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It’s not hard to find a personal trainer; walk into any local gym and you’ll likely have plenty of candidates. So why are so many people turning to the Internet for exercise guidance? And more importantly, is it as safe and effective as in-person training sessions?

“I believe the biggest advantage lies in both the affordability and flexibility,” says Tina Reale, who runs the online personal training site Best Body Fitness. “Since the sessions aren’t done in-person, the client can choose the best time to complete the workouts. Plus, clients can choose to do the workouts at home using the equipment they have available. The cost is typically significantly less too. For example, my online training programs cost less per month than most hour-long in-person sessions.”

The million-dollar question: Are the results as good as what you would get from a real-life trainer? In terms of running, “I do think online training is as safe and effective as in person training,” Loudin says. “Running doesn’t require a lot of form instruction but rather pace and distance instruction.”