Contributions by Caitlin Cecil, Health and Fitness Coordinator
As is the case with so many things in our lives today, people are turning to online assistance when it comes to weight loss and fitness. Who among us hasn't typed in key search words such as "building muscle," "toning arms, butts and legs," "best ab workout" or "quick weight loss.”
In fact, "how to lose weight" is in the top 10 of most asked questions online and is searched online about 1,300 times a day.
Along with an overwhelming amount of nutritional information, that may or may not be accurate, there are countless programs and workouts that can be found online. As you filter through search results, it's difficult to know what is legitimate and what can actually work for you. Below are some guidelines you can use as you search for the right fitness program.
Online training is easily accessible. You can take your program with you anywhere there is internet service and train via your laptop, tablet or phone. With this method, it's possible to have a personal trainer or instructor at your disposal whenever you want or need. There's no need to coordinate schedules and you can literally train anytime, anywhere.
But who exactly are the people creating these programs? Are you aware of their qualifications and certifications? Just because someone looks fit and healthy doesn't mean that they are qualified to teach or train others. And, is online training the best method of achieving your health and fitness goals?
Personal training as an online industry is projected to grow by nearly 5% in the next few years. Many trainers use technology as a way to add additional touch points with clients when they aren't able to meet in person. You can also find a personal trainer who is located in a different city and with whom your relationship is 100% online.
Whether you are working with a trainer in person or online, it's important that you feel you are getting a positive return for the investment of your money and time. You also want to feel confident that the trainer is providing you a program to achieve your personal goals and always has your health and safety as their top priority.
Make sure that the trainer has a current, accredited certification
A qualified, professional trainer should spend time getting to know their clients before actually beginning a program. Many trainers will perform basic assessments to evaluate posture, range of motion and strength imbalances before presenting a workout program.
These assessments will help to provide information so that the trainer can customize their program to fit the needs of the individual client. While not impossible to perform via the internet, these assessments are generally more effective, productive and provide more information in person.
Be wary of some of the online "Fitness Influencers" that are so prevalent on many of the social media sites
While there are legitimate professionals that use these sites as a way to market their services, the success of these sites are based on selling ads. Many of the users endorse, promote and sell products and supplements.
Some of these users have no actual education, certifications or qualifications in regards to fitness or nutrition. The fact of the matter is that even a certified personal trainer is not qualified to recommend nutritional supplements without additional education.
If your preference is class or group training, then the online world can offer a great variety
These programs can work especially well for people who have very limited time due to a demanding work or personal schedules or for those who travel often. You do, however, miss out on the actual social connection and personal contact that can not only be motivating, but can also help improve your performance in the class.
It is almost impossible for an online instructor to correct form or ensure that you are working out at the correct pace and rate of effort. And a virtual high five is never as good as the real thing from a classmate after a great workout.
The purpose of this article is not to qualify whether online training is good or bad or that only hiring a trainer in person is the best way to go. It is to provide some provocative thought and give you an idea of what to look for in a personal trainer or training program, whether that's online or in person.
Regardless of the direction you choose, take the time to develop realistic, attainable goals for yourself in regards to fitness and health. If you hire a personal trainer, share these goals with him and her. The right trainer is the one that works with you to achieve these goals in a safe and healthy manner.