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PA Blog/Habits/Why most trainers online don’t get lasting results

Why Most Trainers Online Don’t Get Lasting Results

Online personal trainer building habits | Blog Image

It’s not me… it’s you. It is your fitness journey, after all.

In a world of instant gratification, we’ve become hardwired for comfort and ease. And if it isn’t within those two categories, we aren’t doing it.

We’re all sold on this idea of a ‘quick fix’. If you take this green drink cocktail mixed with a quick power abs workout, you’ll be shedding the weight in just 30 days - no hard work required.

Fancy drinks, a new gym outfit, or even investing in a gym membership and even an online personal trainer will not get you the results you desire, and unless you have the proper plan, system and tools, you’re just wasting your time and money.

But it’s not your fault. We’re sold on these easy fixes for your fitness journey, and they’re just too good to resist. Here’s the deal with online personal training that doesn’t sit well: You might show up for the hour training session, but what happens for the other 23 hours within your day?

What happens when shit hits the fan at work and you’re too stressed to eat or feel so overwhelmed that you just can’t rest and get to sleep? Working out by itself is not enough. Without the proper tools and guidance to navigate and help you build out your very own toolkit, how could you possibly stand a chance to effectively succeed?

Think about your fitness journey like trying to navigate it with nothing but an old, outdated map with gaps and missing information. It’s going to be hard to get to where you want to go. Versus hiring a guide with a whole toolkit of tools, someone who’s walked this path many times over and knows which way to go when you inevitably hit that roadblock along the way. You will be given the most up-to-date and direct maps to get you to your destination, and in this case, you accomplish your health and fitness goals.

With the EZ5™, we cover real-life easy habits that will not only bring you across the finish line of your health and fitness goals, but these effective habits will help you develop the ability to adapt, cope and manage daily stresses without getting bogged down. In this article, we’re going to dive into what the EZ5™ habits are that will change your life and how you can start applying them in your life, too.

But first, snag my EZ5™ Guide to building better habits in and out of the gym that will outlast a season and carry you through the rest of your days to live a longer and larger life.

Personal Training Isn't About Healthy Habits

Back in 2012, when I started working as a personal trainer, I messed up. I did the thing and got the clients and filled my roster. Success, right?

Wrong. I had all these willing and able clients looking to hire me as the answer, and I quickly realized that I was doing less than 20% of the work I needed – I was only focusing on the movement component.

You see, movement is necessary for us, and we should all be moving and exercising for 30 minutes a day in the style that fits our abilities and bodies and, all the while, continues to challenge us.

So, when my clients came to see me, I was working so hard on the craft of prescribing workouts and creating these epic workout plans, and although there were some initial significant results, some didn’t last because we were putting a bandaid on a hemorrhage.
 overall health and wellness throughout the body.

Online Personal Training Free MasterClass July 23, 2023 | Blog Image

For example, maybe my client was able to train for that hour in the gym with no problem, but when they left the gym and went home, their recovery habit didn’t exist, and perhaps, they failed to go to bed on time and only slept for 4-5 hours regularly. That is going to affect their results and overall body fat. Then there’s the justification (we’ve all done this) where we think, ‘Well, I did just workout… I could eat (insert bad food)’. Or even as simple as not eating and not hydrating will drastically affect the potential of these results and increase your body fat.

Here’s what I learned: you can't out-train a bad diet, lack of recovery, poor stress response, and failure to hydrate. Simply put, no amount of exercise will get you to your goals without striving to be better in these other areas.

Much like our body is made of systems that (hopefully) work in harmony, our habits are one and the same. This is how I developed the EZ5™framework - designed to fully encompass all pieces of the puzzle to optimize the body and how it functions.

As an online personal trainer, the workout plans go so far beyond just movement; it needs to include all aspects of our daily lives and help us develop positive habits. Through the EZ5™, we focus on movement, nutrition, hydration, recovery, and breath work as a team to increase overall health and wellness throughout the body.

Time is ticking with online personal trainers | Blog Image

One Hour A Day

The one hour with your online personal trainer is you dialled in and getting that 1:1 time with the support needed to build the movement habits within your day-to-day. And perhaps there’s a meal plan in there, too, and with technology as another support, there are some cool apps like apple health that try to keep us on the straight and narrow.

