Do online, virtual workout classes help you achieve your fitness goals? Should you hire a virtual trainer or stick to free online exercise programs? We take an honest look at the pros and cons of virtual fitness training.
Another year of wasted gym membership, all your good intentions forgotten: do you relate? Virtual fitness training sounds like the perfect solution to our hectic, jam-packed daily schedule: on-demand workouts, whenever and wherever you choose. All that's needed is a downloaded video or a WiFi connection and a device.
Technology in the form of 1:1 live-streamed training, pre-recorded workouts and fitness apps allow you to connect and exercise at your convenience, whether its 1 pm or 1 am. But does virtual training actually help you achieve your fitness goals?
There are three main types of virtual training:
- Online Fitness Classes
There are many types of online exercise classes, including live or pre-recorded, free or by paid subscription.
- Private, 1:1 Virtual Fitness Coaches
Real-life trainers who conduct personal or small-group workout coaching via the internet designed specifically for you.
- Community Virtual Workout Apps
Fitness group workouts are designed to harness the power of the crowd to keep you motivated and moving toward your fitness goals, and can be in the form of paid or free downloads. Note: many workout apps also have online workout classes.
Which option is best for your particular fitness goals will depend largely on your budget and preference. Here is an impartial look at the pros and cons of virtual fitness training.
Pros of Virtual Fitness Training
You can't beat the convenience of virtual training: it's always open regardless of the time of day or weather forecast.
Whether you choose private, 1:1 training classes or prerecorded on-demand courses, the course cost will be lower than a similar class at a private gym.
3. Access to Trainers and Class Types
Virtual training lets you take classes from popular expert fitness pros who you probably couldn't find or afford in your area. If you're interested in a specific type of workout that's not offered at a local gym, you can likely find what you're looking for online.
Choose from literally thousands of online classes at all ability levels.
Sometimes we just don't feel like working out in front of an audience. Virtual training is private – you can work out in your undies or take the peer pressure off if you're only able to give 75% today.
Online classes let you mix it up and customize your workout plan based on your mood and interests. Trying out a new exercise is easy and convenient.
Many virtual fitness courses offer short, mini-class introductions to try out a new workout or instructor and determine if its a good fit for you.
Cons of Virtual Fitness Training
1. Pre-Recorded Classes Don't Give Feedback
While sometimes it's nice not be noticed in class, a fitness trainer can provide correction and support if you're having difficulty.
2. Pre-Recorded Classes Are Designed for the Majority
Virtual training lets you choose which course to take, but unless you hire a personal 1:1 trainer, the course is not customized for you. Many gym fitness classes are tailored to that specific group's needs.
3. Trainer Qualifications
At the gym, your friends can tell you why they like working with a specific trainer. Online training has reviews and recommendations, but they aren't from people you know and trust so they may not be as meaningful.
4. You're Not Accountable To Show Up
Does the knowledge that your whole class knows you missed your session last night motivate you to show up next time? Virtual fitness means you're only accountable to yourself: and that doesn't work for everyone.
5. Technology Fails
In an increasingly connected world, technology doesn't always work. If you live or travel somewhere without a reliable internet connection, virtual training may be frustrating.
6. Fitness Level
Exercise newbies may benefit from supervised workouts in an environment designed for safety.
7. Social Engagement and Encouragement
Group online courses cannot replace the interaction and sense of community found at group fitness class at your local gym.
Only you can decide if the benefits of virtual fitness training will help you achieve your goals, or if the drawbacks will stymie your progress. If you decide to give virtual fitness workouts a try, there's a course and a budget for everyone!
Catherine Russell is Būband's Content Manager