The Best Online Personal Trainers
- Best for Women: Girls Gone Strong
- Best for Athletes: The Big Dawgs
- Best For Home Workouts: Forge Fitness
- Best for Beginners: Trainiac
- Best to Find Independent Trainers: Trainerize
- Best Inexpensive App: The Transform App
Online personal training is a flexible and cost-effective alternative to traditional personal training and can help you reach your health and fitness goals faster than going at it alone. While it’s growing in popularity, it can be expensive, time-consuming, and challenging to find the right person to help you achieve your goals.
Virtual personal training offers you the flexibility to work out on your own time, exercise at home or the gym, and have a professional keep you accountable to your program. It allows you to explore more options not limited by location and choose the trainer that is the best fit for you.
Most programs offer in-app programming and support, as well as video or phone calls with your trainer. Here, we aim to help you find the best online personal trainer for you based on factors such as price, availability, platforms used, and the accreditations and certifications they hold.
Our Top Picks
Best for Women: Girls Gone Strong
Why We Chose It: Girls Gone Strong was selected as “best for women” due to its strong reputation for offering fitness programs designed specifically for women’s bodies and capabilities.What We Like
- Designed specifically for women
- Incorporates nutrition, training, and mindset coaching
- Mobile app
- Individualized, customized plans
- Able to message your coach at any time
- Weekly and monthly coaching check-ins
What We Don’t Like
- Only opens registration twice a year; must sign up for pre-sale list for early access
- Expensive compared to other similar programs with no virtual coaching calls
- No virtual sessions or classes
- Most beneficial if you have prior exercise experience
- Money-back guarantee only after completing the 1-year program
Girls Gone Strong (GGS) uses GGS teaching principles to develop extensive personalized programs for their clients. A long-term commitment is encouraged, and programs start at $1,999/year if enrolled during pre-sale, but monthly packages start at $199/month. Programs include strength training and cardio workouts, mindset coaching, and nutrition guidance. They do not offer meal plans but rather focus on teaching you the skills to make proper food choices. They also have a heavy emphasis on building a healthy lifestyle and practicing good habits.
Molly Galbraith, certified strength and conditioning specialist and co-founder of Girls Gone Strong, leads their online training program. Their trainers have completed the GGS women’s coaching specialist certification and are taught how to address common issues that many women encounter while working out. They have open enrollment twice a year, and the website states that spots are limited. They do not offer virtual sessions and focus solely on online programming and communication through their app. Lastly, they offer a money-back guarantee if you complete the 12-month program and are not satisfied with your results.https://cd22f0fc9060d297f3503a9e9a74b457.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
Best for Athletes: The Big Dawgs
Why We Chose It: The Big Dawgs was selected for “best for athletes” because of its focus on functional fitness and sport-specific programming.What We Like
- Individualized programming
- Lifestyle and nutrition coaching
- Monthly 1:1 video calls
- Starts with a physical assessment
- All online through the TrueCoach app
- Ability to message your coach anytime through the app
What We Don’t Like
- Expensive—starts at $265/month
- Designed for athletes, heavy Crossfit influence, not for beginners
- Requires equipment or access to a gym
- Requires a coaching agreement
The Big Dawgs is known for Crossfit programming and helps its athletes achieve their greatest potential through online coaching. Many of the Big Dawgs coaches are experienced athletes and Crossfit coaches, and they hold multiple specialty certifications such as those in powerlifting, gymnastics, and mobility. Their program does not require a long-term commitment but always encourages it as that is the best way to get results. You can register at any time, and plans start at $265 per month.
The major benefit of their program is that it includes video calls and unlimited messaging with your coach. Not sure if you’re doing something properly? Take a video and send it to them for feedback or review it at your monthly check-in.
The Big Dawgs works with athletes of all types, particularly those interested in Crossfit or functional training. This is not a program for beginners, and most workouts require gym access or a well-equipped garage gym. They use TrueCoach, an online training app, to schedule your workouts, upload video demonstrations, communicate with you frequently, and review each workout’s results.
They also offer nutrition coaching and educate you on adequately fueling your body and achieving the results you are looking for. There are no refunds or money-back guarantees, but they have a variety of coaches to choose from so there are many options to find a coach who is a good fit. Bottom line: This workout is great for those who are relatively fit, have a basic understanding of proper form and scaling for intensity, and want to take their training to the next level.
Best For Home Workouts: Forge Fitness
Why We Chose It: Forge Fitness was selected for “best for home workouts” due to its personalized approach, the inclusion of 1:1 video calls to review form or keep you motivated, and its ability to design a program that you can do at home with the equipment you have available.What We Like
- Personalized workout program
- Unlimited in-app messaging between you and your coach
- Less expensive than other similar programs
- Includes 1:1 video chat sessions
- Can be done from home
- Can enroll at any time
- Has a registered dietician on staff
- No long-term commitment
What We Don’t Like
- Basic program does not include nutrition
- No money-back guarantee
- Limited trainer choices and you are assigned a trainer based on your goals
Forge Fitness is a great option for beginners or those who do not have access to a gym. It is less expensive than other personalized online training programs and offers many of the same features, including video sessions and unlimited in-app messaging. We also liked that they have a registered dietician on staff, which is important if you have special dietary restrictions or health concerns like diabetes or heart disease. The dietician will ensure that you have an appropriate meal plan for your needs.
