Pros and Cons of Virtual Personal Training

Pros and Cons of Virtual Personal Training


No lie, everyone has been thrust into an entirely virtual world.  If you’re lucky, your work is probably entirely virtual, your friend hangouts are virtual, hell you probably even grocery shop virtually!  For many, their personal training has gone virtual as well.


And with regards to fitness, every trainer, gym, yogi, and fitness enthusiast are posting free workouts and sessions for their followers.  This has been great to see people getting motivated, taking action and inspiring everyone at home!  


Until they stop…


Working out at home on the cheap has been around for decades, maybe longer.  But it’s only a select few who really get what they want out of it.  Why is that?


It’s really hard to stick to something especially if it’s new, difficult and with little to no accountability.


But what about virtual personal training, where there’s actually someone who runs a class or meets with you virtually?  What is that like?  What are the pros and cons?


Let’s dive in!


What is it like to train virtually?

A virtual personal training session is not much different than a Zoom meeting with someone from work or Facetime with a friend.  Only on this call, you’ll be working out.


Trainers typically use either a group format or an individual format (1-on-1) on a schedule.  So at either your scheduled times or the times allotted for the group you’re in, you’ll hop onto the zoom call from your home, get your work out on, stay and chat a bit (or not), and go on about your day.


Virtual workouts will be structured in various ways, but most will usually include some form of:

  • Strength movements like squats, push-ups, lunges etc.
  • Cardio movements like jumping jacks, mountain climbers, plank jacks, and sometimes burpees (depending on your trainer)
  • Core exercises
  • Any combination of the above


Good programs will vary movements but keep things consistent enough to see progress and allow for proper recovery.


Many of your free programs and workouts will not have this idea in mind.  Because of their one-off nature, these workouts will not be part of a larger plan to make progress.  They will only be focused on the momentary workout results – i.e. sweat and fatigue, neither of which is a good indicator of progress over the long term.


Here’s a good article on how progress can be made at-home


Pros of Virtual Personal Training:


    1. Flexible Location. Virtual training opens up the doors to be able to workout whenever and wherever.  You could be at home, on a business trip, vacation, or at a friends for the weekend and still be able to get your workouts in.
    2. Flexible schedule.  Virtual training, depending on the service you subscribe to, can be extremely flexible.  Meaning that your schedule is much less of a constraint for working out and getting healthy.
    3. It’s accessible.  You need WiFi and a device (laptop, tablet, or smartphone) and most people at least have a smartphone these days.  Also, because it’s done virtually, the service you’re using most likely is dealing with less overhead costs and can deliver to you at a lower price point than a class at a gym.  A.k.a. It’s cheaper.
    4. It’s effective.  Don’t for a second think that just because it’s not at a typical gym, at-home workouts won’t be effective.  With the proper intensity and effort as well as a good, smart program (workout plan) working out at home is equally as effective as a gym.  It’s just different, mostly due to lacking access to the plethora of machines, dumbbells, and various equipment you get in a gym.
    5. Teaches and emphasizes body awareness.  This is a HUGE pro for virtual training.  The more bodyweight training you do, the more you’ll master the awareness and control of your body.  This will lead to healthier body image, increase self-confidence and improve your daily function!
    6. It can be private.  Meaning you don’t have to share your training and space with other members of a gym.  If you have a trainer/coach, this is a time you can work with someone to help you lay a really good foundation of movement, strength, and endurance while you can also be confident that no one is watching/judging you (except for your trainer – but still no judgement).  This can give some relief to people who are tentative to head into a large gym or exercise in front of others.






