Online Fitness Programs Growing in Popularity

ANAHEIM, Calif. – The benefits of a personal trainer and the convenience of the Internet have come together in the latest fitness trend: online personal training. This concept emerged about ten years ago, but in the past five years, online training programs have amplified in popularity, said an expert yesterday at the American College of Sports Medicine’s 15th-annual Health & Fitness Summit & Exposition.

NiCole Keith, Ph.D., FACSM, explained that online personal training is a convenient and effective option for exercisers.

“Offering personal training and group fitness classes online makes it easier for clients and fitness professionals to work together while also eliminating expenses for rental space, gym memberships and travel time,” said Keith, who is an Associate Professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). “What’s more, online personal training is an approachable option for morbidly obese individuals who are unable or unwilling to seek help outside of their home.”

Keith and a team of IUPUI researchers recently tracked the effectiveness of their own online group fitness program. At the beginning and end of Keith’s eight-week program, nearly 40 previously inactive adults performed several exercise tests, including arm curls, a step test and flexibility tests, among others. Participants experienced marked improvements in all physical abilities – with a 34-percent improvement in arm curls, a 31-percent improvement in the step test and a two-inch gain in upper body flexibility.

“We also saw mental gains in my group fitness program,” said Keith. “The participants pushed harder, understood their body’s response to exercise and began to believe in their abilities during those eight weeks. By the end, they had a nine-percent increase in outcomes and expectations.”

All fitness programs come with pros and cons. While online training is accessible, convenient and affordable, it can also be risky for clients who are not honest about their abilities. Still, Keith believes online training programs are here to stay.

“People are very comfortable interacting this way,” said Keith. “I don’t think online personal training will go away.” 


The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 40,000 international, national and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.