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Are online personal trainers better than the real thing? Some experts aren't so sure

Many are looking to online videos and apps to help them bulk up or trim down, but some personal trainers say those new tools aren’t for everyone.

Videos and apps aren't the best way for everyone to get in shape, personal trainers say

Online training means you can work out in your condo and it can be cheaper and more convenient. But some personal trainers say it's not tailored to personal goals. (CBC)

With the rise of Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat, a new wave of fitness influencers have strived to make it easier to get in shape.

Now, many looking to bulk up or trim down are turning to online videos and apps for help, but some personal trainers say those new tools aren't for everyone.

For those with new year's resolutions to get fit, going online can be tempting.

'It's about your schedule'

Alicia Bell, a body builder and trainer, said she's been doing more online training with her clients and it can be cheaper and more convenient for those who want to get and stay in shape.

Alicia Bell, a bodybuilder and trainer, says she’s been doing more online training with her clients. (CBC)

"It's not about my schedule, it's about your schedule, and just up to you to follow the plan," Bell said.

"Usually people who get a trainer in person, that trainer is booked at certain times and you have to travel to them, whereas you can work in your condo if you don't have a gym."

With clients all around the globe, Bell said a downside to working with a personal trainer online is that a client may have a harder time getting supplements and foods needed to make the most of workouts.

"It can be a little bit challenging at times," she said. "It's a lot of back and forth communication to find out what's available for them, but you can make it work."

'Every body is different'

Personal trainer Bree Munno, who runs Balance with Bree, said videos and apps are often not tailored to specific personal goals.

Personal trainer Bree Munno says she prefers to train her clients in person to prevent injuries and make adjustments along the way. (CBC)

While many of her clients found her online, she prefers to train in person. That way, she can prevent injuries and make adjustments along the way.

"You're not doing what you need to be doing for your specific body," she said. "Every body is different."

While Munno said there are benefits to both training online and in real life, she doesn't think apps and videos are for everybody. She recommended training online and through apps for people who know their body well and already have an advanced fitness background.

"You can work with an app maybe to help you change up your programming and give you a little bit of a fresh perspective but without needing that direct attention," she said.

"If you're a beginner, definitely look into working with a fitness professional one-on-one because that person is going to be able to tell you a little bit more about your body."

In-person trainer can provide 'extra push'

Bell said doing online training only is recommended for people who have unusual schedules, know the gym and are self-motivated.

"If you are an accountable person where you're very internally driven, internally motivated and you can follow a plan … personal training is definitely for you," she said.

"If you do need that extra push, then you definitely should get an in-person trainer."

Searching for a personal trainer

When looking for a personal trainer, Munno recommended putting in the work to find a fitness professional.

"Personal training is a largely unregulated industry. You have to do your own research. You have to put in the time and the effort," she said.

"Look for someone's credentials. Make sure you know exactly what courses they've taken what education they have. Otherwise anyone can call themselves a personal trainer, and nobody is really policing it."

Munno said people should look for someone who is active and invests in their own health.

"Look for somebody who lives and breathes what they preach," she added. "You want somebody to be able to do what they're telling you to do."

Additionally, she said meeting with a trainer is essential to assess if that person is the best choice.

"That consultation is as much for you as it is for them. You're almost interviewing them," she said.

"You want to see how they would approach your body and your goals and make sure they're as invested in you as you are in your own goals."

With files from Natalie Nanowski