There’s a reason why workout buddies and accountability partners are a thing: It’s helpful to have someone along for the ride when embarking on health and fitness goals. While, yes, you’re absolutely capable of spear-heading your wellness journey on your own, having a person or people in your corner, experiencing it with you and rooting you on in the process, is incredibly helpful when it comes to the long haul. Of course, not everyone is surrounded by folks who want to make healthy lifestyle choices and prioritize time for movement each and every day. Thankfully, online coaches exist to fill the gap.
As encouraging and insightful as online health coaches can be, there are also many, many people out there that claim to be coaches without actually having the credentials. Additionally, every coach has a different approach, so it’s not exactly a quick and easy find. Luckily for us, health coach and Lululemon Studio Trainer, Amanda Robinson, who has 10 years of experience as a fitness coach and trains group fitness classes like barre, cardio, and dance, doesn’t believe in gatekeeping. Ahead, find her top tips for finding the best online coach for your personal fitness goals.
How to choose the right online coach for your fitness goals
1. Start by screening them
To kick off your online health coach search, you’ll want to do your due diligence. In other words: Make sure they’re legit.
“Take a deep dive in their professional materials such as their website and social media channels,” Robinson says. But whatever you do, don’t get caught up on followers. “Having a large following does not always equate to being a qualified coach,” Robinson says. “Rather, consider the trainer’s experience and expertise to ensure they are skilled and knowledgeable to support your needs.” To do so, she says to specifically look for professional certifications from nationally accredited fitness education providers, like the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) or the American Council of Exercise (ACE). An easy work around is using a platform like Future Fitness that only hires certified professional coaches, so there’s no questioning their experience levels.
2. Book a consultation
Since health coaches often operate under a contract or a set fee, you’ll want to ensure that you enjoy their approach before shelling out your cash (or, worse, wasting your time). To do so, book a consultation. “Most online coaches will offer an initial consultation and/or a complimentary trial of their workout program,” Robinson says. If they don’t, be wary.
3. See if you vibe
During your consultation, pay close attention to how your coach instructs and encourages you. “Take advantage of this [session] to get to know the trainer, their personality, coaching style, and specific program offerings,” Robinson says. “During a trial, explore what areas of expertise the coaching program may encompass such as strength training, cardio, mobility, and recovery options which are a great baseline of support.” Additionally, she says that the consultation is a great time to bring up any questions, topics, or concerns you may have to gauge if they’ll be able to meet your expectations.
4. Make sure they offer comprehensive coaching
In addition to confirming the types of programs they cover, Robinson says it’s important to consider how much variety of each the coach can offer. “Ideally, look for a program that offers guidance, as well as varying levels of difficulty as a clear way to progress along your fitness journey,” she says. “A good program will include ways to monitor your progress and offer assistance along the way such as one-on-one coaching sessions, virtual check-ins, measuring metrics, and ongoing resources for support to maintain accountability between sessions.”
On the topic of accountability in between sessions, Robinson adds that any offering that has a community aspect is a major bonus. “Whether it’s a Facebook group, online forum, or digital forum, this will help instill a sense of belonging, camaraderie, as well as provide additional resources for support to celebrate milestones along the way,” she says.
5. Check their reviews
While followers don’t guarantee that an online health coach is worth your while, reviews can give you a pretty good idea. “Reviews will give you an honest gauge of personal experiences others have had working with this coach or online program,” Robinson says.
In addition to checking reviews, she says to tap your friends for feedback. “Your friends will keep it real as to why they prefer a certain workout program,” she says.
The most important thing is that you invest your time, money, and trust in a credible fitness professional. “You want to make sure they have the knowledge to help you stay excited, educated, energized, and empowered throughout the workout program to crush your goals,” Robinson says.
In today’s world of fitness tech, there are a number of apps and platforms that offer real-time guidance from professional coaches who can help you not only reach your goals, but crush ’em. You’ll have to use Robinson’s tips to suss out the perfect fit, but the online fitness apps below are a step in the right direction.
Plans start at $149/mo.
When you subscribe to Future Fitness, you pretty much get a personal trainer in your pocket. The platform employs hundreds of certified trainers who are there to coach you as often as you need. Once subscribed, you’ll complete a questionnaire that matches you with four different options before scheduling a Strategy call via FaceTime where you can get to know your chosen coach and discuss your goals. From there, they’ll build a training plan each week and give you real-time feedback, schedule video messages, and meet face-to-face incrementally to check in. And if they aren’t your perfect match? You can change coaches for free at any time.
Plans start at $149/mo.
House of Athlete is a premiere training facility based in Florida that recently released HOA+, an equally premiere online personal training platform that offers one-on-one coaching in real time. With your HOA+ subscription, you’ll get access to the brand’s roster of expert coaches to create a personalized training plan and live coaching weekly. Wherever you have a phone, you can check in with your coach via the platform’s instant messaging app, access daily classes, and check in with your “tribe”, aka, other HOA+ members who are sweating it out, too.
Photo: Getty Images/Westend61
Plans start at $144/mo.
Whether you’re training for your first marathon or are recuperating from your last one, Flexit has a coaching program that can be tailored entirely to your needs. When you subscribe, you’ll set your goals and review your fitness background before getting matched with a certified coach who will create a schedule complete with weekly one-on-one sessions where you can check in, track progress, and tweak your schedule accordingly. And it’s not just personal trainers—Flexit has a roster of nutritionists, wellness coaches, and physical therapists you can book sessions with, too, so you can round-out your routine anyway you want.