But the sad truth is that it’s fairly limited in support. This has given the industry a bad reputation filled with half-written wellness prescriptions, only looking at the client for 4% of their day a couple of times a week. What happens for the other 23 hours of the day?

The Other 23 Hours

So, now what? Habit stacking is what.

Within the other 23 hours, life is going to happen. And some days, you’re going to have stressors pop up, busyness hijack your day, overwhelm disturb your sleep, and most of us are going to default to what we know best: comfort.

Comfort can come in many forms, but based on years of speaking with clients, they usually go a little something like this: wine to unwind, grabbing the quickest and easiest thing to eat, TV into the late hours, scrolling on social media before bed, late night snacking, etc.

Developing new habits is a challenge and one that’s even harder if we don’t know where to start and how to choose which ones will catapult us ahead. How in the world can we figure this out on our own time? This is why we seek to hire external help, the best fitness professionals, and online personal trainers to help build these habits, but as we talked about already, movement alone will not be the only key to success, and not even that free nutrition plan that was added in. We cannot neglect to address the other crucially essential areas to live a happier and longer life, and most importantly, we can't out-train bad habits either.

This is where the radical support aspect comes in. When you’re not in session with your online personal trainer, there still should be such a high level of contact and support to remind you in the early stages of building these new habits.

And I’m sorry to say, as much as I do love Siri, your Apple watch and apple health app are not going to be enough to hold you accountable. This is a highly personal experience, requiring a highly personalized approach.

In seeking a fitness professional and the best online personal trainer, you’ll want to find someone who’s going to be your guide from the side as you navigate these other 23 hours of your day. Imagine they’re like those guides you can put up in bowling lanes to keep the ball aiming in the right direction – bound to hit the target with the momentum from you. That should be who you hire as your fitness professional. This is the key to accomplishing your goals.

The EZ5™ framework we follow with online personal training | Blog Image

Online Personal Trainer Essentials

Movement is our birthright, from day one, we are hardwired to move. But there are a few other things we are also hardwired to do as well…
Other components of lifestyle often suffering (unknowingly) or completely missing are recovery (sleep, meditation, etc.), hydration, breath work, movement, and nutrition. The thing is that there is no one-size fits all approach because, much like your fingerprint, we’re all unique, and our bodies are incredible – if you take the time to get to know them and give them the space to thrive, we can do some truly incredible things.

Sleep, as of 2020, according to the national health library, overall, 28.3% of men and 27.2% of women aged ≥18 years slept <7 hours on average within 24 hours. In a society that’s started to wear this badge of honour for being busy in a hustle culture, it’s no surprise that these statistics for sleep are sitting at these low amounts of recovery and sleep. Here’s the thing, though, if we don’t sleep, we don’t recover. And when we don’t recover, our body is put into a stress-response mode because we have not been given the time to unplug and recharge. We’re just a bunch of hopped-up, stressed humans running around skipping sleep and wondering why we feel like crap.

Hydration is one that so many of us struggle with because, when compared to all the other beverage options, water alone is not sexy. I get it! But do you know what is sexy? Long, healthy, and well-hydrated organs. Staying hydrated has been linked to alleviating aches and pains in the body, reducing accumulated fat and increasing energy!

Now here’s where the woo-woo meets the work. But first, let me ask you this, who taught you how to breathe? Nobody, duh! While yes, this is an automatic thing, and we all know how to do it naturally, that’s not to say we haven’t picked up a few habits along the way, and it’s safe to say most of us aren’t using and harnessing it as a tool to respond to stress.

Breath is the one thing that’s with us from the moment we arrive to the moment we leave, so why not get to know it intimately? No matter what we’re doing, we’re breathing, but how we do it is an entirely different ball game. Learning how to harness our breath can be a superpower that can teach you how to control the over-riddling anxiety or when all you see is red when you get angry. Breath is how you move through it, good or bad.

Nutrition is a delicious and emotional rollercoaster. There’s a lot to unpack with food and nutrition, but a simple way to break it down is that just like movement and all the other habits, there is no one-size fits all approach. Each nutritional plan should be ever-evolving and should not stay the same from day one. It’s a process in which the trainer and the client work closely to find ways to grow and work through blocks and specific triggers that cause the nutrition to go off-track.

