What is online personal training and is it worth it?

Personal trainer spotting female client

Online personal training is kinda like this.

It’s Monday morning. You get out of bed and pour yourself a cup of coffee. As you take your first sip you open your phone.

There’s a message from your coach.

“Morning. I hope you had a wonderful weekend. How are you feeling about training and nutrition as you step into the week? Also, you’ll notice a couple of adjustments to your workout to help with the knee you mentioned. Let me know how it goes today.”

For the first time in years, you’re confident you’re doing the perfect workout for your goals. And eating a diet that makes sense without being restrictive.

In today’s article, you’ll learn the advantages and disadvantages of online personal training. If it makes sense for you. And how to find a good online coach.


Why I’ve worked with online coaches

Here’s a little secret. Most coaches use coaches.

I’ve worked with Mike Fitzgerald from Opex Fitness when I was doing Crossfit competitions. I still hire my buddy Tyler to put together workouts for me. And in my late 20’s I worked with Brian St. Pierre from Precision Nutrition to improve my relationship with food and to stop binge eating.

Why would someone who understands exactly what to do hire a coach?

Because health and fitness had become a burden and it was the last thing I wanted to think about. The value of letting someone else do the thinking for me made sense.

The reality is that health and fitness will not always be your number one priority. But it also doesn’t need to be for you to be successful.

When stress, work, and other responsibilities take over it’s easy to push training and diet to the side. It feels like it’s the only choice.

But having a coach in your corner that works with you on overcoming the biggest barriers to success is powerful.

Hiring an online personal trainer and nutrition coach gave me the opportunity to let someone else put together customized workouts and a diet that adjusted with my schedule.

I was able to wake up with peace of mind. I knew that I was doing the right things to get the best results. Even during a challenging time in my life.

What is online personal training?

This is you trying to navigate fitness and nutrition without a coach. It’s like trying to find a buried treasure without a map.

And this is also you navigating fitness and nutrition with a coach. You get the map and all you have to do is follow directions.

Sure, you could do it on your own. But an online personal trainer is a more efficient way to get to where you want to be. 

Confused emoji and happy emoji searching for treasure

Online personal training is the exact same thing as in-person personal training except you’re not relying on someone else’s location and schedule.

You get better fitness, nutrition, mindset, and lifestyle guidance tailored to your specific goals. Because your coach has more time to answer your questions and provide feedback.

It’s a new and exciting way to get what you need, when you need it, without the limitations and expenses of the gym. This allows online personal coaches to offer better and more cost-effective services.

Some coaches use apps like True Coach, Trainerize, or ProCoach to help them deliver workouts, nutrition guidance, and communication. While other coaches will use email, google sheets, or other methods to give you what you need when you need it.

There will usually be some sort of daily, weekly, and monthly check-ins to monitor your adherence and progress. These check-ins will often Involve messages, video sessions, or calls.

What are the benefits of online personal training?

Health and fitness are probably never going to be your number one priority and that’s ok. And this is where most people get health and fitness all wrong. It doesn’t need to be to build a body you’re proud of.

It’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Or is it a round peg into a square hole. Either way, it won’t fit. The harder you try the more frustrating it becomes.

blue square peg into wooden round hole

The biggest benefit of hiring an online coach is that it allows you to focus on things like family, work, and personal interests. Your coach handles the workouts and nutrition. You handle everything else.

You’re NOT just paying for someone’s time in the gym. You pay for more than that so get your money’s worth.

With in-person coaching, there’s this weird psychological phenomenon that happens where clients and even some coaches only see value in the hour you’re in the gym together.

But real coaching extends far beyond that. You’re not only paying for an hour in the gym with your coach. You’re paying them for their expertise, support, and accountability. This bleeds into the other 23 hours of your day.

Because you’re not in the gym together there’s the value attached by you and the coach to those other 23 hours.

Fits your schedule

With in-person coaching, if you need to cancel a session late due to an emergency you’re often charged for it. With online personal training, you have the ability to workout when it fits your schedule – not the coaches.

  • Your kids have a school even you need to attend? No problem.
  • Need to stay late at work? Totally cool.
  • Want to sleep in and move your workout to later in the day? Yup, you can do that too.

Your coach is ALWAYS there with you

Heading out to a restaurant and not sure what to get? You’re only a message away from connecting with your coach to get support.

Traveling and need an adjustment to your workout and diet? No problem, pop open your phone, and let your coach know.

It’s cost-effective

Because your coach doesn’t have gym fees or overhead costs they’re able to charge much less. Without sacrificing personal attention and care for you. You get the same custom and personal attention at a reduced cost and with great flexibility.

