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The Pros and Cons of Online Fitness Training

Joan PabonFeb 22, 2018

So you've meant to get in shape for a while now and finally make the necessary lifestyle changes to look and feel better, but you don't have the time or availability to visit a gym or the money to cover the costs of a personal trainer. Enter online fitness training, a convenient solution for those of us who can barely deal with the responsibilities of daily life to even think about setting aside the time to work out and eat healthily.

Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity."
― John F. Kennedy

The marvels of modern technology now make it possible for us to shop, hang out, go sightseeing, take classes, and do virtually anything we can think of from the comfort of our homes. If you want to be fit, have more energy, and improve your quality of life, doing at least half an hour of physical activity a day is a must. But how do you manage to make time to exercise when your work schedule and social responsibilities prevent you from doing anything other than crumpling in a heap on your bed as soon as you get home? Well, now you can try your hand at being a health nut in the most convenient way possible, without ever setting a foot outside your living room.

Try a general web search, and you'll find countless websites, fitness programs, and mobile applications offering consumers the same services they could get at a gym or local health club. Whether you're looking for one-on-one training, group classes, or diet and nutrition tips, there's a solution that meets your needs and goals right at your fingertips. Some services even let you choose between pre-recorded classes or live sessions and between one-time purchases or monthly subscriptions. Although this online alternative is quite similar to live fitness training at a gym or other facility, there are obvious differences as well as some pros and cons. Let's go over them:

The Pros

Professional Guidance

The main reason to purchase the services of a personal trainer is to receive health and fitness recommendations tailored to your needs and physical condition. Online fitness training gives you just that, quick and easy access to expert advice from certified trainers from around the world, all from the comfort of your home. You can also select a different trainer or workout program if the ones you initially chose don't turn out to be a right fit. As long as you have a stable internet connection that lets you download or stream the workout videos, you're set to go. A little tip for those who want to get the most out of their workout is to opt for a fitness program that creates a personalized routine based on their health profile and long-term goals, particularly one that outlines everything from the type of exercise for specific target areas to sets, repetitions, and even rest times.


Personal training can be expensive, especially if your goal is to work out at least two or three times per week. If there are few certified trainers in your area, their workload will likely factor in their rate, as the chances of a PT charging you an arm and a leg directly correlate to the number of clients, certifications, and years of experience they possess. Online fitness training is an affordable solution to hiring a PT that can yield equal results while costing you much less or even nothing at all. Once you've determined the kind of program you're most likely to follow through with, compare prices and calculate whether single classes or a monthly subscription is the better deal. There are also countless alternatives for those on a tight budget, such as Fitness Blender and BeFit. If you choose a more expensive program, make sure it offers extra services like diet and nutrition recommendations or free trial subscriptions to fitness-related products.


The very best part of online fitness programs is the flexibility of being able to work out when and where you want. These services are ideal for people who work full-time or travel regularly and don't have time to drive to a gym, exercise for an hour or two, and then drive back home exhausted to get ready for the next day. Online fitness also works great for individuals trying to manage conditions like obesity, depression, generalized anxiety, or phobias, who can benefit from engaging in physical activity in a safe, judgment-free environment. If you own little or no equipment and have no intention of buying any, programs like Beachbody's Insanity, which is consists of total body HIIT exercises you can do with your bodyweight alone, can be an ideal alternative.

Dieting and Nutritional Support

Online fitness training programs often include expert advice on diet and nutrition to help you reach your fitness goals without compromising your overall health. If you're looking to lose weight or manage specific health conditions, a balanced diet that excludes processed foods could be right for you. If, on the other hand, you're looking to build muscle or improve muscle tone, a protein-rich diet that incorporates lots of leafy greens may be best. The more comprehensive online fitness programs will offer personalized meal plans based on your individual needs and dietary restrictions. Of course, they'll do the research and initial health evaluation, but the hard work will be on you.

The Cons

Staying Motivated

If you're struggling to find the time to work out and be active, there's a high probability you're easily discouraged or distracted, or perhaps lack the patience to wait for your hard work to yield the desired results. If you need someone to be on your case before you do something, don't have well-defined goals, or are looking to get in shape to impress others instead of improving your health, then following through with a fitness regime will be difficult regardless of whether you opt for live or online training. One-on-one coaching from a real-life trainer may be best if you need a lot of external motivation and additional support. If you're already self-disciplined and only need a little fitness inspiration, the best way to amp up your motivation is to read online reviews or listen to customer testimonials from people who achieved their fitness goals through the same program or service you're interested in.

Valuable Feedback

Another major drawback of online fitness training is that there's no one there to correct your technique. Improper weightlifting form, for example, is associated with serious injuries like strains, fractures, and pelvic organ prolapse in women. Working with a live trainer can minimize those risks, especially for those exercising for the first time in many years, trying to manage pre-existing health conditions, or recovering from a debilitating illness. However, online fitness programs don't have to be any riskier than group classes or one-on-one training with a PT. As long as the participant is willing to take the time to do a bit of extra research to avoid improper postures while working or common mishaps.

In the end, choosing whether to go with online training or an on-site fitness regime will come down to two main factors: your budget and your availability. If you're a motivated self-learner, looking for a cheap alternative to hitting the gym at the end of a long workday, prefer to work out in the privacy of your home, or just want to try something new without having to sign a long-term contract, we suggest you give online fitness training a shot. Regardless of your choice, committing to a new and better version of yourself will be the first and foremost requirement for success. Don't overthink it; just visualize your goal and go for it.