New fitness apps, gear, and tech are making it seriously simple to get a little personal attention during your workout
These days, going to the gym and requesting a personal trainer is like calling up to order take-out from the stained paper menu you pulled out of your “menus” drawer. From Skyping your personal trainer to gear that acts like a personal trainer, there are tons of ways to get your 1:1 on. (You can read more about our take on “Skyper-cise” here.)
“A great trainer can deliver a high quality workout regardless of whether it’s virtual or in person,” says Nick Clayton, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Personal Training Program Manager for the National Strength and Conditioning Association. But, proceed with caution: "Some devices give you feedback that lets you know if you’re improving and provides goals to surpass in future sessions, which is important," he says, "But, some of the advanced apps and technology out there now are beyond what most people need and complicate the process."
Also, be aware that there’s no one-size-fits-all option for everyone. “I recommend that clients 'test drive' a number of services or trainers before deciding on one,” he says. In other words, it’s important to find the right fit. Here are some options to consider.
FindYourTrainer is an app that allows you to book trainers—even at exclusive (read: pricey) clubs you otherwise wouldn’t get into—on a one-off basis. So you'll still schlep to the gym, but you'll get way more options than you would from your gym's "concierge" ("Ed is available to train you on Tuesdays at 10."). But here's the big sell: You can score these sessions at up to 50 percent off! Granted, it's only available in NYC right now, but the company plans to expand to other cities (they're considering San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Dallas, and LA).
LIFT Digital gives you access to a trainer anywhere, anytime. (Try The Ultimate Hotel Room Workout.) Book an appointment with a trainer on the site (Sessions start at $50 and you can book one-offs here too, so no need to commit your whole paycheck for an eight-pack of sessions up front!), tell them what equipment and space constraints you're working with and they'll do the rest. Use your iPad to log in to your virtual face-to-face session.
GAIN Personal Training by GAINFitness gives you the best of both worlds. You'll meet with a trainer in person at least once a month, but you'll get workout plans from them to do on your own in between one-on-one sessions. Since the accompanying app allows you to interact with them 24/7, they're able to track your progress (and they'll know if you skip out on your session!) and can provide feedback, tips, and tweaks to the plan. Oh, and the cost isn't bad either. For the price you'd likely pay for one session in a fancy gym ($109), you get a month's worth of this service.
Moov is a device (you can wear it on your wrist or ankle) that counts your reps when strength training, and can monitor your movement and give you actual feedback (i.e. it might tell you that you're landing too hard on the ball of your foot when running or you're out of alignment in tree pose.) Granted, it’s not a real person (but it's also only $69!), so be sure not to take a back seat and let it do all the work (in other words, use the feedback like you would sleep data feedback—it’s interesting and could help you, but don’t take it as be all end all guidance.)
Not a bracelet. Not a clip. We're talkin' clothes. Drop the Athos "core" (a pod shaped device) into the accompanying pants or top, and voilà! A personal trainer on your person that goes beyond rep counting to actually tell you how much your muscles are activating in, say, a biceps curl. So, if your form is poor and you're not using enough of the "right" muscles, you can see that (on the accompanying app) and correct it. (The "core" is $199 and clothing starts at $99.)