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The Invention of Online Personal Training

31/03/21 (7 Minute Read)

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Around 12 years ago, in a college classroom in Tralee Co. Kerry, I invented online personal training.

 

Well, sort of…

 

Our 20-strong class was stuffed into a cramped computer room in the older South Campus of IT Tralee for a business module as part of my Health, Fitness, & Leisure course. Being 2009, the computers were slow, noisy, and their screens were reminiscent of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s one hit wonder Baby Got Back; their impressive posteriors stretching back from the pixelated screen a good 12 inches.

 

Our educator, who was very much a Business Studies lecturer, had clearly drawn the short straw in the lecturers’ office. This meant that, once a week, she was the one who had to pack her bags and leave the plush North Campus where she was surrounded by polite, well-dressed business and IT students to slum with a group of rowdy sports nuts dressed in their county’s O’Neills tracksuit. She made no attempt to hide her annoyance with us. 

 

The previous week, as punishment I think, she had set us the task of coming up with a business idea that was new and exciting but it had to be related to sport. I had just purchased my very first laptop, it wasn’t much smaller than the PC terminals we were sitting in front of, but it got me thinking, the world was getting smaller.  Combine this with the fact that the previous semester we had completed a module and received a qualification in personal training and I had my Einstein moment; personal training – but online! 

 

Now, I was not a good student. This was mostly because, in my very first assignment in first year, I had received great feedback to the point where the lecturer had given me praise in front of the entire class. I obviously had this college stuff sussed, so it was time to put the feet up and meander through the rest of the course.

 

So three years later, when I had what I thought was a winning idea, I was excited. I was so excited that I was one of the first people into the computer room that morning where we had to give an informal summary of our idea to the class. But even with this newfound love for education, and being there in plenty of time to have my pick of the seats, I still chose the one furthest away from where the lecturer tended to stand in the cosy computer lab. 

 

My idea was so good, I wanted it to be the last one everyone heard speak.

 

The lecturer made her way down the rows of students, each idea getting critiqued and twisted but generally accepted as a good idea. I counted down the students until I could claim my rightful praise and be carried aloft from the room on my classmate’s shoulders. Three students before me, my dreams were shattered into tiny, little pieces

 

“I think I could set up personal training, but do it over the internet,” he offered. 

 

I swore out loud.

 

And though his idea was given the most positive response from the rest of the class, any relief or optimism he felt was soon squashed when our lecturer scornfully responded: “The thing with personal training is that people want the personal touch, they want your undivided attention, they want you there in person.” 

 

The world is a different place now and we can look back and laugh at that lecturer’s apparently blinkered view of the fitness industry. But in a weird way, despite being very much a business lecturer rather than an expert in the area of health and fitness, she wasn’t wrong either. 12 years ago that was the view of personal training. Either one to one in a gym, or with one coach and however many clients you could squeeze into a hall, there was a rigid idea of what personal training and fitness classes should be. 

 

It’s interesting to look back and see the evolution of online fitness, in a way it has grown up with social media like two next door neighbours born around the same time and exploring the world together; pushing boundaries, seeing what they can achieve.

 

The nature of that relationship is a topic for another blog, a whole book even, but for now, let me just say it’s not necessarily the healthiest of relationships. And that’s not the fault of the fitness industry or of the individual coaches, trainers, and gyms who ply their trade online. There has never been another option, it has been a case of either you master social media or you fail as a coach.

 

But it’s time to make the main thing the main thing again. It doesn’t matter the format, it doesn’t matter how you get your help. What matters is that you find someone who suits you, and someone who cares about you as a person, not just as a client.

 

And good coaches who care about their clients and the industry as a whole must be supported and easy to find too. We’ve been doing that for some time now in the physical space, but now we need to do it for online coaches and instructors as well. 

 

And that’s why we at thegymadvisors.ie have created the fairest and simplest online fitness marketplace there is. 

 

It’s free, it’s simple, and it’s quick. Just answer a couple of quick multiple choice questions about what you’re looking for and we’ll show you the profiles of the people who match. Then it’s just a matter of shooting them a message directly from their profile page.

 

12 years after that lecturer looked down her nose at the idea of online personal training, while I can’t claim to be the inventor of the idea, I’m still proud to be part of a small team who is doing everything we can to make the fitness industry a healthier, safer, and more efficient place.

 

But still… Damn, I wish I’d trademarked Online Coach!

 


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