VIDEO: Is Getting An Online Coach To Program Your Training A Good Or Bad Idea?
Is online fitness coaching a good fit for you? The short answer is: it depends.
The fuller answer is this: effective technique coaching just can’t be accomplished online very well. I know, I’ve tried hard to make it work. It’s not always a total train wreck, but in-person coaching is wildly better. The two aren’t even comparable.
Since reinforcing proper technique is among the most important (if not the most important) coaching need of the average client, online coaching isn’t the best bet for most people.
On the other hand, if you’re already very experienced and you simply need a new program to put your trust in, online coaching can be an excellent choice.
ONLINE FITNESS COACHING
Over the last 10 years, online coaching in the fitness industry has grown rapidly. During that time I can assure you that I’ve done more than my fair share of browsing fitness sites, reading articles and seeing what well known coaches have been up to. We're talking A LOT of hours spent staring at a computer. I can tell you that online coaching used to be quite rare. Now it’s literally everywhere.
There are some excellent online coaches out there. You also don’t have to look very far to find plenty of incompetent scammers who are trying to make internet money without having to leave the house. If you do some googling on online fitness coaches you’re sure to see some sketchy people out there who focus more on their sales funnels than on being an expert fitness coach. Not cool.
If you’re looking for a coach online, just understand that the experience level of coaches as well as the structure of the coach/trainee relationship differs from person to person. You might end up with a stock training template, or you might get individually written workouts updated weekly to enable precise adjustments. You might communicate with your coach frequently, or you might have no access to him/her after you receive the program. If you decide to hire an online coach, make sure you’re certain about what you can expect, as well as what your responsibilities are to your coach - reporting scores on workouts, tracking food, etc.
I’ve coached clients remotely on fitness and/or nutrition for several years. I’ve also hired coaches at various times who I’ve worked with online. Here’s my take on the benefits and drawbacks of online fitness coaching.
THE BENEFITS OF WORKING WITH AN ONLINE FITNESS COACH
The pitch for online coaching is simple: no matter where you live you can work with a coach who you respect, admire, and might even be a fan of - either of their online presence, their individual athletic achievements, or both.
It’s not often that you’d get the chance to work directly with a semi-famous internet personality or internationally competitive athlete in person. But online coaching makes this immediately doable. There is a definite coolness factor.
Beyond that, hopefully you’ll hire someone competent. Not all great athletes make great coaches, after all.
There are two types of people for whom online coaching can work well.
The first type is someone who is already a relatively advanced lifter. Their training is stuck and they need a fresh reboot to their training regime to stimulate new progress. You might send a few videos to your coach to get a little feedback, but generally you’re just expecting to receive a program to follow - one that you can put your trust in.
The second type is someone who is primarily looking for nutrition coaching. I don’t see any major difference between in-person and online coaching for eating. Regular Skype or FaceTime calls combined with email works wonderfully. The only minor draw back is that the client has to do their own measurements to track progress instead of the coach taking care of it.
THE DRAWBACKS OF ONLINE FITNESS COACHING
I already mentioned the main drawback in the introduction. It’s extremely difficult to communicate the nuances of great technique via email, especially when you’re not watching your client execute the workout. Videos can help, but it ain’t nothing like the real thing (baby).
The other benefit of in-person training is that the coach can adjust your workout on the fly. Based on how you’re doing that day, your coach can help guide you on when to push it, when to hold back, when to completely change the routine that day, and how to tweak next week’s workouts.
As a coach, I can’t emphasise how important being able to see a client is to my ability to do an excellent job. It’s huge.
A FINAL WORD ON ONLINE FITNESS COACHING
When it comes to fitness, it’s always best if you can find a good coach in person. I tell all my online clients this. If that’s not possible, online coaching can work, especially if you’re experienced. On the other hand, if you’re relatively new to training, I can’t recommend online coaching.
For nutrition (usually fat loss), I have no critique of online coaching. It’s effective and incredibly convenient since the client doesn’t have to spend any time driving to meet you. You’re just a Skype call away.