5 Things I Learnt in my First Year of Online Personal Training

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Online Personal Training has taken off, big time.

The first I heard about it was from Matt Ogus, a pretty famous YouTuber who was coached by 3DMUSCLEJOURNEY a team of natural bodybuilders. These guys are still as far as I am aware one of the leading online coaching teams out there, and with good reason too.

However, I didn’t think much of it at the time, I just enjoyed watching Matt’s videos. Yet it was clear that he knew what he was doing, and he had great results too. He was very positive about his coaching experience, often pushing others to follow suit. It starting making sense to me, because if you have a problem with your kitchen drain you get a plumber in to help you out, just like if you have a specific goal with your training or physique you get someone with a lot of experience to give you a hand.

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[bctt tweet=”It seems like everyone is doing online coaching these days”]

Roll on 5 years and Online Personal Training is everywhere, there are people promoting it on instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and I am one of them. However, I started doing some online coaching on the side of my full time job about 2 years ago, and it was still relatively small. From there I went full-time into in person coaching and slowly my online side grew, I transitioned to doing both part time and this past year I have been doing Online Personal Training full time, and the market has grown exponentially.

[bctt tweet=”Pop-tart coach, Macro coach, Because I’m shredded coach…”]

I’ve worked with over 100 people online, and my coaching has changed dramatically, I mean it should right? You learn from your mistakes and all that. However, my philosophies have remained the same and are held within my branding ‘Revive Stronger’ which basically means always getting better; whether it be lifting more weight, getting a better relationship with food or advancing ones education. Now some people think you can’t get the same results online as you can one on one, and I disagree.

I am going to take you through the 5 main lessons I learnt in my first year as an Online Personal Trainer.


1) The Results are Mind Blowing

You only need to look at some of my testimonials to see how well online coaching works. Below is Rob who came to me looking to compete in natural bodybuilding. He lost over 20lbs and actually increased his strength (it baffled me too), as you can see he was also shredded to the bone (and won his class).

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Results also don’t need to be physical mind you, some of the best results I have had with people are mindset. Check out Scott below, he may have not changed in a big way physically between the two photos, but mentally he has had a complete shift. From a position of food restriction, and not enjoying exercise, to eating everything under the sun and now doing his first Powerlifting meet.

[bctt tweet=”Online Personal Training generates outstanding results; physical & psychological “]

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Whether it is dropping fat, gaining muscle, competing or just improving peoples understanding of their bodies needs online personal training is bloody good at all of it. I’ve helped people across the globe improve physically and mentally and most importantly enjoy their training and nutrition more than ever before. That is why I love what I do.


2) Online Personal Training isn’t for Everyone

I’d be lying if I said it could work well for everyone, and that all the people I have worked with have had tremendous results. The thing is as an online personal trainer you cannot be there in person with your client. You can’t cue them when they’re squatting, or help them weigh out their food.

Online Personal Training works incredibly well for those with a degree of experience and knowledge. If you have never lifted a weight before or heard of a macronutrient, then I don’t think online personal training is for you. I’ve had clients sign up and I’ve had to let them go because they simply need in person coaching to teach them proper form on exercises.

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Educating someone about what protein is and why it is important they eat a certain amount is one thing but trying to teach someone how to hinge at the hips is incredibly difficult over the internet. I’ve had great success in improving someones technique who already has an idea on how to do the basic compound movements, but I do not think it’s a good way to teach someone the basics. As a pre-requisite my clients must have at least 6 months experience lifting.

[bctt tweet=”Teaching someone how to squat online is like trying to find water in a desert”]

I’ve also had people who seem very promising at the beginning, they are getting everything on point and we are seeing great results. But then they stop responding, for whatever reason something comes up in their life, and so they stop responding, we lose all contact. This is frustrating, but because you are online, and not there in person, you cannot really help in these situations. They’re rare, but they do happen.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFOf6EXHg68

Finally if you are not already driven and motivated to get results you cannot expect an online personal trainer to give you that. Sure I can provide fresh routines, but you need to want to go to the gym and work hard, an online coach cannot do that for you. Personally I cannot work with people who are not themselves willing to put in some effort, that goes for in the gym and with their nutrition. Thankfully I do now always have consultations before people sign up, so I can chat with them, find their ‘why’ and we can get a mutual understanding of what is expected.


