It’s fall, which is a great time for fresh starts and, for many people, time to think about upping your workout routine before heading into the holidays. There are so many great reasons to hire a personal trainer: maybe you want to exercise but find the gym intimidating and have no idea where to start, or you feel stuck in your workout routine and want to try something new.

Whether you’ve already made the decision to work with a personal trainer or you’re just exploring your options, you’ll want to ask your trainer some questions before you make the investment, and make sure the trainer is the right fit for you. Here are 8 questions to ask your personal trainer before you hire them.

  1. Why do I need personal training? In other words, why would I pay for training sessions when I can just work out on my own? A good trainer will do so much more than just order you to do sets of pushups: They will both cheer you on and challenge you, teach you how to use equipment safely and properly lift weights, talk to you about your diet, and tailor a workout routine to your schedule and lifestyle. They help you build lasting healthy habits, help you work towards your goals, and be a true partner to you throughout your fitness journey. Any potential trainer should show you that they’re invested in you and your health.
  2. How often should I work out with you? Training packages at various gyms can range anywhere from one-time sessions to shorter weekly sessions to hour-long sessions 3 times a week. There is really no one-size-fits-all, and trainers know it can be expensive, so any potential trainer should help you pick a package that works for both your budget and your goals. Keep in mind, though, that one-time sessions or 30-minute sessions usually don’t allow for enough time to build an effective routine, but your trainer also shouldn’t pressure you to work out with them 3 times a week if that just won’t work for you.
  3. How often should I work out in general/on my own? This will depend on your goals (Weight loss? Building muscle? Maintaining a healthy weight? Just getting yourself off the couch?), so establish these goals with your trainer first. The right trainer will be able to help you look at the big picture and assess how your lifestyle and what you enjoy doing will work with your training sessions. For example, maybe you want to build muscle, but all you’ve ever loved to do is cardio. Your trainer can help you find the right balance. They can also write programming for you to do on your own.
  4. What are your credentials and experience? One issue with the personal training industry is that there is no universal degree or certification a person must have in order to become a trainer, so you’ll want to do a little vetting here. A personal training certificate from a credible institution is the minimum, but they should also have some hands-on experience as well (even novice trainers should have some hands-on experience from whatever course they completed). You might also want to ask why they decided to become a personal trainer to gauge how motivated and invested they are.
  5. What are some of your success stories or why should I pick you? Asking your trainer if they have any client testimonials or success stories they can share with you is a great way to vet them. What better way is there to know if a trainer is qualified than to hear from people who have been in your position? And again, if a trainer is just starting out, that’s okay, too–everyone has to start somewhere. But even novice trainers should have a compelling reason for you to hire them.
  6. How fast will I see results? Although you might be a little impatient to see results immediately after starting a new training program (this is normal!), the truth is that any true, lasting results will take time. Your trainer shouldn’t over promise anything or set unrealistic expectations, like saying you’ll drop a pant size in a week. How fast you’ll see results will also depend on your goals and your diet, so make sure you talk about your personal goals, and your trainer will build a realistic plan to help you work towards them.
  7. Can you make me look like so-and-so? You might be tempted to show your trainer a photo of your favorite celebrity and ask: “Can you make me look like this?” Unfortunately, this is highly unrealistic most of the time: Remember that most celebrities have a bounty of resources that average people don’t have (money, stylists, personal chefs, time–not to mention the extensive posing and editing that undoubtedly went into whatever photo you’re seeing on Instagram). Again, a qualified trainer will be able to help you set personalized, realistic goals that work for you and your body.
  8. Do you do any sort of continued education? The science of fitness is always evolving, so even the most qualified and experienced personal trainer should be able to demonstrate that they’re staying current, continuing to learn, and keeping track of industry trends. This could be anything from conferences to reading articles about new techniques or studies about nutrition to updating their certification(s). A good trainer should be able to answer your questions about diet fads and fitness trends–or at least be willing to educate themselves and research them for you.

Don’t be afraid to ask a trainer these questions; remember that this is both a financial and time commitment, and you’re going to want to to work with somebody who is the right fit for you. Knowing what to ask a potential personal trainer before hiring them will help set you up for success later.