Online Vs In-Person Personal Training: Which Is Right For You?

Online Vs In-Person Personal Training: Which Is Right For You?

Ever wondered whether you should hire a personal trainer in the gym or work with coaches online? Here’s your answer!

Ivan Gavranic Ivan Gavranic · Mar 23rd, 2022

Mindset Beginner
14 Mins


    Online coaching has risen exponentially over the last few years, especially since the 2019 coronavirus pandemic where many in person coaches had to adapt and make the transition. Unfortunately, with an industry that is already oversaturated and unregulated this was only making consumers that much more confused. 

    We don’t have any real research to go off when it comes to determining which is better so the following is going to be a representation of my own experiences with being an in person coach for 8 years and now an online coach for almost 4 years. 

    Regardless of the platform you decide to use, there are always going to be in person coaches who are far better than many online coaches and vice versa. What really matters is the level of care when it comes to getting results and most importantly, how they make YOU feel throughout your journey. 

    To keep things fair, I’ll be going with the assumption that both of these services have your best interests at heart with a similar knowledge base. They both seem to get good results with people just like you and you’re just unsure on who to choose. This way we can truly look at how each stacks up in comparison, allowing you to decide what approach would be better for your specific situation.

    Time & Value For Money

    When working with an in person coach, you are locked in to a specific time meaning it is something that can go both ways. It can ‘force’ you to show up when you don’t feel like it as you don’t want to lose the money you have paid for the session (most trainers have a 24 hour cancellation policy) which can be great for accountability but on the flipside, can create a dependance to only show up when they have a session with a trainer. 

    Also, if you have a busy schedule where things can change on a whim, being locked in to a specific time can be extremely frustrating. For example, many busy mums can’t even leave the house some mornings let alone show up on time to a personal training session. 

    Having flexibility within your schedule on when you can train is a great thing to have. Yes, we advise most people to train at similar times throughout the week but we also understand that this isn’t possible all the time. 

    With an online set up, you get the sessions done when it suits YOU based on your own individual circumstances. Granted, you don’t have someone overlooking your technique and the session may not be as productive but at the end of the day, a perfectly coached split squat never was the linchpin to someone transforming their life completely.

    What you do in that 30-60 minute session pales in comparison to what you do across the other 23 hours of the day which is why our members get access to a 12 month curriculum that teaches them not only how to lose the weight, but how to keep it off forever while being accountable to expert coaches, their cohort and the overall RNT community. 

    Being able to log in at any time, share, read or learn something from their intimate cohort, upload training videos for feedback, jump on a transformation call to discuss challenges allows them to make the most out of their time.
    For what you pay for 1 training session a week with an in person coach (with no additional support), you can get all of the above for even less while getting 10 x the value. 

    Training Technique & Intensity

    Without doubt, when it comes to correcting technique in real time and allowing yourself to bring a good level of intensity to a session, an in person session is very hard to beat. The thing is though, unless you’re willing to show up to at least two to three sessions a week which can be extremely expensive (xx sterling per month) you’re not going to see these improvements.

    Also, finding a coach that actually pays attention and knows what they are looking for can be much harder to find than you think. Unfortunately, we have had members share their videos with their personal trainer filming them and we have had to correct them on numerous occasions. If you’re working with a coach and all they do is count reps and throw motivational quotes at you, I would be second guessing what you’re actually getting out of the session.

    The same can be said for individuals dealing with injuries. Being able to see how someone moves in real time can be very helpful in making sure they are doing everything correctly and at the appropriate capacity which can be lost to some degree when working with an online platform. Having a watchful eye examine you while you move throughout your entire session can make you feel very comfortable and safe which admittedly, cannot be done as effectively via online coaching.

    Still, we have managed to help many members with chronic debilitating injuries via video feedback who had all the help from in person coaches and therapists for years. Sushila came to us thinking she could never deadlift again due to the stories she was told but through appropriate coaching and actually working with her, we were able to restore that lost confidence.


    Many mistakenly assume that in person coaching offers far more accountability than online coaching but when you really break it down, it’s not as definitive. If the only thing making you show up is because you have an appointment, is that really teaching you how to become self-sufficient? Granted, having someone to guide you when you’re first starting out can make it much easier to get more comfortable in the gym but eventually, you want to be able to train on your own accord because you want to, not have to.

    This is why we place such a heavy emphasis on ‘teaching you how to fish’ vs just ‘giving you a fish’. Through our omni-accountability system, we provide all of our members with a platform that allows them to generate accountability across many avenues via the expert coaches, the members in their cohort, the weekly transformation calls and their own personalised dashboard that shows all their stats in real time. 

