Skype Your Way into the World of Virtual Fitness
by Dejinira Lee
I didn’t grow up dreaming of being a personal trainer. I didn’t play sports in school. In fact, when I look back on my young adult years, I was on the fast track to a very unhealthy lifestyle. I was a pack-a-day smoker and ate junk food every single day. I knew I had to get my act together so I quit partying, joined a gym and hired a personal trainer. I have never felt better.
I remember when I was young someone told me I should look for a job that offered stability and a paycheck, but not to waste my time looking for something I enjoyed because I would grow to resent it. Fast forward several years and many cubicles later —sure I had a steady paycheck, but I was miserable. I decided to go back to school, but had no idea what I wanted to do. One day a friend asked me what I really enjoyed doing. My answer was “Exercise, but who makes a living doing that?” She challenged me to go to different gyms and ask questions—gain knowledge. So, I quit my job, walked into a gym and asked if they were hiring. Now I’m not suggesting that this is the way one should go about changing careers, but the stars were aligned for me that day and three weeks later I was somehow teaching a class.
One month later I was teaching three classes per week and a few months and many classes later my fitness manager asked if I would be interested in becoming a personal trainer.
From that point forward my education was geared toward health and fitness. I have learned so much not only from books, but through each and every client that I’ve trained. One of the most important lessons has been that training is so much more than physical. It is mental, emotional and spiritual. Over the years I have been fortunate enough to train clients, teach classes, mentor instructors and travel the world educating people on healthy living. It has been my goal from the beginning to impact as many people as I can and get people healthy one step at a time.
One day I saw a TV show where a doctor was performing an examination on a patient, virtually. She lived abroad but was able to consult with patients through a robotic computer screen. I thought, “how cool would it be to train clients that way?”
I wasn’t sure how it was going to work, but my curiosity was peaked. I just needed to find a willing and able body that I could practice on. It didn’t take long before we were up and running—literally. My biggest concern was making sure that I could help my clients achieve the proper form so they could accomplish great results without injury. Today I teach up to 10 virtual classes a week in addition to my IRL (in real life) sessions.
How Virtual Training Works
All you need is a computer, laptop or iPad: even a smartphone and you’re ready to roll. There are so many ways to connect on the net via Skype, Google Hangouts, Oovoo and Facebook just to name few. I usually check in with a text, a few minutes before the session begins, so we each have time to login and we’re ready to work when the camera comes on. Sometimes we may even change up the scenery and head to a local park or even their backyard. The sky’s the limit.
Just like training sessions in real time, session time and frequency are at the client’s request. I must admit scheduling took some getting used to, especially when training clients abroad. Be prepared for some unusual working hours.
Assessing New Clients
When I begin training a new client, I always perform an assessment, which may include postural analysis, health history, and a strength and flexibility test. I also take an inventory of what equipment they have including things around the house because we all know you don’t have to belong to a gym to get a great workout. That way I can design a program that will best suit the client and help them to achieve their goals in the best way possible. Form is so important, so I always have eyes on my client, ready to make adjustments if and when necessary.
What Equipment Works Best
There are so many great workout tools out there. My clients range from having a set of weights and a mat, while others have gyms that are fully equipped. We always make it work with whatever is available. You aren’t limited to what’s in front of you.
Once my new clients get more comfortable with virtual training, we really start to have a good time. We may have a little challenge to see who can plank the longest or take 60 seconds to find an item in the house and turn it into a piece of exercise equipment.
Why It Works
The beautiful thing about virtual training is the simplicity of how it works. You don’t have to leave your house. I’ve worked with several people who don’t feel comfortable exercising in a gym or around large crowds. You also don’t need to pack a gym bag, get in the car or drive anywhere. It’s nice to save the commute time. You can just roll out of bed and login. Heck, it doesn’t even matter if you don’t brush your teeth! Can’t say that when you’re training IRL. You’ve got hotel rooms for travelers, park benches, the beach, hills in your neighborhood: get out in the open, even the tightest space in the home can provide enough for a great workout. As long as I can see the moving parts, it’s all good. You can work wherever you are.
I have also found that the cancellation rate is almost nil with virtual training. In this day and age we spend so much time on the computer; we might as well be getting some good physical fitness out of it.
It seems to me that the ease of getting in a great workout without having to leave home has given clients an extra boost of energy to use elsewhere. I love it when my clients check in with reports of additional workouts done on their own and more mindful eating habits. One of my clients who lives in the Caribbean has been working diligently, checking in constantly and logging her food in a 3rd party app. She’s lost 17 pounds in 12 weeks. Another has developed a passion for fitness and food, which led her to complete a Spartan Race and with no previous experience has developed Briskbars healthy energy bar, which just ranked a #1 new seller on Amazon.
The bottom line is that the world is full of people who just need a little guidance and support so they can live healthier lives. Thanks to virtual training technology, trainers have a whole other avenue to reach potential clients and change lives for the better, and clients have more access to a wider range of personal trainers. It’s a win / win. You just have to be open and willing to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. I’m glad I did so I can continue my goal of getting everyone healthy and fit. If you or your clients are interested in Virtual Personal Training they can find me at google.com/+DejiniraLee
About the Author
Dejinira is a Total Gym GRAVITY Trainer, BOSU Master Trainer Levels I and II, and an ACE trained Clinical Exercise Specialist. She currently works with golfers, instructors and regular clients of all fitness levels, in both a Virtual and Studio setting, focusing on improving strength, range of motion, balance and agility.
As well as an ACE certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and nutrition specialist since 1997, Dejinira received her education from UCLA’s specialized Fitness & Nutrition program and Tufts University for Total Nutrition.
“I love meeting the different needs of my clients! It keeps my mind active and inspires me to keep learning. There’s no better feeling than hearing my clients say “I can’t believe I did that!”