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Putting the Person Back in Online Personal Training [Experiment Results]

Posted Jan 28 2010 7:12pm

In an effort to keep their large geriatric clientele happy, my YMCA has recently added a floor show for their morning entertainment. A show so gripping that it even tops Ellen. (Note: not really. Nobody can top Ellen. I just wanted to work that in here somehow to tell you to check out MizFit's hilarious quest to get herself on The Ellen Show. If this doesn't do the trick, I don't know what will!) In a word: It's us.

There are some Experiments we do that draw a lot of comments from the gray-haired peanut gallery and this month's Personal Training (with actual person this time!) Experiment was one of those. Lindsey of Lean Bodies Fitness had the Gym Buddies and I doing all kinds of crazy things so on Monday I had to giggle when I overheard the following:

"Have you seen those girls? They just run everywhere! Can't even walk to get someplace."

"I know! They're crazy." (Charlotte's note: always the mark of a good Experiment!)

"It's gross. I've never seen a girl sweat so much." (This last one was said right as I ran by and, honestly, they're right. I sweat like the Amazon pre-Al Gore.)

The Experiment
This month was the first month of real, intense exercise I've been able to do since 6 weeks before my baby was, born marking a full 12 weeks off - barring my one Turbo class when she was a month old - of hardcore exercise. What a way to get back in! I asked Lindsey for a kick-butt workout and she sure gave us one. We sweated huge disgusting puddles inspiring Gym Buddy Krista to comment, "The worst thing about this Experiment is all the extra laundry." I would disagree - I think the all the lat work was the worst part (Anyone else have a body part they just abhor working? Mine are my lats. I'll never work them of my own accord!) - but the laundry was a close second. It only took me one load of washing the baby's stuff with mine to realize that "swotch" (a.k.a. sweaty crotch) is not a smell you want on your infant's onesie.

What I Liked
In contrast to the last time we used an online personal trainer, this time there was an actual person - Lindsey - involved. This made a huge difference. Our weekly check-ins with her helped keep me motivated and engaged. It also helped me cheat less knowing I was going to be reporting my reps and weights to her. I discovered that having a real live person to listen to you is kind of like a poor-man's therapy and since my therapist is now M.I.A. I let out all my weight woes to Lindsey. Girl was a darn good sport, refusing to get sucked into my drama. I gotta say it's hard to work up a good hysteria when the listening party insists on being rational. Lindsey calmed my anxiety by pointing me to her progress pics and telling me that she couldn't lose all the weight either while she was breastfeeding.

I think that the best part of working with an online trainer would be the adaptability. Seeing as this Experiment was only one month we didn't really get to test out this aspect but assuming you stick with things longer than I do (Me? Flighty? Wait, what's that shiny object over there!) then she would change the program to suit your changing needs.

What I Didn't Like
The workouts were tough to the point of brutal (barftastic was thrown around a lot) which was awesome and entirely what we asked for but I would have liked them to be a little more fun. Lunges ad nauseum may be difficult but they got a bit monotonous.

The other downside to an online personal trainer is that, well, they're online. While the Gym Buddies do a pretty good job of both motivating me and keeping me honest, it would have been better for all of us had we had her standing over us and fixing our form, kicking our butts and keeping us from watching the latest Inside Edition (trust me, you do not need to know that Heidi Montag wants to trade in her DDDs for "H's - for Heidi!" You want your initials on your body? Get a tattoo!).

Results
Not that this is the best measure of a workout but I lost a total of 3.8 pounds. For all my whining and moaning it was almost a pound a week which is pretty darn decent all things considered. The real success however was in my muscles - I lost a full inch off each thigh (joy!), 3/4 inch off my hips and 1/4 inch off my waist. I gained 1/4 inch on my biceps and my chest - well that fluctuates hourly so we won't talk about that one. While I'm still not back to my old dumbbell weights, I definitely improved this month and built some muscle. It felt good to be back hefting some serious iron again. Gym Buddy Allison, whose baby is just 6 weeks older than Jelly Bean, was back to her old ways of wowing us with her amazing strength. Girl uses a 65-lb curl bar for her upright rows! The mamas are back in business!

Gym Buddy Krista lost 2 pounds this month and 1/2 inch each off her butt and thighs. She had this to say: "It was very tough, got me out of my comfort zone, forced me to push myself, was quite boring...would have like to have seen 2 weeks worth of different workouts to be repeated once, was lunge heavy...would've like to have seen some creativity in those and the squats."

Gym Buddy Megan lost 4 pounds and is down 1/2 inch on her butt, 3/4 inch on her waist and 1/2 inch on her arm. She agreed with Krista's assessment of the workout.

Conclusions
Online personal training is a great option for people who can't or don't want to use a live in-person trainer but still want someone to kick their butt (vicariously). They are a convenient and affordable option for people who are good at self-motivating and really just need someone to tell them what to do next. Like any trainer there are good ones and bad ones so take the time to check out their credentials and make sure they are a good fit for what your goals are. I really enjoyed my time with Lindsey and was impressed with her service - I'd certainly recommend her!

On another note, I came to some very interesting conclusions about my diet over the course of this Experiment that I'll share with you next week. And, February's Great Fitness Experiment coming at you on Monday! (Hint: It's one you guys have been asking me to do ever since I started this blog and it's going to be a killer! I'm SOOO excited!)

What about you guys? 30 of you won a free month of Lindsey's training with us - what did you think?? What body part do you guys hate to work out?
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