It’s easy to dump bum manicurists, dry cleaners, and juice bar buddies (hey, not all relationships are built to last). But moving on from a trainer can feel a little trickier. (Things were going fine! You’ll have to see them around!) We spoke with certified strength and conditioning coach Rachel Cosgrove, owner of Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, California, about some obvious and some not-so-clear-cut signs it’s time to start seeing other people. (Your body and health could depend on it.)
1. Training Sessions Feel LikeGroundhog Day
Another day, another 58-minute workout with four circuits that you’ve memorized and could, uh, do alone? Red flag, says Cosgrove: “There should be a plan that progresses every workout, whether you’re adding weights, reps, or different moves in—and the routine itself should change every four to six weeks.” Another sign your cash is being wasted on a one-size-fits-all program: showing up early and watching the client before you go through your exact routine. Paying the big bucks for a personal trainer means every minute of coaching should be tailored to your goals.
2. Your Body’s Always Sore AF
There’s training hard, and then there’s training so hard you can’t get out of bed or tie your shoes—or don’t want to have sex with your boyfriend. If your trainer throws the toughest possible moves your way every week for fast results (or maybe to stroke their own ego), you could be setting yourself up for injury. “It’s good to be sore every once in a while, but you should still be able to function after training,” says Cosgrove. Communicate that you want a smarter, steadier approach, and if the trainer ignores your request, then it’s time to say buh-bye.
3. Their Phone Is More Fascinating Than Your Forward Lunge
Sure, everyone occasionally turns away from work for a mental breather and juicy click bait. But for the hour you’re on the gym floor, the trainer should have his or her eyes on you. “We don’t even allow our trainers to have their cellphones on the floor,” says Cosgrove. Chatting with other trainers, catching up on ESPN via the overhead TVs, or tweeting while you’re mid-squat are all signs he or she’s out to lunch—and not so passionate about getting you into shape.
4. You Spend The First 30 Minutes Gossiping
It’s easy to become close with your trainer—they know which dimples on your butt you’d like to see go, after all. But when you’ve found yourself deep in conversation about his or her encounter with an ex last weekend, the relationship has probably gotten too personal, says Cosgrove. “Your trainer should be good at flipping the conversation so that the majority of the hour is about your training—you should never feel like you’re the one steering the convo back to the workout.”
5. Your Gains Are MIA
You’ve been showing up, swapped beers for Brussels sprouts, and still have nothing to show after eight weeks of dedication. It’s a sign your trainer may not have the experience or skills to design an effective program, says Cosgrove. “You should see changes to your body within 30 days if you follow their recs and stick with it.” (And you should see progress with each session, whether you’re able to add more weight or reps or up the intensity in another way.)
6. Sessions Leave You Feeling Womp-Womp
It’s okay if you’re not skipping and clapping on your way to each session (waking up early blows), but you should feel pretty damn good when you walk out the door afterward. “You want a coach who leaves you feeling inspired and excited about following a plan and making changes to your body,” says Cosgrove. If you feel like you’re being judged, snapped at, or compared to other clients, pick a pro with a more contagiously happy attitude. Most trainers love what they do and want to see you crush it.
7. You’ve Been Cancelled On More Than Once
Even if you adore everything else about your trainer, professionalism is everything. “The number one key to results is consistency, so you have to have a trainer who shows up,” says Cosgrove. Barring any emergencies or sickness, your trainer should be waiting for you each week, and the best will have a backup plan in case they can’t be there. “Ideally, you find a coach who has a network of other trainers they can refer you to if they have to be out or they’re on vacation,” says Cosgrove.
8. They’re Not Addressing The Whole Package
What a trainer isn’t: a nutritionist, therapist, or doctor. That said, they should be asking you questions and giving general guidance when it comes to your overall wellness. “Fueling your body, getting enough sleep, limiting stress—it’s all a part of the package and should be talked about,” says Cosgrove. (Because going to the gym does squat if you’re fueling almost exclusively with fro-yo.)