Online Coaching vs. One-On-One Personal Training

Online Coaching vs. One-On-One Personal Training

In today’s digital world, Online Coaching is becoming more and more popular in the fitness industry. Personal Trainers now have the ability to coach their clients from their smartphone, potentially from their loungeroom wearing their favourite pair of pajamas. But, is Online Coaching all that it’s cracked up to be? I have experienced both ends of the spectrum and will uncover my preference as a Personal Trainer, and as a client.

Online Coaching comes in many shapes and forms, but for the most part – it involves receiving a training program (it might be individualised, or it might not) from your Online Coach. You usually have an opportunity to submit training videos and any relative questions, which will be responded to at a later time. All of the interaction takes place online, whether it be through email, Google Drive or another online platform.

Warning: If you are interested in Online Coaching, please do your research. Don’t get scammed by your average fitness influencer on Instagram screaming, “DM for Online Coaching” or “Link in bio”. Spoiler alert – Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Why, you ask? You’d likely be emailed a generic training program with your name on the front (with a complementary spelling error) and a link to an eBook with a questionable meal plan that has you sitting far too deep in a calorie deficit. Now you’ve been warned, let’s get back on track…

Online Coaching can certainly be useful, for the right client. It is much more affordable than seeing your Personal Trainer in-person, and there are no geographical limits – so if you want to be trained by Joe Bloggs from Timbuktu… you can! However, if you answer “NO” to any of the below questions, you should not be coached in an online capacity:

  • Are you self-motivated?
  • Are you disciplined?
  • Are you self-aware?
  • Are you comfortable setting up equipment alone?
  • Do you have experience with weight training?
  • Do you have decent technique?
  • Have you used a barbell before?
  • Will you be honest with yourself and your Online Coach?

On the other hand, One-On-One Personal Training has many benefits that simply cannot be offered with Online Coaching. One of the most beneficial is the constant feedback, in real-time. There no hiding places, you can’t slack off, and you definitely can’t get away with extending your rest periods by chatting with friends or mindlessly scrolling your Facebook Newsfeed. You have accountability and guidance staring at you straight in the eye, with all the support and motivation you need.

I’ve been fortunate enough to experience both Online Coaching and One-On-One Personal Training, as a Personal Trainer and a client – I have experienced the benefits and disadvantages of the two, first hand. Whilst Online Coaching more cost-effective and convenient, I prefer One-On-One Personal Training – whether I’m the person under the barbell, or the one providing feedback. In fact, even when I’m working with an Online Coach, I still try and schedule a few face-to-face sessions every so often to address any weaknesses, or even just to have a chat. Actually, not too long ago I was squatting alone in the gym, but my technique just wasn’t feeling right. I filmed a set, but couldn’t quite pinpoint the issue. I messaged my Online Coach and booked a face-to-face session, who immediately made a few tweaks to my grip and bar placement – it turns out, my grip was too narrow and the bar was placed a touch too low on my back. My technique felt better with the adjustments, and it gave me something to work in the following sessions. Sometimes, we can be unaware of these issues, and might not be able to self-diagnose them – so it’s always good to have a second pair of eyes available.

In addition to the immediate feedback and communication, One-On-One Personal Training also holds clients (including myself) accountable to a higher degree. It’s much less confronting to avoid sending an email to your Online Coach, than it is standing up your Personal Trainer and forfeiting some hard-earned cash. You can also expect to find it easier to stay on track, especially if you don’t consider yourself to be self-motivated.

For me, I find that I get so much more out of One-On-One Personal Training compared to Online Coaching, and to be honest – nothing beats that face-to-face interaction. It’s easier to build a trusting relationship, to provide or receive feedback, make corrections and have any questions answered then and there… opposed to having to wait one to three business days. Over the years I’ve realised that what can be achieved in a single One-On-One Personal Training session, could potentially take weeks with Online Coaching. At the end of the day, you get what you pay for.