Will virtual personal training help me get fit?

Since March 2020 I haven't been able to consistently train my clients in person or at the gym thanks to a little something called a global pandemic. The gym being shut for almost a year has meant for so many personal trainers we have had to transition as many clients as we can online. It has been a massive learning curve.

There is a lot of scepticism when it comes to online training and when it came transitioning my clients over, I had lots of conversations about how the sessions would run and what online training with me would be like. Since then I have also been fortunate enough to take on some brand new online clients as well.

In this blog I'm going to cover off what it is actually like to work with a personal trainer online, what are some of the benefits, what you might need and also what you can expect before your very first online personal training session. This will hopefully provide some insight into the world of online training and whether this might be something you'd like to try for yourself in the future.

Will it get me fit?

This is probably the number one thing clients are thinking before working with a trainer online, will this actually get me fit. Let's talk through some of the benefits there are to working virtually with a coach.

Even though you're not working with a personal trainer in the flesh you're still getting one to one personalised workout sessions. The trainer is looking at your goals and ability level and is putting together a workout that will benefit you. This is no different to how it works when you're training a client in person, you're programming for the person in front of you.

There are fewer distractions in the virtual world than on the gym floor, apart from the odd delivery guy and over excited pet. You're not having to work around other clients or trainers or the general public. This means for the most part sessions can run exactly to plan and you'll more than likely get a lot more done during the session.

There's also no risk that the next client who's booked in might turn up early for their sessions, nobody can gatecrash a 121 Zoom call. This means you're getting the full attention of your trainer for the hour you've got scheduled in. What's not to love about that?

Working with someone one to one is also a lot safer than following workout videos you've found online. There's no guarantee these are appropriate for you and you can run the risk that with nobody watching you, you could end up hurting yourself. Even over Zoom or Skype, your trainer is going to be watching you move during each rep of each exercise, giving you demonstrations and teaching points and corrections throughout. If they see something is too challenging or they're not happy with your form, they can offer you alternative exercises or regress the exercise to make it safe.

How is it different?

Of course there are differences to training in the gym, some clients have limited space and little or no equipment to use. This makes for much more creative session planning. This will include playing around with how the workout is structured, changes to things like the tempo of the exercise (how fast or slow they want you to do different phases of the movement) and generally making the workouts as fun as they possibly can. The trainers job is to focus on what you do have, the space available to use and work around any potential issues that might crop up when exercising at home.

The sessions are also more intimate as you're both at home and there is more privacy between the client and the trainer. This means you can have more open conversations, get to know your client and trainer better and build a stronger relationship with them.

You get to pick the soundtrack. Rather than having to listen to a generic gym tempo playlist or music you hate, you're in control of the playlist and every workout can have a different soundtrack to suit your mood. I know for my clients this has been a personal highlight of our virtual sessions.

What do I need?

A trainer will work with what you've got, our job is to structure a workout that is suitable for your ability and what you have access to. In reality, all you need is yourself. Everything else can be worked around. You'll need enough space to move around in, a mat is a good indicator of space. You'll need an even surface, some trainers (or bare foot will work) and a glass of water. Simple as that.

During the pandemic I have trained clients in their gardens, basements, bedrooms, kitchens and even on the street in front of their house. Whatever space you have available, we can use.

What happens before my first PT session?

You will no doubt be contacted by the trainer on email or maybe on a phone or video call to have a quick chat about you, your goals and what it is you want to get from working with a personal trainer. They will want to know about your exercise background and history and what your overall lifestyle is like. They might also ask what equipment, if any, you have available for them to use when training with you.

After that you may be offered a taster session at a reduced rate from a 121 PT session, as is often the case with face to face sessions. This allows you to meet the trainer and experience a virtual PT session before you commit to buying any sessions or packages they might offer. This also allows the trainer to see how you move and where your current fitness level is at which is really helpful once they start designing workouts for you to do either for 121 sessions or online through their training platform.

They should also send over a Par-Q form for you to fill out prior to your first session with them. This form is to make them aware of any injuries or anything from a health perspective they might need to know about. Once they have that and rule out any need to refer you to get your GP's permission to exercise, you can get cracking.

I don't have any equipment, is it worth it?

You would be surprised at how much stuff you have lying around the house we can use, there are so many normal household items you can use as makeshift weights such as; books, tins, or bottles (plastic not glass) you can put these into rucksacks and use them for all kinds of different exercises. You can also use tea towels as makeshift sliders for laminate and wooden floors. Stairs are great for step ups and triceps dips. Sofas, worktops, tables and chairs can all be used to create a home gym.

You'll be surprised at how many household items that can be used for exercising purposes, the more creative the trainer you work with the better.

I hope this has given you a good idea of what it is like to work with a personal trainer virtually. This past year has been a challenging one for us all and I know how important being able to keep active has been for my clients during this time.

If you'd like to have a chat about virtual sessions or arrange a taster to see what it's all about, get in touch.

You can find out more about training with me here.

If you want to have a look at some of my workout videos and online content, follow me on Instagram.

Here is just a snippet of some of the brilliant virtual PT sessions I have done with my clients since Lockdown began in march!