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Training: Virtual Trainers


Nine reasons why online personal coaching is the future

Just like the phonebook, TV listings and your record collection before it, getting fit has gone digital. With round-the-clock access to workout videos, PT sessions conducted via Skype and your fitness or dietary queries answered at a mouse click’s notice, online personal training is taking the time, cost and a fair bit of the effort out of getting in shape. Here’s why:

1. It can be done anywhere

“We have people who travel a lot, so they do the workout in their hotel,” says Paul Boden, from Brighton’s Virtual Fitness. “Our most remote client is an expat dentist in Tanzania, I think he lives in a tent.”

2. It’s cheap

Monthly plans cost about the same as a single PT session. “It’s a fraction

of the cost of one-on-one training and you can get similar results,” claims Micah LaCerte of Hitch Fit. “You have to be able to follow a plan on your own, but online training can transform your body.”

3. It’s like your own fitness app

Predicted to be worth more than £240m in the next two years, the fitness app boom has transformed phones from pocket-sized arcades to fitness tools. “These apps offer many exercises but don’t take into account a specific routine,” says Dale Sims, founder of UKFitBase. “An online trainer can give you an iPhone-optimised workout, but tailored to your needs.”

4. It’s harder to run away

“You get as much communication with your trainer as you need,” says Nick Desai of FitOrbit. “And because you are behind a screen, it is much easier to be honest.”

5. It’s suited to everyone

“We have people who would be brought out in a cold sweat at the mere the mention of the word ‘gym’, but they’re more than happy to train at home,” says Boden. “And then we also have a lot of men who use the gym regularly, but want that extra guidance. We have a couple of guys that are preparing to do the Tour de France next year, so [they’re] obviously not shy on the training front.”

6. It’s open all hours

Off on a night out with friends who would sooner disown you than accept you’re not drinking? Unsure which Nando’s menu item is the healthiest? (Tip: it’s Butterfly Chicken.) Your online trainer is on the clock 24 hours a day, a pocket-sized nemesis of that voice in your head that craves kebab. “Your trainer is there on your time and terms,” says Desai.

7. You can find a perfect trainer

“It’s not your fault if the personal trainers in your area are incompetent or not right for you,” says Sims. “In venturing online you can find the right type of trainer. And if this person happens to be 100 or even 1,000 miles away, then online personal training becomes the logical choice.”

8. You’re not shackled

The majority of online plans have done away with gym-like minimum contracts. “Some people can’t afford being tied to a £500 [per year] gym membership and then pay £30 a session for a PT,” says Boden. “That’s why online is such a growing market.”

9. You can study form at any time

Most online PTs offer myriad video tutorials as standard, allowing you to review

every exercise and adjust accordingly. Sims says, “Clients can now learn anything they want by watching demonstrations of an exercise on YouTube, as if we were there in the room.”

Intrigued by online training? Start here


This polished offering has everything from shopping lists to an app. Prices start at £7 a week and it’s already established in the US.


Virtual Fitness

Starting at just £3.75 a month, this site has three tiers of membership depending on support you need.



Has an array of programmes (starting at £150), ranging from plans for those who want to lose weight to schemes

for rock-hard abs.



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