Fitness Technology

Here’s What It’s Like to Work Out With a Virtual Personal Trainer

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Photo: Getty Images/Khosrork

It’s safe to say that COVID-19 has changed the way we do a lot of things in our day-to-day lives in order to keep ourselves and others healthy. We stay home 24/7. We wear masks to go to the grocery store. We do our own nails. And let’s not forget washing our hands 19 times per day.

Another thing that’s changed is how we exercise. With gyms and fitness studios closed for the foreseeable future, we’ve had to get creative with how we move our bodies. Some folks have splurged on at-home spin bikes. Others lace up their running shoes and hit the pavement, while some swear by workout apps.

All are great options, but nothing quite compares to working with a personal trainer. Due to social distancing, though, meeting up with a trainer IRL isn’t doable right now. The personal training industry has had to adjust accordingly and take all sessions virtually. “Unlike a normal conference call where you just sit and stare at the screen, [a virtual personal training session] requires you to jump around, perform some movements on the floor, and the occasional burpee,” says NASM-certified personal trainer Danny Saltos.

Virtual personal training is not new, however. Personal trainers have been coaching people from around the globe privately or in small groups remotely for a long time. The difference is now this is the only way to work with a personal trainer.

If you’re curious about what working with a virtual personal trainer entails, keep reading to learn about cost, benefits, and tips on finding the right trainer for you.

Benefits of working with a virtual personal trainer

The benefits of working with a personal trainer virtually are mostly the same as working with them in person with the bonus of convenience.

Injury prevention

When you’re exercising, no matter what type of workout you’re doing, injury prevention is super important, and a trainer will help with that. During a session, Saltos says, “a trainer will make sure that your workouts are safe and completely tailored to you and your fitness level so that you see progress and avoid injury.”

Accountability

When it comes to staying consistent with a goal, there needs to be some skin in the game and a way to be kept accountable, and that’s precisely what personal training provides. “You might be able to find an excuse why you don’t want to work out, but when you have a trainer, you are less likely to bail on him or her,” Saltos says. They are there to guide you and motivate you every step of the way—and let’s be honest, that’s half the battle.

Results with no guesswork

One of the most significant benefits of working with a personal trainer, virtually or in person, are the results they help you achieve. A trainer, says Allison Kimmel, an NYC-based personal trainer, will give you a full evaluation and get to know your background (i.e. injuries, health issues, etc.) and goals and come up with a plan for you to achieve those goals as efficiently as possible.

It’s convenient

And lastly, when you work out with a virtual personal trainer, there’s no commute, which makes it easier to squeeze into your schedule. You can literally roll out of bed, slip into your favorite workout gear, and be ready to rock within minutes.

How to find the right virtual personal trainer

Search on Instagram

Instagram is a gold mine for finding personal trainers. The cool part about finding them this way is that you can take a peek at their profile and Stories and get to know them and their training style to see if it jives with you before you even reach out.

Look for credentials

Digging your personal trainer’s vibe is essential, but it’s also necessary to look for someone who has legit credentials, so you know you’re in good hands. “Trainers should be certified and have several years of experience,” says Kimmel. “Many reputable trainers have testimonials on their websites or social media.”

Try out a few different trainers before committing

Like with any long-term relationship, finding “the one” can take some time. “When looking for the right trainer, I like to treat it like dating,” Saltos says. “You might find the right trainer right out the gate on the ‘first date,’ and sometimes you have to go on a few dates before finding Mr. or Mrs. Right. When you find the right trainer, you’ll know it. That trainer will listen to you, give you a great workout, and make you feel better by the end of the session.”

The cost of working with a virtual personal trainer

With a personal trainer, you’re getting valuable one-on-one attention, so it’s going to be a bit pricier than, say, a group workout class at a studio. The cost will vary depending on the level of experience of the trainer and the length of the training session, which can typically run for 30-60 minutes.

But, to give you a ballpark figure, Saltos says, “On the lower end, some trainers charge $60-70 per live session, and on the higher end you are probably looking at $100-$150 per live session.”

The downside of working with a personal trainer virtually versus IRL

Doing things face to face is always nice, but according to Saltos, working with a personal trainer virtually really isn’t much different from an in-person session. The main downsides are that the trainer isn’t able to give hands-on form corrections for moves you haven’t tried before, and that there can occasionally be technical difficulties that disrupt a session.

“I have found that I am still able to maintain the intimacy of the experience and the quality of the service virtually,” Kimmels says. “So many of my clients tell me they were apprehensive about the idea of virtual training at first, but now they love having it as part of their routine.”

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