If you're finding it hard to keep to an exercise routine while gyms have been closed and you're stuck inside, you're not alone. It's hard to summon the willpower to start working out even though you keep telling yourself this is the week you are getting fit. Perhaps you could use someone to keep you motivated and on track. Maybe you need an online personal trainer to kick your butt into shape.
Having a personal trainer once sounded like something only celebrities could afford. After all, before he created the beloved Power 90 exercise program, Tony Horton was a personal trainer for stars like Bruce Springsteen and Usher. But thanks to the magic of streaming and technology such as Zoom, Facetime and Skype, it's fairly easy to find an affordable personal trainer who can help you craft an exercise routine that will get results. Online personal trainers can customize your program to whatever goals you might have, such as weight loss or building muscle, and many of them can also help create a diet plan as well. (Plus, they don't have to come to your house, which is a nice bonus at the moment.)
How Much Do Online Personal Trainers Charge?
Prices for online personal trainers are extremely variable. Most personal trainers will want a consultation first, in order to see what your needs are and how often you two will be meeting, before they set a price. Many services offer free trials too, just like Netflix, Amazon Prime, or any number of workout apps. Ultimately, the price you pay will be determined based not just on the trainer's rates, but on the program you and your trainer come up with, the frequency of your sessions, and any special focus you might want.
"Working with a personal trainer is typically safer than working out alone, especially if you are newer to exercise. A personal trainer will guide you through the exercises safely, correcting your form to avoid injuries and to provide optimal results," says Alissa Tucker of the online personal training AKT. "A personal trainer can also tailor your workout to meet your exact goals and help keep you accountable and on track, changing up your program as necessary to avoid plateaus. Many of my private clients also claim that they will hit snooze and sleep through a group fitness class, knowing that other people will still be there. A personal training session gets them out of bed because they know the trainer is just showing up for them."
Just like searching for a good therapist, what you're mainly looking for in a personal trainer is a qualified professional who you click with. It's okay if your first attempt doesn't quite work for you, just as long as you try again. That's why it's especially good that trainers offer free trial periods, because you can give them a try without any financial commitment.
"Just because you have a personal trainer to keep you accountable doesn’t mean you will always be motivated to workout," Tucker says. "To help set yourself up for success, find a workout that you actually enjoy, then look for personal trainers who specialize in that type of workout. If you usually go to boutique fitness studios, reach out to your favorite studio as many trainers are currently offering virtual personal training.”
One final piece of advice before you start your search: "It’s also important to ask potential personal trainers what certifications they have, as anyone can call themselves a personal trainer," says Tucker. "NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) and ACE are two accredited and well-known personal training certifications."
We asked people in the fitness field who they think the best online personal trainers are. Here's who they recommend.
Best Online Personal Trainers
Chris Knighton is a track and field coach from Boston, and a consistent top 10 finisher in road and mountain-ultra-trail races in New England. "I've worked with innumerable athletes, runners, and personal trainers over my career, but what makes Meg Julian stand apart as a go-to online personal trainer is the level of dedication, effort, and time she puts into helping her client base," he says. She offers a two-week free trial.
"With over a decade of experience, Meg's programs are incredibly knowledgeable, detailed, and vary based on her clients' equipment, travel plans, fitness goals (e.g. ski season, running, etc.) or work schedule," he adds. "She never reuses programs from one client to the next; everything is incredibly personalized."
Julian is a Boston-based NASM and Precision Nutrition Certified Personal Trainer. As Knighton points out, "she also has a policy of accountability where she checks in every other day via text, phone, or Zoom to ensure her clients are staying on track with their fitness or nutrition goals. I have not seen many online trainers invest this amount of time and effort into their clients' success, and it speaks to her dedication as both a trainer and a person."
If you're not sure if online exercise classes are your whole deal, or you want to dip your toes in before committing, then try sampling some free classes first. Carly James, a UK fitness instructor and writer for Fitness Authority, is a fan of Joe Wicks, otherwise known as The Body Coach.
"He’s best known for his Lean in 15 books that look to provide quick and healthy meals for those with busy lifestyles in just, you guessed it, 15 minutes," she says. "He's really active on YouTube offering free workouts. His workouts are guided towards a positive mental attitude and health and I really like that about him."
Are you weary of celebrity endorsements when it comes to fitness? Especially when they come from Thor? So was James. "I was skeptical about Centr at first with it being Chris Hemsworth's as the poster boy so if anything I was looking at it with overly critical eyes, but, it's actually a well thought out, easy to use platform," she says.
"The phone app has a clean presentation and is easy to use. The daily workouts come in a whole range of categories from slower paced yoga up to the faster paced 'Body Pump' classes, in a mix of live classes, coached and self guided," she adds. "There is a surprising amount of content for a new app also for things like meal plans, all of which can be changed and tracked at the flick of a button in your daily diary. There is a feature to create a shopping list in the meal plans and articles too, something I've never seen before. You simply go to the ingredient from a meal and 'add to shopping list,' you then use that list next time you're in the shops and add the meal to your diary. It's really quite intuitive."
As a nice bonus, James adds that "it’s pretty cheap also, $10 a month with a seven-day free trial."
There are songwriters’ songwriters and actors’ actors — the type of people who have a mastery of their craft and the respect of their peers. Jonathan Jordan is a San Francisco-based personal trainer, group fitness instructor and nutrition coach, and in his opinion, the personal trainer's personal trainer is Jonathan Goodman, founder of theptdc.com. His website is more oriented towards helping other personal trainers, but there are plenty of articles and videos for anyone looking to pick up a few tricks.
"There no one better qualified in the world of online personal training than Jonathan Goodman. He literally wrote the book on it. His first book, Ignite the Fire, is like the Bible for personal trainers across the world. He perfected the model for online personal training well before its time and has become mentor and luminary in the space," Jordan says. "Building on the success of his web site theptdc.com he launched the first online personal training certification and continues to be one of the most sought after trainers by both personal trainers and the general population. He's the man!"
Grant Higginson is a digital marketing consultant in Alberta, Canada, and the founder of Welby Consulting. He's also a former personal trainer, and he calls Curtis Howden of GYMVMT "one of the best personal trainers I've ever worked with. His attention to functional fitness that gets results is second-to-none as is showcased by his own results as an Olympic lifter." Membership starts at $19.95, billed biweekly if you just want to stream the classes, and you have 14 days to cancel and receive a full refund. Personal trainer sessions cost more, depending on what you are looking for.
He adds that Howden comes with "15 years of experience actively training people and developing personal trainers in an effort to help people realize, attain and regain their physical freedom. He is record-holding Olympic weightlifter and powerlifting coach that uses his skillset to take people recovering from injury to the best shape of their life."