5 Things To Look For In An Online Coach

Finding an online coach is important and these five aspects are important.

Online coaching is all the craze nowadays. It seems like everywhere you turn, another trainer offers online coaching. Bodybuilders are also online coaches. People who’ve never trained a soul in person are so called online coaches.

Heck, even the fitness enthusiast who started lifting last week has online coach in his Instagram bio.

Your options are limitless as the consumer and because online coaches are competing with the internet of online coaches, it’s hard to distinguish between the solid ones and the ones out to make a quick buck in the name of fitness.

Unfortunately, most online coaches are awful, unhelpful, and inexperienced. I wouldn’t panic though. Being in this space for years, I’ve met and have worked with many exceptional online coaches.

They are so valuable, can utterly change your life/physique, educate you better than a textbook, and generally cost far less than in person personal training. You get all the personal benefits of personal training without the price tag of it. Well, at least that’s how it should be.

But here are 5 key things to search for before ever hiring an online coach.


1. Responsiveness

In the world of celebrity fitness and fitness influencers, people are getting comfortable making money as their follower count ticks up. They appear fit, caring, and down to Earth on a screen, but they have an overflowing inbox of client emails they’re ignoring

You wouldn’t believe the stories I hear of some of the biggest names and nicest personal in the fitness industry who are poor responders.

They have money and followers. They don’t care about you as much as it may initially appear. In most circumstances, you need to get crystal clear on the level of responsiveness you’re getting yourself into.

The coach you hire needs to be clear on this and provide a reasonable response time. A 24-hour response window is generally good. Most coaches should offer this at least during the work week.

If online coaches are vague about response times, they’re probably not very good at it. Online coaching is cheaper than personal training, but it’s still a hefty price to invest hundreds per month.

If you can’t get a same day response most days, you have an online coach who’s managing way too many clients and overcharging you for C level service.

2. Level of Support

Speaking of response times, you should also look at their level of support. There’s no right or wrong thing to look for, but know that bigger names generally provide less support.

I’ve heard stories of people paying big named fitness gurus massive bucks to be told they can only send 2 emails per month. Some coaches don’t do formal check ins, so you’re forced to reach out for accountability.

The first few interactions with an online coach shows how invested they are in the coaching relationship. If you’re pouring your heart out to your coach and they respond with one or two quick sentences, they either don’t care or lack the communications skills to actually coach.

This is why the level of support and care they provide generally far outweighs a person’s experience or credentials. Most coaches and even clients know what to do, but the mark of a great coach is one who knows how to communicate that to you and empower you to take action.

So look for their systems. Ask what level of communication is available and see how far they’re willing to go to help you. This is not asking for too much. You have options.

There will always be a coach who’s willing to go the extra mile. Personally, I offer my clients unlimited messaging and email contact w/ a 24 hour response time on top of a formal check ins and phone consults should they need it.

I also provide technique feedback, video feedback, and constantly send them resources along with checking in with them when I don’t hear from them.

It sounds like I’m on some high horse, but I will go as far to say that I’m sure there are coaches out there who will go further then me. The takeaway is to be crystal on the level of support you need. Don’t settle for a coach who doesn’t come close to meeting that.

3. Testimonials

Good coaches have testimonials. They don’t always flaunt it around, but you’re more than welcome to ask for them. Ask for testimonials, user reviews, before/afters, and even ask why some clients didn’t see progress.

In fact, if a coach says they’ve never had anyone not made progress, they’re lying out of their booty.

They should be transparent about their client history. Ask yourself the following about them:

  • Have they helped many people who have similar goals as you? 
  • Have they helped similar demographics as yourself? 
  • Is the way they help people what you’re looking for?

A coach with testimonials is generally a green flag. People should love working with them. If you don’t feel sold from their testimonials, it’s probably not going to be a good match.

4. Personalization

The beauty of one on one help is the personalization. We can all read about general advice on the internet. It doesn’t cost us any money and not much time to read that we should lift harder and eat better.

However, a good coach will tailor general advice towards you, your lifestyle, and preferences. In the greedy world of online coaching, it’s deeply common for popular coaches to take on hundreds of clients and give them all cookie cutter programs.

In fact, it’s also common for many coaches to hire other coaches to do their work for them. You have to be entirely sure the coach you’re signing up for is who you’re actually communicating with and that they’re personalizing the plan towards you.

Good coaches make it an effort to make this known. They listen to what you need and value the relationship over the dollars.

It should be well communicated what you’re working on, and what you need to do each week to improve. No two bodies are the same. No two lifestyles are the same and thus, no two coaching programs or approaches should be identical. Search meticulously for personalization.

5. Experience

How much a coach cares and will work for you closely one on one is monumental. That being said, there is undoubtedly something to be said about experience. The most successful companies in the world don’t hire people based on intention, potential, and good will alone.

You shouldn’t hire a coach based solely on that either. There are many people passionate about helping others and will work deeply hard for you, but if they’re incompetent or inexperienced, it doesn’t matter.

So ask for their coaching history. Here are some important things to ask:

  • Have you ever trained people in person?
  • How long have you been coaching people online?
  • What is your coaching experience like?
  • Have you ever been coached yourself?
  • How do you continue to learn and educate yourself as a coach?
  • What are your formal credentials like?
  • Where does your coaching, training, and nutrition approaches come from?
  • How much do you keep up with new research?

Big red flags are coaches who don’t value research, further education, or hands on experience. Good coaches should also have relatively high experience working with a variety of clients along with clients similar to your demographic.

Vetting through their social media or the content they create tells you a lot about what they believe to be true. If they seem very extreme, married to specific approaches, or make absurd claims, they’re likely a bad coach.

So remember, you’re not only hiring for how nice a coach is or how well you connect with them. You’re also judging them on their expertise. That expertise can separate a bad coach from a good coach or a good coach from a great coach.

Ultimately, you’re not looking to make friends. Your true desire is get results. 

Calvin Huynh is a trainer, online coach, writer, and joyful ruler behind AwesomeFitnessScience.com. His content has reached various top sites and he has worked with a variety of clients ranging from top CEOs, hardcore lifters, everyday desk workers, and stay at home moms. When he’s not working, he spends his time going to church, dreaming of unicorns, and eating whole pints of ice cream on a comfortable couch somewhere in Southern California.