What is Online Personal Training and how does it work?

Online Personal Training

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I’ve been offering online personal training for women for several years – even before it was cool. While online training was not widely known a few years ago, thanks to the pandemic everybody has at least heard of it by now.

But there are still a lot of misconceptions out there when it comes to online personal training. The most common one probably being that it is not as “personal” as in-person training.

In this article I want to dive a bit deeper into how online personal training works and what the pros and cons are compared to in-person or virtual one-on-one sessions.

First things first.

What is online personal training?

Online personal training usually refers to customized workout programs that are being delivered to the client in some form over the internet. While there are a lot of online training platforms and workouts out there (think workout apps or on demand services), they usually don’t offer any kind of customization to the clients’ needs or goals. The customization is what differentiates online personal training from all the other stuff out there.

While online personal training can have some one-on-one elements like zoom/skype coaching calls, it is NOT virtual coaching.

How does online personal training work?

How the workouts are being delivered depends on the trainer offering the service. Some trainers prefer a simple approach by using excel spreadsheets that list the exercises, explanations how to perform them correctly, required sets and reps. Other trainers will send over links to exercise videos together with instructions on how to structure your workout.

Since I offer a more holistic approach to health and fitness that includes not only workouts but also nutrition guidelines, habit and mindset coaching, I prefer using an actual app. A training app allows us as online personal trainers to deliver the workouts along with any other habit or nutrition goals directly to the client’s phone. We can schedule the workouts for the client, provide videos, set step goals, track nutrition info, get sleep stats, and directly communicate with the client via a messenger function or even using video calls.

The client will see in the app what tasks are scheduled for the day. They also have the option to move tasks around if their schedule changes. They can connect other apps like a fitbit, apple watch, or MyFitnessPal to see all their stats in one app. When the client checks in for a workout or tracks a habit, I as the trainer will get a notification. I can comment on the workouts, answer questions, or simply give an encouraging high-five – or kick in the butt as needed 😉

Who is online personal training for?

Basically EVERYBODY can participate in an online personal training program. Over the years I found though, that there are certain people that really benefit from it. Online personal training is a great option for you if:

  • You travel a lot
  • You don’t have access to a gym
  • You want to work out at home
  • You live in a remote location or
  • You have a very busy schedule that makes it difficult to commit to set workout times

Online Personal Training VS One-on-One Training (Pros and Cons)

Okay, now that we answered the questions ” What is online personal training? ” , ” How does online personal training work? ” and who can really benefit from it, let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons.

I’ve been doing in-person one-on-one training since 2006 and started offering online personal training and virtual training in 2016, so by now I got a pretty good idea what works well and what doesn’t.

Let’s start with the Cons

Online personal training is not in-person training. Meaning, you don’t see your trainer, well, in person.

This is basically the only Con that is out there and oftentimes it is just a perceived drawback of online personal training. Traditionally when we think of personal training, we think of a trainer in a gym or coming to a client’s home and “holding their hand” while they are working out. Because some people still have this concept of traditional personal training in their heads, they are hesitant to give online personal training a try.

But the reality is, most people who were skeptical about online personal training come to love it. Simply because there are so many benefits to it, that not seeing the trainer and actually being with the trainer is not a problem anymore.

And if a client still prefers to have the trainer with them when they are working out, there is always the option of virtual one-on-one coaching.


Oh boy, where to begin?

Flexibility: The biggest benefit of online personal training is probably that you are not bound to a fixed schedule. When you schedule one-on-one sessions with a trainer you have to be at a certain place at a certain time. Last minute schedule changes often lead to cancelations of the sessions and you might even have to pay a cancelation fee. Plus, finding a good trainer that is available at your preferred time slot can be difficult (Your best bet for in-person sessions are usually early afternoons). With online personal training you can do the workouts whenever it works best for YOU! Early riser? Do your workout at 5am. Got an hour between work calls? Do it then!

