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What is online training? It’s a term that’s being tossed around a lot in the fitness industry lately. With the increase in technology and the explosion of social media, everything is being offered online, including fitness. With the evolution of online training, online instruction has never been easier to access. However, it comes with the good and the bad. We took a look at some of the ways to intake fitness offered online, as well as the pros and cons for both the client and the instructor. Here's what we discovered. 

Live Video Training

What: Real-time personal training through an online video platform such as Skype or FaceTime.


  • Each workout is personalized to address the client’s current fitness level and goals

  • The trainer is able to teach proper form

  • It holds the client accountable

  • The program can be altered if injuries arise


  • Requires people to have the equipment and/ or space

  • The trainer can’t demonstrate exercises or physically touch the client to queue them

  • The instructor can only work with one person at a time so it’s expensive for the client

PDF Workouts

What: Images pieced together for a step by step visual image. This can be individualized but the trend is to create a general program.  


  • Not expensive for the client if it's a generic program

  • The coach can create one program and then sell it to as many clients as they want

  • Gives clients a visual of the exercise without having interacted with the instructor  

  • A less labor-intensive business model

  • Coaches are not relying on one client as a source of income


  • Not as personalized

  • Accountability is low

  • Can’t be altered in case of injury

  • Exercises can be done improperly with no correction


Video-Based Workouts

What: Use online training apps such as Trainerize or Train Heroic to create workouts that include videos of exercises. The videos can be uploaded by the trainer manually or via YouTube.


  • It can be customized

  • It shows clients proper form and you can use audio to explain the movement

  • It can be used with accountability settings when workouts are completed

  • It can create an additional leveraged revenue stream for coaches


  • Not as personalized compared to video training

  • Low accountability

  • Trainers can’t correct form in real-time

  • Takes more time to create

Generalized online PDF and video programming can be subscription-based for the masses and sold online. Recently there has been a rise in GIFS in online training, creating a clean-looking movement that loops continuously.

When combined with the popularity of social media, online training is becoming an increasingly popular style of training. Social media gives instructors the ability to market themselves to a worldwide audience and monetize their exercise programs.

There is a lot invested in trying to keep people at home for exercise.  There is a market for at-home workouts and a market for brick-and-mortar facilities.

Each one will appeal to different types of people.  For example, many people have a fear of walking into a gym.  It can be very intimidating, especially if you’ve never exercised before. Online training offers a way to exercise without making people feel self-conscious.  

However, many of these people may be doing exercise movements incorrectly leading to injury.  They may also fail at creating consistent habit due to lack of accountability.

Live streaming has become a popular way of offering fitness at home.  Companies have created live streaming and on-demand workouts.  

More and more people are realizing that running and biking doesn’t work for weight loss, muscle gain and increasing strength. It’s great to see so many people being exposed to fitness through new technology and online workouts.  

In my experience as a trainer in-person and online, I’ve found that generalized online programs lack accountability and proper instruction.  An online fitness service that prioritizes both will help people maximize performance, minimize injury and empower them towards their goals.  

As a fitness professional I believe the future of online exercise workouts will include movement assessments to screen clients for potential injuries before they even start training. That, combined with accountability software, will create a personalized online program that blends the benefits of in-person training with online fitness.

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