You Can Still Use a Personal Trainer During the Pandemic

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Given the need for physical distancing, it’ll be a while before many of us feel comfortable with an in-person personal training session. But given that pandemic life is leaving many of us all a little more sedentary than normal, establishing a fitness routine is even more important — and online personal training sessions might be just the way to do it. If you are thinking about taking the plunge, here are some factors you should consider.

What are your goals?

Personal trainers aren’t one-size-fits-all. This was true before the pandemic, and it’s still true. So before you decide on a personal trainer, it’s worth thinking about what you want to get out of your sessions. Are you just starting up a training plan? Are you an experienced athlete looking to learn some new skills or start cross-training?

Some important factors to consider are the personal trainer’s background and qualifications. If you’re a beginner, a trainer specializing in training high-performing athletes may not be the right fit. If you are looking to acquire a specific skill, you’ll want a trainer with a comprehensive background in teaching that skill set.

When it comes to the right trainer, certifications, such as through the American College of Sports Medicine or the National Academy of Sports Medicine, is important. However, certifications don’t tell the full story of how effective a personal trainer is, so it’s also really important to factor in their experience level. A good trainer will have expertise in their particular area of fitness as well as experience coaching clients.

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What level of support do you need?

When it comes to online sessions, there are a number of different modalities. An online personal trainer can range from one-on-one sessions, usually via Skype or Zoom, or it can be a more flexible arrangement (often referred to as “staggered sessions”), where your trainer will help tailor your workout schedule, offering suggestions and periodic feedback on your form through texts, emails, or the occasional video chat.

One-on-one sessions will be the most expensive but also offer the most guidance, while a staggered session will be more affordable but also require a bit more independence. If you are just starting out, you might need a bit more support, especially in the beginning. If you already have a workout habit, and are simply looking to adjust, staggered sessions might be the right fit. What works for you will depend on your goals, your experience level, as well as your budget.

Either way, the most important aspect of a personal trainer is the ability to ask questions, and get suggestions tailored to your particular needs. Having someone to offer suggestions will be especially important for the harder weeks, when the workouts don’t seem to be working, or life’s stressors are getting in the way.

Whatever mode of personal training you opt for, clear communication is key. This includes being able to ask questions about proper form, what the signs of over-training or injury look like, as well as getting suggestions for when a workout doesn’t go as planned, or progress is stalled. Progress is never linear, and it’s rarely easy. A good trainer is one who will help you when the going gets tough.

What does your home gym set up look like?

You might already have a well-equipped home gym, with plenty of space for your workout. You could be living in a cramped apartment, with barely a dumbbell in sight. Before you decide on a personal trainer, or a particular training program, you want to make sure that it is one that will fit the resources you have at hand. If not, you’ll need to ask about how a program can be adapted to fit your resources.

When it comes to finding a personal trainer, local is a good place to start

One day, the gym will be safe again. When it comes to finding a personal trainer, it’s well worth finding someone local, so that when it is safe again, you can have an in-person session. When it comes to finding a trainer, a good place to start is calling your local gym, to ask if they offer online training. It’s also worth asking around, to see if any of your friends or colleagues have any recommendations.

That said, if a local trainer that is not an option, the advantage of online personal training is that your trainer can be from anywhere. That could include an independent personal trainer, as well as one of the larger companies.

When it comes to the larger companies, some of the more popular options include Trainiac, which offers daily workout schedule complete with video training, as well as the option to connect via video chats or text messaging, as well as Future, which sets you up with personalised workouts, including video, as well as a trainer you can talk to via FaceTime or instant messaging.

So spend a little time thinking about what you need out of a personal trainer, and then, once you’ve done your research, go for it.

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