6 Benefits of Working With an Online Personal Trainer and How to Find the Right One for You
Our content strives to support, inform, and motivate you to meet your health goals. We want to be your trusted source of expert- and science-backed info dispensed in simple, actionable ways. Read our Editorial Guidelines.
For many people, a personal trainer means: expensive hourly fees, commuting to and working out in a gym, and the headache of scheduling and budgeting. It doesn’t have to be that way!
You can get an expert-created training plan, workouts customized to your goals and environment, feedback and adjustments based on your progression, usually for less cost and more convenience when you work with an online personal trainer. And, you have someone there to check in and assess your progress on a regular basis. What’s not to love?
We’ll discuss the many benefits of an online personal trainer, how to find the right trainer for you, plus the best apps that connect you with one-on-one personal training.
The Benefits of Working With an Online Personal Trainer
Most people think you have to work with a personal trainer face to face, but online personal trainers provide many of the same benefits plus a few extra perks.
Personalized, Regular Check-Ins
Joel Silva, ACE-certified personal trainer who trains clients with Kickoff, provides daily accountability for his online clients.
“I have in-person clients and online clients, but I see that my online clients are the people who get the most accountability,” says Silva. “Because it’s online, you check in every day and remind them about the workout coming up, or just see how they’re doing. That accountability is stronger for online personal training.”
App, email, or text messages make it easy for online personal trainers to send daily workout reminders, and make it easy for you to share post-workout progress with your trainer so they can make any necessary modifications to your plan.
When you work with a personal trainer, you get workouts that are customized to you and your goals. You may need to rehab an injury and, while you mend, your trainer can create workouts that don't exacerbate that injury. If you want to run a fast mile, your trainer can give you running workouts that help you build the speed and endurance you need to crush that personal record.
With a traditional, in-person training session, you schedule a time to meet with the trainer, drive to the gym, find a parking place, complete the workout, then drive home. When you work with an online personal trainer, you choose when and where you want to work out.
You can carry your online personal trainer with you in your pocket. When you travel and don’t have any equipment or access to a hotel gym, your trainer can create workouts that suit your environment.
A personal trainer at a gym has access to different types of equipment, and can leverage that for variety. But, barbells, pull-up bars, and weight machines aren’t necessary to create effective, lively workouts that fly by.
“Most people assume that you’re just going to be doing a bunch of bicep curls, but no, I have so many exercises that you can do and so many different types of movements,” says Silva. “If you don’t like something, we don’t have to do it. We can figure out something else to work that particular muscle. A good personal trainer can be creative and have you enjoy the workout.”
Use what you have at home to get started. Communicate with your trainer about what you have, even if it’s just a jump rope, a gallon of milk, and a yoga mat. Your trainer might recommend investing in dumbbells or a kettlebell as you build strength, but don’t stress about kitting out your garage with workout gear.
Online personal trainers may offer live training sessions or ask you to send them videos of you working out to make sure you complete the exercises with proper form. Set up your smartphone on a tripod, record the session, and share the video via an app like Kickoff or through the cloud.
This comes in handy if lunges cause knee pain or your back hurts when you plank. Your trainer can watch you perform these moves and give you form tips, ways to modify moves as you build strength, and even assign corrective exercises to fix any muscle imbalances. While an online personal trainer isn’t in the room with you, they can share resources and expertise to teach you how to exercise safely.
Good personal trainers also guide their clients to build fitness gradually. “When we get motivated, we want to do a lot right away, but you might be ready to do a lot right away,” says Silva.
Injury and burnout often result when you do too much too fast — you amp up the intensity, duration, or frequency… or all three at the same time. We get it; endorphins feel good and feeling stronger or slimmer or faster motivates you. Keep your trainer in the loop about your eager-beaver ambition and let them make any adjustments to your plan so you don’t risk an injury or plateau.
An online personal trainer may be more affordable than an in-person trainer. You may get a month’s worth of sessions with an online personal trainer for the cost of a single in-person training session.
You get more check-ins and increase accountability for the price you pay an online personal trainer vs. an in-person trainer.
The first step to working with an online personal trainer is to understand the benefits. Next, we’ll show you how to find the right personal trainer for your personality and goals.
How to Choose the Right Online Personal Trainer
Before you search for an online personal trainer, ask yourself what motivates you. Do you need frequent reminders, tough love, positive affirmations, the month’s plan laid out in advance, weekly face-to-face check-ins? Write down what’s worked for your personality and learning style in the past. Think back to your school days: did you complete the extra credit assignments or do the bare minimum to pass?
The extra-credit person would likely benefit from a longer-term layout of their workouts and nutrition plan, and might need praise every other day or once a week from their trainer when they achieve daily milestones. The “bare minimum” person might pay more attention to daily text messages with their workout of the day and quick tips.
Finding the right personal trainer for your personality and learning style can motivate you to stick with it.
Ask About Their Story
One of the quickest ways to know if you match with an online personal trainer: ask about their story. Silva suggests, “Ask them how they got into the industry. Find out what made them become a trainer. It will give you a good background for that person to learn if they line up with your goals.”
Work with a trainer who can empathize with where you’re starting and has experience with achieving the goal you’re going after.
