Online personal training is now as relevant as it has ever been. What was recently a small niche of the personal training world has now become commonplace. Even most personal training courses are being offered online now with fully proctored exams!
Yet for newly qualified trainers, those who are looking to become virtual coaches, and veterans alike, the shift to an online training dynamic can feel overwhelming.
Once you get the hang of it though, it’s really not that intimidating. And taking advantage of this moment to pivot will only add a solid foundation to your PT business.
This guide will show you how to start and maintain a thriving online personal training business in 3 detailed sections - no fluff or filler. This guide is for those who already know how to become a personal trainer but who haven't yet learned how to scale the practice to a digital platform.
Let’s get down to business and help you get the most out of your fitness career - no matter the circumstances! Here's how to start as an online personal trainer!
- Equipment - lighting, camera, space, etc.
- Workout Examples
- Payment Processing
- Liability Insurance
- Website (Recommended!)
- Motivate and get clients comfortable with online personal training
- Social media marketing
- Lead Generation
- Specialising to Add an Edge to Your Business
- Pros and Cons
- Concluding Thoughts
Section 1: How to Set up Your Online Personal Training Business
Even though COVID-19 has thrown a temporary wrench in your face-to-face personal training plans, now’s the time to get that website up and running, develop some social media savvy, and diversify your business options.
Now, more than ever, personal trainers are looking for ways to offer their exceptional services to clients. But all it takes is a little creativity and a little research (don’t worry there’s no pop quiz in this guide!), and you can scale your business to an online platform relatively easily.
To set up a successful personal training business you will need:
We’d suggest checking off each of those items from the list. It looks like a lot, but chances are you have many of these in place already!
Remember, your clients are made of sturdy stuff and are itching for a workout just as much as you are. Now is the time to maximise the ROI of your PT qualification and set up an online personal training business.
With that being said, let’s explore the fitness equipment you will need to set up your online personal training business.
Fitness Equipment for Virtual Training
Although online personal training will immediately mean you won’t have your usual options for providing your excellent workout programming, don’t let that stop you from giving clients a great workout.
Consider resistance bands, kettlebells, and dumbbells that range from small to large. Even bodyweight exercises can provide a large amount of your exercise routines!
Resistance Bands for Digital Workouts
With resistance bands, you can give your virtual clients effective exercise programming. Additionally, you might want to consider providing free resistance bands to clients as an incentive to get clients to switch over to digital sessions.
They are a great, versatile tool to include in your personal training toolbox. Just do a simple workout routine of band squats and side steps.
For example, work out your clients' core, your knees, glutes, and quads all by performing sets of band squats and side steps in conjunction.
Check out this video for a walkthrough of a great mini-band workout from our partner at the National Academy of Sports Medicine:
These are a powerful addition to your overall fitness equipment collection. And because they are so portable and allow for a wide range of biomechanical motion, there are a surprising amount of movements.
- Push-up with plank row
- Single arm squat and press
- Kettlebell swings
For a great kettlebell circuit idea, here’s a quick demonstration of a 10 minute complex for you to modify (if needed) to fit your workout programmes:
Dumbbells: From Smaller to Medium Weight Ranges
Because cueing clients from afar isn’t as easy as being there in person to physically guide movements, you should stress that clients don’t go too heavy during online sessions.
Another thing to note is that unless you are supplying clients with equipment yourself, they will have to purchase the weights themselves.
To minimise any accrued cost, smaller dumbbells will be undoubtedly cheaper (and a safer alternative!).
Plus, you don't need heavy weights to get some really effective workouts. We are talking about quality over quantity here!
Even just simple full body circuits with light weights can have really positive effects on overall health, according to a study by The Journal of Applied Physiology.
Additionally, lighter weights mean more opportunities to drill proper form and cue effectively. And if you want to go even lighter, bodyweight exercises are a great, equipment-less opportunity.
Body Weight Exercises (No Equipment Needed!)
Even if you do not have weights or any equipment available, don’t underestimate the power of body weight exercises.
Here’s a sample workout to provide for your clients. But overall, the sky’s the limit for the many modifications you can make to existing programmes out there.
Sample Bodyweight Workout with 5 exercises:
You can (and should) scale back workouts to fit the needs of your clients. For this particular workout, do 2 sets of 12 reps for each exercise.
- Push-up with Rotation (or any modifications you see fit)
- Squat Jump
- Mountain Climbers
- Side Plank
- Supine Floor Bridge
Again, you should fit these to meet the unique strengths and weaknesses of your client.
