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Should You Go Online to Reduce the Waistline?

By: Aarti Patel Email By: Aarti Patel
January 2011
Should You Go Online to Reduce the Waistline?

Well, it’s that time of the year again, when our clothes seemed to have shrunk just a bit, and belt buckles need to be somewhat adjusted. You might have come across advertisements offering online personal training at a very affordable rate and must be wondering if it just might be the right choice for you. For this virtual training, exercise plans are e-mailed to you and a trainer is available via e-mail or telephone to answer questions and for additional coaching. But is this the best way to exercise? Let’s explore.

There are several pros and cons to online training that you should know of before you invest and begin. Online training is more affordable than training in person with a trainer and this could be the determining factor for most. However, online training does require you to exercise without supervision and this could leave opportunity for injury especially for those who have medical issues or physical limitations. Online training also provides the convenience of training or working out on your time, anytime you want, anywhere you want, and in your privacy. This is ideal for those who are somewhat bashful of going to the gym and working out with other people and also ideal for those who travel a lot.

Unfortunately, with online training, you must motivate yourself to schedule a time for regular exercise and this might not work for everyone. Also, since you are exercising alone, you do miss out on the additional coaching and pushing along with the face-to-face interaction that you would normally get from working out with a fitness trainer. The trainer cannot observe your form and give feedback on the correct method of a particular exercise and therefore, safety might be compromised if an exercise is performed incorrectly. Another caveat of online training is not being able to verify the credentials of the trainer. While exercise programs might be e-mailed to you on a timely basis, there is no assurance as to who is creating the exercises for you and whether that “expert coach” is a person who is a qualified fitness professional.

If you decide that online training is the best option for you, you must keep in mind the following: Before you begin, a medical history form must be completed to ensure that the trainer is aware of your health history and any physical limitations. Check the credentials of the trainer and make sure that he or she is certified by an organization that is NCAA-accredited, such as the American Council on Exercise or the American College of Sports Medicine. If possible, ask to speak to the trainer who will be creating your workouts. Even though it’s virtual, you should know your trainer. The workouts should be tailored to your level of fitness and not generic. Ask for a sample workout before you begin. Your workout should be updated regularly once you master a particular level of exercise and be somewhat challenging based on your fitness level. The explanation of each exercise should be clear and should be accompanied by a video demonstration. During this time your trainer should be available for phone coaching or to answer any questions. A site that offers online forums and group support can additionally be more motivating. Avoid any sites or trainers who e-mail you calorie-based meal plans. Unless they are registered dietitians, trainers should only provide basic nutritional guidance and not be giving specific nutrition advice that requires counting calories, extreme dieting or supplement usage. While online training can provide a cost-effective alternative to exercising with a trainer, it can also compromise your safety if you have health issues or if you are a beginner at a low fitness level. Be sure to make an informed decision about online training, ask a lot of questions and finally be confident and comfortable with your decision.

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