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Online Personal Training for Weight Loss: Is It Worth the Investment?

Author:Nicholas Gregory CSCS, MA

Long-confined to brick and mortar gyms across the country, personal trainers are professionals who use their knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and exercise to help individuals reach their fitness and weight loss goals. Often an expensive investment, personal trainers have recently turned to technology to help them scale their services and offer a more affordable product. 

Although a personal trainer “at your fingertips” can offer benefits, it’s important to consider both the pros and cons before deciding if it is the right approach for you! 

First, let’s dive into what exactly a personal trainer does!

What is a personal trainer? 

According to the National Federation of Personal Trainers, a personal trainer possesses the skills to design and administer safe and effective fitness programs. These programs are developed through health screenings, movement assessment, and exercise prescription, and typically focus on helping clients reach specific weight loss or fitness goals. 

Although laws may vary state to state, personal trainers generally require some form of certification to legally provide their training services. These certifications do not prove the trainers’ quality but simply certify that the trainer has requisite knowledge to safely perform the duties within their scope. 

Given their training, personal trainers can provide specific exercise prescription, general health and movement screenings, and lead motivating in-person workout sessions. Most certification programs focus a great deal of time on anatomy, physiology, and exercise prescription, as this knowledge plays into successful program development. Personal trainers may also have some knowledge of motivation and nutrition, but are limited in what advice they are legally allowed to give in areas outside of exercise. 

How do you work with a personal trainer online? 

At first, working with a personal trainer online may sound strange. Personal trainers are typically meeting you in the gym, guiding you through workouts, and spotting you on form and technique. Although you will be completing workouts on your own when working with a personal trainer online, they are still there to offer motivation, suggestions, and provide their expertise. 

Online personal trainers typically provide workout programs on a daily or weekly basis to their clients, using specific exercises, intensity, and volume to help their clients reach specific weight loss or fitness goals. These workouts are normally offered through an email or app-based platform that allows trainers to easily scale the number of workout programs they are creating each week.  Online personal trainers may also use social media, email, or text-based communication to stay in touch with their clients through the week and answer questions as they come up. 

Now that you know what a personal trainer does and how they work online, let’s dive into some pros and cons to consider when deciding if this is right health investment for you! 

Pros

1. More accessible

The main benefit of working with an online personal trainer is that you have access to their expertise when and where you want. Whether you need workouts or have questions about the correct stretches to do, an online personal trainer will be far more accessible online compared to in-person. 

2. Less expensive

In-person sessions with personal trainers range in cost from $50-200 per hour depending on the gym, trainer, and their overall demand. Although working with a personal trainer is valuable and can lead to weight loss, most people cannot afford or sustain the overall investment and cost of working with a personal trainer. 

In moving to online platforms, personal trainers are working to decrease the cost of their services while also scaling the number of clients they are able to help. Depending on their overall workload, online personal trainers may charge $50-200 per month for their workouts and advice, cutting the cost of their services in half. 

Cons

1. Less safe

Although your online personal trainer may be experienced and create the perfect workout program for you, there can be a slightly higher risk of injury when following these workout programs on your own. One of the biggest benefits of working in-person with a trainer is to have their watchful eye focusing on your technique and safe movement patterns. Most online personal trainers will send supplemental technique videos or demonstrations, but these do not replace the benefit of working with a trainer in-person and having real-time feedback on correct and safe movements. 

2. Less accountability

Another inherent difference between working with a personal trainer in-person compared to online is the fact that there is no appointment to keep. In a typical in-person training session, there is a personal trainer at the gym waiting for you to show up and complete the workout with them. 

In the online format, this is not the case and the responsibility falls on the client to show up and complete the workout. This is great for some and a challenge for others. Those with more specific or targeted goals and higher levels of intrinsic motivation may benefit more from working with an online personal trainer. 

Is an online personal trainer enough to reach your weight loss goals?

Given a personal trainer’s scope, there are some areas where they may not be able to offer as much benefit as other allied healthcare professionals. Things such as nutrition specifics, behavior change, and psychological-based approaches to weight loss may fall out of a personal trainer’s scope and be more appropriate to address with a registered dietitian or health coach. This is where Noom comes into play!

At Noom, we are health coaches. Noom coaches bring with them a wealth of knowledge and education upon joining the team. Various professional disciplines including psychology, social work, nutrition, exercise physiology, and personal training create a well-rounded knowledge base to serve each of our program participants. 

We understand the importance of this knowledge but we also understand the importance of allowing our program participants to explore and find what works best for them! We could prescribe workouts, diets, and schedules to follow but if they are not sustainable, they will not lead to successful weight loss. Working with a personal trainer? Great! Interested in seeing how a Noom coach can help you continue working towards your goals, whatever they may be? Give Noom a try today!