What is Online Personal Training?

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Whether you’re asking 'what is online personal training?’ as somebody considering a career in the world of online fitness, or you're simply looking to hire an online PT, this article has all the answers.

If you think you have what it takes to launch an exciting career as an online PT, check out our guide to becoming an online personal trainer for information on getting qualified, finding clients, and developing your online brand!

Enquire about our personal training diploma here or download a propsectus for more information about our courses.

What is an Online Personal Trainer?

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The main difference between an online personal trainer and a standard PT is obvious: one will most likely work entirely online!

You’ll need a Level 3 personal trainer qualification to be a standard PT or to work online. To get this you first need to complete a Level 2 fitness instructor course, or complete both simultaneously through a diploma in personal training.

If you want to know more about how these qualifications will set up your online personal training career, check out the video below:

They will usually have a bit of experience working with clients before branching out online.

They can also provide dietary advice alongside exercise regimes in order to help a client reach specific goals, whether that’s aesthetic or related to their fitness levels and strength. 

An online personal trainer will usually do a mixture of the following, depending on their qualifications and particular niche:

  • Design an exercise programme for clients
  • Do regular scheduled check ins with clients 
  • Use apps or other online services to track progress and test fitness levels
  • Provide a nutrition plan

All of these things will be determined by a client’s particular goals, the length of the programme, and the accountability of the client.

There are other answers to ‘what is online personal training’ however, depending on how an online trainer chooses to work. We’ll run through these different options in more detail now. 

What Does an Online Personal Trainer Actually Do?

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So, we’ve answered ‘what is an online personal trainer’ but what are the different options for how they can work?

While the process to become a personal trainer in-person or online is the same, online personal training is always entirely online, utilising different apps and online services to work with a client.

It will include working one-to-one with a client and motivating them to complete an exercise programme in order to reach their goal. 

However, there are slight differences for each way of working. If you’re interested in becoming an online personal trainer you’ll need to know what these are to decide what would work best for you! 

Equally, if you’re trying to decide which online PT to hire, you’ll need to know exactly what to look for to get the most out of the experience.

Online PTs differ in terms of the support offered and the frequency of any accountability sessions.

This is what you want to make sure of whether you’re looking to hire a trainer or become one yourself: make sure you find or offer a high level of support to get the best results. 

Some personal trainers will just offer a questionnaire or verbal check in with clients, leaving them to assess their own progress and attempt to communicate in a written way.

If you’re wondering ‘what does an online personal trainer do’, especially compared to standard PTs, this depends on how they choose to work.

You can see what a day in the life of a PT looks like in our video below:

Online PTs Can Set Training Plans for Clients to Complete in Their Own Time

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The most common way of working is providing a bespoke training plan for clients to complete in their own time at home or in a gym environment.

It will mostly be for people with a gym membership so that they can utilise the equipment for maximum results.

However, this is also an option for those who have basic equipment at home and want to complete the programme from there!

So, what is an online personal trainer going to ask in order to start training clients online?

Well, much like a standard PT, they will have you complete a PAR-Q form and either ask you to complete a questionnaire about your goals or have an onboarding consultation.

This will help the personal trainer determine:

  • A client’s schedule
  • Diet
  • Current level of fitness or activity
  • Preferred exercise styles if applicable
  • Goals
  • Any medical issues or injuries
  • Any medication they’re on 
  • Anything else that might mean that personal training or vigorous exercise is unsafe or ill-advised 

They will ask for all of this information so that they can plan a realistic, achievable, safe programme for a client to complete on their own terms. 

Online PTs Call Clients for Check-Ins

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Other trainers will either get clients to film their workouts and give detailed feedback or have video check-ins with clients where there’ll be an opportunity to check form.

This is how an online personal trainer holds their clients accountable. Without in person sessions they will need to motivate PT clients in other ways.

For example, Onside PT gives clients the opportunity to have weekly video feedback on their goals:

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He also schedules weekly calls as an option for clients to speak to him directly either by phone or by video.

Also, at the start of a training programme, he will get clients to record themselves so that he can make any major preliminary adjustments to form:

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Depending on their qualifications, online personal trainers will also offer a bespoke nutrition programme to go with the exercise regime.

PTs can give nutritional advice with a Level 3 personal trainer qualification, but can boost their knowledge and expertise with a Level 4 nutrition course.

This deepens their understanding of nutrition giving further knowledge regarding not only basic principles of diet and exercise, but ways of boosting performance.

This means that clients will get the most out of their programme and take it beyond just a balanced, healthy diet and into something that will help achieve their goals quicker. 