Ask About Their Training Style
Some want a trainer who motivates them by pushing them to do more, while others might feel shamed and start avoiding workouts and check-ins with their trainer. Whether you want support and positivity or someone with drill-sergeant vibes, there’s an online trainer out there to match your needs.
Talk About Your Own Goals
If you’re not yet sure about your goal, think about where you want to be six months or a year from now. Consider what you hope to feel and look like, and what you hope your body can do.
Base your goal around something measurable and achievable. If you want to improve your cardiovascular health, your goal could be to start a run/walk routine that can get you ready to run your first 5k. If you want to burn fat and build muscle, circuit workouts that combine high-intensity cardio and resistance training combined with diet and other lifestyle changes can be part of the plan.
You get to decide your goal. Your personal trainer should support you on your journey and give you the plan you need to reach your goal. Talking about your goal with them can help you figure out if they’re the right personal trainer for you.
Where You Can Find the Best Online Personal Trainers
When you’re ready to start, finding an online personal trainer can be as straightforward as downloading an app and signing up. These apps, rated with four stars and up by users, provide easy access to online personal trainers.
App store rating: 4.9 (1.2k reviews)
Google play rating: 4.4 (134 reviews)
Disclaimer: This is our app!
Kickoff understands that real results require real human relationships. Kickoff matches you with the right coach for your needs, goals, and personal preferences. The workout demonstrations you see on the app are done by real people, not just fitness models. You choose what accountability options you need, which decides the price you pay. Kickoff starts at just $95 a month, with the option to add live workouts for just $27 per session.
Workouts are customized to your goals, needs, and equipment so you can get started right away
You get matched with a trainer based on your goals and personality
Consistent communication with your personal trainer through text messaging
Personalized nutrition recommendations are included
While nutrition suggestions are offered, you’re not working directly with a dietitian or nutrition expert (yet! Stay tuned for added nutrition features in the near future.)
App store rating: 4.9 (5.4k reviews)
Google play rating: n/a (0 reviews)
Future provides daily in-app messaging with your coach and syncs with Apple Watches. Schedule a Facetime call with your personal trainer before you start. If you’re looking for meal plans or advice for healthy eating, this app doesn’t have it. Starting at $149 per month, Future has a similar price to other plans on the market but offers fewer benefits for that price.
Get started right away with customized workouts based on the equipment and time you have
Can pause your membership for up to three months without canceling or losing your trainer
Get new workouts weekly, so you never get bored
Consistent, daily check-ins for accountability
Syncs with Apple Watch
Apple Watch required for tracking
No nutritional advice
App store rating: 5 (2 reviews)
Google play rating: n/a (0 reviews)
Forge Fitness offers in-app personalized fitness coaching and nutrition. Their plans start at $125 per month and go up to $225 for the premium plan. The basic plan offers users customized workouts and meal plan, plus unlimited messaging with their coach. Even with the most basic plan, you get a monthly 1:1 phone or video call with your personal trainer.
All workouts include an in-app video demonstration of the exercises
Start with whatever workout equipment you have, right at home
No contract, no long-term commitment
Registered dietitian on staff
Every plan includes a 1:1 phone or video call
Unlimited messaging with your trainer
No money-back guarantee, although you can cancel any time with 10-day notice
Meal plans for some dietary restrictions must be purchased as an additional cost
You don’t get to choose your trainer but are assigned one based on your goals
App store rating: 4.6 (285 reviews)
Google play rating: 3.7 (62 reviews)
Flexit is a little different than the other programs on this list. Flexit offers live, digital coaching. Instead of doing workouts on your own, you do them with your trainer online. You can mix and match who you work with to fit your health needs, including personal trainers, nutritionists, physical therapists, or yoga instructors. These extra add-ons come with a cost. Instead of a flat monthly fee, you pay per session — but, the session price can be as low as $30.
Customized care: You choose who you want to work with for each session
Work out digitally with your personal trainer, where they can observe how you move and offer real-time exercise adjustments
Workouts are customized to the equipment and space you have
If you’re not happy with your experience after the first session, you can ask for a full refund
More expensive than other platforms since you pay per session
You get matched with a personal trainer based on your goals; their style or personality may not mesh with yours
App store rating: 4.9 (12.7k reviews)
Google play rating: 4.7 (3.4k reviews)
Trainerize takes a simple, no-frills approach. You create an account, search the personal trainer database, and choose a trainer. Once you’ve found a trainer you like, they upload your workouts and provide exercise demonstrations. You can connect with your trainer through in-app messaging at any time.
You’re fully in control of which trainer you choose to work with
Find a local trainer by entering your zip code
Choose what you pay, since trainers set their own prices
Workouts are customized to your goals and equipment
User-friendly, easy-to-use app
Trainers are not vetted by a company, so it’s important to ask about their credentials and experience before working together
No additional offerings for nutrition or healthy living
If you’ve tried getting fit on your own but struggle to reach your goals, an online personal trainer can provide an affordable, convenient expert and accountability partner to get you to that finish line. Find the right platform and an online personal trainer who meshes well with your personality. Then, it’s just one workout at a time to chip away at your goal.