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!

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