Cons of Virtual Personal Training

  1. It’s less accountable.  Again, depending on the service you subscribe to, without a physical presence, there can be less connection to your fitness community, your coaches, and your goals.  With any or all of these getting diminished, you will see a reduction in the overall accountability of your program.  Try to think of it on a scale.  It’s not like accountability is there or not there, it’s fluid.  Some programs will have higher levels of accountability (like those that offer coaching calls, appointments, and more 1-on-1/group facetime).  Others won’t (subscription services and pre-recorded workouts).  That said, accountability isn’t everything, but it certainly helps when you want to quit.
  2. It’s in your home.  While this can also be a pro, some people will feel that working out at home feels strange.  It can feel weird to mix workouts and the place you usually relax.  A good policy is to perform the workouts in a space that separates from those sentiments, i.e. a garage, a spare bedroom, outside, etc.  Take notes from people who work from home all the time.  They all tell you to have good separation between the work space and the living space.
  3. You need a high quality trainer.  Not having a fully equipped gym on hand means that your trainer needs to be well versed in how to progress your training program in other ways.
  4. It can be harder to know if you’re doing things right.  True, it is easier to see and cue clients when they are in front of you.  But while this is a valid concern, a good trainer will be able to cue you and help you learn the movements risk-free whether it is done virtually or not.  However, this is not the case if you have no trainer feedback from your service, or if the trainer can’t see you.
  5. You miss the ritual.  One of the reasons a gym is so appealing is that it represents the ritual of your exercise/fitness/workout routine.  Working out at home will not be the same as going to the gym.  The feel, the process, the environment.  But for those who are ready to achieve goals, this doesn’t matter.  You will overcome those small obstacles and become the boss of your healthy habit, not shackled to the ritual of a gym!


What You Should Look for In Virtual Personal Training

A program that fits your demands and goals.  

What does this mean?

    1. The service has shown that it can achieve what you want with other clients.  Does it have testimonials and success stories?  Does it’s brand match what you believe?
    2. What do you need?  Do you need more accountability and more feedback about form, mindset, effort, and encouragement (virtual personal training)?  Do you need less accountability and just something to provide the structure (online programming)?
    3. What’s your budget?  Ultimately, Be realistic with what you can afford and that can help guide your decision, though both 1 and 2 should be more influential in your decision.
    4. What do you like?  Do you enjoy personal connection?  Do you prefer anonymity? Are you serious about getting help and making progress?  Do you just want to exercise when it’s fun and convenient?


If you are unsure of how to proceed with your virtual training, please feel free to schedule a FREE virtual consultation with us to discuss!  

Creating Daily Habits [Coaches and Coffee Podcast Blog: Episode 4]

Creating Daily Habits

Habits make up 40% of your daily behaviors.  Meaning 40% of what you do on a daily basis is not a conscious decision, but a preprogrammed action.  Think about that.

In this episode, we talk about how much that can affect your goals, your identity, and your why -- the reason you do the things you do, the person you want to be, and what you believe about yourself.

We discuss the 5 ways to build a new habit (as covered by James Clear in his book, Atomic Habits).  These include:

  1. Make the new habit easily attainable
  2. Build on this habit slowly
  3. Make it sustainable
  4. If you slip up, just get back on track
  5. Stay patient

As I was reviewing this study of habits, it really resonated with our brand at ReDefine:RVA.  How we build our approach around this and how we attack the main thing that helps the habits stick: the identity.

The identity is the core of what you believe about yourself.  Do you believe you're healthy and fit?  If you do, your results and your habits tend to stick.  If you never address that belief, you will likely not stick to the new habits you've created.

This is why we PREACH making fitness a lifestyle, and not just a quick fix.  We believe that, given time, people start to change the way they think (sometimes with a little encouragement in the right direction), and they actually change their identity.  This is KEY in making these habits stick around.

Here are the links to your preferred platforms:

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Watch on YouTube

The 5 Best Pieces of At Home Workout Equipment: Get In Shape At Home

The 5 Best Pieces of At Home Workout Equipment: Get In Shape At Home


Whether we like it or not, working out at home has quickly become a necessity.  Not only is it pretty much our only option for traditional training (other than walking, running, biking etc.), but it is just as important now as it was before COVID-19.  


