If you’ve had a bad experience with gyms, don’t know how to distinguish if you have found the right personal trainer or get anxiety just thinking about going into a gym, this article is for you.

Unfortunately, just looking at someone’s credentials, college degree, and where they went to school, will tell you very little about a personal trainer’s ability to appropriately train someone.

In a world of quick fixes, with shows like The Biggest Loser and the “no pain, no gain mentality,” a lot of people find trainers that throw them under a cookie cutter workout designed to crush you into the ground and make you feel miserable for multiple days after. These strategies may work in the beginning, but they may be causing more harm than you think.�

If you want to reach your health and fitness goals and achieve results you can sustain for a life-time, you’ve got to get the right help. When shopping for a personal trainer or new gym, look for the following five keys that will help you find the right place:

1️⃣ They put a HUGE emphasis on recovery.

Find a gym or trainer that makes a big deal about sleep stress management, meditation, nutrition and breathing. Those are the key components to achieving sustainable results. Throwing hard exercise on top of a sleep-deprived, stressed-out, deconditioned individual is like throwing chains on a drowning person. It will make it that much harder for them to reach their goals.�

2️⃣ They know how to load your system.

This one is a big one. Are the clients lifting weights or are they still doing bodyweight exercises after months of training? A good trainer will meet you where you are. He or she will teach you the basics and then will load your system – meaning the trainer will challenge your body to create a change. To achieve results, you must stress your system just enough – but not too much. STRESS the body + Recover = RESULTS. You can’t achieve the end results without one of those components. Find a trainer who can help you with both.

3️⃣ They don’t run extreme weight-loss challenges.

A trainer doesn’t know your blood work. She or he doesn’t know if you’re walking around with an autoimmune disease, undiagnosed hypothyroidism, vitamin D deficiency, dysregulated circadian rhythm, B12 deficiency and many other common problems that would prevent you from dropping weight in a healthy way.

A good trainer goes beyond just training. He or she has a network of professionals that can help you get to where you need to be without sacrificing your health and challenging you to drop 20 pounds in four weeks.

4️⃣ They’re expensive.

When you come across a high-end gym, you’re not just paying for the hour(s) of your training session. You’re paying for the accumulation of time the trainers spend outside the gym bettering their skills and the investment they put into always improving their services. Don’t let the price scare you away. See it as an investment. Explore different training options – private, semi-private and small-group training – with your trainer and find a service that will meet your budget while still investing in yourself. A good personal trainer will give you all the tools you need to do things on your own if you one day choose to.

5️⃣ Their testimonials tell stories.

A good trainer’s testimonials are more than just complementing how motivating he or she is and his or her ability to run someone through a fun workout. Look for the life-changing results you want to achieve and ones worth investing in.