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8 Steps to Becoming a Great Online Personal Trainer in 2021

Recent global developments caused by the Covid-19 pandemic point out to one direction: The future is online.

How do we know?

Despite the turmoil caused by the global pandemic, research shows that the fitness industry is more prosperous than ever. As people continue to be on the lookout for weight loss services that will allow them to live a healthier life, the interest in more customized workout programs becomes clearer.

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If you are into fitness training and want to upgrade your game by going online, this step-by-step guide can help you get your online business up and running in no time.

Why It’s Important to Become an Online Personal Trainer?

Currently, the total revenue of the personal training industry is worth over $12 billion and demand is expected to continue growing. Fitness professionals who are adapting fast to the new post-COVID 19 changes are the ones that will make the most out of it in the long run.

And while coaching people face-to-face has its benefits, online coaching has the power to exceed expectations on so many levels.

Convenience and cost are the two main catalysts for choosing online personal training, and it’s what has made it so popular today.

An unbreakable piece of evidence on its popularity is the spike of interest in online fitness coaching on the onset of the coronavirus in the beginning of 2020. As Google Trends shows the keyword search on ‘online personal trainer’ has reached its 100 percent during quarantine and since then, it continues to remain relatively high in contrast to previous years.

Interest over time on online fitness coaching is a growing trend.
Image Source: Google Trends

The graphic above shows great insight into the interest behind online personal training and reveals the opportunity that lies ahead.
All in all, it presents an opportunity that has a huge potential and offers a range of benefits:

Jonathan Goodman, founder of the Online Trainer Academy and the Personal Trainer Development Center summarises the benefits of online training reflecting on his own experience:

“Online training is a new and exciting way for me to offer my clients what they need, when they need it, without the limitations and expenses of the gym so that I can offer a better, and more cost-effective, service than an in-person trainer’.

Our very own customers behind the creation of The School of Calisthenics – Tim Stevenson (strength and conditioning coach) and David Jackson (former professional rugby player) have more to add on that while sharing their own story:

“As we were playing around with it in the gym, people started asking us if we would do a course, and so we did. Initially, it was a side-project but, as demand was growing, we started gathering resources, such as PDF documents, to make calisthenics more accessible.”

Equipped with the dream of ‘redefining people’s impossible’, they managed to build an online school that helps people move better, get superhuman strength, and have more fun with bodyweight training.

*Learn more about The School of Calisthenics by downloading their case study below.

What we get from both examples is that online training comes out as a necessity to meet people where they are most likely to hang out offering a viable solution right on the spot.

Ready to start your own fitness business online? Here’s what you need to do:

Step #1: Choose Your Fitness Niche

From teaching yoga or pilates to offering weight-loss advice and bodybuilding training, a fitness niche defines your specialized area of expertise as a personal trainer.

An excellent way to choose your niche is discovering what you love doing the most, what you are really good at and lastly what you want to become known for. Coming up with a unique selling point and differentiating yourself from the competition is key to success.

By researching the needs in the personal training spectrum it’s easy to identify why people choose to invest in it in the first place.
More often than not, it’s any of these reasons:

As a personal trainer you may be able to do all of these or focus on an area that can help people reach their fitness goals.

In doing so, you are expected to come up with exercise programs that suit people’s needs at varying ages while providing ongoing motivation and support.

Taking into account what the end goal of that training is, you may plan workout regimes that fall in any fitness category ranging from bootcamp, boxing/kickboxing, circuit training, crossfit, martial arts, or weight lifting amongst many others.

Deciding who you want to work with – identifying your target audience, and being as descriptive as possible in terms of what you can offer, also helps out big time.

Here are a few targeted fitness business niche ideas:

If you are not there yet or feel like you lack the knowledge of offering such advice, you will need to become certified in a specialty area first.

Step #2: Get Certified For Your Online Personal Training Business

Following the example of some of the highest-paid personal trainers in the US, getting certified becomes essential in terms of running a successful fitness coaching business.

