Online personal training vs in-person training: which one is right for me?

Posted by Dayne Hudson in Muscle Building

Estimated reading time: 8mins

Online personal trainers versus in person

The first question you have to ask yourself is “How experienced am I?

If the answer to that is not at all, then that’s an indication of what comes next.

The second question is “What do I want to achieve?

If your goal is cardiorespiratory fitness, then an online personal trainer should suffice (and be far cheaper!) given the techniques behind running (and its variations like sprinting) are generally not too complicated and most people have an idea of how to do it immediately.

However, if your goal is muscular development and strength, then a personal trainer with extensive experience in resistance training is obviously what you need.

The third question to ask yourself is “Do I find instructional videos easy to learn from?” If the answer is yes, then get off to a start by diving in with an online personal trainer.

The fourth question should be: “Am I successful in sticking to something when left to my own devices?

If the answer is “yes”, then you’ll find an online personal trainer should give you everything you need.

Online personal trainers - the pros

For example, the barbell squat is a great exercise that can be challenging to even the most seasoned gym-goers.

But the good news is, there are many great videos online that show you how to do them well.

So jump on and have a look. Watch it through once, and then again stop and starting it as you need to. This is a completely FREE option you can utilise at your OWN pace.

Also, you can try this in the comfort of your own home with a simple pole or even a broomstick to squat with to get the feeling right.

Other exercises like the deadlift can be challenging, along with the feeling of how to bench press with confidence.

When you sign up to an online personal training program, ensure the exercises come with “how-to” explanation videos. Try them out for yourself.

Online Personal Trainer

You might find that they are very easy for you to follow. And if that’s the case, then you’re off, at a far cheaper price than training with an in-person PT.

And the real benefit of an online PT is the cost effectiveness: you can sign up to an online personal trainer for as little as $30 per month.

BUT! If there’s some exercises you can’t do, consider booking an in-person personal trainer for 3-5 sessions to show you the exercises you’re stuck with.

You get the best of both worlds, for a MUCH cheaper cost.

And this is where the benefit is: an in-person personal trainer is around $60-100 dollars per session.

And you can do 2-3 sessions a week with them, but after that you’re on your own (due to the cost, not many people are going 5 days a week!)

So at its cheapest, you’re looking at ($60 x 3) $180 for three sessions a week, which is the same as six months with an online personal trainer!

Moreover, online PTs generally do live videos in their Facebook groups to give more support, and send you articles along the way detailing why what you’re doing will bring results. You tend to feel like you’re a part of something.

Online personal trainers - the cons

Some online personal trainers will simply sell you a PDF with not enough instructions on how to do exercises.

Make sure before signing up, there’s an app that’s interactive, and that you get the support you need via a Facebook group or direct contact with them.

Some programs might simply take your money and not really be interested in how you’re progressing. Some are better than others here, and those who have mastered the art of letting you train, but supporting you when you need to, are those who are generally very popular and with good results.

Make sure your online fitness trainer has great ‘how-to’ instructional videos.
Make sure your online fitness trainer has great ‘how-to’ instructional videos.

Do your homework: make sure that you can contact them for support and your exercises come with very detailed explanations.

Again, if you’re someone who needs one on one support to actually show up and do the work, then an online personal trainer isn’t for you.

Having frequented gyms for over 12 years, I know of just about every type of client there is.

And many of them simply won’t do it if they haven’t paid for a personal trainer. They love hearing from them via text message, and having them encourage them to come and train; then taking them through a workout from start to finish.

If you like that and it’s non-negotiable, then an online personal trainer isn’t for you.

In-person personal trainers, the pros

Some of the in-person personal trainers are very methodical and structured with their approach. Moreover, they are there in person, encouraging you, and correcting your form in a pleasant manner.

If you’re just starting out, this is what you need. After three-six months, transitioning to an online personal trainer is then an option for you.

But the added benefit is that once you’ve paid for an in-person trainer, some of them are really good at making sure you’re working at your maximal potential, and that of course, you turn up and do the workout.

Some people might sign up to an online PT course and not do it. That’s why they need to have someone in person that messages them along the lines of: “get down to the gym for your session now!”

If that’s you, then you know your answer.

The other thing is you can just turn up, and just do the workout and listen and react. That’s enticing for some people.

In-person personal trainers, the cons

Again, having frequented gyms for so long, I’ve seen every type of personal trainer there is.

There are those that are inexperienced but look fantastic, and get away with charging $100 per hour when trainers I know that are LEAPS and BOUNDS above them charge about $60.

There are others (sometimes they’re the same person) that have simply gone and done their qualifications, and know next to nothing about the principles behind muscle growth, adequate nutritional strategies, and basic weight loss principles.

The reality is that in the fitness industry, the bar for entry is low. And there are all sorts of trainers making up the numbers.

My best advice would be to ask three seasoned gym-goers at your gym who they think is best.

This is someone you see is clearly experienced, in great shape, and turns up consistently. This means they’ve paid attention to the trainers there (even subconsciously) and will be able to give you the best recommendation based on who you are and what you’re after.

Ask experienced gym-goers who are there consistently about which personal trainers they’d recommend.
Ask experienced gym-goers who are there consistently about which personal trainers they’d recommend.

Every gym has one to three really good personal trainers. The rest I’ve personally always been underwhelmed with.

They provide the same workout to the same clients, and given you pay their hourly rate 2-3 times a week, it’s likely not really worth it for some of them.

Sure, there with you in person, but that money might be spent with a better personal trainer, with you then transitioning online afterwards.

And when you’re not with them, you’re on your own in the gym. And that’s not favorable for a lot of people.

So who are you going to choose?

Before deciding on an in-person or online personal trainer, ask yourself four questions:

  • How experienced am I?
  • What do I want to achieve?
  • Do I find instructional videos easy to learn from?
  • Am I successful in sticking to something when I'm left to my own devices?

That should help guide your answer. If you need someone with you to ensure you do the work, then find a GOOD personal trainer and utilise them. But if you’re self-motivated and can learn from an online platform, an online personal trainer is much more cost-effective. A great balance (and cost-effective approach) might be to sign up to an online platform if you’re a newbie, and purchase 2-5 in-person training sessions to ensure you can operate alone afterwards.

group of product images for proteins
group of product images for proteins