If you’re reading this article, I’m going to take an educated guess that you’re interested in expanding your current gym training work into online personal training…
The question you are now faced with is how to become an online personal trainer…
Not so easy, is it? Well, if you stick with us, that’s not going to be the case for long.
In this article, we don’t want to mess around with the holistic skills you might need to be a good online personal trainer. We also don’t want to sell you anything pertaining to be the miracle guide to quadrupling your personal training salary in a matter of weeks.
What we will offer you in this article, therefore, are the proven methods our students and tutors have used to expand their local gym work into flourishing online businesses.
Following our proven three stage process, we’ll give you insight into the preparations you need to make before considering your online business, the content, marketing, and audience research techniques that will expand your potential revenue of your online venture in the early stages, and how you can develop your online personal training career moving forwards.
“You can’t build a house without first laying its foundations”
Sure, it’s a cliché, but clichés stick around for a reason: they speak the truth.
We’re about to take you through the basics of what you must have in order to consider becoming an online personal trainer. So, if you’re already an established PT, you can probably skip right over this section and head to Stage Two: the preparation stage.
However, even if you are established in the industry, you might want to think about sticking around…
Old heads can, if left unattended, gather a bit of dust, and while we’re not suggesting your techniques and methods are ineffective, it’s always good to let in some fresh air…or, in this instance, a checklist of what you absolutely need in order to become an online personal trainer.
1. Making sure you are fully qualified from a reputable provider
This is probably the most obvious, and yet the most important stage of this whole process.
If you want to become an online personal trainer, you can’t just draft yourself a quick webpage and start raking in the clients.
Why? Because without them, you have no legitimate experience, expertise, or knowledge with which you can coach your future clients.
Who is going to listen to the advice of an online personal trainer who has no proof of ever studying personal training or fitness? What’s more, who is going to trust them? Unqualified trainers are dangerous, and should be avoided at all costs.
In what is a hyper competitive industry, you need to – at the very least – ensure that your qualifications accurately reflect your abilities, and that you are set apart from online businesses fraudulently posing as personal trainers and fitness instructors.
Now, choosing a training provider is a whole different subject, and one which we touch upon in more detail in our comprehensive guide to becoming a personal trainer. If you want to know all about making an informed decision with regards to your training, I strongly recommend reading that article before progressing with this one.
The key points to remember are to make sure your training provider is accredited by REPs (Register of Exercise Professionals), that they are recognised by CIMSPA, and that their examination materials are overseen by a national governing body.
You also want to be asking about course content. There’s no point in paying money for a course that doesn’t include all the information you need, right?
For a Level 2 Gym Instructing Course, for example, your course must include the following modules:
At OriGym, we have accreditation from REPs, are CIMSPA endorsed, and are OFQUAL regulated.
Remember, checking your qualifications is key in order to make sure you don’t fall short later in your career. If you have any lingering doubts, contact the enrolment team of the provider you are interested in, and they will be able to guide you through their courses and accreditations.
2. Gain some experience working in a gym
Once you are fully qualified with your level two and level three certificates from a reputable training provider, you should have no problem at all securing fitness instructing or personal training work in a gym.
Working for someone else in a gym? That’s what I’m trying to get away from!
Before you leave in a rage, hold on a second and hear me out…
If you’ve put in time and effort, and have grafted for a couple of years in a gym setting, building your client lists and honing your skills, then you’re fully ready to make the next step into online personal training.
However, if you’ve just finished your qualifications, there are several reasons why you should seriously consider at least six months of face to face training before attempting to conquer the online personal training sphere.
Firstly, and most obviously, there is no real substitute for experience.
Training clients on a regular basis allows you to develop effective training programmes (something we’ll come to soon), discover where your strengths and weaknesses are, what demographics your particularly suited to, and also what your USP is.
That last point, your USP, is going to be crucial for your future online business.
If you want to know not only how to become an online personal trainer, but how to become a successful online personal trainer, then a lot of your future success will rest on how well you have identified your product and skillset, and how accurately you market that to your audience.
