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Can an online PT help you reach your fitness goals?

Every New Year brings with it fitness new year's resolutions, and while 2019 is no different, the way people go about it is. 

More and more people are turning to e-books, online coaching and various fitness apps to help them fulfil their goals. It seems gone are the days of a physically intimidating personal trainer standing next to you and physically pushing you to go harder. 

Instagram is full of "personal trainers" selling their e-books and online tutorials to would-be fitness followers. The internet has no shortage of blogs and training guides to help you develop your own program. Apps like Aaptiv, BodySpace and JEFIT promote various workouts in a way that lets you track and record it all online. 

So why are people flocking online to get their fitness training?

Founder of PectusPT Riley Byrne has been an online coach since 2015 and since then has coached over 200 individuals around the world. He advertises his services through Instagram whilst also offering training guides online and YouTube tutorials.

Byrne said that people are heading online due to the ease and the new avenues for fitness as it allows people to access training from all over the world. 

"The benefits of online coaching include having way more potential scalability and reach. My clients absolutely love it," he said. 

I must admit I remain a sceptic about this new wave of fitness coaching as I personally have seen the benefits from real life PTs. I have had PTs that have pushed me to lift heavier, run harder and motivated me to come back for more.

Also, if you are being trained by someone, you are held accountable by them. Your PT can ask to your face if you have been following your diet, if you have continued your training, and it is a lot harder to lie to a person than to your phone screen. 

I posed this question of accountability to Byrne and he said that technology has allowed for trainers to hold clients accountable, even if it is not in person. 

"I utilise Skype to stay in contact and motivate my clients as well as a progress tracker that I can overview," he said. 

So I decided to just dive in and try an online coach in the form of Aaptiv, which I can only describe as a PT in your ear. 

You go through all the same motions as you would with a PT, you enter your details and your goals but then it is up to you. You choose the workout you want from various categories, each with its own goals and music styles and then you put your phone down and get to work. 

If I am honest, I was initially turned off by the idea. I like to create my own programs, I like to know what each exercise I am going to do is and I like visual aids. With Aaptiv, a trainer was going to talk me through the program as it went on, so I would have no visual aid to the exercises nor would I know what exercise was coming next. 

I asked Aaptiv who the app was for, because in my mind, most gym goer would have a mindset like mine and want to know what was happening next. 

A representative from the company said the app was for everyone but the real strength in the app was its ability to help train people who perhaps didn't know when their next workout was. 

"Aaptiv is perfect for anyone who leads a busy life and can't predict when they will find time for a workout," they said. 

Aaptiv said that the app helped people find time for exercise anytime and anywhere as most exercises did not require expensive equipment and the workouts were easy to follow. 

"Many people tell us that they had essentially given up on finding the right fitness classes for them, and they say that Aaptiv has rejuvenated their interest in getting into shape or running a half marathon," they said. 

I trialled it for a month – I tried a Tabata class to pop music, an outdoor running mix to electronic music and various strength sessions, all with a PT in my ear telling me to work. 

Honestly, it wasn't for me. I am very set in my gym ways and it is hard to break that mindset. I can push myself, but to go harder or faster, I need a person next to me to either compete with or offer assistance. 

But I know who it is good for. It is good for people who are new to working out and want a little encouragement. It is good for people who can maybe only squeeze in a 20-minute workout every now and then.

I can see the app's appeal, you could work out with it every day for a year and never have to do the same workout. The trainers on the app are great and the music backing them are awesome. 

If you are new to fitness and don't really know what you are doing, then I would recommend an app like Aaptiv or any number of online coaches. If, however you are a bit too old school, then go to your local gym and get a trainer.