As a personal trainer or coach in the digital age, you have likely considered moving online with your personal training – if you’ve not already begun.
In-person training at the gym is being supplemented, and in some cases replaced, by online personal training, a trend fueled by advancing technology and changing lifestyles that was accelerated by the global pandemic.
Going digital with your personal training comes with plenty of benefits and opportunities, but it is not without its challenges.
In this article, we will delve into the pros and cons of online personal training or coaching and outline some of the opportunities and pitfalls of this approach.
What Is Online Personal Training?
Online personal training is when a trainer guides or coaches an individual over the Internet.
It could involve:
- Writing and sending workouts
- Following up and progressing the training
- Offering support and accountability
Typically, the online trainer sends a workout or a training program to the client. The client then does the workout, reports back to the trainer or uses a workout tracker in which the trainer can see how the workout went, and the trainer gives the client feedback and maybe their next workout.
The tools used for online personal training range from email and spreadsheets to dedicated personal training software like our own, designed to simplify online coaching and make it more efficient.
Are You A Personal Trainer?
Try StrengthLog Coach. Our coaching software for personal trainers and strength coaches – built by coaches.
Benefits of Online Personal Training
Let’s kick off on a positive note and look at some of the many benefits digital training has to offer.
1. Flexible (Work Anytime)
Working online allows you to organize your work day as you please.
Gone is the need to schedule workout time with your clients at the gym and hang around between appointments just waiting and wasting time.
Instead, you can write or follow up on their workouts when it suits your own schedule and batch work together to be more time-effective.
The flexible schedule also allows for starting and running your coaching business on the side of other jobs, which can make it easier to get your business going as you can use whatever free time you have.
In addition, online coaching can be beneficial for a client with a busy schedule, as he or she isn’t tied to a specific time when you are available.
2. Work Remotely
With online coaching, there is no geographic constraint. You can work with clients anywhere in the world, from anywhere.
This again increases the flexibility of your business, and you can reach a very wide audience even if you live in a small town or remote location. You could even try the “work on your laptop from the beach in the Bahamas” thing if that sounds like something you’d enjoy.
3. Serve More Customers
An online personal trainer can usually serve more clients than an in-person trainer for two main reasons:
- They can reach a wider audience because they aren’t tied to a geographic location.
- They are more efficient.
Taking a client through a workout in the gym is not scalable: for every hour you spend with a client, it takes an hour of your time.
Meanwhile, writing a workout can be done in a matter of minutes, especially when you’ve built a library of workout templates and online training programs that you can use as a basis for all your new clients.
As for how to get clients, the whole world is your marketplace, and you can attract clients from anywhere in the world through using social media, advertising, or search engine optimization.
4. Low Cost
Running an online personal training service is very lean in terms of cost: you need a computer, an internet connection, and some kind of software, and that is it.
Contrast this with in-person training, where you either need your own gym or training studio or must rent access to a gym.
If you own your own training facility, that comes with another host of costs for maintenance, cleaning, utilities, and more.
5. Cheaper for the Client
Lower costs and the ability to serve more clients mean that you can offer your services to clients for a lower price and still make a profit, resulting in a win-win.
If the client works out from home, using an online personal trainer means they will also save money for not needing a gym membership.
Lower prices make online personal training available to a larger demographic that otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to pay a personal trainer.
Even for the client, virtual training is more scalable. Instead of only purchasing an hour of the trainer’s time, with online training, they can get an entire training program for the same cost.
6. Reach Gym-Shy Clients
Not all people are comfortable joining a gym, especially beginners.
As an online trainer, you offer a great way for these people to get started on their fitness journeys in the safety of their homes.
After they’ve been exercising on their own for a while, a lot of people have built up the confidence to join a gym or exercise group.
7. Great For Introverts
Online coaching is not only good for gym-shy clients; it’s good for introvert trainers and coaches, too!
I remember when I started out, the idea of meeting up with strangers and telling them how to train seemed frightening and draining. I was much more comfortable getting the ball rolling by coaching people (who probably, just like me, also preferred that point of contact) over the Internet.
This allowed me to work with what I loved, and it provided the customers with what they wanted.
Try StrengthLog Coach
Our coaching software for personal trainers and strength coaches – built by coaches.
Cons of Online Personal Training
Those were some of the biggest benefits of doing your personal training online. Now, let’s take a look at the other side of the coin.
