Sep 24, 2015 - Things to Do

An app to build muscle: Online personal training is a real thing



I have the same personal trainer as NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne. It kind of revs my engine to be able to say that because it’s actually true, even though I don’t know Kasey personally.


I should also say that I’m not one of those Darwinian humans when it comes to fitness. I work hard at it but I’ve hit a lot of dead ends. I played soccer in high school, but my workouts in my twenties and early thirties have mostly meant running endless miles in a perennial quest to burn calories. ‘Overuse injury’ has long been a common part of my jargon. There have been times I hated running with a passion.

Fitness is a cyclical journey. Modern America’s obsession with health is on the fast track with no sign of slowing down, and our options for staying in shape are exploding. If you live here you know that Charlotte is a fit city – there seem to be people walking, running or cycling everywhere you look. Finding the right workout balance can be complex to navigate, not to mention expensive. We’re a prototype for sweat, and while that’s great for the Queen City, let’s be real, people – we’re so fitness-obsessed in Charlotte it can feel downright competitive.

In early 2015 I met Ryan von Rueden through work. Not only is Ryan the personal trainer to Kasey Kahne but he’s an entrepreneur and an early pioneer of online personal training. Frustrated with my workout routine, I decided to take a chance, and joined Ryan’s online strength training program.

How does it work?

Online training is less complicated than it sounds. I met with Ryan for an initial fitness assessment and goal-setting at my gym, and each week he programs my workouts for the week into the TeamBuildr app.  I look at the app on my phone to know what exercises to do. For me, it’s a combination of cardio exercise (running, cycling, stairmill) and weight training. I can also see the personal bests of my ‘teammates’ (Ryan’s other clients who are on my team). It’s nothing super-fancy with scented towels or a softly-lit studio; basically it’s integrating technology to return to classic weightlifting exercises – designed specifically for my goals.


I log my data from each workout into the app (what I did vs. what was programmed for me) and there’s a section for notes under each exercise.

What are the benefits?

  • Convenience: I do my workouts on my own time, whenever I can fit them in.
  • Cost: Working with Ryan is far more affordable than a real live in-person personal trainer.
  • Accountability: I can’t slack off. If I don’t fill in my workout data, I get a text from Ryan.
  • Accessibility: If I don’t know how to do a certain exercise, I call or text him and he always gets back to me quickly.

Who is it good for?

  • The self-motivated: No one is there to meet you, so you have to get yourself in front of those dumbbells and work.
  • Those with a fitness baseline: I wouldn’t recommend online training for beginners, who likely need someone to guide them and check their form. Online training is good for people who need a fresh program, or like me, know basic weight exercises but don’t know how to put their own fitness program together.
  • The solo athlete: You can certainly work out with people, but more often than not I just like to work out in my own zone. Get in, get out and done.

It took me into my mid-30s to realize what an important role strength plays in being fit. Since I started Ryan’s online program, my strength has improved, my running speed is faster, I’m better at yoga, I have more energy and people have told me how lean I look. (I’m not going to lie, sometimes I check myself out in the mirror because never in my life have I had the shoulder and back definition that I do now.)

Like any personal trainer, an online personal trainer should care about your goals and guide you toward success, and Ryan not only does that but has helped me feel better about my fitness than I have in years.

Maybe I won’t ever actually go running with Kasey Kahne but I’m just a few paces away now, right?

Read more about Ryan von Rueden’s customized online personal training and follow him on Twitter for fitness tips.


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