5 Considerations for Online Vs. In-person Coaching

Week in Review: November 1, 2019
November 1, 2019
Week in Review: November 8, 2019
November 8, 2019
Week in Review: November 1, 2019
November 1, 2019
Week in Review: November 8, 2019
November 8, 2019

When I meet with a new client to discuss coaching, they sometimes ask me the difference between online and in-person coaching. It's important to understand that each model has a unique set of benefits. Choosing the right one for you depends upon several factors that we'll discuss today.

But first, this caveat…

Experience matters. I could not effectively coach a client online without having done so in-person for an extended period of time. I've coached hundreds of different people over the years. From capable athlete to those who were still learning the difference between a dumbbell and a cowbell.

Not all of them have been successes, mind you. Each client has taught me something new about how to communicate, how to cue and how to modify an exercise or a program. Each interaction has, in some way, made me a better coach.

By working with so many different types of people I can better predict potential pitfalls and, hopefully, proactively address issues before they arise. In an online setting this becomes mission critical.

For example, exercise selection is a big part of a program. I have to know, up front, if a particular exercise will do more harm than good given the injury history or activity level of the person. I also have to make choices that I believe the client can execute with confidence. A program that cannot be executed has no value to the user.

5 Things to Consider

When discussing whether a potential client is a good fit for online training, it's important for them to understand the process. If you are considering hiring a coach, use the criteria below to help determine whether an online or in-person coach is the right choice for you.

1. Experience

As we mentioned above, experience of the coach is an important consideration. However, your individual experience is also important. To be a good candidate for online coaching, I do believe that it's necessary for a potential client to have established some comfort and familiarity with a gym setting. The individual should also have a base-level understanding of common exercise vernacular and concepts. Lastly, and most importantly, a potential client should have engaged in strength training previously.

If you are completely new to exercise, an in-person coach would be far more appropriate. Such an individual will be able to craft an appropriate program for you and coach you through it in a safe and effective manner. As you progress, you'll build confidence and competency.

2. Ability to self-direct

Part of the reason why experience is so important is that an online program is largely self-directed. That means planning your schedule, organizing the workouts you've been given and then executing them with effort and intent.

Your coach should be checking in with you, reviewing progress reports, and collaborating with you to overcome barriers. But during the session you're completely on your own.

With that said, I think that schedule planning is one of the biggest client benefits to online training. You no longer have to adhere to a specific coach appointment. Rather, you have the autonomy to create your own workout schedule. This is great, provided you stay disciplined in your execution.

An in-person coach can evaluate you in the moment and redirect as necessary. The coach can also correct technique on the spot and progress or regress an exercise based upon what they observe.

Lastly, 1-on-1 sessions are expensive and people tend to show up when they've paid for it. Ultimately, there is an added layer of accountability that may not be present otherwise.

3. Accuracy

To effectively individualize an online training program, the coach must have systems that allow for information to flow between themselves and the client. The coach is responsible for creating an assessment process that allows the client to easily and accurately provide information. The client is responsible for getting accurate information to the coach. Should the system fail on either end, the efficacy of the program will suffer. It's yet another reason why experience is so important.

In an in-person setting, the coach controls the entirety of the process. They directly test your mobility, strength, conditioning and competency. The coach observes you in the moment and gains valuable information about where your program should start. The margin for error can be significantly reduced.

4. Coaching Relationship

I cannot overstate how important the coaching relationship is to client success. Clients who genuinely enjoy working with their coach typically enjoy more success, regardless of the knowledge base of the coach. After all, when there's a high level of trust it becomes easier to personally invest in the process.

That relationship can exist in an online setting but it takes more work. Email and phone will never be a replacement for an in-person connection. Therefore, both coach and client must be on the same page about how the program is progressing and what actions should be taken.

Whether in-person or on-line, it's imperative that the relationship remains collaborative. Ultimately, two people are coming together to achieve a common goal. If the dynamic becomes one where the coach is telling the client what they have to do or chastising them for not doing it, the relationship (and the results) will suffer.

5. Cost

When you take the above factors into consideration, it should come as no surprise that the online coaching model is significantly cheaper than the in-person model. In fact, you could expect to spend 4-6 times as much training in-person (or more) versus online. The trade-off is that you must have a greater level of experience, discipline and ability to self-direct.

Which is right for you?

If you're considering a new exercise program and are interested in working with a coach, use today's discussion to help you evaluate what's right for you. If you have some experience, possess a decent foundation and are looking to save some money then an online program might be best. However, if you're just starting out and need that personal touch, an in-person coach is probably an appropriate place to start.

In either case, the relationship between you and your coach should be collaborative, with an eye toward helping you build a solid foundation that creates autonomy. At Vitalifit, our entire coaching philosophy is predicated upon helping you do exactly that. Ultimately, we're going to figure out, together, what the right course of action is for you, and then get after it! If you’re looking to improve your health and wellness contact us today to join the Vitalifit Coaching Program that is right for you.