The World Wide Web, where would we be without it today? Through the increasing use of internet and more recently, social networking sites, the ones most of us must have these days. Online training has become a very popular way to get in shape, and soon to become much more popular in my humble opinion. Many trainers and virtual programs offer many options such as: Tailored fitness programs to your specific goals, contest preparation coaching, and most importantly nutritional guidance. These are some of the reasons why online training has become an attractive option over actual one-on-one personal training in a practical setting. Another couple of valid reasons I might add are time constraints and geographic restrictions. Not everyone has time to set a time and meet with a trainer three or four times during the week, and most people are not going to drive a long way to meet with a trainer. Also with an online trainer you have just about 24 hour access to communicate via phone or email if you have any questions or concerns. So why not have a tailored program to follow whenever you have time and why not be able to choose any trainer in the world?
So far online training seems like a win-win situation, right? Well, with any great utility service, there are always advantages and disadvantages, nothing is ever perfect. Throughout this article I will try and explain both sides by offering guidance and recommendations for both trainers and clients to improve their experience of online training without being bias. First and foremost, online training has become a powerful tool in offering services to a broad audience but the growth has fueled competition among trainers in commercial gyms who are battling to stand out. My first Issue with online training is the source and credibility of a personal trainer. There’s no real substitute for meeting a personal trainer in person, creating that relationship with one another, and watching them in action with other clients. There are many different certifications out there, many are very legit and well respected, while others are not. Pretty much anyone can become a trainer these days or say they are a trainer to make a quick buck. So how can you trust someone online? Well you definitely should do your research when choosing an online trainer, check their credibility along with their websites credibility and really go with your gut feeling. I will delve into this a bit more later on.
My first issue with traditional personal trainers who train at commercial gyms is their lack of engagement and knowledge with clients. We all know in order to work as a trainer at a gym, you have to be a Certified Personal Trainer, and once again anyone can get certified. So, my point is just because one has a handful of different certifications and a degree in Kinesiology doesn’t necessarily mean they are a great trainer. I see trainer’s everyday where I work out, some are great and I can really tell they care about their client’s success. But, the majority of other trainers amaze me with their lack of knowledge, exercise selections, stupidity, and lack of intensity when training clients. The majority of the time these trainers are counting reps for you while texting on their phones or just jibber jabbering with the client or others they know. Many trainers are just in it for the money and want to get their clients through their sessions as fast as possible with little struggle. I call these “Text Book Trainers” because they are always going by the book and liability issues; many trainers underestimate their client’s abilities. A couple of different trainers once told me that as long as you throw out big scientific words to clients they won’t question you and they will think you’re the best. Another trainer said he wants to be a “Guru!” Lol. Unbelievable! How can someone want to have all the answers to everything and want that reputation of being a guru? Last but not least, trainers at gyms do not educate clients about proper nutrition and do not formulate personalized nutrition plans for their clients. They most likely tell you to follow the bullshit “Food Pyramid” recommendations that our corrupted FDA so kindly supplies us with. Now, I am not saying being a trainer at a commercial gym is bad, if that is your goal to work for someone else, then by all means do so. Just take pride in helping your clients reach their goals by educating them properly and most of all actually put them through a legit workout. For consumers, be aware of these kinds of trainers and gyms, they pretty much just want to sell you training packages to meet their monthly goals.
I know many may think online training is a scam, but let’s look at a few advantages and disadvantages that this unique method can offer, giving you the chance to determine if online training is for you or not. With an average personal training session costing around $60, not to mention the actual gym initiation fees and travel expense, the cost of one-on-one training can soon hurt your wallet. Many people are intimidated to go to gyms due to many muscular and fit people, overwhelming equipment, and just overall too much chaos going on. Well online training offers the chance to meet your goals without feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable. Flexibility can also be a huge advantage, meaning online training can be done without any set schedule or routine. Although this could be a disadvantage if the client lacks motivation, accountability, and discipline to remain consistent to the program you assign them. This is due to them wanting a physical presence there with them and guiding them through the workout. Also online trainers cannot always judge your progress and actually watch your posture when performing certain workouts, which could really frustrate a potential client and possibly lead to worse problems.
There are bigger questions to address with online training that could put the trainer and the client at a potential risk. The three essential elements of personal training are: An initial assessment, observing the clients training, and giving relevant feedback to ensure progress. These processes are severely compromised through online training. If you decide to choose an online trainer, make sure the trainer has a similar protocol assessment as an actual trainer at a gym would. I highly recommend a phone consultation before paying, think of this as an initial screening process and you can really get a feel for the trainer to see if you do want to work with him or her.
When buying training packages at a gym, you are subjected to a waiver, removing all liability from the club as well as the trainer the majority of the time. With online training, there are often times no waiver or legal agreements provided. I can’t stress this enough to make sure if you do go with an online trainer that they do have a release of liability waiver. Which brings me to my next point, what about the legalities of online personal training? What if the client were to get injured while using your program you supplied and you are in a different county or state? What are the legal responsibilities then? Well, a legal agreement can be addressed between the trainer and client by two ways: valid contract and valid contacts. A valid contract is a signed agreement agreeing to terms and conditions of online training and the commitment between both parties. A valid contact shows that there is a reasonable amount of contact between the client and trainer over and above the click of a button to purchase a training program. To ensure the best service, a phone consultation or skype should be set up, along with a printed contract should be mailed to sign and return to the proper address.
If you are an online trainer, take the following steps to establish evidence of a valid contract, assumption of risk, informed consent, and fulfillment of your legal duty as a personal trainer.
1. Post by mail all contracts to your clients for them to read and sign
2. After receiving the signed document, phone them or Skype them to review and clarify.
3. Mail regular progress cards for the client to fill out and sign. The reports should require a signature stating that the information attested to is true and accurate under penalty of perjury.
4. Include a disclaimer on your website stating that all users should consult a physician before beginning an exercise program and that the information provided is not intended to treat or diagnose any disease or medical ailment.
5. Unless your goal is to train clients in a different state or country, make it clear that the content of your website is directed only at those who could potentially travel to your local gym. Be very clear!
Despite the negatives of online personal training, this form of training is very unique and beneficial as opposed to traditional personal training. The few negative drawbacks can be overlooked or reduced with the right approach. Just make sure you really do your research before and be sure you make a connection with that online trainer, there are way too many crooks out there that will do anything for money. My brother Chris and I are online training and nutritional coaches, as well as traditional trainers on occasion, we truly believe online training will continue to grow now and in the future. Just ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen by trying an online personal training program? If you don’t like it maybe that is your calling to actually join a gym and get a trainer, if you do like it than great, either way you are taking a step forward in the right direction to living a healthier and fit lifestyle, bottom line! With all this said, if you are a trainer in a gym, online trainer, or a group fitness instructor, at the end of the day we are all in this industry together. As long as we all continue to educate, be humble, and be honest to our clients in helping them reach their goals, than that’s all that matters. I respect each and every trainer for what they do nationwide, everyone has a different style, and that’s the beauty of it. Peace and god bless everyone!