The Difference between Online Programming Vs. Online Coaching

Coach Jess Sally

With so many challenges, fitness programs, YouTube videos and “experts” on social media, it can be totally overwhelming. We all want to be healthy, but finding the right path to fitness for you can be hard when a thousand voices are yelling “THIS WAY!!!” 

There’s many programs and how to videos out there. You could spend a lifetime looking into them all, or you could ask some general questions to see if it’s right for you.

1. Does this promote “instant” change? Example “Lose 20lbs in a month.” “Do this exercise 5 minutes a day to have shredded abs.” 

2. Do the goals of the program line up with my goals? 

3. Are they pushy? Sign up now or else! 

4. Does this look safe? 

5. Am I expected to have a certain level of knowledge or fitness to start?

6. Do I need a certain amount of equipment? 

7. Do I need a certain amount of space? 

8. Does this fit into my budget? 

9. Is this realistically going to fit into my schedule? 

10. Is this sustainable long term? 

11. Does it take into account physical limitations? 

12. Is this a one size fits all approach? 

13. If I have questions, who do I reach out to? 

14. Am I forced into a contract? 

15. What is the theory behind the program? Is it credible? 

16. How will this help on the days I have no motivation? 

17. Am I paying for a coach or a program?

What exactly is the difference between an Online Fitness Program and an Online Coach? 

Online Programming – Trying to fit an individual into a program

Generally speaking, an online program delivers workouts, exercises or videos set days a week (or month.) It’s more of a one size fits all approach, like those leggings that have no sizes, just a lot of stretch! The better online programs will have demonstration videos and allow you to pick a beginner, intermediate and advanced level. They can have programs that you can do at home, with minimal equipment, while others require a full gym set-up. They can be low cost, but if they have a celebrity endorsement or are trendy, that cost can rise substantially. There’s usually limited (or zero) access to questions about the daily workouts or how to modify something that is too advanced or that you don’t have equipment for. For example, one online program, in the very first week, programmed weighted lateral squats with no guidance on how to change the movement if it’s too hard for you. While this movement is great for certain athletes in certain conditions, it would not be recommended for a large portion of the population.

One drawback of online programming is trying to fit an individual into a program, instead of creating the program for the individual. This can lead to discouragement when things are too hard or too easy, or worse, an injury. 

Pros: Can be low cost 

Cons: Can be too hard or high risk for injury 

Online Coaching – Creating the program for the individual

Online coaching can also take various levels of accountability. Some have a lot of client/coach contact, while others have minimal contact. Some are a group format while others are one on one. Usually the more contact between the coach and client, the higher the value of the service. The best online coaches will program for the individual, taking into account limitations of space, equipment, time, age and health conditions. They will have variety but more importantly, they will know why they’ve programmed each exercise. They will program based around your specific goals. They will have a variety of tools at their disposal to create a program that is safe and effective. An advanced runner who wants to run a marathon in under 2 hours would have a different program from a mom of 3 who is starting to exercise again. They will outline how a client can ask questions and when they can expect a response. They will adjust the programming based on client feedback and concerns. The best online coaches center their program around the needs of you, the individual.

Catalyst Fitness & Nutrition coaches have a proven method to deliver Online Coaching for anyone. If you’re interested in beginning your fitness journey or need specialized coaching and someone to hold you accountable, we’re here to deliver. Click here to get started.