T Nation

Online Coaching?

Fellas,

I’m curious if any of you have any experience with online coaching. A number of the contributors to this site have online services where they charge X amount for one months worth of programming, etc.

The draw for me is that I have certain postural/injury issues that I will probably need some expert insight into. These coaches essentially have you send them pictures of your posture, etc. so they can assess what sort of problems you have and adjust the training accordingly. For example, I have some issues with internal rotation of my arms and shoulder pain as a result.

The one big limiting factor, obviously, is not having someone coach your exercise form. On the other hand, I think it would still be beneficial to have expert insight into programming. I guess the question is whether working in person with a less-than qualified coach is better than getting online assistance from one of the best in the industry.

I’d like to hear any of your experiences if you have them. If they are positive, you are encouraged to provide the name. If they are negative, you might just say, for example, “one of the authors on this site.”

I have scoliosis resulting in all sorts of weird muscle imbalances from one side to the other. I didn’t know anyone offered this service.
Which coaches do this?

[quote]evansmi wrote:
I have scoliosis resulting in all sorts of weird muscle imbalances from one side to the other. I didn’t know anyone offered this service.
Which coaches do this?[/quote]

You serious? Well, to take some obvious examples, I know that Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson, the guys who did “Magnificent Mobility,” both offer this service. But to be clear, I’m not necessarily trying to single out any particular trainer. I’m more interested in hearing any experiences with online coaching in general. Whether it was beneficial, a waste of money, etc.

I’d prefer if you only refer to an individual trainer if you have a POSITIVE experience with that person.

Anyone have anything to contribute???

Figured I’d give this a bump on the off chance that it might catch something the second time around. Anyone?

With technology today I think an online coach could work provided a few things happen.

First taking video of yourself lifting and showing your form then sending it to them (via online, email, youtube, whatever) they can critque your form, post repsonses and even post videos/mail videos/etc.

Since you wont have someone in the gym right there pushing yourself you’ll have to be more dedicated and have that intensity. Sure the trainer will need to stay on top of you every day via email or phone (however you two communicate) but alot falls on you.

Lastly you’re paying for a service. This training service, while still from one of the best, isn’t as good as it could be if you were in their gym or they were in yours. As such i’d expect a rate which matches something that is considered worth what your getting. A good workout program can be developed by a good trainer. One custom fitted is sometimes harder, but again a good trainer should be able to do this. The best (which these guys claim to be or are known for being) will provide you with some great, tried and proven programs fitted for you. Does it matter if their not at the gym with you? If not pay away for a great service. If so… then talk about the price with them. I find most people are willing to negotiate some if you can give reasons why you think X is to high but your willing to spend Y on it.

Good luck in whatever you decide to do.

[quote]Oldfart wrote:
With technology today I think an online coach could work provided a few things happen.

First taking video of yourself lifting and showing your form then sending it to them (via online, email, youtube, whatever) they can critque your form, post repsonses and even post videos/mail videos/etc.

Since you wont have someone in the gym right there pushing yourself you’ll have to be more dedicated and have that intensity. Sure the trainer will need to stay on top of you every day via email or phone (however you two communicate) but alot falls on you.

Lastly you’re paying for a service. This training service, while still from one of the best, isn’t as good as it could be if you were in their gym or they were in yours. As such i’d expect a rate which matches something that is considered worth what your getting. A good workout program can be developed by a good trainer. One custom fitted is sometimes harder, but again a good trainer should be able to do this. The best (which these guys claim to be or are known for being) will provide you with some great, tried and proven programs fitted for you. Does it matter if their not at the gym with you? If not pay away for a great service. If so… then talk about the price with them. I find most people are willing to negotiate some if you can give reasons why you think X is to high but your willing to spend Y on it.

Good luck in whatever you decide to do.[/quote]

You bring up some good points. In my opinion, a coach provides three major things to a trainee: (1) Motivation, (2) technique coaching, and (3) programming.

I think motivation will not be much of a problem for me even without a coach on hand. My personality is such that when there is something I want, I will do whatever it takes to make it happen. Sure it would be nice to have people to pump me up on the few occasions that I am dragging ass, but on the whole this will not be a big loss.

Really, my biggest concern is, as you say, with exercise technique. I am generally pretty good at getting this right, but it would be ideal to have a trainer on hand. I think your idea of filming things is a good one. If I do this, I will definitely have to invest in a good camera that takes video.

Programming is something that, for the most part, can be effectively done long distance. The only small concern is that a coach can only program based on information that I provide. I’m afraid that I might not convey something important to him because I may think it is very significant. He would know what to look for, but I might have no idea.

In the end, I am heavily leaning towards trying it out. If it sucks, I can always end it.

I’m going to post my experiences with face-to-face training and online consultation and you can take them for what they’re worth.

