people feel extreme motivation with a trainer yelling in their face, military-style, others want to give up the second someone starts to sound pushy. And while some prefer a gentle coach, others need that high-energy push in order to dig deeper. It’s not that one approach is inherently better than the other, but simply a matter of different strokes for different folks. “Do you like someone counting each rep, the pep talks, high fives, challenging compound movements, engagement, personal banter, higher intensity, personal appeal, etc?” asks Stahl.

“There will be elements that resonate with you, and there will be things you recognize that you dislike greatly,” she adds. “Engaging with a personal trainer can be a multiple year journey, so it’s paramount to make sure you like their training style.” Really good personal trainers will even adapt their style to each client. Be vocal about what works for you so that you look forward to your 1:1 workouts and never dread them. And if your trainer just isn’t vibing with you? Kindly part ways and move on to someone else.

personal trainer
iStock

They help you warm up and cool down

You wouldn’t expect a chef to make you prepare your appetizer while they only cover the main course. In the same way, your fitness trainer should be at your side from the beginning of your workout to the very last second of cool down. There’s still a lot that can be learned during a warm-up and having a coach alongside you to ensure you’re adequately prepping yourself for a killer workout — and keeping good form — is key.

You don’t feel pressured into spending more

Hiring a personal fitness trainer is already a financial commitment, and one you probably considered deeply before working the cost into your budget. It can be frustrating — even demotivating — if you’re constantly feeling pressured to buy this protein shake or add this class or buy this equipment. The focus is your workout and reaching your fitness goals — not how to spend the money in your bank account.

They’ve got their sights set on your goals

An excellent personal trainer will not only help you meet your goals but will also help you understand what sort of goals you should set for yourself in the first place. “For the same reason elite athletes have coaches, we all require guidance at some level on our fitness journey,” says Stahl. “Many people do not know their way around a gym or have really put much thought behind their fitness goals; when you dive a bit deeper into goal setting, functional training takes on a different level and the time spent is attached to efforts typically beyond fitness.”

personal trainer
iStock

Their focus is entirely on you

Off-days happen, but they should be rare. An amazing personal trainer has all eyes and attention on you. If yours is always scrolling on their phone, walking away from you to do who knows what, or is chatting incessantly with other gym-goers while you’re repping solo, then you’re not getting the most out of your money. Worse, you’re not getting the most out of your workout.

They take a 360-approach

Fitness doesn’t just start and stop at the gym. It’s a 24/7 commitment to your health, and a good fitness trainer knows that. While they don’t need to serve the role of a nutritionist or psychiatrist, a personal trainer can certainly help guide you when it comes to keeping good dietary habits, feeling great about yourself, and maintaining your overall health even when you’re not sweating it out with them.

You feel confident when you leave them

Even after the most brutal of workouts, you should walk out of your session feeling proud of the work you just put in. You should also feel like you got the most out your 1:1 time with your trainer. An excellent personal trainer will push you to your furthest limits without squashing you, which will ultimately keep you motivated and ready to come back again and again for a good sweat.

You might also like: The 7 Next Big Fitness Trends — And What They Can Do For You