Online PT's Can Train with Recorded Material

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A great way of ensuring clients improve and work on their technique, as well as making sure they have help and guidance between sessions, can be access to online content.

As well as being directly contactable, usually online personal trainers will have pre-recorded material for clients to use between sessions. This usually includes:

  • Recorded classes
  • Instructional videos for certain techniques and exercises
  • Other tips on improving performance and technique depending on the trainer

Online personal trainers can use this material to help clients with their form as well as resources to act as homework.

One of the instructional videos might also teach people how to do complex exercises with equipment.

Online PT's Can Use Apps to Communicate With Clients

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As we mentioned earlier, a lot of online personal trainers will use an app such as My PT Hub to support their clients and offer support outside of sessions or between check-ins.

Apps are often a way for clients to maintain contact and to keep everything in one place including:

  • Any links to instructional material
  • Details of the exercise regime
  • Details of the nutrition plan
  • Recipe ideas
  • Any dates of check-ins, assessments, or accountability sessions
  • Internal messaging to offer motivational support

StrongHer do this with their own app:

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Some of the best virtual PTs still utilise personal trainer apps such as True Coach and My PT Hub, as these offer a lot of the same features.

So, if you’re asking ‘what is online personal training’ because you want to start offering these services, you can download some of the best apps for free and get started. You don't have to fork out for your own app to begin with!  

Online PT's Can Train Over Zoom

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Though it’s not as common as the aforementioned method, some who become online personal trainers will hold sessions over Zoom other another video software.

This means that they will schedule meeting via one of the following methods, in order to do live coaching with clients:

  • Zoom
  • Google Meet
  • Personal trainer apps such as My PT Hub

This is what KT Chaloner does in order to offer more support than standard online training:

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This can be a great option for clients as they will get more corrections to form in real time and get more immediate motivation.

Despite the increased attention, however, the workout regime is limited by what the client has at home as it would be difficult to do a zoom session in the gym.

The main reason this doesn’t tend to be as common is that it hasn’t got the convenience of completing a programme in your own time.

It will also often be more expensive because it’s live and will, in turn, take up more of the trainer’s time too. 

It’s far more common for this to be used for Zoom fitness classes instead of individual one-to-one sessions.

What Are the Benefits of Taking Your PT Business Online?

Now that we’ve looked at the different options, what is so good about online personal training?

Most personal trainers, once they’ve developed their career, will offer online services, even if it’s in combination with in person sessions.

We’ll now look at some of the main benefits of online personal training if you’re looking to start offering online services as a PT.

One of the Benefits is You’ll Have Almost No Geographical Limits

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One of the first things you might think of when asking ‘what is online personal training’ is that you can train people from all over the world!

You’re nowhere near as limited by location as you are with in-person sessions.

Providing the time zones are compatible, you can potentially train anybody from anywhere in the world.

This is especially true if you’re providing a training programme and allowing clients to get going independently, between check-ins, rather than exclusively having sessions over Zoom. 

This is something you can use in your PT marketing strategies and boast that you can train people from all over the world. 

This is what Ultimate Performance have done, promoting their reach on their website:

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So, if you’re wondering ‘what is online personal training going to offer me?’ you can massively increase your pool of clients when they don’t have to travel to work with you!

There’s Greater Flexibility in Being an Online Personal Trainer

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Another important thing to consider when weighing up the pros and cons of online personal training is that there’s greater flexibility in how you design and implement your training.

You can design your online personal training programmes from the comfort of your home and utilise your knowledge without working in-person on the gym floor.

This is why it’s one of the best additional revenue streams for PTs, because you won’t be limited by:

  • The operating hours of the gym
  • Competing for popular time slots
  • Having to wait for certain equipment with your client

Additionally you’re not constrained by when the client is available and when they’ll be able to make it to the gym outside of their usual commitments.

The ways you stay in contact with an online client, either by a PT app or in your regular check-ins, are a lot more flexible too.

It’s far easier for you to reschedule a check-in with a client when it’s an hour long conversation either by phone or by video call.

Not only is there more flexibility in where this can take place, you only have to consider both of your schedules rather than the opening hours of a fitness facility.

This is a great option if you’re just starting out because, whilst you’re building up your reputation, having online clients will increase your reach and provide testimonials from all over the country, potentially the world!

It Can Be Easier to Develop a Niche as an Online Personal Trainer

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Unless you’ve got tons of experience and you’ve got your own personal training business or your own gym, it can be hard to develop a niche.

