The way in which I train people is very different to what you will find in 99% of gyms across the world. At the heart of this difference is how I gauge whether my clients are progressing, and how I encourage them to assess their progress.
"The mainstream fitness industry is largely focused on how we look"
You see, the mainstream fitness industry is largely focused on how we look This means that the quality of a training regimen is judged based on how quickly it can make the person look different (whether that be slimmer, more muscular, etc.) One of the first problems that arises from focusing on aesthetics too much is that they are very difficult to measure. Even things like tracking weight day to day can be deceiving when you account for fluctuations in water weight. Most people will not begin to notice visible differences in their appearance until at least a month of training has elapsed.
Another major issue is that personal trainers will often change the training session up so much every time that the client is just going through the motions. This week they did kettlebell swings, next week it's single leg squats. If we don't keep things the same, there is no way of knowing if the person is actually getting better.
This, in my opinion, is one of the main reasons why people give up early on exercise programmes. If your enjoyment of a training programme is going to derive solely from seeing visible day-to-day changes in your physical appearance, then you are setting yourself up for a lot of disappointment (and potential body image issues).
This brings me to what I do that is different to the common approach; I focus on performance. Your results from my training are assessed based not just on how you look or feel, but on what you can do. Are you one step closer to your goal of getting your first pull-up? Are you fitter, stronger, and more capable than you were on day one? These are the things that an intelligently designed programme should focus on.
This approach solves the problem of not being able to gauge progress on a short term scale. In the space of just a few days, you can see that your training weights have gone up. I guarantee that you feel like a superhero when you manage to do your first pull-up, or hit your first double bodyweight deadlift.
The main takeaway should be to focus on performance, and the aesthetics and good feelings will follow. This gives purpose to your workouts. Once you reach a performance milestone, you'll feel good about what you've achieved and the changes in your body that have happened as a result of that hard work.