The Difference Between Online Coaching and Doing Zoom Sessions

Getting Started

Jul 19, 2020

By Tim Saye

Running a 60-minute zoom training the same way you'd run your face-to-face sessions is not necessarily going to be enough for clients to achieve their desired outcomes. Much will depend on what they do with their time in the rest of the day and week. Great results and systems to provide accountability go hand in hand.

If you're a personal trainer who wants to make online coaching work for you, you'll need to provide more than seeing your clients for an hour in front of the camera. 

It doesn't mean you shouldn't if that's what clients feel they need, but the longer you work with clients online, the more you realise they need a system in place to keep them accountable and help them progress towards their goals.

In this article, we'll discuss the differences between proper online coaching and just running virtual PT sessions.

Individual Needs and Goals

Accommodating all the needs and goals of your clients via a zoom session once or twice a week is extremely difficult if not impossible. When the focus is on exercise, there's minimal scope to do anything else, like chatting about their nutrition or lifestyle. 

Sending clients an assessment questionnaire at the start of their journey and providing video coaching and check-ins, is a great addition to make sure they're on track.

Nutrition and Lifestyle Coaching

Whether or not your clients can progress towards their goals will depend on more than their workouts. Their nutrition habits are likely to have the most significant impact on most clients whose goal is to improve body composition.

Often though, it's not what they know about food or what they should or shouldn't eat that is the problem, but the habits that surround their lifestyle.

If you'd like your online personal training clients to see the results they desire and deserve, providing them with the knowledge, tools and system to improve those habits is imperative. You won't be able to do that during the time that is dedicated to their exercise, so setting up reminders and a habit tracking diary to help them keep an eye on those aspects daily can be of great help.

Flexibility in Schedule

I wouldn't advise you NOT to train your clients via Zoom, especially if that's what they want from you primarily. Limiting those hours, though, will free up both your and your client's schedule significantly.

With online coaching, you have the flexibility to manage your working schedule in a way that works for you. Your clients have the same freedom. When they're ready to exercise on their own, you can recommend them to switch from virtual sessions to online coaching, where you use your expertise and knowledge to design their workouts which they can complete around their schedule. You both retain complete autonomy over your time. The benefits of that are huge - for one, it allows you to go on holiday without losing all your income!

Habits, Accountability and Adherence

When working with clients who need and want a lifestyle transformation, working on their habits will be crucial. This emphasis on habit coaching allows the client to see incremental changes to their improvements - in every way. Fractionally better across nutrition, training, sleep, lifestyle, step counts - all of it. It all counts. 

Zoom sessions once or twice a week don't have the scope to help clients in this holistic way so the impact of those sessions is somewhat limited. They can be an excellent additional feature to a hybrid training model, so we shouldn't discredit it either. But creating a proper online coaching environment where clients can interact with you as often as they need so they keep progressing towards their goals will help them far more than weekly 1-2-1 sessions via video streaming services.


Zoom workouts certainly have their place - of course, they do. But if you're looking for a more flexible schedule, and the capacity to provide life-changing levels of coaching support, there is a better way.

If you're looking to transition your fitness business to something which fits in with your lifestyle long term - there might never be a better opportunity to take your business online. Building something now that can scale and grow could be a smart move for the forward-thinking personal trainer in the long run.

PT Distinction exists to help you provide life changing results that make your and your clients’ choices easier and better for life.