Online courses are getting pretty popular these days, much the same as most of the internet. With people already spending up to 40 hours per week on the internet, interest in online resources will only go up.
But there has been a longstanding debate on whether online fitness courses are effective for personal training. Can they help you meet your fitness goals just as well as having a dedicated coach help you grind them out twice a week?
There’s no easy way to tackle this one as both online fitness training and face to face have their pros and cons. So we decided to explore the pros and cons of both and then give you our answer.
Face to Face personal training
This is the traditional mode of fitness training, and for many, it still remains the “original” way. Face to face personal training involves you and a coach, steadily working to help you achieve your fitness goals.
It is usually conducted personally, with just you and the coach or in a group with other individuals that share your immediate goals.
There’s no doubt that face to face coaching does have its high points which include the following:
Personal “Hands-on” training
In face to face training, you usually pay for the undivided attention of your coach, working single-mindedly to help you get in shape. No distractions, no other people calling for attention, just you and your coach.
This constant, unfiltered attention is the key to achieving fitness goals for many people. Without having that personal, instant presence of a coach directing them on what to do, personal training can feel less involved, and thus, less effective.
Instant feedback and “spotting”
How many times have you started out a rep wrong and your coach immediately corrects your form? Probably several times. That instant feedback can be very important to ensure that you’re doing your exercises right and getting the best out of them.
Without your coach to spot for you, you could end up getting the exercise wrong by targeting the wrong muscle groups or even worse, get yourself injured by your wrong form.
Loads of trainer-inspired motivation
If you’ve been training for a while, you’ve probably reached a point when you just felt like throwing in the towel and getting yourself a huge cheese hamburger. But you also know that’s unlikely to happen under the watchful eyes of your coach.
Face to face coaching allows you to physically lean on your coach’s determination and motivation when you find yourself running dangerously low. If you’re trying to lose weight or get in shape, it can be a difficult journey. Having solid help to coach you through the difficult times can be invaluable.
It also provides loads of discipline
Some people need more coaching than others. And if the coach is away for five minutes, that’s five minutes free of exercise.
If you’re like this, you’re probably paying for personal training because it’s hard for you to find the discipline to get it done all on your own. Fitness training involves a lot of discipline and it can be difficult to get things done if there’s no one to help you stay on track.
Very good for fitness newbies
If you’re new to fitness training, your best bet to getting a good start is with a good personal coach. This is especially so as you’re more likely than others to get basic reps wrong and flounder about without a coach literally guiding you every step of the way.
As great as face to face coaching is, it definitely has its own drawbacks. For one, it’s often a scheduling nightmare.
Can wreak havoc on schedules
It can be difficult to find a comfortable time to schedule your workout. You’ll be in even more dire straits if your coach is popular and well sought after. No one enjoys training at 5:30 am in the dead of winter.
Can be quite expensive
Although face to face training is pretty effective, it can cost you a pretty penny. At average hourly sessions of £45 to £50, you’ll find yourself with a bill of £540 after six weeks, if you’re working out twice a week.
Pretty much ends once the session ends
Importantly, only two one-hour sessions a week is unlikely to make a huge dent in your fitness goals. And once the session is over, you’re pretty much on your own. In this case, there’s a real risk you’ll progress much slower than you should.
It may be difficult to find yourself “the perfect trainer”
If you’ve done the legwork of finding yourself a trainer, you’ll already understand that it’s seldom easy. It’s not all the time that you find yourself a trainer that not only knows exactly how to help but also flows pretty well with you.
Online fitness courses
Now, online fitness courses take most of the issues with face to face training and turn them right around. They generally involve you buying access to a comprehensive fitness program that is conducted pretty much entirely on the internet.
The course will usually promise to help you achieve a specific goal at the end of a period and everything you do will be geared towards that end.
Online fitness programs can be pretty great for a lot of people, especially for the following reasons:
You can have “any trainer you want”
There are no limits on who you can get as your trainer. Fancy Anna Kaiser or any other celebrity trainer? Bespoke personal training from her can be as easy as the click of a few buttons.
And you don’t even have to go through the hit and miss nature of a search for a traditional trainer. You can go through reviews and testimonials, product packages and websites before you decide on any single trainer. Even better, you can test out what they can offer in some cases where free trials or products are offered.
No geographical limitation
Unlike face to face training, it doesn’t matter where your trainer operates. You can get in touch with them and obtain the advice you need from literally anywhere in the world.
So you can easily avoid the hassle of trying to arrange for your trainer to come over to your neighbourhood or for you to go over to theirs or find a middle ground. This way training can be as easy as laying down your mat and playing back a few videos.
They are cheaper/cost effective
How much do think Gunnar Peterson costs if he’ll train you in person? Yeah, probably that much, and then some more.
Compared to the thousands of dollars you’ll have to spend on retaining a top trainer, you’ll spend barely a tenth of the amount on getting their fitness course online. And the truth is you don’t even need a celebrity trainer.
Since you can check out pretty much any trainer, you can find that one person that’s just right for you, at just a fraction of what you’ll fork out for face to face training.
Work out on your own time
Due to the fact that most workout sessions are between 7-9am and 4-8pm (since your day job won’t do itself), there’s a limit to your training time in face to face.
But online fitness training allows you to work out pretty much anytime you have time. If you fancy a quick workout during your lunch break at work, you don’t have to call up your trainer to know if they’ll be free. And they probably won’t anyway.
Take personal responsibility for your fitness
If you’re the sort that is mostly self-motivated, you’ll take to online training like a duck to the Thames.
This can also be more effective as it means you’ll be able to take your fitness goals more personally, and not rely solely on the presence of your coach.
Online training programs will come with all the bells and whistles that’ll allow you access to advising, pep talks and session analysis pretty much whenever you need it.
In fact, some trainers will institute a system of communication that involves them checking up on you every day. So, you can count on having someone to talk to. And since you don’t have to see them physically to talk to them, the effective period that you can communicate with them will be even longer than face to face.
Online training is not without its drawbacks. It might not make sense in all situations especially due to the following reasons:
May not work if you’re new to fitness training
Newbies usually need a lot of hands-on coaching. No one is interested in seeing you get injured because of your training. And that’s more likely to happen if you’re not under the watchful gaze of a seasoned coach.
Motivation can be hard to come by
If you’re not the self-motivated type, you’ll probably simply add the workout videos to your movie collection. Because there’ll most likely be more watching than a workout. If you’re this type, online training may not be effective for you.
Lacks the “hands-on” feel of Face to Face
For people who need to feel that their trainer is personally invested in their fitness training, online training can be sort of a disappointment. Since trainers can maintain tens of people doing workout sessions at the same period with online courses, the hands-on nature of the training may be drastically reduced.
Can be a struggle to judge progress accurately
This is especially problematic. It can be difficult for a trainer to tell if you’re seeing the results you should, solely from a Skype chat. And if your trainer cannot tell accurately how far along you are in your goals, you’ll be less likely to receive the best advice on how to proceed.
Which is best for you?
Now you see how difficult it is to pick between online training and face to face? While some people generally swear by one or the other, research shows that students are just as divided as to which one is best.
On the one hand, learners want the engagement of a face to face and on the other, they absolutely love the flexibility of online training. The perfect definition of wanting to have your cake and eat it.
The bottom line? Go with what you think is best for you. If you’re the type that needs constant prodding to be at your best if you want the sweat and grind of a gym and a ready coach calling out what you need to do, then face to face is right for you.
But if what you prefer is being able to train on your own time and at your own pace, without the hassle of finding the right schedule, then online training is for you.
And if you’re still undecided, you can just do both! That way, you enjoy the best of both worlds.