The workouts are tailored to your fitness level and are designed to work with your home equipment. Only have a pair of dumbbells and a band for now? No problem; they will develop a program that works. All their programs are run through an app and include video demonstrations and in-app messaging.
Forge Fitness programs start at $100/month and go up from there. The basic program does not include nutritional guidance or meal planning, so be aware that you need to upgrade your program to access those services. You can enroll at any time, and video chats are scheduled once or twice a month, depending on your program.
Every Forge Coach or Dietitian is fully certified and licensed through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), American Council on Exercise (ACE), or the National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA). You can cancel your program anytime with 10 days’ notice, but they do not honor a money-back guarantee. Bottom line: Forge Fitness is a great option for those looking to try online personal training, have little experience, and need a more personalized approach to exercise at a reasonable price.https://cd22f0fc9060d297f3503a9e9a74b457.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
Best for Beginners: Trainiac
Why We Chose It: Trainiac was selected as “best for beginners” due to its easy-to-use app, live group workouts, and unlimited in-app messaging with your trainer. If you don’t have much exercise experience or need someone continually telling you what to do, this is the choice for you.What We Like
- All programs are online, accessed through their app
- Workout videos to do on your own time
- Workouts can be done at home with minimal equipment
- Daily live group training sessions
- Unlimited messaging and support
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Less expensive than other options
What We Don’t Like
- No information online about their trainers other than the lead trainers
- No nutrition coaching or meal plans
- Only available for iPhone
- Video classes, not individualized workouts
Trainiac has been growing in popularity due to its reasonable price point ($99/month), motivating live classes, and great app interface. You can do live group classes every day and get feedback on your form and performance from the trainer. The Trainiac program is a little different than the others in that your assigned trainer develops a plan for you, but your workouts are in the form of pre-recorded exercises. You do have unlimited messaging and in-app support and can reach out when needed for tips, motivation, or feedback on the workouts. However, there are no 1:1 video calls included in the Trainiac program.
All of the Trainiac online personal trainers are certified through ACE, NSCA, ACSM, or NASM. They have a bachelor’s degree, multiple years of experience training clients in-person, and at least one additional wellness-related credential. Their website states that you can choose your trainer, but no information about the different trainers is available before signing up.
Trainiac offers 50% off their first month, has a 30-day money-back guarantee, and a user-friendly iPhone app. As of January 2021, their app is not available for Android. If you need some help getting motivated, want to work out from home, and have minimal equipment or experience, Trainiac is an effective and affordable way to try virtual personal training.
Best to Find Independent Trainers: Trainerize
Why We Chose It: Trainerize isn’t a personal training business itself but rather a third-party app that many individual trainers or small businesses pay to use. It is often challenging to find independent trainers that suit your requirements. Still, Trainerize has an easy to search database to help you decide, which is why we selected it for “best to find independent trainers.”What We Like
- Gives you the ability to search many trainers to find the right fit for you
- Able to find local trainers or specialized programs
- Individualized programming and workouts
- Option to incorporate nutrition and meal plans
- Well-designed app; connects with other health apps and tracks progress
- Includes many valuable app features
- Can start anytime
What We Don’t Like
- Trainers are not vetted before joining Trainerize
- Need to do your research on individual trainers
- Price ranges
- Trainerize is not responsible for client satisfaction
- No consistency between trainers
Overall, Trainerize is different from the other companies mentioned as it does not employ the trainers but rather serves as a third-party app. The app itself is very user friendly, allows the trainer to upload your workouts to your calendar, provide exercise demonstration videos, view photos, and body stats, and gives you the option to log your workouts and message your trainer at any time.
You can also sync the app with other health apps like MyFitnessPal and Apple Watch so all your data is in one place for your trainer to see. Pricing is dependent on who you hire and can range from free challenges to $500/month specialized programs. The app has the option for in-app video calls and the ability to run group coaching programs.
Unfortunately, trainers are not vetted before joining Trainerize; therefore, there is no guarantee that you are hiring someone as qualified as you believe them to be. It is important to do your research, check out their social media, read their website, and look for honest reviews. Many highly qualified fitness professionals on Trainerize can give you the personalized help and support you need but the online fitness industry has been diluted with fitness “experts” with no reputable certification, so you want to make sure you know who you are hiring.
Lastly, if you are looking to support a personal trainer in your town, you can search by zip code and seek out virtual services from local small businesses.