More communication and support

In-person usually starts and stops in the gym. With online personal training communication with your coach outside of that hour is encouraged and expected.

Extrinsic motivation

Knowing you have someone looking at your workouts, food logs, and progress is a very powerful thing. You don’t want to let your coach down and they don’t want to let you down so shit gets done.

What are the disadvantages of online personal training?

Online personal training has its disadvantages too. While most coaches allow you to upload form check videos with the click of a button. There’s no real-time feedback and instant form checks like you would get when in the gym.

However, most good online personal trainers will take you through an onboarding process where they get to see how your body moves. From here, prescribing the best exercises for the way your body moves.

A lot of people will feel more accountable if they have someone to meet. There’s the sunk cost of paying for an appointment and losing out if you don’t show up. However, if you don’t want to train you’ll find a way not to train.

What do you usually get with online personal training?

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Training plan

Custom workouts based on your personal preferences and available equipment. Someone who actually looks at your workouts and activity and recommends changes. An expert in your pocket that works with you to set goals like, walk 10 minutes today at a moderate pace, or do 10 sit-ups before dinner today. Then all you have to do is click a button and confirm that the goal has been met.

You don’t need to figure out the perfect plan. You just need to follow the instructions that are personalized to you. You’ll wake up every day knowing exactly how to exercise and eat for your goals.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed by all the choices out there. You’ll feel confident knowing exactly what to do and when to do it.
Instead of getting frustrated with yourself for not having enough willpower, you’ll have a plan that doesn’t require it to stay on track.

Your training program will be easy to access and track. Exercise demonstrations and form checks are always available. Workouts can include notes and instructions about how best to achieve your goals. When needed coaches can even upload custom exercise videos to your workout plan.

Nutrition guidance and food recommendations

Someone who actually looks at your food log and suggests changes, and even recommends what your caloric intake and portion sizes should be with each meal. You can even set goals like eating veggies with lunch today. 

Headed to a restaurant, traveling, or not sure what to pick up at the grocery store? That’s what your coach is there for. 

Mindset and lifestyle management

When practicing health and fitness, when practicing anything. I can guarantee with 100% accuracy that a few things will happen.

  • You won’t always be motivated
  • At some point, you’ll feel tired
  • Stress will make things hard
  • You will get bored with it
  • At times you’ll feel like you have too much on your plate

All this is ok and expected. The best thing you can do is plan for them. And that is what a coach is for. To help do some of the thinking for you.

Anything else you want

Your coach is the guide and support system but it’s your journey and you make the choices. You can express what you’d like to work on, adjust, and what you feel may be more helpful based on where you’re at.

You know your life better than a coach ever could. Share what you’re noticing and where you’re feeling stuck. The coach is there for their expertise, support, and guidance. Whatever your goals may be.

Some bonuses I include in online coaching

  • Recipe Index: Not sure what to make? I’ve got you covered with my personal recipe index. You’ll also get a protein shake guide, teaching you how to make the perfect super shake every time.
  • Weekly lessons and education: Each week for 12-weeks you’ll get 2 to 3 lessons from me. These lessons are designed to help you navigate fitness and nutrition in the real world.

Rather than overwhelming you by throwing a bunch of information at you all at once. We’ll drip the most important skills, habits, and knowledge so that you can take action and avoid procrastination.

Think of these lessons as me sitting on your shoulder. Subtly reminding you of what you’re doing and why.

What about online personal nutrition coaching?

Whether you want to lose fat or build muscle you’ll need this.

I created my program after witnessing people working out hard, being active daily, and eating clean but not seeing their body change the way they expected. After years of coaching, I found that it was due mostly to inconsistent food choices and not really knowing how much they were eating.

How your coach approaches nutrition will vary. Some may have you track calories and macros. Others may have you work on habits and food skills. While others may help you practice a specific diet like keto or intermittent fasting. 

Whatever it may be the coach is there to support you and give you the tools to be successful. Not to tell you want you can and can not eat. 

Is online personal training a good fit for me?

It’s not the right fit for everyone but it could be a good fit for you if.

YOU WANT TO GET HEALTHIER, FITTER, AND STRONGER — AND STAY THAT WAY FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE

Coaching can help you lose weight and body fat, build physical strength and confidence, get results that last, and get off the diet roller-coaster once and for all. Good coaches won’t give you a crazy diet or exercise programs to follow; instead, they’ll help you build habits that will get you results that last forever.

