More people are turning to online fitness services thanks to the convenience and low cost. If you work around the clock and don’t have time to squeeze in a workout at the gym on a regular basis, or to hire a trainer on a set weekly schedule, then you might want to consider this more flexible option.

But how effective are online fitness services?

First, let’s name the options you have when you go online to develop a fitness routine. There are a huge number of possibilities, depending on what your interests and goals are. For instance, if you want training under a specific teacher but don’t live close to his or her studio, an online training program is a good option. You get the benefit of the specific teacher’s training at your convenience. If you are looking for a type of training routine to meet a fitness goal, such as running a marathon, then you can join an online training program that caters to this need.

In order for your online fitness service to be effective however, you must be motivated as well as consistent with providing feedback.

How many of us start a new fitness routine with the best of intentions, only to let it slide when life encroaches and we must answer to work or family obligations? Online training can help you avoid this pitfall – because even if you have to attend your child’s school play, you can still do your online training program later that night, or even first thing in the morning without having to drive to the gym. This is motivation – the fact that it’s so convenient, but you must use this to your advantage. Online fitness programs are all about self-motivation, because there is no teacher with you in the room as you are doing your program. You have to be your own cheerleader and be responsible for continuing the program.

A challenge with most online fitness programs – and why some people haven’t been successful with them – is the lack of accountability. You get out of it what you put into it – and if you are working with an online fitness coach, your trainer isn’t a mind reader. If you don’t update your online trainer through messages, posts, or by asking questions, then the trainer can’t give you the specific advice you need. If she was in the room with you, observing your practise, she could give you feedback on why certain muscles might be hurting or why you can’t get your running pace up. However, since she only knows what you tell her, you have to be very proactive and descriptive about what you are experiencing. In other words, tell her where you have pain, what you are having trouble with, or a question you might have about your progress. The better picture your online trainer has of you, the better she will know how to advise you. And the better your result.

Most online coaches are far more accessible than an in-person coach, where you have to wait until your next scheduled session. With online trainers, you can message them while you are thinking about it, and can expect a response pretty quickly without relying on your next session for feedback.

Using an online fitness program can yield successful results, but as with anything else – it depends on how motivated you are to obtain your goals.