After having gone through the ordeal of locating a trainer/coach, then "interviewing" them (the consultation), many people think that the process is over - but there's still a crucial stage. How do they relate to you in the first session? There are still some significant markers to keep in mind while working with them for the first time.
- Do they assess you? There should always be some form of screen or assessment that precedes the start of the training session - no ifs, ands or buts. Everyone will have a different take on what they use - but what's important is that they use something. Remember (in the words of Eric Cressey): if they're not assessing, they're guessing.
- Is the first session as much an education as a training session? This likely won't be the hardest session you ever have - nor should it be. Even if you know your limits, they don't - and they shouldn't be trying to find it in the first 60mins. If they're throwing out massive numbers of repetitions, or loading up massive weight - something's not right. And even if you are asking to be pushed harder, they should be sticking to their guidelines.
- Are they someone that you can relate to? Do they "speak your language"? Do they seem like a robot? Do they not seem to pay enough attention to your form? You might not even be able to put your finger on it, but trust your intuition - if something tells you this isn't going to work, don't commit to a long-term agreement.
- Finally - how do you feel 24-48hrs after the session? While a small degree of soreness is to be expected (particularly if they've shown you some new exercises, or you've been inactive for a while), if you find you're so sore that you have trouble sitting on the toilet, putting on a jacket or washing your hair - you were pushed too hard. A good trainer or coach should always try to err on the side of caution - and leave you with positive feelings after each session.
Trust yourself, and good luck in your search!