This is because you’ll be working out of a particular gym or fitness centre and, especially when you’re starting out, you’ll be sourcing a lot of clients this way.

For example, if you’re interested in training women specifically, or personal training clients with fibromyalgia, it can be difficult to source these clients from the gym floor.

Having a niche like this is one of the best ways to stand out as a PT by having a specific niche that fills a gap in the market.

This is what Dom Thorpe has done with his own online training, who does personal training for disabled clients:

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You also may be constrained by what you can offer depending on the style of gym and the particular ethos of the facility that your clients have access to.

So, if you were wondering 'what is online personal training going to offer me?', hopefully now you know the benefits of finding your niche and developing it through online services!

What Are the Benefits of Hiring an Online Personal Trainer?

Now we’ll run through some of the best reasons to hire an online personal trainer, rather than in-person. 

Hiring an Online Personal Trainer is Cheaper than In-Person Training

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One of the biggest advantages of hiring an online personal trainer is that they’re often cheaper than in-person training.

This is because you’re paying for the programme being designed, and the time this and the check-ins take, rather than:

  • Paying for the trainer’s time slot in the gym
  • Paying for access to the gym equipment

Hopefully you’ve seen that just because you’re paying less for online personal training this doesn’t mean that you’re missing out on service.

What is an online personal trainer going to do for you that an in-person one won’t? This will usually come down to those resources and the contactability we’ve talked about.

Though you may be paying less, there may be more resources for you to use outside of sessions and check-ins than if you were paying for an in-person trainer.

This might include: 

  • Instructional videos
  • Recipes
  • Regular emails and messages for motivation and encouragement
  • Pre-recorded classes

You will also potentially be saving money on a gym membership because you can workout at home or outside.

In-person personal trainer prices range from anywhere between £20 and £200 depending on location and experience of the trainer.

However, the average is £30 for a one-to-one session.

Looking at GymWolfPT, who offer both in-person and online personal training, their average cost for face-to-face is £40 - £50.

Even with just one session a week this could add up to £200 per month. However, their online programme costs £150 a month and this includes: 

  • Workout programmes
  • Diet and nutritional protocol
  • 24/7 available contact with coach

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The Flexibility of Online Training Will Benefit You Too 

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Just as not being locked to a specific slot in the gym will work for your trainer, it will benefit you too!

Online personal training is a lot more flexible for you and your schedule because you can complete the workout whenever you like.

Once you’ve received your exercise programme, and your trainer has told you what to do before the next check-in, you’re free to do this, even if your only available window is 4am!

This means that no matter what your commitments you can work the programme around your life and integrate exercise a lot easier.

It’s also a lot easier to rearrange when a slot hasn’t got to be booked at the gym.

As with most of those we’ve mentioned, it’s super easy to contact online trainers either through an app or other online services.

If you need to rearrange at the last minute due to other commitments, obviously this isn’t ideal but you’ve got more flexibility to do so and it’s easier to swap to another time.

If you were in a gym environment and you were going to be half an hour late this may lose you the appointment and therefore your money!

If you’re running late for a video call, this is easier to rearrange for both parties and there’s more available room in the day for doing so. 

Online Personal Training is Great if You’re Feeling Nervous About Training

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Online personal training is a great option if you’re feeling nervous about training or you’re new to exercise altogether.

There’s a heightened level of privacy with an online trainer because you’ll only ever be speaking one-to-one via:

  • Video calls
  • Phone calls
  • In-app messaging

This means that you will potentially be a lot less self conscious as you won’t need to exercise in front of everybody else.

If you’re still getting used to working out, or you’re particularly insecure about form? All of this makes using an online personal trainer an ideal option!

Though you may occasionally have to watch yourself over video, this is a lot less exposed or public than in the gym.

Before You Go!

If you're interested in this career, don’t forget to check out OriGym’s guide to becoming an online personal trainer!

With our Diploma in Personal Training, you can be qualified in as little as 4 weeks! Want more reasons to study with us? Download a free prospectus to learn more about OriGym and the courses we offer.


Become an Online Personal Trainer with OriGym!

Take your fitness career online and train clients virtually with our Personal Trainer Diploma.

Written by Jessie Florence Jones

Content Writer & Fitness Enthusiast

Jessie has a 1st class honours degree in English Literature from University of Leeds and an MA in English Literature from Durham University. Naturally Jessie has a real passion for writing especially about film, culture and wellbeing. Outside of writing she loves hiking, country walks and yoga, which she has been doing religiously over lockdown.

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