And here’s the last but the most fun one, the one where we get to play and show off all the cool things our bodies can do – it’s movement. Movement is such a beautiful piece that in a sedentary lifestyle is lost by us sitting in front of screens all day.

Movement is how we get to play and overall succeed at incredible feats with our bodies. Whatever your goal, if you consistently work at it, I bet we can help you accomplish it.

When you’re seeking the best online personal trainer for you, during your training sessions, you’ll want them to create workouts tailored to you and your specific needs, and of course, nutritional advice should go hand-in-hand, but don’t forget about the other three: hydration, recovery and breath work. Each of these should have its own respective protocols, just like your nutrition and movement.

Standard Online Personal Training Platforms

So what can you expect with online personal training?
Overall the standard within the industry at the moment would be:
Virtual sessions 1:1 or in a group setting (if that’s what you opt for)

  • Fitness plan with personalized workouts
  • Nutrition Plan or Nutrition guidance
  • Weekly email or text support

These are great starting points, but a few vital components are missed along the way. For example, how can we effectively have you gain more energy and lose weight without proper hydration and recovery?

Basic Online Personal Trainer - Blog Image

The idea of fitness and wellness is not to make a temporary change but to create total lifestyle habit changes that last a lifetime.

The Best Online Personal Trainers

The best in the business will not only make you feel good now, and as mentioned, they’ll be your guide from the side to help you pave the way to creating customized systems that build stronger and healthier habits to support your unique life and circumstances.

The types of systems you’d want to see within a great online trainer be the following protocols:

  • Recovery & Sleep: to repair, reset and grow
  • ​Hydration: maintaining optimal hydration for your body to feel good
  • ​Movement: daily movement to keep our bodies strong and resilient
  • ​​Nutrition: fuel our bodies to drive them forward, not backwards - help in eating real foods
  • ​Breath Work: increase bodily functions, feeling energized, and calming effects for stress responses when needed
Online Home Trainer | Blog Image

Let’s recap and compare!

The Standardized Online Trainer

  •  Weekly or monthly check-ins
  •  Generalized workout plan with minor tweaks to customize
  •  Nutrition plan or nutritional advice
  •  Access to trainer via email or text with a response within 24-48 hours

The Best Online Trainer

  •  Weekly 3X a week 1:1 online meetings
  •  Full fitness level assessment done before any workout plan provided
  • Fully customized workout plan, and nutrition plan with dietary preferences
  • ​Unlimited in-app messaging with a response within 12 hours
  • ​Review of other vital components and habits – recovery, hydration and stress response
  • ​Unlimited access to resources and videos for help 24/7

Habits and Trainers Online

The simple truth is that if you want to change your life, you must change your mind, and to change your mind; you must change your habits. Habits are the structures that support us in moving forward strategically to accomplish our goals. Without habits, it’s disorganized chaos and us feeling like there’s just enough time.

Be it with in-person trainers or online trainers, they are the guide to help you find which habits fit best within you and your world. What works for your partner or friend may not work for you. The trainer's job is to get on ground zero with you and navigate to find what works, make suggestions, get creative and hold you accountable. That is their job through and through. The job (if done effectively) goes far beyond the gym or the online training session for that hour; the trainer's job is to be a constant pillar to lean on for support when you’re unsure of what to do or when things might feel hard.

You vs The Fitness Industry

The oldest and most dangerous trend in the online fitness industry is the guarantee of instant gratification. We’ve all seen the ads for abs in 6 weeks or some all-changing transform app. We seek shortcuts. As busy humans, most are looking to see what steps we can skip to get ahead and work a little less hard for a shorter amount of time.

There’s this almost global fear of commitment toward fitness & wellness goals. When I tell my clients that they’ll need to work for 12 months to really see their ideal results, they look at me like I have three heads. What do you mean I can’t waive my magic wand and undo years of bad habits, lack of structure and exercise within 3 months? Crazy. I know.

If we take another perspective, like learning a new language, for example. Could we do very little studying and expect to see great results and be able to speak fluently in this new language within 3 months? Sure, you may get some results, but it’s unlikely that you’d be a confident and fluent speaker. There’s simply not enough time invested. It takes consistency, practice, and lots of work.

