What is the difference: Virtual Training vs Programming?


With the limitations that COVID has brought us, you may be looking for different avenues of fitness versus going to a gym or studio or exercising outdoors. If this is the case, you may want to consider virtual training or programming.

Both consist of exercising from the comfort of your home (or at a gym or studio if you have access), however virtual training consists of meeting with your trainer for each virtual session, whereas programming will provide you with written workouts for a pre-determined time period.

Virtual Training

For virtual training think of having the one-on-one experience with your personal trainer or coach; however, they are with you via computer or cell phone.

A live video platform like Zoom or Google Meet is probably the best way you will both interact and communicate.

Equipment at home

Before your virtual session it’s important to let your coach know what equipment and space you have. This is important because it will help your coach lay out a plan for you. Tell them EVERYTHING that you have which can be:

  • Furniture
  • Chair(s)
  • Towels 
  • Hardwood or carpet flooring
  • Empty gallons of water that can be filled
  • Backpack with books

Be honest and as descriptive as possible with your coach because this will allow them to develop a creative exercise plan.

Since the video will be live, the coach will be able to see how you move with the recommended exercises. They can give you cues, monitor your technique, and modify your difficulty levels with the equipment you have. Along those same lines, you can let your coach know where on your body you feel the exercise working and how difficult it was…very similar to in-person training.

In-gym virtual training

You can also do this same method at a gym or studio if you have access. If that is the case, you will most likely set-up your cell phone in a space where your coach can see you move. A few things to note:

  • Be sure that your cell phone is fully charged
  • The internet connection at your facility is good 
  • You are able to set-up your cell phone at several areas if you have to move to use different pieces of equipment 
  • Invest in wireless headphones if you don’t want anyone listening in

Yes, the coach may not directly be there to provide physical corrections with virtual training, but they can give honest feedback and take your input to create the optimal plan.


Maybe virtual training is not for you or outside your price range, programming is another option that most gyms and studios are offering.

What programming consists of is a coach creating an exercise program for you based on your goals and assessment. It is to help you get from point A to point B without the coach being there providing live feedback.

How this can work will depend on the gym or studio you are training at, but they most likely will take you through an assessment that will look at how you move and have you fill out a questionnaire or another form of intake to gather information on what your goals are. 


This may be done live or they may ask you to record videos of yourself performing certain movements to send back. The trainer will then look at your movements and determine your strengths and weaknesses for each one and use this information to put together a program. By focusing on your strengths and weaknesses, the trainer can create a personalized program for your needs.


The questionnaire or intake is a valuable resource because the coach can take your responses and have a clear cut idea of what to design for your exercise program. Some questions that may be asked:

  • For how long have you been training?
  • What exercise equipment do you have available?
  • Do you have any significant injuries?
  • What are your goals?
  • Why are these goals important to you?

These are only a few questions but you should be as completely transparent with your answers for they will directly affect what your exercise program will look like.


After the assessment and intake, your coach will send you your program that will consist of your warm-up, exercises, and conditioning (if deemed necessary).

This program will show the exercise name, the number of sets, reps, maybe the recommended load or weight of the exercise you will be using, rest time, and notes. They may even link videos to show the exercises. 

Here is an example:

ExerciseSets and Reps1st Week2nd Week3rd Week4th WeekNotes
A1) Dumbbell(DB) Goblet Squat3×10(Enter load each week)3×10()3×12()3×12()Keep DB touching chest and PUSH through the floor
A2) 2DB Floor Press3×103×10()3×12()3×12()REACH LONG with arms
B1) 3-Point Row3×10/side3×12/s()3×13/s()3×14/s()Keep back flat and bring DB to ribs
B2) 1DB Reverse Lunge3×10/side3×10/s()3×12/s()3×12/s()Do not alternate and front leg will PUSH through the ground

Then, you are required to track and record the load you used. I can not stress how vital tracking this information is because it not only sets the baseline of where you start but allows you to see the progression you make week after week.


Video Recordings

Your coach may request for you to record yourself performing the exercises on the program to then send back to him or her. What they are doing here is reviewing the video and looking at how you move and give recommendations. If they request a recording, please do it. It may feel awkward which is understandable, but it can only beneficial to you. I have experienced giving a client an exercise and when they sent their recording to me. I was happy they did because they were doing several things wrong and could have potentially hurt themselves if they continued to perform the exercise the way they did.

By providing them with feedback on their form, they were able to correct themselves and continue with their program without any injuries.

Wrapping up the difference between virtual training and programming

Virtual training and programming are great options if you are working out at home, keeping your distance from others, or wanting to do a program without a personal trainer or coach in-person.

Understand that these avenues of fitness will most likely be catered toward what you have and are capable of doing. Even if your coach is not going to be there in person, remember to communicate with them, ask them questions, and have fun in the process!

If you want to know more about this, you can contact us via email.