Is Online Fitness Training the Right Fit for You?
The days of boutique studios and fancy gyms being the only luxe ways to workout are over. Today, the effort of leaving your house and wasting time traveling to the gym to squeeze in your fitness isn’t necessary. Startups, including Mirror, Peloton, and Tonal promise the ease of boutique fitness in the comfort of your home. While most of these startups require you to purchase their own brand’s equipment to stream the workouts, others, like Daily Burn, allow you to pay for streaming classes, no extra equipment necessary. As a trainer, you might be wondering: with the current popularity of in-home training, should I start offering virtual training? Some trainers have made the jump and found it to be a seamless and successful transition.
I sat down with Darian Parker, PhD, NSCA-CPT and co-founder of Epic Leisure Management who trains his clients virtually. He has been a trainer for 18 years but began training clients virtually two years ago after realizing that his clients’ travel was negatively affecting their training. Parker said “the majority of [the people I train] are high-end clients so they are often on the move for weeks at a time for business and vacation. Every time they would come back from a long stint of work/play we would have to take steps backwards in their fitness program.” Parker began offering virtual sessions through Skype, FaceTime, and Whatsapp, and realized that the demand was there. Today, he trains all of his clients virtually.
Parker has been happy with exclusively training online as it offers him and his clients flexibility that would not be possible in a brick and mortar studio. He said that teaching virtual sessions requires one to have “excellent verbal instruction” in order to cue movement progressions, as well as being a lively conversationalist to keep the session entertaining. “You are in essence in a tunnel with the person with no real distraction or white noise around so you really have to be on your game every second of the session,” Parker explained.
There are pros and cons for training clients online. Pros include the flexibility of scheduling sessions: you can train anywhere at pretty much anytime. Parker noted that scheduling makeup sessions isn’t a headache and you have the potential to train a much wider audience. If you value flexibility in your work schedule and have a naturally gregarious personality, online training could be a natural fit for you.
The cons of training online include the lack of physical contact with clients and the loss of a normal gym environment. As Parker explained, you need to have a strong ability to rely on verbal cueing skills in place of a more hands-on approach. Also crucial are conversation and listening skills. If you can’t imagine giving up on the in-person connection you create with clients or the ability to provide tactile cuing for exercise progressions, then it might not be for you.
As for necessary equipment to have on hand for the session, besides the requisite phone or iPad, Parker says he likes his clients to have a set of dumbbells, a kettlebell, a BOSU® balance trainer, mini-bands, and sometimes a slam ball. This may change, depending on your style of training. Instructors interested in exploring the virtual space should test out affordable products that clients can purchase for in-home use. Instructors should also consider products to assist with making the virtual experience seamless. For example, Parker uses a tripod to adjust the camera and angles of viewing. He recommends using wireless earbuds for ease of movement and to keep the sound between yourself and the client.
Online training is exploding, and it doesn’t seem like just a passing fad. Consider the above tips if you decide to offer it to your clients so you’re prepared. Although virtual training may require some adjustments in your training style, it may help you expand your business and provide a new revenue stream.