1. Less Information
Despite us being in the information age, less information is actually conveyed in digital communication than in in-person communication.
The amount of non-verbal communication in face-to-face meetings is massive and fast. We are extremely good at picking up cues and information just from things like facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, et cetera. This allows an in-person fitness coach to quickly get a feel for how their client is feeling today.
Physical interaction also allows for faster verbal communication. The threshold is much lower for either you or your client to ask a quick question or for you to give a quick tip or instruction.
Meeting up in person will also make it easier for you as a coach to assess your client’s fitness levels, if they have any physical limitations, and so forth. For instance, you might want to recommend specific exercises depending on if the client is very short or tall or overweight or obese. This is information that is not necessarily immediately obvious via an online platform.
Online coaches typically need to be more proactive in their information-seeking and ask a lot of questions to gather all the information that they need.
2. You Can’t Get Hands-On
No, I don’t mean that in the potential lawsuit kind of way.
What I mean is that when you coach someone online, you can’t be there and interact.
In an in-person training session, you can move stuff around, set up equipment, show how an exercise is performed and correct form, or point to where your client should put their hands and feet.
In online coaching, there is a delay between when your client performs and records their workout and sends it to you and when you see it and give feedback on it.
The best personal trainers often have a wealth of information and different tips, and it is not certain that they will be able to convey that same information if they are not in the gym.
3. Not Ideal for Teaching Beginners
Combine points one and two, and you’ve got a recipe that is not ideal for introducing beginners to exercise.
A beginner needs more assistance, and the need for quick and efficient communication is greater when you’re introducing someone to exercise for the first time.
Yes, it might be the only option for gym-shy beginners, and it can definitely be done, but it makes for a higher hurdle for them to learn how to train effectively.
4. Less Social
Online personal training is less social than meeting up in person.
Again, this can be a benefit for introverted people, but it is also a fact that humans are very social animals, and even introverts tend to need some social interaction to be happy and have a sense of belonging.
We’re spending an increasing amount of time in front of screens, which is not bad per se, but online personal training means one less opportunity for socializing in the way we’ve done for a majority of human evolution.
For many people, going to the gym is not only for the purpose of training but for meeting their training buddies and socializing.
5. Less Accountability
Hiring a personal trainer online can certainly offer more accountability than not doing so, but it is still one step below scheduling an appointment.
Deciding when and where to work out is a classic way of increasing your probability of actually doing the workout.1
When someone schedules an appointment with a personal trainer, the threshold for unbooking or not showing up is a lot higher compared to simply just not doing the workout that the trainer has sent over.
6. More Time Spent in Front of A Screen
Yes, you can work from anywhere, but you still have to work in front of a screen.
Again, this is both good and bad. Some trainers love the ability to do their coaching from their desks, while it is unthinkable for the trainers who love being on the gym floor.
It is a matter of individual preference, and sitting still while working in front of a screen is simply not for everyone.
Is Online Better Than Face-to-Face Personal Training?
As you might have concluded at this point, it is hard to say if online is better than face-to-face training. They both have different strengths and weaknesses.
For some specific goals, in-person training will yield better results, and for other goals and circumstances, online training will work better. It is a matter of finding a good fit between you as a fitness trainer and your client. A good trainer will be able to make the most out of online training and know if it is the right choice for a given client and their specific fitness goals.
One thing is for certain, though: online personal training is here to stay.
If you are a fitness professional that wants to give online coaching a go, you should check out our software for personal trainers.
StrengthLog Coach: Online Coaching Simplified
Are you a…
- Personal trainer?
- Strength & conditioning coach in sports?
- Powerlifting, CrossFit, or Olympic weightlifting coach?
You need StrengthLog Coach!
It is the ultimate tool to take your personal training to the next level and help your clients reach their health and fitness goals.
With StrengthLog Coach, you can:
- Write workouts & training programs for your clients, in a fitness app they’ll actually love using.
- Create templates of the workouts & programs you often use with clients to save time.
- Monitor and chat with clients in real time.
- Create custom exercises with your own video demos, or choose freely from our library of 300+ exercises.
- Create client groups, for instance, for coaching teams.
And you get the best support in the business, even with the free trial.
Speaking of free trials, we offer a 14-day free test drive of StrengthLog Coach. No credit card required and you can cancel any time.
Try StrengthLog Coach Now
Read more about StrengthLog Coach here or start your free trial today.
No credit card required, cancel any time.