But more on that later.
Training clients face to face also brings the unique benefit of having actually met your clients in person. Here, you need to get analytical.
In your early days, you should note down all of your successes and failures, the ages, genders, and demographics of all your clients, and how each different group responds to specific aspects of your training programmes.
Having this raw data at a later date will allow you to create online plans that are tailor made for different groups, and that have a proven track record of success. All you’ll have to do is sit back, relax, and watch the positive testimonials roll in.
Well, sort of. You might have to do a little more work than that…
3. Researching your realistic earning potential
Let’s be honest, although you got into this industry because of your passion for health and fitness, and your desire to help others achieve their fitness goals, we all also have one eye on the pay cheque at the end of the month.
We’re only humans, after all.
The thing is, as you may well know, a personal trainer’s wage packet may vary wildly depending on their success, location, and qualifications.
Surprise, surprise – online personal training is no different.
Now, we can’t cover all of the intricacies of personal trainer salaries within this article. That’s because there’s enough content there for an article in itself.
Fortunately for you, we’ve already written that article, and you can find it here: OriGym’s Ultimate Guide to Personal Trainer Salaries.
What we can do is cover some of the main points you need to consider when researching the pros and cons of online personal training:
Notice something about these pros and cons?
All of them are built on a foundation of experience in the industry.
By spending time training in a gym setting, and then moving into online personal training, you are ensuring that you have the skills to, quite literally, pay the bills.
4. Setting up a website domain
Hold on a second, I thought you said I should focus on training in a gym first?
You’re right, I did. You should absolutely, 100%, focus on your gym training business when you start out as a personal trainer.
But do you want to know a way to grow your client lists when you’re training in a gym?
Set up your own website!
Setting up a webpage doesn’t automatically mean you’re committing yourself to becoming a fully-fledged online personal trainer. Rather, you’re now a personal trainer who has an online presence.
So, for example, rather than offering programmes and remote training through your new website, you would instead advertise your face-to-face programmes, your previous success stories, and offer a contact form for potential clients in your area to enquire about your services.
Setting up your own domain name is easy, too.
All you have to do is select a name for your brand, head to a site like GoDaddy, and purchase the domain, and you’re good to go.
Try not to think too much about creating a clever business name and brand, either. Often the best course of action is your name or initials, followed by “personal training” or “PT.”
Building the website is a little more difficult, and it’s something you might want to consider outsourcing to a freelancer, or professional web developer.
A simple site with a contact form, and optimised images of your client’s success stories isn’t going to trouble a good designer, and shouldn’t cost you too much money, either. This investment will pay for itself once you bring in even just a couple of clients, and so is well worth it in the long-term.
If you did want to try designing your own page, try a tool like Elementor which runs through WordPress and makes the design process more intuitive, without the need for a knowledge of coding.
If you don’t want to commit to a full website, but want to ensure that you have an online presence beyond a social media page, you might also want to try setting up a landing page.
A landing page is like a single webpage, where potential clients can enter enquiries and contact details, and on which you can give an overview of your work and your clients’ success.
They are easy to design using a website like Leadpages, and can be advertised via platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to great effect.
Foundations of become an online personal trainer – a quick recap
And there you have it, all the foundations you need before you consider seriously thinking about how to become an online personal trainer!
If you need a recap, check out our stage one checklist below:
- Making sure you are fully qualified from a reputable provider
- Gain some experience working in a gym.
- Researching your realistic earning potential
- Setting up a website domain
So you’ve done the groundwork.
Your qualifications are in the bag, and your client list and timetables are saturated to the point where free time has become but a distant memory.
If this is the case, now’s the time to start seriously considering the actual process of how to become an online personal trainer.
Nothing is going to expand your business quite like online personal training, and over the next few points within our preparation stage, you’re going to find out how to turn your groundwork and existing experience into a tangible framework for an online personal training business.
These aren’t vague pointers for a successful business, like work hard and chase up your leads (as undoubtedly important as those things are).
