Whether you hit the gym to blow off steam, to keep that bod lean and toned, or to get in some extra face time with your fellow fitness-loving friends (say that five times fast), we know how important your workout routine is to you — and if exercise is a consistent and important part of your life, you may also feel like you know all there is to know about staying in shape. To that we say: You go, girl! Still, there’s always more to learn, and if bringing in an expert to further your fitness education is only going to help you reach your goals more effectively and feel healthier faster, then why not consider it?

Hiring a personal trainer is definitely an investment of both time and money. That being said, we’d hate to steer you wrong if it’s not the best option for you, so we reached out to some experts for their advice on what characteristics can make someone especially successful in this kind of one-on-one training. Keep reading to learn more about the signs that it might be time for you to investigate a fitness pro of your own.

A trainer supervises as a woman lifts a barbell

1. You’re looking to make a lifestyle change — not just hit a quick weight-loss goal. There’s nothing wrong with initiating your relationship with a personal trainer because you want to look fab for your BFF’s wedding or because you’re feeling less than your best after having a little too much fun on National Ice Cream Day, but those probably aren’t the best motivators for making a more lasting investment with a fitness pro. “While initially clients may start with a [specific] reason why [to start with a trainer], they have to realize that it should not be a temporary thing, and it is definitely not a quick fix,” advises Maryland-based personal trainer Ki “Tini” Jones. If you’re going to put substantial time and money into training, you best be sure you’re doing it for the right reasons: improving your overall health, extending your life, and broadening your range of activities.

2. You’re not in it for the ego or emotional validation. “I’ve had several clients who — when it really came down to it — were just wanting to brag that they had a trainer,” Jones reveals. “[They wouldn’t] really put in the work.” If you’re thinking about hiring a personal trainer simply as a status symbol, you should probably think again. And while we’re on the topic of your personal validation, keep in mind that you shouldn’t expect it from your trainer. If you’re struggling with major relationship issues, family drama, or other emotional crises, make sure you’re seeking the help you need from counselors and other mental health professionals — not your gym guru. Starting a new fitness plan is an important element in managing your stress and anxiety, but it’s not a solution in itself. Don’t expect your future trainer to fix all of your issues.

3. Your workout routine is feeling stale. A gradual slide into a fitness schedule that feels just a little too comfortable can happen to the best of us — and getting into this kind of predictable rhythm can stall your progress on weight loss or muscle development. Your body needs you to switch things up! “If you’ve been doing the same thing at the gym for months, and you feel like it’s getting a bit stale, then you might consider hiring a personal trainer to create a new workout routine for you,” recommends personal trainer and health coach Ashli Sweat. Reboot your fitness with the help of a pro!

4. You’re not sure you’re doing it right. “The gym can be a daunting place, especially for a beginner,” Sweat admits. “If you’re unsure of how to use various pieces of gym equipment or need help with correct form, then a personal trainer can help guide you on this.” Keep in mind that using workout equipment incorrectly or exercising with bad posture can cause injuries or long-lasting wear and tear, so it’s important that you’re asking an expert for direction if you’re not quite sure you know what you’re doing.

5. You’re struggling with accountability. Even the most motivated gym rats among us can find it challenging to show up consistently for cardio or to put in the hard work at our favorite fitness classes. Hiring a personal trainer can help you put a face to your workout goals — and who wants to let an actual human down? “One of the main benefits of personal training for a lot of people is that it makes them feel accountable to another person,” explains online trainer Julia Buckley. “As human beings, we’re simply more likely to follow through on what we said we’d do and perform at our best if we feel like someone else is watching. Personal training can be a really powerful way to harness that.”

6. You’re recovering from an injury. If you’re coming back from a bad fall, fracture, or surgery, you should definitely consider adding a trainer to your new and adjusted workout routine. “This is a big reason [to hire a trainer] and — in my opinion — the most important,” affirms personal trainer Trinity Perkins.

7. You’ve hit a fitness plateau. “You’re not sure how to challenge yourself, you’ve been exercising for a long time but aren’t seeing results, and you’re ready for a change,” Perkins says. “Working with a trainer can give you a new perspective on exercise and help adjust your program for better results.” If you feel like all of those hours you’re logging at the gym are getting you absolutely nowhere, hiring a professional — even for a few basic informational sessions — might give you just the boost you need.

8. You like to get social with your fitness. Group classes like spinning and yoga are a great way to engage with other people while you burn those calories, but if you’re looking for a new approach to social exercise, a trainer could be a great option! “You will be connected to [the trainer’s] community and start to surround yourself with other like-minded individuals who will surely start to impact your thinking,” fitness expert and yogi Jolie Manza tells us. “A trainer can reduce the aspect of solo training, making fitness fun.”

9. You don’t have a ton of free time. Who does have a ton of free time? If you struggle to make physical activity a regular part of your routine, you might be an especially good candidate for personal training. “If you are seeking out efficiency and productivity in the time that you have set aside, then using a personal trainer can help ensure that your time will be used to its fullest potential,” Manza suggests. “Trainers can do the thinking for you, so you don’t have to wonder or worry if what you are focusing on is ‘correct’ or ‘working.'”

Have you ever worked with a personal trainer? Tweet us about it @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)