Helpful tip: To keep your clients engaged, it’s always a good idea to motivate them with fun challenges to break up the usual flow of programming.
Watch this video, as our very own Premier Global NASM expert walks you through a fun bodyweight challenge to utilise with your online training clients:
Streaming Device Considerations for Online Personal Training
Ok, we walked through some fitness equipment options, but what good is having a great set of workout equipment if you don’t have the technological means to hold digital personal training sessions?
You won’t get far at all without a fully functional streaming device, after all!
So, let’s explore some options for streaming devices:
- A laptop can function as a streaming device for interacting with clients, as well as double as a way to manage client workouts through Customer Relation Management (CRM) software. Get a decent webcam and host Skype or Zoom workouts, just like that.
- A smartphone or tablet can do the trick as well. Getting a tripod setup with your smart phone or device can keep your device secure while you interact and demonstrate movements.
Something to keep in mind: While you purchase the necessary equipment, something you should prioritise is the quality of your internet connection.
While it’s impossible to guarantee that your client’s internet won’t be spotty, definitely make sure that connectivity from your end is smooth and seamless.
It’s good to have a backup plan in motion, just in case of internet failures. Giving your online clients the best workout for their money is goal number one. You can always reschedule or have them finish an already-started workout and regroup later.
Remember that consistency is key for seeing fitness progress. Your clients will appreciate it more if you have every contingency accounted for. Flexibility is key!
Create a Zoom or Skype Account for Streaming Your Sessions:
One of best means for connecting your streams to clients is by signing up for a free account with Zoom or Skype.
You will want to have your class schedules and hours available connected so that clients can find you and know when you are providing your classes.
After setting up all of the information you need for programming, make sure your clients also have a Zoom or Skype account, a decent internet connection, and a webcam or streaming device as well and start providing excellent online classes!
The Perfect Workout Space for Your Online Personal Training Business:
To be next-level with your online personal training business means you need to make sure you actually have the space to provide workouts. Your workout space could be your garage, it could be your living room or office, or even your back yard.
Whatever you choose for your workout environment, make sure of a few crucial things:
- That your workout space is well-lit.
- That you have enough space to move around and perform demonstrations with your chosen fitness equipment.
- That the environment is professional and conducive to personal training
Let There Be Light in Your Workout Space!
Because streaming devices need an ample amount of light to provide the clearest picture quality, you will want to make sure your workout space has enough light.
Your garage may have enough space, but how is the lighting? Buying extra light sources can enhance the overall streaming quality and help your clients see your movements well.
Advice: it definitely pays to experiment with light sources, opened curtains, or streaming only during the daylight. To be safe, do a practice stream or two with friends and loved ones and get their feedback before you go live with clients.
Keep Your Training Station Spacious!
This may seem obvious, but you need to make sure you have enough space to freely move around and perform movements with a proper range of motion and form.
Keep in mind that you really don’t need all that much space to provide effective workouts, but it still pays to overestimate your space needs. Clear out an amazing space and get to work!
Something to keep in mind: Acoustics are important. You want your client to be able hear the direction you give them during sessions. The more space you have, the louder you might need to speak, especially if you move farther away from a stationary camera. Just something to keep in mind!
Keep the Environment Professional
It’s really important to remember that even if you are working out at home, you are still holding a professional meeting with a client who is putting their trust in you to deliver excellent workout prescriptions.
Make sure you don’t choose a high traffic area or a place where a lot of loud noises, pets, people, and other distractions can detract from the overall online personal training experience.
Keep it professional!
How to Set Up and Collect Payments for Online Training
Unless you want to go the paper payment route and have all of your clients write cheques, you are more than likely going to want to sign up for a digital platform that transfers money to your account instantly.
PayPal, overall, should not be used for payment processing in your online personal training business. Here are a few reasons why:
- PayPal will charge you a service fee for every transaction they process. While this is a standard practice for many payment processor platforms (they are a business after all), for personal training, there are services that are more geared towards personal training as a whole.
- Your services and goods by PayPal are not protected. According to Shannon Weinstein, in a blog she wrote about payment processing for personal trainers, even the business options for PayPal do not provide seller protection.
- PayPal is not for businesses or trades to utilise for payments. It is used more so for transferring cash to friends or family members. If you use it for your online personal training business, you run a large risk.
Stripe is a good option for personal trainers because it allows you to process credit card payments and integrate the app with whatever management software or app you are using to track client workouts.
While this isn’t a direct endorsement of Stripe, per se, there are many other Stripe-like options (like Square and Shopify) that all use a similar dynamic of payment processing.