We want to give you real advice, which stems from years of experience working with real online trainers.
So let’s get stuck in!
5) Discovering your potential clients
The reason the preparation stage of how to become an online personal trainer is so exciting is because it’s the point at which you start piecing together all of your knowledge and experience into a coherent plan.
Think of this as a jigsaw.
All the way through the foundation stage of your personal training career, you have been gathering pieces of a wider puzzle. Your qualifications, experience, nuggets of advice from managers and higher ups…the list goes on.
The preparation stage then, is the point at which you organise everything you already have into a framework where you can clearly see your earning potential.
Our first step then, is to discover your clients.
Now, you may be thinking: surely I already know what kind of clients I’m looking for from my existing gym-training business.
There’s two points to consider here:
a) Online Clients, while hoping to achieve largely the same goals, are a completely different audience to clients in a gym setting.
There’s a reason a person might look for an online personal trainer, over hiring a personal trainer in a gym setting.
In your preliminary research, you need to find out about the kind of people looking for online personal trainers, and how best to advertise your services to this demographic.
b) The kinds of spaces you’ll be recruiting clients are completely different
When making the transition from gym training to online personal training, you’re going to have to tear up everything you know about marketing.
You can’t advertise your online business using posters in your local gym. Sure, you might pick up a couple of clients that way, but there is no way you’re going to reach your maximum potential.
Instead, you need to discover the spaces in which your online clients look for their fitness advice. These spaces may include:
Now what do you do?
With the raw information you have, you need to start building a picture of what your online personal training audience might look like.
This is much easier than it sounds.
When we say discovering your clients, we really mean just that. Once you have discovered their goals, what kind of information they are looking for, and the kind of spaces they hang out online, you will have a great idea of how to recruit these people as your clients.
To help, try using some of the following research prompts:
Answering the above research prompts offers you invaluable guidance with regard to what your audience is looking for, where they look for it, and what kind of advice resonates with them.
Which brings us neatly onto…
6) Zeroing in on a niche to develop specific client profiles
As you may have noticed if you’re following this guide step-by-step, the world of online fitness is pretty big.
Actually, that’s an understatement…
It’s huge. Enormous. Incomprehensibly large and incredibly detailed (much like this article…).
It’s only logical then, that somewhere down the line you’re going to have to pick a speciality.
There’s absolutely no way you can cater for every online fitness enthusiast’s needs.
Fortunately for you, you have a good idea which of your skills and programmes work best for clients, as a result of your existing gym work. You also have some incredibly detailed audience research from the previous step, which will help to answer some questions along the lines of what the FAQs of online fitness enthusiasts are, and which areas are most popular with your potential client base.
Most crucially, from your research in the last step, you also identified some blogs, forums, Facebook groups, and online spaces where your future clients talk to each other and ask questions.
This, in combination with the five-to-ten trending concerns and questions of fitness readers, means you can begin to eliminate large sections of fitness that aren’t relevant.
If you’re not a nutritionist, say goodbye to anything concerning online diet plans and food advice. If you’re focus is more concerned with core muscle workouts and balance, get rid of anything regarding bodybuilding and isolated strength training.
The goal of this stage then, is to really condense this information into something manageable, and more importantly, something sellable.
Think of this in terms of cordial-based drinks.
When you start your research, your glass is 99% water and 1% cordial. What you want when selecting a niche, is to remove as much of that excess water as possible. Your cordial is your product.
To help with this, write down each of your trending questions from the previous step, and try and make them into ultra-specific outlines of what niche you want to target, given your previous gym training experience and skillset.
Here’s an example:
At each step, you are using your research, and your knowledge of which clients you work best with, to zero in on an ultra-specific niche.
Once you’ve completed this process for a number of the research questions you identified in the last step, you should have five-to-ten specific client profiles, any one of which could act as the outline of your business and marketing strategy.