More accountability: This seems counter-intuitive, I know. We usually think one-on-one sessions would provide the most accountability. But here’s the thing: When I train clients one-on-one I see them (best case scenario) 3-4 times a week for an hour or (worst case scenario) as little as one hour a week. The other 164-167 hours they are on their own. Yes, I can give them “home work” but I won’t find out if they did it until I see them the next time.

Online personal training allows us to schedule daily habits we want to work on. Let’s say one of your goals is to eat healthier. One of your daily tasks could be to have a form of protein with each meal. Once you completed the task for the day you check mark it in the app. Not only will you be reminded of your daily tasks but you also know that the trainer has an eye on you.

Depending on the trainer you might also have the option to add virtual coaching calls or occasional virtual one-on-one training sessions for extra accountability (those are some of the options my online clients have).

Progress tracking: When you do one-on-one sessions, your trainer will track your progress in the gym. They will take your measurements, weight, and keep a log with your progressions when it comes to repetitions and resistance for specific exercises. That’s pretty much it.

Online personal training on the other hand allows for more in depth progress tracking. You can basically track any- and everything from sleep, over daily steps, to meditation practice, nutrition habits, and so much more. What exactly is being tracked depends on the client’s goals and where they are at in their fitness journey.

Price: Let’s face it, personal training is not cheap! When a trainer creates their pricing they usually factor in their experience, the actual time spend with the client as well as travel time, and the time they spend for programming each week or month. That can easily add up to $1,000 or more per month. Online personal training is more budget friendly and most trainers have different packages to choose from depending on your needs and goals. Beware of low cost offers though! If you find somebody who offers online personal training for $99/month, you will most likely end up with a cookie cutter program that doesn’t have much to do with a personalized workout program.

If you ask me, that’s a lot of Pros and not a lot of Cons.

What we offer

Here at Jennifer Alice Training & Coaching we offer different online personal training packages. I am the head coach and responsible for creating workouts, nutrition guidelines, and coaching you as a client. My wonderful assistant Gly is in charge of setting up a new client and she also makes sure everything tech-related runs smoothly.

Fitness Coaching: Before we start working together I will ask you to fill out a questionnaire with info about your workout history, availability, goals, workout preferences etc. Based on the info I collect, I will create a workout program for you that will be send to our very own fitness app.

You will log your workouts and track your progress. If you go to a remote island without internet connection (do those still exist???), you could also print out your workout beforehand to have it with you. I will get daily notifications of your workouts and progress and I will also see if you missed a workout. Remember we were talking about daily accountability earlier? Yup, right here! 😉

Depending on the package you choose, you will also have the option to send in videos of you performing an exercise, so I can check your form.

Nutrition Guidelines: For me it is much more important to teach my clients HOW to eat than WHAT to eat. That’s one of the reasons why we don’t offer meal plans (if you are interested in a plan, I have great nutritionists I work with). We will teach you habits you can apply that will make eating healthily so much easier! Depending on your goals we might add daily tasks like “water goals” or “having one portion of veggies with each meal” to your schedule. I might also ask you to track your food intake with MyFitnessPal for a while but again, that depends on your goals and some other factors. I can see in our app if you completed your daily nutrition tasks and if we decide to track your food intake, I can keep an eye on that as well.

Coaching and Communication: While your daily tasks are already part of the coaching, we will also have weekly check-ins where we can talk about your progress or any struggles you might be facing. Depending on the package you choose, you might have access to me more frequently and we might also schedule a one-on-one coaching call via Zoom.

Mindset Coaching: Mindset coaching is also a big part of what I do. If you have the feeling you’ve been struggling with reaching your fitness goals and you just can’t seem to follow workout routines and create healthier habits, this will help you! Mindset Coaching sessions are conducted via Zoom and are included in our Premium Lifestyle Transformation Package.

Are you ready to change your life?

If you feel you’re ready to give online personal training a try and take control of your health and well-being, let’s talk! You can find out more about our online personal training services here or contact me directly with any questions or to set up a complimentary consultation.

Looking forward to chatting with you!