Whatever your individual goal maybe, routine exercise helps you:

  1. Manage stress levels
  2. Have a sense of routine
  3. Stay healthy
  4. Improve your mental health and mood
  5. Improve your sleep


At the gym, there are plenty of options for progressing your workouts (that is, making them more challenging so you actually see changes), but at home, that can be a little more challenging.  But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done, it just requires different training.  


We all most likely know that workouts should get harder as you adapt to them.  This is called progressive overload, and most commonly it’s done by adding weights.  But did you know there are lots of other ways to increase difficulty and end up with the same results?  Here’s a helpful guide to making progress while working out at home.


If you’re new to the at home exercise world, or are being forced into it by this pandemic, then let this be a guide to your best options for creating a suitable home gym to continue making progress.


Here are our 5 top picks for pieces of at home exercise equipment:


#1) The Kettlebell


As far as a versatile piece of equipment that will allow you to train your full body in a number of ways (strength, hypertrophy, endurance, aerobic capacity aka cardio), you won’t find much better than a kettlebell.  They require a strong attention to detail, especially with the explosive movements, but can be scaled for anyone to learn them. This is a really great piece of equipment for any fitness enthusiast to own.


The Titan Adjustable Kettlebell is a great, versatile option for at home exercise equipment.


#2) Resistance Band


There’s so much you can do with a resistance band if you’re creative enough, or have the right coach ;).  Bands can also provide what’s called accommodating resistance which is a fancy way of saying that the resistance (difficulty) increases at your stronger points of each movement.  This means they’re really friendly on your joints and they can challenge you adequately without the use of weights. 


Wodfitter Resistance Bands are a great option: 


P.S. You could order the whole setup for more options, but if you’re going with only one band, we’d recommend the #1 Red, or the #2 Black.


#3) Pull Up Bar/Suspension Trainer

Pull Up Bar 

Training your entire body can become a challenge with at home workouts.  Without access to things like lat machines, dumbbells, and row machines, you might have a hard time training the muscles of your back.  A pull up bar is a great way to continue being able to train your back while at home. You can set this one up in a door jam and do arguably the most effective back exercise there is; the pull up.


This is a good pull-up bar option 


Suspension Trainer


The suspension trainer system is probably the best way to modify pulling (back) movements if you can’t do pull ups.  They can easily attach in a doorway and allow you a large variety of movements and progression with such a simple set up!  You can also mimic a TRX set up with a couple tie down straps and some creativity!


Lifeline Jungle Gym XT Suspension Trainer

#4) Dumbbells


While most likely the most expensive item on the list, a good set of adjustable dumbbells can go a long way at home in terms of scalability, progress, and variety of movements. 


Great option for an adjustable dumbbell:

Adjustable dumbbells


While most likely the most expensive item on the list, a good set of adjustable dumbbells can go a long way at home in terms of scalability, progress, and variety of movements.  However, for someone looking for a more cost-effective solution, simply buying a pair of dumbbells at a moderate weight can be just as useful.


Solid option for a set weight dumbbell:

Cap Rubber Hex Head Dumbbells


#5) Jump Rope 


As far as training cardio goes, running isn’t everyone’s favorite and finding a row machine, elliptical, or stationary/assault bike in someone’s home isn’t very likely.  But a jump rope, however, that’s a different case! A jump rope, though maybe boring from first sight, offers a wide variety of options and ways to increase difficulty, progress, and have some fun.  There is way more technique than people may realize too, but getting started is very simple!


Here’s a great quality jump rope: Rush Jump Rope


And if you're interested in getting started with the equipment (or lack thereof) you DO have, feel free to visit our Virtual Training Services page and schedule a consult!

6 Simple Ways to Make Progress With At Home Workouts

6 Simple Ways to Progress With At Home Workouts

If you really want to make progress towards your goal and you don’t have access to seemingly unlimited weight or resistance, then you have to turn your attention to other methods of progression while working out at home.


