When the quarantine 15 became no laughing matter for me, I knew I had to get serious about getting back in shape. Yet, my options were limited. Not only were many of the gyms in my area not fully opened, but I also learned just how expensive it would be to get personal, one-on-one attention. It just wasn’t (and still isn’t) in my budget to pay $50 to $100 for a single training session with a trainer.
I set out to find less expensive alternatives, and I was actually really impressed with the options I found virtually. Online personal trainers seemed like this would be exactly what I needed to get back on track.
The Search for Accountability
For me, accountability is huge. I’d like to think I have the willpower to eat right or workout just for the greater good of my health, but it’s never quite that easy. Unless I’m involved in a challenge of some sort, I tend to lose interest or get distracted with other things.
This is why the idea of working with a personal trainer was so appealing. To me, having someone check-in and hold me accountable was exactly what I needed. Turns out, I’m not the only one that this approach works for either.
Research shows that group workouts and accountability are extremely helpful when it comes to weight loss and just being healthy overall. Countless health, workout, and weight loss programs have also been developed with this framework. If you’ve ever been to a group health meeting, taken on a challenge, or been to a boot camp of some sort, then you know this first-hand. The “in this together” mentality really works!
In recent years, there’s been a rising trend to hire nutrition and accountability coaches to really keep you track. You get education, personalization, and incredible accountability by working closely with someone like this.
While these are no doubt worthwhile and effective options, they can also be quite pricey. A personalized program with this type of coach will likely run you $300 to $500 a month. I definitely needed a more budget-friendly option. And that’s when I finally started finding solutions through the app store on my phone.
Finding the Person in ‘Personal Trainers’
It can be a little overwhelming when looking for a personalized option. I first started with Google searches like “virtual personal trainer” and “fitness coach,” and I was met with expensive options and minimum commitments of three months or more. There weren’t really a lot of try-before-you-buy options, and many felt like a sales pitch. But I didn’t give up.
At first, I would come across countless workout programs and meal plans that were automated. They may claim to have a program or provide a trainer, but it’s just a plan you follow on your own. These are usually really great, inexpensive options if you have the willpower to go at it on your own, but I wanted something more.
I wanted to talk and communicate with a real person. I wanted someone who would make adjustments or personal recommendations based on me. I knew it was a tall order to find something that wasn’t hundreds of dollars each month, but I was determined. And it paid off: I found several programs that offered real communication and personalization with a personal trainer.
I tested a few out and finally landed on a program called Kickoff. Within a few days, I had a call with my trainer, Amy Lynn, and she developed a workout plan and nutrition tips specifically for me. I told her I wanted to do barre and yoga a couple days a week, so she worked that into the plan. Then she put together strength workouts that I do through the app on my phone.
I’m only a few weeks in, so I don’t have any miraculous before and after pics (yet), but I have to say I’m impressed. I appreciate knowing Amy Lynn will text me every day to check-in, and she’ll make adjustments as needed to keep me motivated to workout. (I recently had a knee issue, and she tweaked my plan for that.)
This has been exactly what I needed to get back to living a healthy lifestyle. I didn’t think I would be able to afford a personal trainer, but it turns out at $99 a month I can. If this is something that you think would be a good fit for you, then see the top five options I found, listed below.
Top 5 Virtual Personal Trainer Options
Kickoff: This is the one I landed on, and I like it because it has multiple levels to choose from. I’m on the most affordable option of $99/month. I like that the messages from my coach come via text message, and while the workouts aren’t fancy or live, they get the job done. I like that I can go through them at my own pace. Nutrition basics are included, but the real emphasis here is the customized workouts and accountability with a coach.
Trainiac: I signed up for the trial of this one, and it’s really affordable at just $79/month. They even have a great option to train live with some of their trainers . Though the times for live classes didn’t quite fit for me because of time zones and work, I did appreciate that as an offering. With this program, you take a quiz upfront, and then they suggest a few coaches for you to choose from. It’s really an affordable way to try out virtual training.
Nerd Fitness Coaching: This one comes in a little more expensive, around the $200/month mark, but it has a large community online (check them out on Facebook) and access to lots of virtual workouts. They are a reputable, loved brand that has been in this space for a while. I was eager to give them a try, but they were weeks out from being able to take on new clients. (They only let their coaches take on a limited number of people.) Even though they’re a little more expensive, I think they’re a solid option for anyone.
Ladder: This one gets great reviews on the app store, and it’s also at the $99/month price point. I was planning to try this one, but they ask for payment right away without a free trial or really telling you what you get (as of now). So I opted to test the others instead. Still, it looks like it has great workouts and even group options, so it could be just the motivation you need.
Don’t overlook your local options, too. A lot of personal trainers and fitness pros are struggling to stay in business right now, and they’ve moved to offer virtual options. If you have a gym you frequent, reach out to them to ask if there’s anyone offering personal, one-on-one options. Or just do a search in your area. You might be surprised at what you find!