Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Future of Fitness: Online Personal Training

We do our banking online. We can get a degree online. Why not work with a personal trainer online? Just 15 years ago, we all would have laughed at the idea of pressing a button and making a car payment from our virtual checkbook. And we would have not been able to comprehend how anyone could take a class, much less get an entire education, solely by looking at a computer. But with the advances in technology, we do both of those things in addition to a whole host of other virtual tasks on a daily basis. Personal training can be delivered through the online medium as well. In fact, online personal training has been listed as one of the top fitness trends for 2012 (American Council on Exercise, 2011).

What are the benefits of online personal training?
  • Convenience - You train where you like on your own schedule.
  • Affordability - Most personal trainers charge $35-$50/session and recommend at least 2 sessions a week totalling $280-$400/month.  Most online training programs range from $15-$45/month.
  • Accountability - Most programs are set up where you need to log your progress so that your trainer knows you have completed a workout. You still have a professional monitoring your activities.
  • Private & Confidential - Some people feel uncomfortable in a gym setting. With online training, you're provided with a workout you can do anywhere you feel comfortable.
  • Accessibility - You have access anywhere there is an internet connection, so if you're travelling for business or pleasure, you can still track your workouts, access your account, or connect with your trainer.
  • Extra Benefits - Some training websites/programs also include meal recommendations, online food journals, recipes, and community networks (blogs, discussion boards, the ability to connect with other fitness enthusiasts).
How online personal training works varies by the provider. One option is to work with a virtual personal trainer through celebrity trainer websites and fitness magazine websites. While some degree of customization might be incorporated, those online training sites probably distribute the same workout to each person with minimal tweaks. And it might be a computer generating that workout, not a certified personal trainer looking at your specific goals, strengths, and weaknesses to create a specific workout for you. With that said, these sites are usually less expensive and you do have the popularity of the celebrity/magazine creating an effective online community of social fitness enthusiasts. If you choose a private online personal trainer, they will work with you one-on-one via phone/email and customize a workout just for you. You can also expect them to touch base regularly and make tweaks to your program as needed. This experience might cost an additional $10-$20/month, but it is still quite cost effective compared to meeting in person with a trainer.

While online personal training has numerous benefits, it should be noted that it is not suited for all populations. Individuals recovering from a recent injury or with any type health issue should begin with clearance from their physician and initially work with an in-person personal trainer. Supervised workouts to ensure proper form and mitigate any contraindications of exercise are imperative for those with any injury or other health issue.

Accomplishing any type of health and fitness goal, whether it be losing weight, lowering your cholesterol, or simply moving more and eating better, requires commitment, willpower, and motivation. Your online personal trainer will provide you with the knowledge and the tools and help you with the motivation, but you need to bring the commitment and willpower. Also, because you will be doing this online without a trainer in your face telling you exactly what to do for how long, you will need to be disciplined to log in to the website and do your workouts as prescribed.

With the economy still trudging along in a recession, we can't let financial woes keep us from improving our health and fitness. In fact, a little money spent now to improve our health will save us money on medical bills in the future. Working with an online personal trainer is a cost effective means to improving ourselves.

For an insider's look at online personal training, check out the Death to Jiggles blog. It chronicles one person's online training experience and fitness journey and is written in a frank and very humorous tone. Popular celebrity training programs include Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper. And most fitness magazines (Women's Health, Fitness, Men's Health) also offer an online personal training program. To learn more about online personal training through private providers, check out A Fitter Image and Workouts For You.


American Council on Exercise. (2011, November 07). American council on exercise cites increased obesity awareness and whole life training among leading 2012 fitness trends. Retrieved from http://www.acefitness.org/blog/2027/american-council-on-exercise-cites-increased

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