Some other things to consider:
- Stripe offers a better user experience than PayPal because it allows you to link it to whatever interface you are working with, to keep your clients all in the same convenient space.
- There’s an attached cost to the convenience though, meaning that payment processors like Stripe charge a 3% transaction fee for services. If you are offering a high-value training package, this could be a sizable deduction. But if you are consistently selling packages, you can bet that the streamlined payment process and your excellent training services are doing pretty well then!
Do You Need Liability Insurance for Online Personal Training?
The short answer: Yes!
Similar rules still apply to online personal training as in-person training. You will want to have your liability insurance in place to protect you and your business.
It’s important to be covered for every contingency!
General Liability Insurance for Online Personal Trainers
With that being said, you should have general liability insurance in place, at the very least. Especially if you are doing online personal training temporarily and will be switching back to a commercial or your own privately-owned gym once the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
General liability insurance can protect you from physical injuries your clients receive, as well as copyright violations you may run into.
The distinction for general liability insurance is that it covers bodily injuries and aspects of personal training that are unavoidable - e.g. someone accidentally injuring their knee, which is not directly correlated to the instruction you provided.
It can also protect you from: Nutritional guidance that may have caused an allergic reaction or other unintentional, adverse health effects that are not a direct result of negligence from the personal trainer.
Another category of liability insurance is professional liability insurance that can cover “errors & emissions” aspects of liability.
Professional Liability Insurance - Errors and Emissions
Professional liability insurance is incredibly important for your online personal trainers. This insurance has to do with negligence on the part of the personal trainer.
For example, if you make any training mistakes that put you clearly at fault for an injury, if you fail to completely provide key guidance to a client about a certain lifting form, or if you push a client too hard and it leads to physical harm.
It can also cover the legal costs associated with if you advertise a service but don’t provide the same service at any time. If a client is dissatisfied and feels that you are not providing the expected results or services, they may take legal action.
If you want more insurance-related information check out this blog post.
Set up a Website for Your Personal Training Business (Recommended!)
Lastly, to set up your digital business, a website is never a bad idea. In fact, even though we mark it as optional, it’s a great way to land clients from organic traffic, as well as add credibility to your business.
Because we believe in just how powerful an asset a website is, we are offering a free month promo to our personal trainer website builder. This is open to all persoanl training course graduates - not just PG-NASM grads!
Think about your prospective clients: do you have a better chance convincing a client that you are an authority in the fitness industry with a polished website? We’d say, yes!
You can build and expand your client base through word of mouth, social media, and other marketing strategies, but a website is always a good idea.
You will have a convenient place to manage clients, post your schedule, contact information, and do payment processing.
Here are some simple steps for creating your personal training website:
- Create your url name and business name. You can always choose to utilise your own name and build your brand - or you can come up with something catchy to differentiate yourself even further.
- Get web hosting and register for a domain - sites like Wix and Wordpress are great! Our custom website builder is a great option as well.
- Fill out the website with copy and relevant product information. Optimize for SEO!
Let’s explore each of these a little further.
Create Your Url and Site Name
To provide as much relevance as possible and to be found online, it makes sense to pick a URL that has to do with personal training.
This may seem obvious, but you want to be found in search, so it pays to put some thought into your name.
From a search engine optimization perspective, names and URLs that have your keyword in them - most likely “personal training”, “fitness” or “online personal training” will immediately get precedence from Google as a relevant product for searchers on the internet.
Creating a relevant name obviously won’t make or break your online business, but it’s a good thing to keep in mind!
To create a URL, you will need to go to a hosting provider like GoDaddy.com or domains.google.com. If possible, go for a .com domain, as this is a better option.
Get Web Hosting and a Domain
Costs will vary, but you’d be surprised at how affordable it is to get a decent domain for cheap. A lot of sites also have regular deals for 1-2 year domain registrations.
Overall, you will need a domain and hosting provider to manage your website. Bluehost.com is a common site if you are wanting to use a CMS like Wordpress. Wordpress is a powerful platform because they provide readily made templates and plugins to utilise to customise your website.
But keep in mind that our Premier Global website builder has readily made templates to quickly get your online personal training website up and running quickly.
Fill Out Your Website With Copy and Product Information
Once you have your website in order and your design in place, fill out the verbiage to reflect your strengths, the product you offer, and your unique selling proposition - that is, the differentiating edge you have over the next online personal trainer.
To get the higgest return on investment it pays to do a little SEO research and target keywords that people are searching for on the internet.
Using a tool like Ubersuggest or Google Trends when writing out your website’s copy will not only help Google rank you in organic search terms, but will ensure that people who visit your website will see relevance in your product offerings.
