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Maybe you’ve joined a new gym or are motivated to get disciplined with a nutrition and fitness plan. Scheduling time with a trainer can be a wise way to help you get on track, figure out how to use equipment safely, and learn form and techniques that will help you maximize your results.

But it’s normal if you feel like working with a trainer seems a little intimidating at first. If you assume their assessment begins from the moment you walk through the door, Theresa Perales, CPFT, a Certified Personal Trainer and adjunct instructor at San Diego Mesa College, says you’re right—in a good way. An informed trainer may check for certain cues about your health, fitness readiness, and overall wellbeing before you ever pick up a weight or step foot on that treadmill.

Understanding how they might be studying you can help you to collaborate with your trainer in the pursuit of your fitness goals. To help you better understand what your trainer might be watching for, Perales filled us in on the clues personal trainers look for.

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Back pain, hands and fitness injury in gym after accident, workout or training. Sports, health and black man or athlete with fibromyalgia, inflammation or arthritis, tendinitis or painful fracture.Jacob Wackerhausen/Getty Images

1. Your posture

Believe it or not, your posture says a lot about you. As you age, work life, injuries, and lifestyle can cause deviations from your optimal body alignment.

Perales says just two examples are upper crossed syndrome, which is characterized by a forward head posture and rounded shoulders (think long periods sitting at a desk), and lower crossed syndrome, when there is a significant forward pelvic tilt. Extended periods of time without correcting those deviations can result in muscle imbalances, muscle weakness, joint dysfunction, and an eventual lack of mobility.

Skilled trainers will note some of the postural deviations from the start of your training and will design programming to aid in the correction these issues and keep your free from injury.

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