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  • Writer's pictureMichael Ritorto

Does online training really work?

Updated: May 11, 2020

As a 15 year health and fitness professional (that's before there was Instagram mind you), I have been skeptic of online training. That was until COVID-19 shut down my studio. For 15 years I have trained clients in person.

After having to close our studio due to Mayor Garcetti's executive order last Sunday, we were in slight shock. What now?

For the last couple years I've seen thousands of influencers self-labeled as fitness professionals making tons of money training people online. To me it seems like mostly template work as I've checked into most of the software that helps organize these online only sessions. The software prompts the influencer (not going to refer to them as trainers as most of them probably couldn't name all four quad muscles) to check in with the client every week or so, checking boxes to see that they performed the prescribed (cut and pasted) routines they were given. The influencer then rates your progress pics to judge progress. Granted this is often referred to as "online coaching" and not "live online training." But needless to say I was a skeptic since this is the bulk of what "online training" is currently. But still, desperate times...

Within one day of asking some existing clients if they were interested I scheduled my first online session. I had a tripod, a tablet, and an empty studio. They had a yoga mat, some random exercise bands, and a stability ball. Guess what? Both of us agreed the remote training was awesome. Here's why it works:

1) Clients are still performing a workout with 100% supervision. You can correct their form. Offer modifications. Offer progressions. Today's video chat software is so good I can tell from the protrusions of their ribs in their t-shirt if their obliques are engaged properly, just as well as if I were standing right next to them.

2) Accountability. I hate to say it, but one of the best things about having a personal trainer is there is someone waiting for you to workout with. It makes you more reliable and completely increases your chances of working out if you know someone is waiting for you. Merely setting the online appointment and having it in your calendar makes it much more likely you are going to workout that day.

3) Zero drive time. Even though my studio is a relatively close drive for most of my clients, it can still be 5, 10, 15, or 20 minutes away. Drive time adds up. Multiply two to three times a week that equates to extra hours your client is spending just getting to you, not working out, sitting in a car, and getting less flexible every hour. Which brings us to our last and final point. Clients who would only see me once a week due to a shortness of time, are now able to book an extra online session. That is a 100% increase in the workouts per week. That's pretty darn good positive.

4) Compliance. When you workout with a trainer from our own home, you begin to realize that all the tools your need to get in shape are really at your disposal. It doesn't take much equipment besides some floor space and the will to move. With a qualified trainer showing you exercises you can do pain free and feel good about doing them after a workout all from the comfort of your own home, the chance that you will do something on your own in between sessions increases tremendously.

After this experiment during the COVID-19 crisis, I stand corrected. There is a TON of value to online training that I myself was skeptical about before giving it a try with my own clients and both seeing and hearing them rave about the benefits. Those benefits far outweigh the negatives and I am certain that several of my clients will keep at least some remote training in their schedules in the future.

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