Are Online Trainers Going to be Replaced by Silicon Valley?

There are thousands of programs freely available to your client that are probably as good as stuff that you can develop. In addition to free workouts, apps and software are being developed by Silicon Valley types with the goal of replacing personal trainers.

The quantified self movement where everything is tracked and programs are developed using an algorithm is constantly in the news, often with a doom and gloom headline that makes my blood boil, ‘is this the end of personal training?’ or a similar nonsense headline.

–No, random reporter who knows nothing about the fitness industry, this isn’t the end of personal training because people don’t buy training, they buy trainers.

People don’t buy workouts, they buy belief. Belief that, even though they’ve tried to change their bodies before, this time is different. That it’s time to finally kick fear of failure in the cojones and transform their body and mind.

It’s because, while the workout or nutrition program is the primary service being purchased, it’s not what the client is actually buying. In my first-ever article on this website I told you that what you think that you’re selling is actually worthless. From the article,

“Every single client of yours will have tried and failed before trying to make the very change that you are promising to help them with. Every one of these clients had ample information and maybe even some guidance. What they were missing was belief that they could actually do it and the coaching to make it happen. That’s what you provide. It starts and ends there.”

And this is why…

…Silicon valley will never replace good online trainers

Consider the door man at a hotel in New York City. Pretty simple job: Open a door, close a door. Easy to get a machine to do that, right? Machines already do that.

Yet, buildings still have door men. Why? It’s because, while the primary task of a door man is to open a door, the person also does the following:

  • Greets people
  • Provides directions
  • Received deliveries
  • Gives status and prestige to the establishment

When Manoel Teixeira, New York’s self-proclaimed longest serving door man, retired in 1982 and moved to Costa Rica, one of the residents of 120 E. 90th st. visited him and urged him to return. Teixeira did, and still works today. According to one resident, “I can be in a bad mood and it changes immediately when I see his face”.

You see moo-chacho, the ‘disrupters’ in the valley look at a problem, simplify it, develop an algorithm for it, and attempt to automate the solution. That doesn’t work. Humans are too complex, too multi-faceted, too interesting for online fitness solutions brought to us by the fine people in Silicon Valley.

An online trainer provides workouts and nutrition guidelines. That’s the primary service, but the good ones do more to build amazing relationships for their clients. They provide direction, accountability, and support.

I’m so passionate about the power of taking care of online clients properly that I dedicated an entire module on it in the Online Trainer Academy with a brand new chapter being added to the Fundamentals of Online Training textbook called Client Appreciation and Gifting. (Wait list here:

If you think that your job is just to provide a workout or nutrition plan and you’re trying to automate everything then you’ll be replaced. Automate and scale as a way to amplify yourself, and your ability to connect with your clients, not to remove yourself from the work.