Aim to provide a mixture of trust and expertise for your prospective clients' unique goals.
Section 2: How to Grow Your Online Personal Training Business
You have set up your workout space, obtained all of the necessary equipment to stream and provide workouts, set up payment processing, insured yourself, created workouts, and most likely scaled your business to a website.
Chances are you already had a decent client base that you reached out to once gyms started closing. If you contacted them and convinced them to switch over to an online personal training dynamic, that’s awesome!
But it’s probably true that you could only convince a percentage of your total clients.
And if you’re just starting out - that is you passed your personal training courses and find yourself building your client base from square one - don’t worry! That’s where marketing and growing your client base come in.
Let’s explore the following facets of growing your digital training business in this section:
Motivate Clients by Minimising Anxiety and Providing an Incentive
It might be a challenge to motivate clients to switch over to online training. Because a lot of potential clients might not be comfortable with online payments or technology, it’s often the case that clients avoid getting a personal trainer altogether during this time.
Your goal is to convince them that online personal training really isn’t all that different from an in-person session. After a couple of sessions, it will almost feel business as usual.
So, before going all out with targeting, outreach, advertising, and social media networking, be sure to provide information that minimises the anxiety clients may have about training online.
Create a Sample Preview of Your Sessions
A great way to dispel any uneasiness about online training is to make a sample preview of your workout sessions and post it to your website or social media business profile page.
There’s no greater advertisement than providing a free preview into the session. Get permission from an existing client - or do a mock session with a friend or family member - and set your prospective clients’ minds at ease.
Another great way to transparently show your services is to post a typical workout on your website or social profile. It's also a good idea to post testimonials from clients who were impressed with your professionalism and knowledge (and the results you brought them!).
Any statistics or results that paint your personal training practice in a positive light is a win for your online business!
Provide an Incentive to Get More Clients
A common way to get clients in the virtual door (of sorts) is to offer a price reduction of your normal services.
Generally though, don’t reduce the price per session too drastically, as your time is still as valuable as ever.
Your services are still exceptional, but because online personal training provides its own limitations - limited equipment, cueing, and demonstrations - it’s important to offer a slight price reduction.
Another great way to provide an incentive is to offer a free session, so that a client can get their feet wet with virtual fitness.
Lastly, make sure you are utilising fitness apps that track progress and exercise performance. Having clear before-and-after pictures show that you can provide a proven track record for your clients.
Social Media Marketing for Personal Trainers in 2 Steps
One of the strongest things about social media is that you share your content and build up a community of dedicated fitness followers.
Here are 2 steps for growing your online training business through social media networking. Obviously there are much more steps you can (and should) take, but to get started, these 2 are your best bet:
- Creating and sharing amazing content.
- Regularly communicating with your social media followers.
Create and Share Amazing Content Over Social Media
It might seem like a no-brainer that you are supposed to share content on your social media channels to attract more followers, but it’s worth stressing!
If you have a fitness blog, social media is a great place to drop links!
Not only will a regular influx of content increase the potential that you are found, but with every post, you build a portfolio of fitness expertise for your clients.
Word of advice: Stick to a consistent content schedule. Avoid going for quantity over quality and burning yourself out. One of the best methods is to spend a decent amount of time on a larger piece of content and break it up into smaller parts for social media. This will flesh out your content schedule and will ensure that you don’t post weak content.
Remember, that if your followers get the impression you are putting in the time and effort into your posts, they will be even more likely to financially support your business.
Engage With Your Followers and Build Relationships
Social media is not only a great place to motivate clients during these trying times, but it’s also an awesome chance to show your followers you are truly there for them.
You are a fitness professional because you love fitness and love helping people realise their fitness goals. Social media platforms give you the opportunity to regularly engage and provide encouragement.
It’s one thing to use your busy schedule to publish polished content. It’s another to post and then individually engage with anyone who has questions or comments. That’s the extra dedication that can be a difference maker.
By staying engaged on social media, you will deeply understand your target audience and broaden your niche to provide extremely relevant content.
Attract New Clients with Lead Generation
Lead generation is simply the process of getting someone who is not yet a customer or client to convert to purchase or sign up for your services.
To generate leads, you should:
- Identify your target audience.
- Provide a free session, email newsletter, landing page, a gated online guide that requires an opt-in or the completion of a contact form.
- Incorporate a strategy that makes sense to your targeted audience.
- Set up engagement metrics and adjust whenever needed.
These are just a few options for lead generation. As your social media following grows, it will pay off to get a strategy in place sooner than later if you want to continue to generate leads.