3) You Don’t Get it Right from the Get Go

When a client signs up with you and you take them through their nutrition plan and training programme and explain how you expect things to go. They don’t always go how you expect.

Human bodies are complex, and people are funny things, so as a coach you can’t expect to get things perfect from day 1. I always tell my clients that I don’t expect them to be perfect straight away, and that it might take some time to get used to some of the things I am asking them to do. They may not be familiar with weighing themselves each morning or tracking their workouts for example. I also tell them that I have set things up in the way I deem best according to the information I have gathered, used in combination with my experience and knowledge, but it may need tweaking.

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The art of coaching comes in after several weeks, after those weeks have past the results increase exponentially. As a coach I have some basic ways I set things up, these are foundational principles that every personal trainer should use, like you should aim to lose weight at around 1% a week and someone should be able to perform around 8 to 10 reps at 75% of their 1 rep max, things like that. These however don’t always go to plan, maybe the person thought they were maintaining weight on 3000 calories but it was actually much less so they didn’t lose weight their first week, or they may have over estimated their 1 rep maxes so only got 3 reps at 75%.

[bctt tweet=”Coaching is an art, give it time & you will paint a masterpiece”]

That is why I don’t want people signing up for just a month, and actually have a compulsory 3 month sign up, because I am tailoring everything to fit them overtime, art takes time and results don’t come overnight.


4) Online Personal Training is A LOT  of Work

I never got into online personal training because I thought it was an easy route, it just kinda happened and I fell in love with it. Some think it’s easy and that online coaches are on the beach sipping cocktails with their laptops. Wow well you are in for a real awakening, I wish it was like that but to be frank I have never worked so much in my life.

The thing is the job is pretty much constant, because you are available to your clients all the time. Personally I have a guarantee that I will respond to a client within 24 hours, and normally I am much quicker than that. This is part of the reason online personal training works so well, because you can keep people accountable 24/7.

So I have pretty much got a constant stream of emails to reply to, plus on top of that I update each client weekly, if not twice a week, depending on their situation. With that I make any tweaks required to their programme and answer any questions they might have. I also analyse any form videos they have sent across and do a video update too, so we get to talk face to face.

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Now that’s just the time taken up for weekly coaching, there is also the time taken programming their microcyles, mesocycles, macrocycles (training) and nutrition. Often I work with physique competitors and powerlifters, this means periodising their training and nutrition months in advance, and believe that takes time!

For example I am working with Blair, he has a Natural Bodybuilding show in May. So I work backwards from there planning out what I think his bodyweight should be month to month, when I think we should start implementing refeeds and taking diet breaks. Plus I am setting his first mesocycle up, making sure he is lifting in a way that is going to promote muscle retention. Once that is all set up it isn’t like it just happens, me and Blair check in every week, monitoring how things are going. Maybe we need to implement refeeds sooner or push him into a bigger deficit. Potentially Blair could be exhausted and we need to deload sooner and change his programming. That’s not even thinking about the posing practice and support required to eventually compete on stage. You see it takes up a big chunk of time.

[bctt tweet=”Online Personal Training is not a ticket to beaches & cocktails”]

Finally you also need to keep up to date with the latest and greatest in health and fitness. Too many personal trainers do not continually educate themselves, and that is a problem. Personally I listen to a podcast everyday, research and write blog articles every week, read a new book every month and go to as many seminars I can in the year. This all takes heaps of time (and money) and then if you really care about your clients you share as much of this with them, educating them with the practical information they need to know.

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My girlfriend always tells me I work too much, my mum always tells me I give away too much for free. But I love what I do, and if you don’t love it, and you think online personal training is an easy route to a big income, I am sorry to inform you, you’re wrong.


5) Results Matter

Results matter much more than your knowledge. Sure you could be the smartest fitness professional in the world, but you need to be able to get results. You need to have a good grasp of and use the basic principles but if your clients don’t like you, cannot relate to you, don’t understand you, they sadly will not get the results they’re after.

