Online sports and nutrition coaching allows you to work virtually over the internet or through phone calls with a qualified professional who creates custom fitness and nutrition plans to help you reach your goals. For my online coaching service I use Training Peaks to plan, review and communicate your workouts and soon will be using Precision Nutrition to help you meet your diet goals.
But is if right for you? Lets look a the pros and cons.....
The Benefits of Online Training
Expertise. Let’s face it, finding a highly qualified coach who cares about you (and not just building his or her own body or Instagram following) can be challenging — especially if you live in a small town. Through online coaching, you can connect with the best in the business globally, giving you access to someone with a proven track record for helping people make the kind of changes you are wanting to make.
Schedule. If you need a flexible schedule, online coaching allows you to work out on your own schedule. Whether that’s at 4 a.m., during lunch or late at night, the choice is yours.
Duration. Short on time or want to dedicate more time than the average person? An online fitness coach will create fitness programs specifically for your needs, taking into account the amount of time you have to dedicate to the process.
Flexibility. With in-person training, you are often charged a no-show fee if you miss an appointment. But with online fitness coaching, you are in charge of your schedule and you can be as flexible as necessary. Your fitness coach will create plans that can ebb and flow with your busy schedule, allowing you to adjust as needed.
Nutrition coaching. Most gym personal trainers are not qualified to address one of the most important parts of any fitness program: nutrition. By working with an online fitness coach who specializes in fitness and nutrition, you can put together all the pieces of the puzzle so that you can make real, lasting changes.
Cost savings. While a single 30- to 60-minute session with an in-person coach can run from AUD$50 to $100 (£30-75) or more depending on your location, online fitness coaching typically offers an incredible value and cost savings.
Accountability. With in-person training, you see your coach once or twice a week at your sessions, but beyond that, you are on your own. With online training, you have a fitness professional at your fingertips any time you have questions. In fact, most online trainers require you to send updates frequently so they can help track your progress and make modifications as needed. With Training Peaks I get to see your workout as soon as you have uploaded it, so can see immediately what you have been up to.
A Few Cons to Consider
While online fitness and nutrition coaching can be a good option for many people, there are definitely cases in which online training is not recommended. If any of the below scenarios sound familiar, then it’s probably not for you:
If you need someone to be sure you show up. If you lack the motivation to work out and need someone who is expecting you at a session you are paying for, then in-person training could be a better option.
If you are concerned about performing exercises safely or are brand new to working out. Beginners or anyone who feels uncomfortable with weights may need an in-person trainer watching their form. Once you gain confidence, however, you may be able to switch.
If you have significant injuries or limitations. An in-person trainer can watch your form closely to ensure you are not putting yourself in danger.
Who Should Use an Online Coach?
Generally speaking, there are several types of people and specific situations that make online personal training or online fitness coaching an ideal choice:
If you feel stuck in a rut and have stopped making progress. If you have exercised in the past but feel lost or are in a rut, then online fitness coaching could give you the clear, step-by-step plan you need to take all the guesswork out of your training. Each time you step into the gym, or get in the pool, on the bike or put your trainers on, you will know precisely what to do so that you can reach your goals.
If you are a busy person who needs flexibility. Whether you are a doctor or nurse, running your own business, in the military or a super mum always on the go, online fitness coaching can provide the structure you need with enough flexibility.
If you have a specific goal. Want to compete in a triathlon, run event, Tough Mudder, epic trek or lose 10kg? Online coaching allows you to connect with an expert in your field.
If you are an overthinker. If you tend to spend hours combing the internet and magazines for the latest fitness trends but you struggle to make sense of it all, then a qualified online fitness professional can put his or her years of experience to work for you so it all makes sense.
If you prefer working out at home. Because it can be so convenient to work out from home, online trainers can create specific workouts using just the equipment you have available.
If you are looking for accountability. Good online trainers will require you to report back frequently. They often want updates on the physical changes you are seeing in your body through photos and measurements, and they want your feedback about how you are doing and how the programs are working for you.
What Should You Look for in an Online Fitness Coach?
If you think online training is right for you, then you’ll want to choose the right coach. Examine the following before signing up:
Experience. With social media being overrun by “fitness gurus” who love showing off their body for vanity likes, it can be difficult to tease out who is actually going to help you achieve your goals. Choose someone who has experience working with people like you and who has similar goals to you. Look for an online coach who has been successful enough to make this into a full-time career and has the success stories to back it up.
Credentials. There are currently no requirements to call yourself an online trainer or to designate yourself as an online fitness coach — all you need is a website and an email address. To ensure the trainer is qualified, choose a certified personal trainer from an accredited agency and preferably someone who is also a nutrition specialist or dietitian.
Promises. Real progress takes time and should come from a combination of healthy eating and proper strength training. If a trainer promises that you will lose 20 to 40 pounds in a matter of weeks, run. The instructor is either embellishing to get you to sign up or will ask you do something extreme and unsafe.
Style. Do you prefer a coach who is supportive and understanding or one who is tough and pushy? Are you looking for a knowledgeable cheerleader who will get behind you and lovingly kick you in the pants when you need it or one who is hard-nosed and demanding? If you can’t assess the trainer’s style, try reading the success stories to see how the coach’s clients describe him or her.