Just publishing content and engaging with your audience will naturally bring converting customers, but it's easier to scale your business quickly with emails and other strategic targeting campaigns.
Example of Lead Generation Technique
Just as a quick little example:
- Create content relevant to online personal training - such as bodyweight exercises, at-home workouts with resistance bands, and so forth.
- Share content on social media and reach out to your followers. They might share it with their friends and family members who are not connected to you via social.
- If you have any bites, offer 1-2 free sessions and then upsell them on your paid services.
- Do the same thing next week.
- Measure performance and adjust if you are not seeing any results.
Note: But be sure to give it enough time before you adjust tactics because market fluctuations can cause a lot of “noise” within the data.
Specialise with a Fitness CPD!
Ok, so you passed your level 2 and level 3 courses. That’s great! You have more than enough expertise to start your amazing online personal training business.
But as more and more people take their business online, it will be harder to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
That’s where continuing professional development and specialisations come in handy. Fitness CPDs can give you an edge over someone who solely offers personal training services.
To be as complete a package as possible, specialise in nutrition coaching, stretching and flexibility, or even get your level 3 in training prenatal and postnatal clients.
Continually upping your education and expertise show clients not only that you know your stuff but that you are also invested in their overall fitness.
Section 3: Pros and Cons of Online Personal Training, FAQs, and Concluding Thoughts
Hopefully this guide has been helpful so far. Let’s answer some of the more specific questions about online personal training to thoroughly cover all bases. And let’s also recap online personal training in a nutshell.
The Pros and Cons of Online Personal Training
There are a number of benefits and disadvantages for online personal training. But really, you get out of it what you put into your virtual venture.
Starting off with the pros for online personal training:
- Online personal training definitely offers a great way to scale your business and get serious about social media and online marketing.
- Once COVID-19 is over with, and the economy is back on its feet, you will still have a strong online platform for your personal training services.
- You can train clients no matter their location. This can broaden your outreach outside of your local community.
- Gain the knowledge and experience to network, build your social community, and learn how to integrate digital techniques for increasing your client base.
Yet, to just talk about the overwhelming benefits of virtual training would be shortsighted. Let’s explore the cons as well:
- Clients will not want to switch to an online dynamic no matter how enticing and valuable you make your product.
- It’s harder to keep your clients engaged and motivated from afar.
- Online personal training makes fitness accountability harder - that is, it’s harder to hold clients accountable for their progress.
- Equipment limitations means that your clients can’t reach high intensity weight lifting goals. Exercises are limited to bodyweight and lighter weights.
- Internet connectivity is largely dependent on you and your clients having adequate bandwidth to stream over devices. Workouts might be choppy.
Overall though, setting up a high-quality online personal training dynamic might take some practice, but once the kinks are smoothed out, the ROI for taking your pt qualification online can be huge!
Frequently Asked Questions About Online Personal Training
We have talked exhaustively about facets of online personal training. To conclude this guide, here are some quick additional questions to answer about starting a digital training business:
How Much Can Online Personal Trainers Make?
Online personal trainers can make just as much as in-person personal training. Although it is largely reliant on how much effort you put into your online training business, if you work at or own a fitness facility, and the size of your client base.
There’s nothing stopping you from gaining a lot of revenue online. As your brand expands and your experience increases, so too your revenue will rise as well.
According to Payscale, personal trainers currently average about £24.44 an hour. If you specialise, expect to make even more!
What Kind of Classes can I teach as an Online Personal Trainer?
As an online personal trainer, you don’t just have to offer one-on-one classes. You have the option of doing small group personal training, or even teaching larger group fitness classes as well.
But depending on your targeted audience, you will need a qualification geared towards your audience.
You can teach:
- One-on-one, personalised sessions
- Do a combined in-person and group fitness classes
- Group personal training online
- Generalised routines demonstrations for non-personalised workouts
And just about any sort of dynamic you can think of!
Conclusion: Why Online Training is so Important Right Now
COVID-19 is providing some scary, tragic circumstances for the world. By extension, it is also leaving a lot of personal trainers out of work.
Although times are tough right now, online personal training truly does offer an alternative for the large-scale gym closures affecting the industry. You have already invested in yourself and your future by taking all of the necessary pt courses.
Now is an opportune time to scale your business online and help people realise their fitness goals.
Just keep in mind that setting up an online business will pay dividends later (quite literally) when things shift back to normal. You will have laid the groundwork for a more robust personal training practice.
Additional Resources to Check out!
For some other blogs to help you get situated as a personal trainer in general, be sure to check out the following resources: