Virtual Personal Training Programs: Part One

Virtual Personal Training Program

Virtual personal training has grown over the years and took off in 2020. Steven Trotter analyzes what it is and what it isn’t in this first part of a two-part series on virtual training program development.

First and foremost, what is virtual personal training?

Virtual and online personal training programs are not new. I feel confident in saying that Jonathon Goodman is the modern-day pioneer of virtual personal training. The personal trainer turned author and entrepreneur founded the Personal Training Development Center in 2011 as a resource for personal trainers. Then two years later, based on survey responses from an industry survey, he developed the 1K Extra program which later birthed the Online Trainer Academy in 2016. The Online Trainer Academy included The Fundamentals of Online Training, the world’s first textbook for remote coaching, and awarded people with the first-ever certification in online personal training.

Virtual personal training has continued to grow over the years as more and more personal trainers pursued the freedom to live and work from anywhere. The arrival of COVID-19 served as a catalyst to bring this type of training to the mainstream and gave late adopters the opportunity to still serve their existing clientele while also challenging them to think beyond the four walls of their brick and mortar. Fortunately, if you weren’t already on the path to adding virtual personal training to your menu prior to COVID-19, it’s not too late. Over this two-part series, let’s take a look at how to incorporate it into your services.

What it’s Not:

Let’s first lay the groundwork for understanding what it is not. If you are already building out some elaborate excel spreadsheet to calculate how many in-person training sessions is equivalent to one virtual training session, then stop. If all of your personal trainers are spending one hour on a Zoom call with a client to consider that a session, then stop. Virtual training is not in-person training that just happens to be completed over Zoom.

So, What is Virtual Personal Training?

Virtual personal training is a comprehensive behavior change and goal achievement program that is ongoing and should be available to the client anywhere at any time. It’s important to understand it’s not for everyone just as it’s also important to know the talent required to be a world-class virtual personal trainer is different from a world-class in-person personal trainer. As we recall the buyer persona and ask who is most likely to engage in virtual training sessions, let’s identify a few characteristics that successful virtual training programs all have in common.

  • Accessibility: Virtual personal training programs are available to the client anywhere and anytime. The programs and communication should be readily available at the client’s fingertips.
  • Autonomy: There is an increased amount of autonomy in the client. Most of the time, the client is going to be completing the program design and workout at a time when the trainer is not watching.
  • Technology: Technology is at the center of a successful training program. Communication and two-way feedback will be delivered through text, voice and video. The program design will be delivered through a means where the client still has a strong understanding of what to do, how to do it and in what order.

Now that you have a solid understanding of what is and what isn’t virtual personal training programs, we will break down how to create them in Part Two next week.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Steven Trotter, MS, is a consultant, continuing education provider, adjunct faculty member in health and fitness science, and principal for Globetrotter Wellness Solutions. He also serves as the associate director for wellness and fitness at East Carolina University. His expertise is rooted in university rec programs with a repertoire in leadership and organizational development, fitness facility design and management, behavior change, and program management. Steven is a 2017 IDEA Program Director of the Year finalist and presents at numerous conferences across North America each year. He is a subject matter expert and blogger for the American Council on Exercise and previously served a 3.5-year term on the industry advisory panel. Steven has a master of science in health in physical education from Virginia Tech and bachelor of science in exercise science from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

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