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The Rise of Remote Coaching

Odds are if you’ve ever worked with a fitness coach it was in a group setting. But advances in technology and evolving preferences of both coaches and athletes* are changing that.

* “If you have a body, you’re an athlete.” — Nike

Fitness Trends & Fragmentation

  • Do-it-yourself at commercial gyms (e.g.: 24 Hour Fitness, Gold’s Gym)
  • Less expensive follow-along exercise methods (e.g.: BeachBody’s P90x, Sean T’s Insanity)
  • Pricey but popular group training options (e.g.: CrossFit, Orange Theory)
  • High-end home workout technologies (e.g.: Peloton, Mirror**)

** Mirror announced in Oct 2019 that they started offering personal training on a pay-per-session basis. In Jun 2020 they were acquired by Lululemon for $500M.

Flexibility or Personalization. Pick both.

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Meanwhile, a growing segment of fitness coaches are using technology to provide “remote coaching” to clients who want both flexibility (to workout whenever/wherever) and personalization (individualized training programs, feedback, and accountability).

At the same time, these entrepreneurial coaches recognize the benefits of their own flexibility — to work where and when they want. Some coaches are shifting their entire businesses online.

In-Person vs. Remote Coaching

Likewise, some coaches we’ve talked to say that because remote coaching doesn’t allow them to give the same kind of real-time feedback, they feel they can’t do their best work remotely — so they prefer to work with local clients.

To be clear, training one-on-one with a good coach in-person is definitely the way to get personalization, real-time feedback, accountability, and results. But for many athletes, the need for time or location flexibility is what tips the scales in favor of remote coaching.

Tech Accelerating the Trend

Just a few years ago “online trainers” used Skype, text messages, email, and spreadsheets to manage and deliver their athletes’ programs. Now, as apps like Future and Trainiac promise to bring lower-cost trainers to the masses, new tech like TrueCoach allow specialist fitness coaches to streamline the individualized experience with their athletes as well.

This all adds up to anyone from weekend warriors to elite athletes being able to access to bespoke, individualized training programs from anywhere — at the gym, at home, even on the road.

Remote Coaching for CrossFitters

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Over the past several years, the number of coaches offering remote coaching — not to mention online programming (workouts without the coaching)— has exploded in the “functional fitness” space generically referred to as “CrossFit.”

The CrossFit training methodology truly took off when crossfit.com started posting their daily workouts online, which may be why coaches in this space are leaders in the development of remote coaching as a profession.

The Problem

About 25% of WODwell’s users are coaches — and a third of them offer remote coaching today. Most of the rest of our users are athletes at all levels from beginner to competitive — but many of them don’t have access to a coach.

Over the past few years, we have had countless athletes reach out asking us to refer them to coaches. Until now, we’ve pointed them to the CrossFit map and suggest they find a local box. But so many replied to explain that they travel too much, or are deployed abroad, or have to work out at home due to family obligations — a local coach isn’t always an option.

The Solution

In Summer 2019 we ran a prototype that successfully tested our ability to match coaches and athletes. Shortly after we began building a “supply” of awesome coaches who offer remote coaching and/or programming (wodwell.com/coaches). It’s still invite-only, but if you’re a remote coach who wants to be a part of the solution, join our waitlist.

UPDATE: In September, 2020 we launched our “Find a Coach” tool to help athletes find the right remote coach for them.

Written by

Functional fitness workouts & coaching from some of the best coaches in the world. For CrossFitters by CrossFitters.

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