Here’s the reality, the more shortcuts you take and steps skipped, the smaller your results will be, and I can honestly say most won’t keep up with it. If unwilling to make a long-term commitment to health and fitness, then there’s not much point to do it - just a waste of time, resources, and money.

The ultimate performance fitness style is truly unique, and it can range from 3 days to 6 days in the gym doing styles like cross-training and strength training, but overall, the commitment goes beyond the gym in daily movement like taking a walk or biking when you’re not in the gym to deter and ward off chronic health conditions. Because the simple truth is that if we fail to make a long-term commitment to our health, then we’re booking a one-way ticket to health issues down the road.

Robin Sharma quote for online personal trainers | Blog Image

More Than Just Fitness Goals

As we already discussed, the variety of exercises for online fitness depends on the person and lifestyle, but these key elements stay the same to stay on track toward your goals. (And bonus, 5/6 are free!)

1. Move every day – even if it’s not a structured workout, going for a walk post-meal can be a great way to prompt you to start moving easily, and maybe you could even get a walking partner to join!

2. Proper sleep and recovery are vital to recharging those batteries and feeling energized enough to take on the next day. Aim to get 8 hours of sleep a night. Try to get to bed at the same time every night, and if 8 hours is a lot, try to get to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual and build from there.

3. Track your workouts, sleep, and nutrition to follow your progress and find what works and what doesn’t. This is unique to you, but no fancy app is needed. Notes on your phone, marking a calendar, or even a notebook are all great ways to track.

4. Try to drink enough water and stay hydrated. The aim is to drink ½ of your body weight in ounces.

5. Don’t overdo it. From training, eating, sleeping, and hydrating – if you can’t sustain it, then pull back and try to build systems to work up to be able to sustain for the following days; that’s the best route.

6. Wearables like Apple Watch, Whoop and Fitbit are great options as reminders when you’re on your own to keep moving. Some of these, like Apple Watch, even gamify the process and push you to get your rings for the day. On Whoop, they let you add friends (like Apple Watch as well) to compete against your friends for the day.

Remember, small hinges open big doors.

What To Look For In Online Fitness Coaches

There are so many fitness coaches, many good ones and even fewer great ones. So, what should you be looking for when you’re looking for a fitness coach? Experience.

Experience – accomplishments, length of time in the industry, and their niche all add up to a qualified and experienced coach.
In my blunt opinion, a weekend certification is something that’s grown in the online space, and while the information might be totally accurate and taught by experienced coaches themselves, the course does not give these aspiring trainers the practical work hours and overall experience needed to train real people with real and complex bodies. This is simply scratching the surface. But hey, we all started somewhere; we just want to make sure that the trainer is advertised as so.

This leads us to the length of time in the industry. Like anything, with time and experience honing a craft (yes, training is an art), an expert is developed over time through various experiences over the course of years of training.

And via experience through training, many individuals lead to a niche – who can this trainer train the best? Who do they enjoy training and absolutely love putting their heart and soul into helping? It’ll be different from one coach to another. But it makes an incredible difference in the outcome when the trainer, client and fitness goals are properly synced up.

You don’t want shiny. You want real.


1. OPEX Fitness – this is the equivalent of a university degree for personal training. The teachers are passionate and have decades of experience under their belts. This a well-rounded course to teach all the ins and outs of being a coach, working with a client and running a professional and reliable coaching business for years to come. I’d be as bold to say that the course is structured in such a way that I truly believe all trainers should have to take this course before entering a working relationship with a client regardless of experience level.

2. The Ready State – a mobility course to teach not only the basics of human movement but how to work to prevent injury when possible and protect the client. This is another practical and hands-on online training program. While it’s not the only great mobility course on the market, I would recommend a specialized mobility course.

3. Precision Nutrition – this is a wonderful and comprehensive course in nutrition and how we can interact with food in a real way with the world and our clients.


Experience is key, and ultimately depending on what you’re looking to accomplish within your health and wellness journey, you’ll likely want a personal trainer with experience through, well, experiences!
With someone new in the industry there, it's likely to have a basic program design and one that lacks the tailoring to unique circumstances and inability to adapt on the fly to cater to different needs because as much as one can google and study theory, practical experience within the field ultimately is gold.

A new trainer is also a yes man (or woman). Getting business is key, and although they do have a key market to help, they likely won’t turn down the ‘wrong’ client for them, the client that they simply do not have enough experience to help. Which can lead to general frustrations from both sides of the coin. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know.

On the other hand, the experienced personal trainer can confidently meet with a potential client and tell from the first conversation if it’ll be a good fit. Through this level of confidence and integrity, the coach can outsource and recommend another coach better suited for the client. Win-win for all parties.

Secondly, while online training, an experienced personal trainer can adapt on the fly in a moment and alter the workout to maximize the benefit for the client; they’re able to tell when to push and when to pull back as well.


As mentioned before, a coach with experience not only has years of practical work in the books, but they have an idea of what style of training/ who they love to train the most. And this is important for one reason: passion.

Like anyone in the world, when we’re in our element, doing the thing we love with the people we want to serve, we will show up at the highest level.
Whatever your unique goals may be, I’d recommend finding a coach that specializes in that area - i.e., nutrition coaching if food is an area you need help, a powerlifting coach if you’re prepping for a powerlifting competition or a personal trainer that specializes in sports medicine if you’re an athlete wanting to increase performance and remedy/ do preventative maintenance for injuries.


Much like baking a cake, there are a few key ingredients to the recipe, and just like skipping the salt, well, the outcome won’t be ideal. In this case, the support is the salt you need in your health and wellness goals.

During that online training session, you might be 1:1 training or simply doing a check-in, and in that hour, you are fully supported, but here’s the same question we talked about before – what happens in the other 23 hours?

It’s vital to find a personal trainer and coach that will be your trainer anytime. What does a trainer anytime mean? This means unlimited access to in-app messaging to check in, ask questions, share reflections, and ask for help when you need it. Because it will happen.

There are going to be times when there’s been a hard day at work and a workout simply feels impossible, or perhaps you’re going out to eat and 

need nutritional advice on what to eat, or maybe you have a headache and simply forgot to drink water and didn’t get enough sleep. Your coach is here to support and hold you accountable for what you promised yourself that you would do for you. Which isn’t always the easy or the fun choice. But your coach is always in your corner.

Personality & Character

Above all else, I’d recommend going with your gut. As smart or as experienced as someone is, it does not negate the fact that if it’s not someone that you can truly feel comfortable, heard, and safe with based on your personal preferences, then it’s not worth investing in. Find a virtual trainer (or even with in-person training!) that aligns with your morals and values and listens to your needs. Again, go with your gut.


Systems are probably the most unsexy to most – but personally, I love them.
With systems, we’re able to effectively track where we’ve begun to where we are now. Tracking habits to then follow our progress is the system that must be in place for anyone to succeed.

Anyone with a training plan or a meal plan should have a system behind that training program to evaluate the progress and methods to move forward and closer toward those goals.

Bonus: if a trainer truly has the utmost confidence in their product and the systems that will guarantee results, then they should be offering a money-back guarantee to back up their incredible services in the event it doesn’t suit someone.

The Key To Lasting Results With Online Personal Trainers

Overall if you’re a busy human and feel like something is missing from your wellness and health, getting a coach is the ultimate life ‘hack’ to get the most out of your time and effort in the gym and out. Finding the right individual trainer for you is equally as important, too. Trust your gut and go with an online trainer that not only takes the hour you work out into account but the other 23 as well. Someone who takes a holistic approach to your habits to make changes not only for a season or two but for a lifetime.

If you're a busy professional who has tried online personal training programs and fancy nutrition programs but still hasn't seen results because you're on the go and just can't make those habits stick–you're in the right place. Book a call to find out about my online personalized progress coaching program that can help you get into the best shape for the rest of your life by teaching you the EZ5™and working together to create lasting habits and fostering endless support.

Online personal training - book a call now

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I'm Coach Zeng.

I'm an expert in fitness coaching, a student for life when it
comes to movement and my mission is to help guide as
many humans possible to living a healthier, more fulfilling and
larger life through wellness and movement habits.

Looking forward to seeing you around here more often.

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