Hiring a personal trainer is a major step towards—and investment in—your health and fitness, so good on you if you’ve made the decision to enlist a pro’s help in making the most of your exercise routine. After all, the right trainer really can make all the difference in reaching your goals efficiently and safely.
The trouble is, finding the ideal fitness guide for you isn’t always as easy as it seems—and all too often eager workout enthusiasts find themselves feeling stuck with a trainer who’s not a good fit. It’s an awkward situation, for sure, but certainly one worth fixing if you want to continue your health and fitness journey (and avoid feeling like you’re wasting your hard-earned money).
If you’re not sure whether your current set-up is really working for you, consider the following signs you should break up with your personal trainer.
1. You Can’t Be Honest With Them
Padding the number of miles you ran, laps you swam, or reps you cranked out? Fudging the truth about how much movement you got in while on vacation? Spinning a tale about your daily routine? These little fibs are not as inconsequential as they may seem. “Lying to your trainer about your habits is no good,” says personal trainer TJ Mentus, C.P.T., a fitness expert for Garage Gym Reviews. In fact, it’s a sign that something needs to change.
Since a trainer’s ultimate goal is to help get you to your goals as safely and quickly as possible, they need to understand what variables may affect your results (think nutrition, sleep, stress, mental health, overall health, etc.). This way, they can help you make adjustments and keep your progress on track. “If you find yourself constantly lying or hiding these things from your trainer, it’s going to impact your results,” Mentus says.
If you don’t feel comfortable opening up to the trainer you chose, it might be time to find a new one. “A good trainer will meet you where you are without making you feel uncomfortable or judged,” suggests Mentus. “If you’ve been lying because you’re afraid the trainer is going to yell at you or reprimand you, finding a new trainer is the move.”
2. You’re Not Seeing Progress
Since fitness is a results-based industry, a good trainer will get a clear sense of your goals and break down what (and how long) it’ll take to achieve them.
And while a number of non-workout factors (like sleep, stress, and nutrition) can keep you from inching closer to your goals, a lack of progress can also indicate that something in your fitness programming isn’t working, according to Mentus.
“If you’re not reaching your goals, how your trainer responds and course-corrects is important,” he says. Are they actively trying to discern why you aren’t achieving results? That’s a good sign. However, if they just continue on as usual or don’t show interest in pivoting, be wary. “A good trainer will talk through it with you and try to get to the source of the problem,” he adds.
3. They Make You Feel Poorly About Yourself
As a general (and perhaps obvious) rule, you want a trainer who helps you feel good in and about your body at all stages of your fitness journey. If you want to cultivate the most positive, sustainable relationship to movement possible, it’s a nonnegotiable.
In addition to providing quality workouts and programming, how your trainer motivates you is also important. So if your trainer waxes nonsense about ‘earning’ foods or burning off calories, or in any way belittles you or where you’re at in your progress, it’s time to find a new one!
4. You Spend More Time Chit-Chatting Than Working
Your gym session should look more like a Shaun T training camp than an episode of Gossip Girl. If your trainer tends to spend more time talking about their ex’s new beau than coaching you through movement cues, that’s a problem.
For one, the quality of your movement impacts the results you see (and whether you end up injured), so a focused, attentive trainer is a must, says Mentus. Plus, as friendly as you might be with your coach, it is a business relationship; you’re spending your hard-earned dollars on training, not chit-chat.
5. You Keep Canceling On Them
If you find yourself repeatedly canceling on your trainer, be really honest with yourself about why. Are you canceling because you’re less invested in your fitness goals than you originally thought? Because you prefer other kinds of movement to your one-on-one session? Because you’re just not excited about seeing your coach? In many of these instances, it may be time to rethink your trainer—or personal training altogether, Mentus suggests.
Read More: 8 Signs You Should Try A Group Fitness Class
Either consider finding a new trainer who you’ll (hopefully) be less inclined to flake on or reinvesting your money elsewhere, whether it’s group fitness classes, mental healthcare, or a hobby.
6. They Keep Canceling On You
“Obviously things happen—like getting a flat tire or being sick—but otherwise, good trainers never cancel on clients,” says Mentus. A trainer who cancels on you without proper notice or without rescheduling signals that they’re not invested in you, your working relationship, or your results, he says.
While not quite as bad as flat-out canceling, tardiness is also a problem. “Sometimes previous sessions run a little over, so a couple of minutes isn’t much to worry about,” Mentus says. “However, it’s not okay for your trainer to consistently be five or more minutes late—especially if they still end the session at the usual time without making up for it.”