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Keeping fit on the net as cybersales pump up to $18bn Demi Moore may have spent a fortune to get her sculpted body, but Lauren Chambliss has found a cheap route to fitness

Article excerpts from: The Evening Standard, London, England June 8, 1999, Author: Lauren Chambliss

Two weeks ago I hired Paul Becker, a California-based personal trainer I have never seen to design a body-slimming, muscle-building, aerobic-enhancing fitness programme tailored just for me. I am not in bad shape, but I want to get in even better condition to run my first marathon in the autumn. Becker, a veteran body builder and nutrition expert, at trulyhuge.com is helping me do it.

Personal fitness training is just one of the myriad of business services that make up the new frontier of net shopping in America. Like many of the new service-oriented merchants on the web, Becker started by selling products - vitamin supplements and fitness books. Then customers began asking for more, calling or emailing him for advice on bodybuilding or fitness strategies. Today, he and his partner have 200 clients for whom they develop personalised fitness programmes and monitor the results via email.

It was much easier for me to spend an hour online with Becker developing a training programme than it was to travel to the nearest gym to meet a personal trainer.

I had no trouble signing up for Becker's personal training services, though it did take me more than an hour with a tape measure to fill out the questionaire detailing my weight and measurements even the circumference of my knee. He also wanted to know my eating habits, right down to the last scoop of ice cream.

What I got back, two days later, via email, was a personalised programme that included a sample diet, suggested aerobic exercise and a weight-training regime. I know I didn't get the same plan as everyone else because I compared mine with another one, which had different goals.

Becker asked me to check in every week, by email, to assess my progress and adjust the training regime as necessary. "A lot of people don't need someone to stand over them and count their reps in the weight room," says 36-year-old Becker. "What they want is someone to help them with a workout plan and diet that will achieve their own goal, whether it is to build muscle, lose weight or increase endurance. This is the information age, I am supplying information."

It is possible, of course, that Becker isn't a fitness expert but a 200lb couch potato with a bag of crisps, a good idea and a mouse, laughing all the way to the bank. Fraud is a serious problem on the Internet. So far, however, I have lost a few pounds and an inch - not around my knee - and I feel great. If the service fits, click it.

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