7) Choosing Which Client profiles and niches will yield the highest results
If you’ve been following this guide to the letter – and we hope you have – then what you’ll now have in front of you are five-to-ten ultra-specific client profiles, any one of which could be the key to answering the question of how to become an online personal trainer.
But this is still too many. There’s no way you can market to ten different audience groups. Or even five different groups. Or, to be honest, even three.
You need to select, at most, the two client profiles which will most likely yield success for your online personal training career.
Remember, your client profile is literally the building block of your business. It’s taking the foundations you set in your qualifications and gym training experience, and its combining it with detailed research of online fitness trends in the current market.
These profiles should therefore reflect both your proven experience and expertise, and the genuine questions online readers are actually asking.
You therefore have to make the right choice in order to ensure your future success. Making this decision isn’t just an aspect of your online business. It is your online business.
There are a number of ways to decide on the niches you should focus on for an online business, many of which you will have already touched upon in your previous research.
8) Preparing Content
This much should be obvious.
Once you’ve decided on your niche by selecting a specific client profile whom you will target with your marketing (more on that in a second), you need to start preparing content ASAP in order to populate your website.
Of course, this should be a relatively easy process, especially if you have written programmes for clients in the past, and each client is going to be slightly different, as you customise your plans to their exact goals and needs.
But you do need to have a handful of foundational plans and pricing strategies, to advertise your services on your site.
The difficult part of all this for many online personal trainers is going to be optimising content for an online audience, and deciding how exactly you want to deliver your services once they are online.
There are no strict rules for this. If you have a unique idea of how to help someone achieve their fitness goals using an online platform, you should by all means chase that up in whatever way you can. A unique selling point, after all, could be the only thing you need in terms of securing instant success.
The most common forms of online personal training, however, are as follows:
9) Choosing Software and developing systems
This next part might sound quite scary, but it’s really nothing to worry about.
Besides, if you’ve come this far, you’ve done all the hard preparation. This bit is just the practical side of running a business.
We’ll start with choosing software.
When it comes to deciding on software, it’s not something that we can offer you, personally, much specific advice on. While that may not sound particularly helpful, our coyness is for good reason.
Different online personal trainers with different skills, clients, targeted audiences, and list sizes, are going to need different software packages. The best thing you can do is therefore research what it is that you need – whether that’s a database of clients and payments, or an interactive interface for programmes and diet plans – and then subscribe to a free trial on the leading software packages in those areas.
Two of the most popular personal training software packages are PT Distinction and Total Coaching, and it is true that these pieces of software are fairly comprehensive in the range of tasks that they cover. But again, don’t worry if neither of these work for you.
For a comprehensive overview of the best software packages available for personal trainers, your best bet is to head to our best personal trainer software article.
Once you have the software in place, you will be able to implement forms for your prospective clients.
While your software should provide you with the systems and framework your business needs to run, you will most likely still need to find a way to take payments in a secure manner.
There are many payment services operating in the UK and abroad, but keep in mind that new customers want to see something they know and trust when they visit your site as potential customers.
Nobody is going to willingly hand over their bank details to a service, and therefore a personal trainer using a service, that they don’t trust.
As such, I would recommend opting for either PayPal or GoCardless. These are international businesses who, though you will have to pay a small licence fee, will guarantee that your clients trust your business.
If one payment business will instil trust over another, it should really be a no brainer.
10) Planning your marketing strategy
You have your qualifications and experience in a gym. Check.
You’ve researched fitness trends online, and found your niche. Check.
You’ve prepared some premium content, according to a range of different price plans. Check.
All of your systems are in place to take payments and sign up new clients. Check.
Now it’s time to take the plunge and go live!
But there’s a tiny problem…
It isn’t guaranteed that you have a website at this stage. Or at least, not one that can adequately advertise your new services and business.
Web development and online marketing often prove to be one hurdle too many when it comes to people getting their online personal training business off the ground. And the sad truth is they really needn’t be.
It’s true, a good website is an absolute must, and unless you have a generous friend or family member who happens to be a web developer, you’re going to have to spend some money at this early stage.
