Updated: Mar 15
WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK FOR IN AN ONLINE COACH?
1 LOOK FOR AN ONLINE COACH WITH THE RIGHT SPECIALTY
Just like an in-person trainer, an online coach can have a different specialty that may or may not be what you need. You wouldn't expect a classically trained French chef to make the best sushi or vice versa.
Nor would you expect a strength coach specializing in pro athletes to be the best trainer for a beginner. Their experience may not transfer. Once you've found an online coach who specializes in people just like you, here are some things to tick-off your checklist:
EXPERIENCE AND CREDENTIALS
They can hide behind a computer screen, but it doesn't mean a coach should get away with little relevant experience, qualifications, or insurance. I don't know many good online coaches that weren't great as in-person coaches for years prior.
A GOOD CONSULTATION EXPERIENCE
Did a few clicks on the internet lead you through some fancy landing pages, which led you to a "buy it now" button? Or did it lead you to book an actual conversation with the coach? Even then, if it takes a week to get an email back from them or to jump on a 15-minute call, it isn't a good sign of their overall responsiveness. If they're slow now, imagine how slow they'll be once you've handed over your cash.
Sure, find someone who will take you beyond your comfort zone and turn weaknesses into strengths. But if the plan or any of the exercises aren't feeling right, or the schedule isn't sustainable, then your coach hasn't listened. Either that or they're giving you a cookie-cutter plan. A good coach should be able to train you whether you have access to a badass gym or just your bodyweight. The plan should be built for YOU.
LEVEL OF CONTACT
Depending on a coach's workload and efficiency, there are only a limited number of clients they can work with successfully at any one time. If an online coach says their program has helped thousands of people, then I'd be worried. If they haven't been at it for decades, be worried about their service and retention.
Can you message your coach any time you want, or are they just going to stick you with a 90-day plan and leave? Coaches deliver their support in different ways, but the good ones can make simple changes to your plan. Some coaches also use apps to train their clients and ask for form-check videos. That way, your coach can see your workout check-ins and stats and modify your training plan accordingly.
2 PAY ATTENTION TO THEIR SYSTEMS AND RESPONSIVENESS
When looking for an online coach, you want an experience that is actually more personal than personal training. If you ante up £200 to £400 a month, you better be getting a same-day response. Habits should be tracked. There should be clearly defined check-ins.
You should have nearly instant access to your coach and expect a timely response and solution. And remember, metrics have to be tracked so both YOU and the coach can pinpoint why you did or didn't get results and what needs to be worked on.
3 FIND ONE WHO WILL ASSESS YOUR TECHNIQUE AND MODIFY WORKOUTS
There are three things you need to look for. These are what I implement in my own online personal training sessions with clients:
EMPHASIZED FORM AND BODY MECHANICS
It's enticing for a trainer to simply go into chill mode since they can either just tell the client what to do or sit at the computer with little coaching, cueing, and verbal instruction. However, a good online trainer should watch your form while also demonstrating what proper technique and body mechanics look like.
Just because it's not in-person doesn't mean that form and body mechanics should be less emphasized. They should be just as much of a focus as they would be in person.
Many trainers will suggest that assessments and movement screenings are tough to do online, so they forgo them. A competent online trainer should be able to take you through a movement screening and catch most, if not all, of what they'd see in person.
Everyone has various forms of muscle dysfunction and aberrant movement patterns. The trainer should catch most of these. Furthermore, they should understand how to use these assessment elements to customize the client's workouts.
Workouts should be customized and adapted, not only to your goals and training level but your equipment availability. Even if you have zero equipment, just bands, just dumbbells, or just water jugs, a competent coach should be able to take you through an intense and effective workout routine. That workout should target most of the major muscles in your body while spiking your heart rate.
Simply, the trainer should adjust for YOU instead of having you adjust to the trainer.
4 LOOK FOR PASSION, PERSONALIZATION, AND DIGESTIBLE FEEDBACK
Make sure their service feels just as personal as it would be if you were working with them in person. An online coach – just like an in-person coach – should exude passion and get you excited about training. They should be able to troubleshoot your form, adapt your workouts on the fly, and design programs that are appropriately suited to your needs, goals, and preferred training style.
Sure, the qualities an online coach should possess will vary depending on the types of people they work with and their goals. But regardless, they should check in with you and assess your form through video.
5 AVOID THOSE WHO GIVE GENERIC PROGRAMS TO ALL CLIENTS
A good online coach offers personalized help and world-class expertise. They should be mo