YOU’RE TIRED OF “QUICK FIX” PROGRAMS AND ARE WILLING TO DEDICATE 6 MONTHS TO GET IN SHAPE THE SUSTAINABLE WAY

If you’ve tried something before and “failed” — or just can’t stick with it — know that you’re not alone. And it’s not your fault. After all, self-directed training and nutrition programs fail 98 percent of the time. Not to mention, after many years in the fitness industry, I’ve seen dozens of diet and exercise fads come and go. That’s why I don’t follow fads.
 
Good coaches will teach you doable daily actions that are designed to fit into a busy lifestyle. Bottom line: You’ll learn to make fitness and nutrition a part of your life, without it taking over.

YOU WANT AN EXPERT TO HOLD YOU ACCOUNTABLE AND KEEP YOU CONSISTENT COACHED THROUGH THE PROGRAM

Nothing worth doing can be done alone. That’s why I work closely with my clients to help them eat well and exercise, no matter what other craziness is going on in their lives. You’re busy and have enough to worry about; your coach’s job is to take care of the fitness and nutrition details so you don’t have to.

YOU WANT TO LEARN WHAT’S BEEN HOLDING YOU BACK

Coaching isn’t just about working out and eating right. It’s about personal development so you can live your best life. Discover what’s been holding you back and keeping you from living to your full potential.

SOME OTHER WAYS TO KNOW IF ONLINE COACHING IS A GOOD FIT

  • You have a busy schedule and need flexibility with your training
  • Don’t enjoy the gym and prefer to workout at home
  • Love the gym but enjoy it as “your time.”
  • Live in a remote location
  • Jive well with a coach online that doesn’t live near you
  • Travel a lot for work or in general and need training and nutrition while on the go
  • Want results for at a lower price point

What should I look for in an online personal coach?

There definitely is not a shortage of personal trainers and coaches out there. How can you tell if you’ve found a good one or not? The most important thing is getting clear on what it is you want from a coach.

  • Do they have expertise in the area you want to train in?
  • Can they adapt to your personal strengths and weaknesses?
  • Are they listening to you on your intro call with them and while they coach you? Rather than just telling you what to do.
  • Do they ask questions and value your input?
  • Are they creating workouts that are smart and effective or just giving you 100 burpees because it makes you sweat?
  • Is the coach results and behavior focused?
  • Do they have *coaching certifications* like (Precision Nutrition, Online Trainer Certification, Mac-Nutrition, NSCA, CSCS, or other personal training, strength coaching, or nutrition certs?)
  • Did they go to school and study a related field
  • Do they invest time in learning how to communicate with people and understand how to build relationships?

*Coaching certifications* Just because a coach has a certification doesn’t mean they are a good coach. And if a coach does not have certifications, it doesn’t mean they can’t coach. Let how they interact with you and the results they help get clients to do the talking.

Frequently asked questions

Can you get an online personal trainer if I have some injuries?

Yes. Most coaches get clients dealing with low back, knee, and shoulder injuries. Online coaches can help you work around it and often fix what’s ailing you.

Can an online personal trainer help a complete beginner?

Absolutely. Most coaches thrive with beginners. Your coach can break down training and nutrition into easy to understand and actionable habits, skills, and practices that don’t feel overwhelming.

What kind of time commitment is needed with online personal training?

Everything is customized for you. If you need to workout 3 days per week for 30 minutes your coach can accommodate that for you. Decide you want to add an extra workout on the weekends, they’ve got you covered.

Your training and nutrition adapt to you and your life. Whether you’re traveling, under time restraints, or something else. Everything evolves with you and your life.

How much does online personal training cost?

Each program or coach will have their own rates but you can expect anywhere from $95 to $495 per month. This will change with each coach’s demand, service, and offer.

What are a few examples of online personal trainers and coaches?

Full disclosure. I’ve been coached by and worked for Precision Nutrition and I currently work for Nerd Fitness. But the results their clients get speak volumes. I won’t try to sell you on any program. Check them out yourself and if they’re a good fit – you’re welcome.

Is online personal training worth it?

Yes but I’m biased. However, I still see clients in-person. There is something to be said about connecting with someone like that.

But as someone that coaches both in-person and online. I consider myself a better and more helpful coach online. There’s more time and ability to communicate and adjust a clients training and nutrition when working with them online.

Plus, I’ve noticed that my online coaching clients are more willing to communicate, ask questions, and tell me what they want and how I can be there for them. Communication like this is valuable.

Online personal training and nutrition coaching makes sense if you are looking for a cost-effective way to achieve your fitness goals. If you need more flexibility with your schedule. And if you want more communication outside of the gym with your coach.

As with anything, if you’re ready, willing, and able to put in the work. Be patient. And communicate, then online personal training and nutrition is worth it.

Justin


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