But a clear website, with calls to action, client success stories, social media links, details of your offered services, and enquiry forms – at the very least – are going to help you stand out.
Getting this website in front of your potential clients is a whole different story. There’s no use having an aesthetically pleasing and functional site, if nobody is around to see it.
In that sense, here are our top tips for marketing your new site and services:
PPC Ads – Facebook and Google
It is perhaps the worst protected secret in marketing that Facebook Ads and Google Ads should be your first port of call when you want people to see your website and product.
There’s no secret formula here, either…
If you target the right keywords, have budgeted correctly, and have researched your audience in detail, these avenues can triple, or even quadruple the number of potential clients visiting your site.
Social Media Channels
You should, of course, already be utilising Facebook and Instagram for your gym training business. But to maximise the reach and effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, you can use these platforms to make your brand more visible.
One of the best ways of increasing your brand visibility is to engage in active fitness communities, like the ones you found when you were researching your audience.
Facebook Groups are particularly good for this.
By regularly engaging in such communities, and slowly making it known that you are an expert with a product to sell (all the time avoiding aggressive sales tactics), you can recruit some loyal clients, in addition to expanding the reach of your business.
The best way to increase traffic and viewers to your site is through targeting Google searchers, and the only way to rank high in Google is to work on SEO optimisation.
There are a great number of ways to optimise your website for SEO purposes, and in truth you might have to hire a freelancer (or ask your web developer to do it for you), in order to see results.
In short, SEO is all about getting people to click on your site, and getting them to interact with your content once they are there. As such you need to write in an engaging manner, and have plenty of calls to action (such as enquiry forms and email boxes) on your webpages.
For an excellent beginner’s guide to SEO, check out this article on Moz.
Content marketing and Email Marketing for organic traffic
Now that you’ve got people coming to your website, you need to have something to keep them there, and to keep them coming back.
Content is therefore absolutely essential when it comes to generating new client leads, and to maintaining a loyal following.
You should also play to your strengths here.
If you are a good public speaker, try YouTube content or podcasting. If you’re a good writer, it’s a lot simpler. Simply set up a blog on your site and use it to funnel traffic to your service pages.
Preparation stage of becoming an online personal trainer – a quick recap
And there you have it, all the preparation you need before embarking on your journey of how to become an online personal trainer!
If you need a recap, check out our stage one checklist below:
- Discovering your potential clients
- Zeroing in on a niche to develop specific client profiles
- Choosing which client profiles and niches will yield the highest results
- Preparing content
- Choosing Software and developing systems
- Planning your marketing strategy
By now, you should have identified your target market through researching and establishing detailed client profiles for your business.
You should have also prepared a marketing strategy to target and appeal to those audiences in key areas of online communication, and set up a framework of systems and a trustworthy payment service meaning you can effectively receive payments and catalogue your expanding customer base.
Take a moment, look how far you’ve come.
You’ve successfully implemented a full business strategy and, with enough effort and time put towards marketing your new services, you will start to see the rewards of your efforts.
So, it’s time to sit back, and watch your business grow, right?
In the final stage of this guide, the expansion stage, we’ll take you through all the key areas of getting your online business to continually grow.
And surely, when it comes to asking how to become an online personal trainer, you want to know how to sustain a consistent level of success and growth?
Well, look no further! It’s all here, ready for you to read!
11) Actively executing your marketing strategy
We’ve already touched upon marketing, so we don’t need to go into great detail here.
What you absolutely must remember is that marketing isn’t something that you can do at the start of your business set-up and forget about.
There’s a reason seasoned personal trainers will look at their computers with a certain amount of disdain.
That reason is they spend a lot of their time there. In fact, as an online personal trainer, you’re probably going to spend more time at your desk or work station than anywhere else.
There are a few things you can do here to soften the workload for yourself.
The most obvious step to take would be to hire some freelancers from a site like People per Hour. If you hire a marketing executive to cover the technical side like ads and SEO work, you’ll have more time to do creative tasks like social media posting and engaging with your audience.
