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article imageGetting in Shape with an iPod Personal Trainer

By Julia Suppa     Jun 19, 2006 in Lifestyle
Digital Journal — With the sweat of summer just around the corner, many men and women are inevitably dreading the thought of being seen in a swimsuit. And despite the fact that nearly seven months of 2006 have come and gone, New Years’ resolutions to get in shape are now just drunken memories.
Getting ready for summer is a tiresome idea for millions of people who hate the notion of having to hit the gym to lose their winter coat, and many don’t even know what to do when they get there. But thanks to technology, these workout woes are no more.
Before you run out to the gym and hire an outrageously expensive personal trainer to get your abs beach ready, try looking on the Internet to download one. Many personal trainers and fitness gurus now sell services online for a fraction of the price, allowing you to download a workout program to your iPod or PDA and bring it with you to Bally’s.
Having a personal trainer delivered via technology is not a new idea; remember the hit TV morning workout shows that aired at 6 a.m.? In always-too-cheerful voices, personal trainers and backup assistants decked out in various shades of lycra and spandex would coax you repeatedly to push yourself just a little bit harder. And more recently, consumer workout videos like Tae Bo, Pilates and Yoga have sold like hotcakes.
With the televised trainer having seen her heyday, the latest “in” thing is the downloadable fitness instructor. It’s a new twist geared to a generation that sends text messages to avoid speaking to a person on the phone; does online banking to avoid a teller; and shops on the ’Net to avoid cashiers. And besides, it’s just one more way to cash-in on the already exorbitant iPod market.
"Downloaded workouts are absolutely here to stay," John Spencer Ellis, president of the National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA), told the New York Times in a recent interview. "For trainers, it's becoming a new way to acquire customers or generate money 24/7, or both."
NESTA is an industry group representing more than 40,000 professionals in the health, wellness and fitness industry. Along with websites like, and, health and fitness experts can reach millions of people and offer everything from ballet to boxing.
While prices vary between the countless services popping up online, many charge less than $10 (US) for an hour-long audio or video workout routine. Or, you can choose to buy subscriptions or download compilation videos. Many websites even allow you to search through various descriptions and download a desired program and length; choose between male or female coaches; and preview a free trial to sample workouts before you buy them.
The biggest advantage? Cost, hands down. With some trainers charging an upwards of $300 per hour of service, downloading a simple 30 minute reusable video is much more cost effective. The service is also great for people who are or too shy or embarrassed to go to the gym and face a live trainer. And, as anyone who has ever been to a workout class will tell you, it is way easier to see and hear a coach when he or she are in the palm of your hand.
One major drawback, though, is that your MP3 player can’t prevent you from picking up any bad habits or stop you from stretching incorrectly. Only an in-person workout with a pro can ensure you don’t make mistakes that can cost you a pulled muscle.
And at the end of the day, it’s going to take a lot more than a downloaded teacher yelling at you through your personal portable device to get your butt in shape. If it was that easy, your Buns of Steel videos wouldn’t be buried somewhere in the basement.
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