[bctt tweet=”If your clients don’t like you, can’t relate to you or understand you, they won’t get results”]

If a client misses a workout, or screws up their diet and you send them back an email telling them how they’re a failure and they won’t get results then you are not only a d*ck but you are a bad coach who will not get results. You need to be relatable and understand that unlike you other peoples lives do not revolve around fitness. They have other commitments, whether it be studies, a job or family, they cannot be perfect all the time.

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Don’t get me wrong, I still get frustrated at times but I just make sure I put myself in their shoes. A big part of the reason I get results is because I am relatable. I talk to people on their level, I don’t judge them for their actions, I encourage, educate and guide. Often I’ve had clients say sorry for messing up, and I tell them they don’t need to apologise to me, I am only trying to understand their situation and guide them in the best way possible to see the result they want.

My coaching style changes depending who I am working with too. My client Ryan needed me to kick him up the backside at times, if I was too softy softy then he would end up falling off the plan. Whereas my client Lyndsey required reassurance that it was OK if she wasn’t perfect all the time, she was the opposite to Ryan and was too hard on herself. As a coach I often found I needed to save the client from themselves, some people need tough love and some people just need encouragement and reassurance.

[bctt tweet=”As a coach you guide, you do not dictate”]

In addition to being what is essentially a people person you also require experience. I know when I first started I didn’t have everything down to a T. Some of the things I have learned over the past year cannot be taught, they just come with experience.

When I first started I was only tracking my clients weight, macros and checking over their training. Whereas now I track everything I can; training volume, estimated 1 rep maxes, fatigue, sleep, nutritional accuracy, satiety, energy levels, daily body weight, weekly body weight, monthly body weight and of course their nutrition.

A photo posted by Steve Hall (@revivestronger) on

Also having competed in both bodybuilding and powerlifting I now know what my clients can expect on the day of their competitions. Without having these experiences I really wouldn’t know how to guide them on the day, and basically couldn’t do my job.

So experience comes from all angles; the people you work with, the educational resources you pick up and your own in the field practice.


 My First Year as a Full Time Online Coach

As you can see I have learnt a lot in my first year, and I hope to continue to learn and improve my service. Whether it is making my clients lives easier, improving my knowledge in programming or finding new ways to improve adherence. A quote I love and live by is “Never knowing, always learning” — not sure where I got that from, but it is something I think is very important for anyone in this industry.

Finally I just want to say cheers for reading this, and if you have been following me for some time then awesome or if this is the first thing you have read of mine that’s cool too, let’s make 2016 another great year of learnz. I for one am very excited for what the year brings.

Personal & Coaching Accomplishments in 2015

  • Transitioned from part-time to full-time online coaching.
  • Moved out from my parents (now in London).
  • Competed in my first Powerlifting Competition.
  • Took 3 people to the Physique stage (Rob Graham, Jonno & Jared Cave).
  • Peaked Cameron to qualify for Powerlifting Nationals (got high hopes for him this year).
  • Worked with and helped over 100 people!
  • Produced and sold my first ebook (Get Big, Stay Lean)
  • Was in thePTDC best reads 10 times and was in it 8 weeks in a row, topping categories twice!
  • Moved from my old wordpress site to this fully fledged site.
  • Became a coach for Mike Samuels of Healthy Living, Healthy Lifting
  • Was named one of the top 33 coaches to watch out for in 2016

On that last point, I don’t know whether I deserve to be there or not, but I do know I am going to work my ass of to make sure I will be someone you’re seeing in 2016!

#ReviveStronger

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About Us

Revive Stronger means always improving, never being satisfied and that nothing is impossible.

If you’re unhappy with your body or don’t enjoy exercise, maybe your diet is dull or restrictive, we want to help you because you too can Revive Stronger. With our knowledge and experience, we have the ability to provide anyone with the right conditions needed to provide them with the results they desire.

We are a personal coaching service that helps you achieve your goals.
We want you to become the best version of yourself.

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