    There is no hiding and if things start to slip, our team is onto it right away. Unless you’re seeing an in person coach every day then you are not getting anywhere near the same level of accountability. Also, because the in person session is heavily based on training there is virtually no time to discuss the most important things when it comes to transformation which include nutrition, lifestyle, sleep and stress. Yes, you can briefly touch on these things within the session but you definitely cannot go in depth nor put together a solid strategy meaning you would have to book another 1-1 session. 

    This was a massive issue I had with many clients when I was working on the gym floor. If I was to suggest adding an extra session or even using 30 minutes of the existing session to discuss more important matters, they would feel ripped off as they came for a workout. 

    As mentioned, we know that what you do in that training session takes up a very small percentage of your day in comparison to what you do in the other 23 hours of the day yet many fall into the trap of thinking that by paying a personal trainer for two sessions a week, this automatically converts to better results. The more I pay, the better results I get. That is complete nonsense and I have seen people pay over $500 per week and get NOWHERE. 

    On a subconscious level it makes perfect sense as usually when we pay more for something, we get a better return. We spend more money on a car, it’s usually a better car. We spend more on a house, it’s usually going to be a nicer house. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case when it comes to changing your body as you cannot pay anyone to do the actual work for you. Paying an in person trainer $500 per week does not guarantee anything unless you do all the work outside of the sessions which realistically, is the hardest part of transformation for everybody.

    Where In Person Coaching Would REALLY Shine

    If you ask me, I would rather a client spend that $100/hour on a coach to follow them around at a social event or to just sit next to them in the evening after a stressful day. This is where the value would really come in as these are the moments where people need the most help. 

    Yes, you can take yourself to hell and back on the leg press and get a cool social media post but ultimately, it just doesn’t matter for 99% of the population. Looking back, I could have got 10x the results by just going for a walk with my clients, grabbing a coffee and going over the struggles they are facing that is preventing them from achieving their goals. 

    Instead, I focused on creating the best programs I could, incorporating fancy progression models, taking them to a level of intensity they just couldn’t reach on their own and thought I was giving them an incredible service. Unfortunately, as great as the sessions were and as much they loved it (my retention was extremely good) the results never came through as much as they do now. 

    Why? Because I realised what it actually takes to make a serious change in someone's life and looking at someone train for 1-2 hours a week was NOT it. The amount of transformations we have got with people from so many walks of life who couldn’t even train at a gym, is a testament to just how effective online coaching can be when it’s done properly.

    The Final Verdict

    As with any service industry, there are a ton of charlatans who will promise you the world but be extremely underwhelming when it comes to their delivery. Many of our expert coaching team were all in person coaches for many years and we can say without a doubt that we have had far more success with people via an online platform.

    I think there is still a lot of value with in person coaching, especially when it comes to learning how to train, feeling what true intensity is, getting comfortable in the gym and making sure you stay safe. 

    These lessons can be invaluable but in all honesty, can be learnt within a few months if you're attentive. Outside of that, there doesn’t seem to be any other advantages with in person coaching that you couldn’t get with an online coaching service like RNT. If you can find a really good in person coach who also offers the service that we do outside of just the training sessions, you will easily be looking at paying 4-5x more if you were to sign up with us. For the majority of people, that is just not feasible but most importantly, not necessary to truly transform.

    We want everyone we work with to eventually become their own coach so they know exactly what to do in any situation that life throws at them. Whether it’s a social event, a pandemic, an injury or any other setback you can think of, our members have the tools and support to come out the other end of these ordeals in a good place.

    Why? Because they learn the principles of how to stay in shape, allowing them to be very versatile in how they handle certain situations. 

    “As to methods, there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.”- Harrington Emerson

    And yes, we do this completely online that covers everything you will ever need to know about how to get into the shape of your life, for life. Our state of the art platform that we built from the ground up not only allows our members to track their progress effortlessly, but they have access to a slew of private educational resources, a 12 month long curriculum where they earn an MBA in self care, weekly live transformation calls and most importantly, be part of a community that is all striving to be better. This is all under the guidance of a TEAM (not one) of expert coaches who not only practise what they preach, but want everyone they work with to feel the impact of what a body transformation can do for your entire life.
    If you want to join the ever growing list of transformations that nobody else is getting with regular, busy people like yourself, then enter your details to see if you’re eligible to sign up for our next intake.

    Thanks for reading!
    Ivan GavranicIvan Gavranic

    Ivan Gavranic is RNT’s Head of Applied Research, where his focus is on translating scientific research into real world practical applications for our members. As one of our leading coaches based in Australia, Ivan has lived and breathed transformation for over ten years, staying now at sub 6% body fat year round, he continues to focus on attaining calisthenic and gymnastic skills you only see in the movies!

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