Online coaching vs In person coaching
This topic comes up in the gym every now and then, so I thought it may be worth discussing.
Coaches of any description are more accessible now than ever before – powerlifting, crossfit, weightlifting and strongman coaches, as well as nutrition, business, and lifestyle coaches. This is both awesome and unfortunate.
Awesome because the world has legitimate access to some amazing coaches – in the powerlifting world, Reactive Strength Systems, Boris Sheiko and The Strength Athlete, for example, all provide high level programming and online coaching services. You can live anywhere with an internet connection, and connect with and learn from these awesome people.
Unfortunate because the world also now has access to anyone who calls themselves a coach, and charges for that service. Including shirtless instagram bro #887, fit tea sponsored bikini model #756 and local comp winning powerlifter #643.
This problem is easily avoided by sticking with established, reputable online coaching services – you can enquire as to others experience with the service, their results, level of contact provided, etc. Most of these bigger coaching services have multiple experienced coaches, so you can find a great fit for you with someone who you can be confident knows what they’re doing.
Now the main reason I’m not a huge fan of online coaching (and why we do not provide an online coaching service through Black Flag) basically comes down to feedback, in particular the speed at which it is given. If I have a trainee in front of me, and a correction needs to be made… we can do it right then and there. We can do it prior to the next rep, or set… whatever the situation requires. We can discuss why, we can demonstrate physically, we can manoeuvre the trainee into position and help them feel what we are asking them to do feels like. All in ‘real time’ while the training session is underway. We can also adjust loading on the spot if necessary, or change exercises based on pain or injury.
For now, I mean who knows where technology will take things, online coaching does not provide this immediate feedback. You might get videos reviewed, and critique provided, but this happens after the fact – the reps have been done. If you are utilising a level of service that only provides programming, then you don’t get any ‘coaching’ at all. This doesn’t mean that reviewing footage after the fact is useless – far from it. It just doesn’t have the same impact as someone standing next to you, coaching in real time.
If you have the ability to train with a real life coach, in person, and you take your progress seriously – I think you’re mad not to. It might mean driving an extra 20 minutes to train, or paying more per month for a membership. But it will also add kilos to your total, inches to your frame and if you can’t make a 20 minute drive happen, how do you expect to make your goals reality?