Best Inexpensive App: The Transform App
Why We Chose It: We chose this as the best inexpensive app because it offers a cost-effective solution for customizable online workouts and meal plans. It was created by TV personalities and extreme transformation duo Chris and Heidi Powell and is rated 4.5/5 with over 1100 reviews in the app store.What We Like
- Has multiple different programs to choose from depending on your goals
- Great app interface
- Excellent demonstration videos
- Workouts are easy to follow and can be done at home or the gym
What We Don’t Like
- No private messaging or trainer to keep you accountable
- Not ideal for specialized goals
- Meal plan can get complicated and requires a lot of planning
- Easy to fall off track
Brought to you by the extreme transformation duo Chris and Heidi Powell the Transform App is an inexpensive online training program. Their app, which is available in the App Store and Google Play, allows you to customize your workout plan, choose your meal plan, and offers an easy-to-use interface to help you reach your goals.
You can choose your type of workout (home, gym, dance, or cross-training) and set your calorie and meal plan preferences. The workouts are easy to follow, user friendly, and have a built-in timer and ability to track your stats after each workout. The app also has a nutrition feature where you can track your food and view macros and calories for the day. You can plan your meals for the week from their recipes database and put together a weekly grocery shopping list. The app subscription is only $14.99/month or $119.99/year. Unlike the other programs, this does not include access to a coach, virtual sessions, or in-app messaging.
If you are the kind of person who simply needs a great plan to follow, has some experience with exercise, and does not need someone checking in on them, then this app is for you. Although the meal plan feature is creative and will tell you exactly what to eat, it can be cumbersome to plan your entire week and shop for all the ingredients. It does include videos with nutrition education but no ongoing support.
Lastly, Chris and Heidi Powell are celebrity trainers with great personalities, making their workout demonstration videos the best we have seen.
All our products reviewed are excellent choices for online personal training and will help you get moving, stay consistent with your goals, and provide you with the accountability you need to achieve them. Many of them include weekly workout plans, personalized recommendations, nutritional guidance, one-on-one support, virtual sessions and videos, and someone to upgrade your plan as you move through each week of the program. If you’re just starting out, we recommend starting with Forge Fitness or the Transform App, depending on your budget.
Online Personal Trainers vs In-Person Trainers
Online personal trainers offer convenience, privacy, and portability. They also cost a lot less than in-person trainers. Plus, online training comes with a broader scope of professionals. If you look hard enough, you’ll find a trainer that meets most, if not all, of your expectations. Before signing on with an online trainer, make sure to ask about their credentials, experience, and education. They should have this posted online. To be on the safe side, you can always contact the certifying agency and ask if the trainer’s certification is current and in good standing.
On the other hand, in-person training requires meeting at a gym, fitness studio, or outdoor location. Some trainers do house-calls, but that is significantly more expensive than meeting at other locations. If you’re new to exercise or prefer more hands-on help, an in-person trainer might be the better choice. Seniors or anyone with chronic health conditions, injuries, or other specific needs, would benefit from working with a trainer in person. When in doubt, ask your doctor for guidance.
What Is Online Personal Training?
Online personal training enables you to work with an online fitness professional to help you reach your fitness goals. They often provide you with a workout plan, nutrition coaching, and continual motivation and accountability. Most online trainers run their programs through an app and may also offer virtual or phone sessions once or twice a month. You often have direct access to a trainer and can message them with questions, review your workouts for the week, and know there is someone else keeping tabs on your progress. Online training is suitable for those who are looking for a cost-effective solution to in-person sessions, travel often, or prefer to work out on their schedule.
What Type of Platforms Are Used?
Online personal trainers can use a variety of different platforms. Most companies use a third party app like TrueCoach or Trainerize, while others have their own app for you to utilize. The app download is always free for the consumer. Online personal trainers may also use video call services such as Skype, Facetime or Zoom for 1:1 or group sessions.
How Long Are the Programs?
You can choose how long you want to commit to a program. Most programs range from one month to 12 months. Longer programs usually offer a discount for paying in full.
What Types of Workouts Are Offered?
Online personal training is often individualized programming. This means they create the workouts for you based on your goals and the equipment available. Workouts include strength training, endurance, mobility exercises, and other specialized workouts depending on the program.
How Much Does an Online Personal Trainer Cost?
Online personal training ranges from $15/month for app access and $100–$300/month for personalized programming and 1:1 support.
Is Online Personal Training Effective?
Yes! The number one reason people hire personal trainers is to guide them through workouts and hold them accountable. Online personal training is a less expensive solution to in-person sessions and can offer the same benefits such as weight loss, muscle gain, increased confidence, and improved overall health.
How We Chose the Best Online Personal Trainers
In total, we considered 16 online personal trainers to compile this list and reviewed those that ranked high on internet searches and were recommended by other reputable online fitness websites. We considered cost, the program’s reputation (who founded it, oversees the program, and their qualifications), features included, direct communication with a coach. These factors are important as they form the distinction between virtual personal training and simply purchasing an online program. We excluded group coaching programs and those that did not offer the ability to customize your plan.