Hiring a freelancer shouldn’t be viewed as a cop-out, either. In fact, delegating tasks allows you to spend more time engaging with your prospective and current clients, which in itself is a method of lead generation – or to put it another way, talking to people is just another way of marketing!
Another way to lighten the marketing load is to plan. There’s a reason we told you to write a marketing strategy in the previous stage of this guide of how to become an online personal trainer.
Strategies remove any of the guess work from marketing. Without a strategy, you will inevitably fall into the trap of scatter-gun marketing, or marketing that is aimless, inaccurate, and largely ineffective.
Remember, here are the key areas of marketing that you’ll have to keep on top of as your business grows:
If you want our advice, outsource your website SEO and PPC Ads to a freelancer you trust, leaving you to take care of the more personal side of marketing: Social media posting, first-hand engagement with clients, and creating content that reflects your brand and persona.
12) Brand Development
Just like your business and website, your brand is something that you need to take care of and nurture in order for it to grow.
It’s so easy to notice someone who has let their brand stagnate by not updating their website and social media with content, and not engaging with their niche.
Think back to all of the times you’ve stumbled across a website with not social media links, that hasn’t been updated in the past 12 months, and whose existing content is woefully outdated.
If you can remember any it’s most likely because they left a bad impression.
Now, it’s true: brand development is one of those buzzwords that marketing professionals use and which can mean a million different things.
Here are our two key methods of keeping your brand fresh once your online personal training business is up and running.
13) Making room to spend time with online clients
One of the most common mistakes personal trainers make in the process of how to become an online personal trainer, is to set up a successful online personal training business, only to continue spending long hours in the gym.
And it makes sense. You have built up a reputation in a gym setting, and it can be difficult to let that reputation go in order to make room for online clients.
However, this is something you must do.
Your early clients are some of your most important ones. Be sure to allocate enough time to provide personalised advice, and go out of your way to ensure that their experience of your services is a good one.
Remember, behind those email addresses and avatar profiles, there are real people. You need to treat them as such, ensuring that each of your new online clients receives the same kind of treatment than your gym clients.
If you need to reduce your gym hours in order to do this, you must be prepared to make this decision.
14) Personal Development – retraining and keeping up with trends
The fitness industry is fast moving and unpredictable. Who could have predicted, for example, that trampoline fitness classes would be one of 2018’s hottest fitness trends.
This means that in order to stay ahead of your competition, you need to continually update your knowledge of fitness and personal training.
The only way to do this is to invest in your personal development.
Luckily, the fitness industry is great for providing CPD courses, or Continuous Professional Development courses, to do just that.
CPDs are wide ranging, but some of the more popular options include:
Remember, as your online personal training business grows, your clients will look to your services for a wider range of advice.
You therefore have to ensure that you are adequately prepared, and qualified, to offer such advice, and that your programmes can direct clients in a safe manner using different methods of pieces of fitness equipment.
15) Don’t be afraid to take the next step
You’ve just about covered everything you need to know to lay the foundations of, prepare for, and execute your new online personal training business.
So let’s, in theory, jump forwards a couple of years:
Your online client list is looking healthy, your website and content ranks well in Google and turns over frequent traffic, and you’ve increased your earnings from your gym training days.
You may be thinking, where do I go now?
The truth is, if you reach this position you have done everything you need in order to ensure your success. However, that doesn’t mean you should stop there.
Most online personal trainers who are ambitious enough to reach this stage of their careers go on to look to the next step – where can they take their online personal training business next?
And you should be no different. Here’s some ideas of how to expand once you’ve achieved early success…
The Round up
If you maybe skimmed a couple of sections of this guide (don’t feel guilty, this guide is a bit of a monster after all), check out our roundup of the whole process, from start to finish.
Don’t say we never do anything for you….
Before you go…
And there we have it, the most comprehensive guide of how to become an online personal trainer online today!
Of course, much like your clients, we want to hear about your success stories.