Adding load (going up in weight) is obviously the easiest and most commonly used, and for good reason as it is highly effective.  However, there are plenty of other great ways to increase resistance without adding load. They all typically depend on being more powerful, increasing volume (how much you do), or increasing tension in the muscles.


  1. Get explosive.  This is training for power.  Technically defined as producing maximal force as quickly as possible.  Not being in the gym can slowly lead to loss of strength and aerobic capacity, but it quickly leads to loss of power, unless you train it.  Good news is, power is one of the simplest things to train without equipment.Great examples of power are sprinting, jumping, and throwing.

  2. Add reps.  You can add repetitions to your sets to increase volume.  You can do this with any of the movements you’re performing.  Your body will recognize these extra reps as increased stress and will create a response very similar to what it would have done with higher weights.Here's an example of adding reps: Try going from 3 sets of 10, to 3 sets of 12, to 3 sets of 15 on days you do the same movement/workout. Or you can use other fun rep schemes to add reps like 21-15-9, 25-20-15-10, 10->1, 12->1, etc.
  3. Add sets.  You can add in extra sets of the same exercises to increase total volume.  Much like adding reps, adding sets can increase the overall volume, which is a great way to increase demand on the body and continue making progress.  Try adding an extra set of each movement per week.Example: 3 sets of 8 -> 4 sets of 8 the following workout.

  4. Decrease rest time.  This way you can do more in less time.  This is a simple way to add some good volume into the same workout time frame and also layer in a conditioning variable (think cardio/recovery).Example:  Instead of resting for 1 minute between sets, rest 45-50 seconds instead. 
  5. Use eccentrics.  Eccentrics add tension to the movement.  Eccentric movement is defined as the portion of the movement where the muscle actively lengthens.  For simplicity, this is typically when you’re in the lowering (towards gravity) portion of the movement.  Using eccentric movement is a great way to progress your home workouts as it allows you to master your own bodyweight and build more tension in the muscles.  One of the main stimulus to muscle growth and development is time under tension. Eccentrics manipulate the time variable really well.

  6. Add isometrics.  Isometrics are where you perform a hold or a pause, typically in a more challenging portion of the movement (think wall sit, or paused pushup).  These are a great way, again, of adding tension with the added benefit of getting stronger in that specific position of that movement.


Using these simple ways to intensify your workouts, you’ll have no problem making progress while working out at home.  


Our coaches use any and all of these methods when programming for our virtual clients, whether it be virtual 1-on-1, virtual group training, or online programming.  A good coach knows how to meet you where you are and help you get where you want to go no matter what equipment you have access to!  Check out our virtual training services page for more information.


How to make progress at home [Podcast Blog]

In last week’s episode, we talked about giving ourselves grace and feeling the feelings that come with quarantine, a pandemic, and severe disruption to routine.  You can hear that here.

This week, we break down how to approach your health and fitness from a mental, physical, and nutritional standpoint.  We talk a lot about meeting yourself where you’re at (a common theme you’ll hear with us) and how to tell when it’s an appropriate time to give yourself the little push you need.

Most importantly, we talk about some methods we’re using to ensure that we and our clients can make progress without access to the equipment and weights we’re accustomed to in the gym.

Watch this week’s episode on YouTube

Listen to this week’s episode:

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Or listen on this page:

Healthy Ways to Overcome Stress and Anxiety During a Pandemic [Podcast Blog]

Healthy Ways to Overcome Stress and Anxiety During a Pandemic

This week on the ReDefine:RVA Coaches and Coffee Podcast, Ben and Demetrius dove into what it's been like adjusting to a new life during this pandemic.  Starting with our personal training studio temporarily closing it's doors voluntarily, to the mandated stay-in-place order from the Governor, our lives have changed a lot.  Speaking with our clients, so have theirs.

So we decided it would be good to discover what it's felt like and what we've heard it's felt like from various walks of life, as well as certain things that we've done to implement some sort of normalcy and routine and the outcomes we've seen.

One thing we kept coming back to was grace.  It is so important to give ourselves some grace in this situation.  So many people have been pushing the "no excuses" and "opportunistic" view of the situation, but as always, it's not that simple.

So please give it a listen, and let us know what you think!

Listen on Spotify

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Listen in your browser:

Coaching in virtual fitness

Requirements for good coaching in virtual fitness

As we’ve all been thrust into this virtual, isolated, and socially distant world, many people have been left in the lurch with regards to their fitness and health.


The biggest change that we’ve seen, from a coaching standpoint, is the lack of individual attention and connection as trainers around the world have taken their fitness virtual.


Eric Ries once said, “A pivot is just a change in strategy without a change in vision”.  Our vision, as ReDefine:RVA, has always been to deliver results, transform lives, and provide exceptional coaching regardless of the medium.  So, with the new virtual fitness trend, we’d like to discuss what it takes to give and receive exceptional coaching virtually.

Virtual fitness snapshot
Coaches and clients having fun with virtual fitness

Coaches meet you where you are (figuratively)

One of the most important aspects of coaching is beginning at the beginning, wherever that may be.  That is to say, recognizing where you are, and starting there. No one started working out with Dwayne Johnson’s workouts and got fit.  They started where THEY were and made progress.


Nothing changes when fitness goes virtual.  We will assess your strength and ability level, have feedback and discussion, and provide an appropriate structure and plan for you to make progress, whatever your goal may be (and they may be extremely different right now than they were 2 months ago, and that’s ok!).


Alignment of goals and action

Obviously, one of the main things we as coaches deal with regularly is working towards goals.  Setting goals is important, especially in the short-term, as they will often drive your daily actions.  However, for us, setting immediate goals isn’t enough to create that transformation needed. It usually requires a total change in lifestyle or identity.  It is about what you believe about yourself.  


Example:  I am lazy and not in shape.  With a goal to get in shape, but an identity as such, any successes will not be for the long-term.  If you reframe your identity as someone who takes action for their health and prides themselves on working to get in shape, then you set yourself up for long-term success!


With this principle, we help you align goals and actions, but constantly check-in to monitor you identify.  What do you tell yourself, what sorts of things do you believe about yourself, how can you reframe those thoughts to help you?


All of this is a skill and it comes back to coaching.


Proper exercise selection

There is a big difference between being pushed and being annihilated.  Good coaches know the difference. With virtual training, coaches will still be able to help you scale exercises to something that is challenging for you, but allows you to get better.


Proper communication, feedback, and education aid in this process, which is another pro in the column of coaching.  Things you might hear your coach ask are:

  1. How is that feeling?
  2. Where or what body parts do you feel working?
  3. Is there any pain?
  4. On a scale of 1-10, how difficult was that set or workout?


Appropriate progression

When the time is right, a coach will provide you with new challenges. Maybe at first, doing 3 sets of 10 push ups was a real struggle.  But after some work, you notice that those have gotten a lot easier. Did you win fitness? Is it over?


NO!  The process is about getting better, enjoying your improvement, and being proud of your commitment and discipline you’ve sharpened through all of it.  So of course you’re ready to add some more sets and reps, or start doing them on the floor instead of an incline, or adding some weight/resistance to your movements.  Because that’s who you are!


Form feedback

Something we believe in strongly at ReDefine:RVA is quality of movement (aka form or technique).  This is not something to be “achieved” but something to be worked on and honed over time.


With virtual coaching (1-on-1 or group, which we perform via Zoom), we perform the movements, coach you through them, and are able to see you do them to provide any visual technique cues, as well as giving you auditory cues the whole time.


This way, you can be certain that you are doing the movement right, getting the most out of it and most importantly doing it safely.



At the end of the day, fitness should be an enjoyable process.  Nobody likes getting beat into the ground for no reason! We want to see progress!  We want to get better! Coaches make that happen for you.


Interested in taking advantage of virtual coaching with ReDefine:RVA?  Read more about our virtual training services and schedule yourself a free consultation!