This topic is particularly relevant as I write this. We are currently in a lockdown due to a pandemic. Albeit an eased lockdown and a lot of personal trainers are starting to brave the outside with their clients - at a 2m distance. A social distancing type of personal.
Most of us have been forced to make our previously one to one, often very close contact, personal training business into a distanced form of training online. It is still personal training but if you don’t have an online training platform set up already, you are essentially having to create a whole new business from scratch. No easy feat.
A lot of clients have been incredibly supportive and carried on as normal through virtual means. However, a large majority have had to work from home who also have children to home school. Their priorities have, understandably, had an overhaul and many people don’t have time for their usual hour of personal training. We must remember, personal trainers are very much a luxury service.
Firstly, for you to know where I stand, I have always offered both online and one to one personal training. The main reason is I started my career in London and then moved to Paris. A few of my London based clients were keen to continue with me and so moved to online training. In Paris I have one to one clients mostly, but a couple do online programming too. I have a pretty balanced experience of both.
PROS OF ONE TO ONE PERSONAL TRAINING
The most obvious is, of course, the face to face personal coaching. We are able to see our clients move directly and coach them in a wider variety of ways. What we call cueing. We can either use words giving internal cues and explaining how things should feel, touch and move a client directly (with permission of course), using external cues in the environment, visual cues with direct demonstrations enabling the client to see the particular exercise performed from a variety of viewpoints. You receive that personal service and interaction. It’s hard to beat.
One to one coaching is often more reliably bespoke. There is less risk of being given a generic program. Of course, it is possible to be given a generic program in a one to one setting, but it is much more easily noticed as being somewhat less personal. You have a whole hour of a personal trainer just to yourself. You can ask any questions, focus on certain areas, talk about nutrition and your lifestyle. The time is yours.
I have found that client motivation is much stronger in a one to one setting. Especially if they are a beginner. They are less likely to slacken off and they have a greater feeling of responsibility to physically show up. Finding motivation is much easier with a coach standing beside you telling you what to do and cheering you on. You also feel much more confident knowing that the personal trainer is there making sure you are executing everything correctly and safely.
More often than not the client comes to the personal trainer’s gym or studio with access to a large variety and complexity of equipment. Some gyms and studios offer a membership meaning you have access to a whole team of experts including nutrition and sports specific coaches, good changing room and shower facilities, workshops, group classes etc. For the remote personal trainers, like myself, we bring all the equipment to you and accommodate your location be it near your work or at home. You don’t even have to travel to a gym. A lot of my clients just roll out of bed, grab a coffee and I’m there before breakfast.
In all senses of the word. Face to face, a personal trainer can build a better and more personal rapport with a client. It’s hard to hide and not be genuine with the client there right in front of you. As a result, trust and respect can be built more quickly and be stronger between you.
Internet can be a pain. If you are doing a live session online it can freeze, cut out and just not work. A big frustration. If you are building a program and relying on an online platform, it can crash, lose your work, require updates and often be at a cost.
PROS OF ONLINE PERSONAL TRAINING:
This would be the first and most obvious pro compared to one to one personal training. Either for packages/guides or sessions per month, online training will always be cheaper. The reason? For most personal trainers it takes up much less of their time and there aren’t any gym rents or travel commute costs. There is a wide range of pricing if you search for online coaches, as within any industry. With some time spent on researching you will quickly see that cheaper programs are cheap for a reason. They are less personal and targeted at a large audience. Sometimes this can work perfectly but more often than not there will eventually be an exercise which just isn’t right for you, or at least not yet, and you can be at risk of injury if done incorrectly. Don’t get me wrong, some guides are great. It’s just knowing which ones.
More expensive online trainers or programs are often more personal and bespoke with the trainers spending more time with you either via virtual training, check-ins with regular calls, emails and/or texts, ensuring that you feel well supported and are learning as you go and that you have a truly individually-tailored program for your own goals.
There are no geographical limits for the clients or the personal trainer. PT’s are not limited to where their gym is based and can have a much longer client list. Clients can train with a personal trainer in another country if they so wish and can train out of the comfort of their own home or while travelling.
Social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube can be a great way to communicate with clients and build a rapport. It can, in turn, make us better coaches as we spend time researching, learning and finding our best client demographic to create content which is most beneficial for them.
Online training can be perfect for clients with erratic and varied work schedules and/or family commitments. It is also a time-saver for personal trainers who focus purely on online programs or for trainers who do one to one training and want to put some of those off-peak hours to good use. It allows much more flexibility for both client and trainer holidays too. A big benefit of online training is that you can train from anywhere at any time (within reason!)
SO, WHICH IS BETTER?
Well, it depends in many ways. You get what you pay for with both. One to one is more expensive but you get that personal service and hands on coaching. Something I would highly recommend for beginners. Online is certainly cheaper but you often need a motivated client with previous experience and it can take time to build that rapport. If you find the right online PT, they can be just as good if not better than a lot of private 1:1 PTs.
It can be hard to find a personal trainer that fits perfectly for the client on a one to one basis at a time and place that suits both the client and PT. With online training, you can have your pick of the clients and the client can work with a PT anywhere in the world.
Online training, especially during this lockdown, is very much the present and will certainly continue to be a big part of the future. I miss one to one personal training and can’t wait to get back into it properly when it is safe to do so. However, I also love the benefits of online training and the possibilities are a lot more accessible and, clearly, more wide-reaching.
My advice. If you are an absolute beginner and/or struggling with motivation, commit to a one to one personal trainer until you feel confident and motivated enough to take the next step to online training. If you are experienced but still want that guidance or you’re searching for something different for fun and variety, get an online personal trainer. There will be many personal trainers now who offer both, like myself. You can always start with one or the other and if it feels better to stick to just online or just 1:1 or a mix of both, you have that flexibility. A good trainer will advise what they think is best for you and your goals.