What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the words “fitness training”? Is it rooms full of strange machines, Gatorade, and intimidating bodybuilders? If that was ever the case for you, it may not be so for much longer. A current generalized lack of interest in going to gyms or fitness studios coupled with the rise of the internet in the 21st century has recently thrust online fitness programs into the limelight. Soon, the mental picture you'll get upon hearing those words might be of a computer or cellphone screen in a living room.
How Do Online Fitness Programs Work?
Online fitness programs are more or less the same thing as their in-person counterparts: a series of planned workouts designed for customers to reach specific goals, be it weight loss or strength training. The main difference between both is, as might be expected, that one takes place in a gym or fitness studio while the other is entirely virtual. However, how each independent program works will depend on their target area and focus.
Most online fitness programs work how you'd expect them to: you go online when you have the time for it and follow a trainer’s instructions. Other programs are pre-recorded video series or packages that may be updated or re-released every so often. Some online fitness services even include one-on-one live chats with their coaches so they can see what you’re doing and give you suggestions as you exercise.
Why Online Programs Have Taken the Fitness Industry By Storm
People lead busy lives, and not everyone has the time or money to regularly visit a gym. Some think the cost of a gym subscription and the additional hassle of having to drive there just isn’t worth it. Others don’t even see it as an alternative—studying, restrictive work hours, or family responsibilities would make it impossible to set time aside from their daily routines for physical activity. Moreover, some people would rather stay away from gyms entirely in order to avoid “gym culture,” or the large number of people who visit them. Because of this general aversion to traditional gym settings, a large influx of people have turned to online fitness programs to meet their lifestyle needs.
In general, there are two main reasons for the massive surge of interest in online training programs: convenience and cost.Because you don’t have to show up anywhere in particular and can choose to work out whenever it’s most convenient for you, it’s significantly easier for people under time constraints to participate in online fitness programs. If your program has an app, it can be as easy as taking your phone or tablet wherever you want and starting the software when you’re ready. The flexibility of being able to choose what your online program consists of and which coach you want to train with ensures you have a higher margin of satisfaction. Additionally, some programs will let customers track their progress step-by-step with visual aids like graphs and 3D models.
Online fitness programs are also considerably more affordable than hiring a personal trainer to meet with you in-person. In fact, online trainers charge as little as $20 a month for their services as opposed to live coaches, who can charge up to $100 an hour. Online trainers can charge such modest rates because they spend considerably less money than they would meeting their clients in person.
Are Gyms and Studios a Thing of the Past Now?
Well, not necessarily. Thanks to the current technological climate, the accessibility and demand of online fitness programs has never been greater. Computers are becoming more and more portable, while smartphones have been creating the ideal environment for these kinds of programs to prosper. In 2014, health and fitness app usage grew at a rate of 87%, much faster than other industries. However, just because online programs are easier to get into than becoming a regular at your local gym or studio, it doesn’t mean the latter have lost all value.
Think about the lack of a physical presence if your program is virtual. You’ll have no trainer to let you know if your form is wrong, which might increase your chances of getting injured. If your online program’s trainer(s) have a lot of clients, you could have to wait longer for their feedback than if you had someone beside you. And if you’re not used to working out, it might be harder to get motivated when you're all by yourself—you'll have to hold yourself accountable when deciding to join an online program.
Online fitness programs are good choice for anyone who wants the comfort of a personalized, convenient alternative to visiting a gym or hiring a live personal trainer. Just keep in mind they are not for everyone; if you want to see results, you'll need to be responsible and pay attention to what your program is telling you.What is certain is that personal trainers from all around the world are adapting to this market shift and adjusting to meet the industry's needs. Online fitness training isn't going anywhere anytime soon, and it might just be the new face of the fitness industry.