My first experience was face-to-face training with a random trainer at
Gold’s. He did what you’d expect from one of those trainers- put me on a machine circuit with a Flex-inspired routine. He did however teach me about keeping tension on the muscles during the whole movement and introduced me to HIIT. He also made attempts to help me with a shoulder problem. It wasn’t the best, but looking back it could’ve been worse.

On second thought, it did get worse because when he left the gym, we started online consults. This was nothing short of a disaster. He wanted me working with inappropriate loads which hurt my shoulder worse than before, and I got constant headaches from nobody paying attention to my form (yes I should’ve known better).

After that the experiences have gotten better. About a year and a half ago I volunteered to try out a strength program designed by one of the writers here (think corrECtive exercise). While it wasn’t tailored for me, it included a lot of mobility work and basically the stuff people should do but don’t. He also provided consultation in case we ran into problems, and videos demonstrating proper form. At the end of the program I was definitely stronger and at the very least wasn’t in greater pain.

Now I’m working with a trainer who is also a chiropractor and ART practitioner, so it’s pretty much the best situation to be in. He knows how to push me, while also providing valuable info and fixing tight muscles on the spot.

Here’s the question you asked: “Is whether working in person with a less-than qualified coach is better than getting online assistance from one of the best in the industry?”

I would first try to seek out a professional in the area, and just go through a session. Treat it like an interview because that’s what it is. You’re interviewing them to offer you their services for compensation. Ask lots of questions. And since you’re a member here, chances are you’ll be able to know how effective they can be. Good luck!

[quote]Doug Adams wrote:
I’m going to post my experiences with face-to-face training and online consultation and you can take them for what they’re worth.

My first experience was face-to-face training with a random trainer at
Gold’s. He did what you’d expect from one of those trainers- put me on a machine circuit with a Flex-inspired routine. He did however teach me about keeping tension on the muscles during the whole movement and introduced me to HIIT. He also made attempts to help me with a shoulder problem. It wasn’t the best, but looking back it could’ve been worse.

On second thought, it did get worse because when he left the gym, we started online consults. This was nothing short of a disaster. He wanted me working with inappropriate loads which hurt my shoulder worse than before, and I got constant headaches from nobody paying attention to my form (yes I should’ve known better).

After that the experiences have gotten better. About a year and a half ago I volunteered to try out a strength program designed by one of the writers here (think corrECtive exercise). While it wasn’t tailored for me, it included a lot of mobility work and basically the stuff people should do but don’t. He also provided consultation in case we ran into problems, and videos demonstrating proper form. At the end of the program I was definitely stronger and at the very least wasn’t in greater pain.

Now I’m working with a trainer who is also a chiropractor and ART practitioner, so it’s pretty much the best situation to be in. He knows how to push me, while also providing valuable info and fixing tight muscles on the spot.

Here’s the question you asked: “Is whether working in person with a less-than qualified coach is better than getting online assistance from one of the best in the industry?”

I would first try to seek out a professional in the area, and just go through a session. Treat it like an interview because that’s what it is. You’re interviewing them to offer you their services for compensation. Ask lots of questions. And since you’re a member here, chances are you’ll be able to know how effective they can be. Good luck![/quote]

Thanks for your comments, Doug. Definitely very insightful. I’m not really surprised by your experience with the first trainer. It sounds like that had more to do with the fact that the trainer was not entirely competent rather than distance consultations per se.

I may try to scout out some trainers in the area (San Diego, CA) and see what I find. Too bad all the big names seem to be in New England or New Jersey.

I really like your stance on the issue: They are interviewing for a job and must meet MY expectations or be fired. Great way to think of it.

I did a 6-week training program with Kelly Baggett about 6 months ago. The program was pretty individualized and based on as much information I could give him about me. I am a very focused individual and really pushed myself to improve each workout. I can’t say that it was entirely based on KB’s training because it could have been what I was or wasn’t doing before, but in those 6 weeks, I put 50 lb’s on my deadlift (from 255 to 305), 35 lbs. on my squat (from 215 to 250), took a tenth of a second of my 10 yard dash and added 3" to my running vertical. I play college basketball so I was obviously most excited about the improvements in acceleration and my vert. He also answered any questions I ever had.

You’re obviously not going to get the benefit of working with someone in person. Someone who can watch and pick up on things you might not realize, know when to stop something if they sense something is off etc. I had to auto-regulate some of my work which took a second to figure out, but it eventually really helped improve my awareness about myself. So, all in all, it was a very good experience. The only reason I’m not working with him is he kind of got me inspired to enter the business eventually, and for now, I’m doing all the reading and research I can to start experimenting on myself and figure out what’s best. But you can be sure a lot of what I’ll be doing will be influenced by his stuff. :wink: