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Popularity of virtual trainers on the rise

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It may be the next frontier for fitness; a growing number of personal trainers are turning to the internet, offering their services online.

Virtual coaching is becoming big business, dramatically expanding a personal trainer's client base and promising anyone who signs up, fitness on their own schedule.

Ivan Black is a certified personal trainer, but these days, he doesn't meet many of his clients at the gym. Instead, he coaches them from his family room, online, and by phone.

He is among the growing number of trainers turning to the internet for new clients. Clients, who want to be in shape, but for whatever reason, be it time, money, or fears about working out may not sign up for a gym membership or personal training.

"I got up to a point where I ran out of time and there was a need to reach more people," said Black.

People like Theresa Firestine, who now get daily customized work outs from Ivan for a fraction of the cost of personal training.

"It's a lot better for me because if I were to go to a gym, I would have to go at a specific time for the class and the class may not be targeted to my level or my needs," explained Firestine.

Well Beats, a leading provider of fitness classes on request and Anytime Fitness, a gym specializing in digital training have both been named top growing companies.

But, sports scientists caution there is a down side.

"There is a chance for injury and if you are doing that without supervision there is an increased risk for injury," said Rick Richey with the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

Web based training isn't for everybody, but it is one that's enticing millions of people eager for that extra lift into fitness.

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