While there are no entry requirements for this field, obtaining personal trainer certification can go a long way from making you more knowledgeable and experienced while increasing your credibility as an online fitness trainer.

Most gyms require you to have a personal training certification, complete in-house training, or hold a degree in health/fitness. In order to be able to train clients online, you will need to obtain a certification from a fitness provider accredited by a professional organization.

The requirements that are set by such organizations may vary depending on location, however, most require you to undertake an exam that tests your knowledge on a range of fitness specialties including exercise science, anatomy, nutrition, exercise programming, and instructional techniques. Some programs may also require you to complete CPR training.

Here are some fitness providers offering certification programs that are recognized and accredited internationally:

Certifications need to be renewed every one to four years and recertification requires obtaining CECs or CEUs (continuing education credits or units) that adds to your experience. You can gain these credits through event attendances, writing books, journals, or articles, or by obtaining additional certifications.

A specialty course in a niche fitness area like yoga, pilates or nutrition, or any other fitness-related diploma always counts as a plus.
Lastly, having experience training clients in person should help you complement the knowledge you already possess and put it into practice via online means.

Step #3: Create an Online Personal Training Questionnaire

To be able to work as a personal trainer and offer a training program that is suited to each individual, first you need to carry out an initial assessment of their needs. Just like an online life coach would do, you first need to understand who your clients are to be able to offer them the best advice possible.

A questionnaire can help you establish rapport with your clients, identify problem areas and learn more about their aspirations, and concerns. It can also determine whether you are a good fit for your client or can offer them exactly what they need, and vice versa.

When working online, an application form that asks the right questions can do all the work for you, since you won’t be meeting clients in person.

Your questionnaire should ask the following:

Check out this google form questionnaire from body transformation coach Tyler Dirienzo to gather some inspiration or browse a few templates on Template.net, before creating your own.

Step #4: Come Up With Online Fitness & Workout Templates for Your Clients

As a personal trainer, you will need to come up with specific workout routines and training programs that can support your client’s needs to the fullest.

To make it easier, you first need to create a set of workout templates that offer the basic framework of the program, and are easily incorporated into everyone’s fitness regime. These shouldn’t require much modification for individual needs to begin with.
For example, certain workout elements will stay the same for everyone:

Then what you can do is create a training program for those who fit in a specific category based on their age, gender or fitness level, health-related issues.

To suit individual needs you can modify the following:

Another equally effective approach is to create workout routines based on your client’s level of fitness (Beginner or Advanced) while focusing on specific ‘pain’ areas e.g. fat loss, muscle tone, strength-building. conditioning and so on.

Start by creating a workout routine using Excel or downloading ready-made templates from Canva.

Image Source: Canva

As you continue working with your online clients and have individual online check-ins with each, you will gain greater insight into their needs and desires and will be able to adjust your training services to their workout routines further.

Step #5: Prepare the Video Training Content

Perhaps the most time-consuming part of building your online personal training business is coming up with the actual course content.

Taking advantage of the video is the greatest way to offer the best solution to your clients. In doing so, you should compile a set of videos that shows the exercises and movements your clients need to carry out.

Such videos should show the core workout plans and include at least 2 reps for each exercise. They may last from 10 seconds to up to 5 mins or more depending on the exercise sequence you want to demonstrate.

Before recording your video, consider the following:

Generally, it’s a good idea to create videos that are intended for private use (as part of an online course or a subscription plan) but also for free use. The latter should work great as your promotional tool or lead magnets to help people get to know you better (more on marketing in step 8).

Step #6: Choose a Personal Training Software

The best way to go about becoming an online personal trainer is by investing in software that can host your online business.

A key aspect when it comes to choosing a training software is going for the option that is best suited to your business requirements. What you need is software that can give you the necessary tools to deliver top-quality training content in a systematic way and the potential to scale your business.

On top of that, you should ensure that the software you use can withstand the weather and responds well to the market demands.

According to The Wall Street Journal, some of the latest trends in fitness already used by best personal trainers call for on-demand, virtual, and live-streaming classes.

So unless your software offers you the capability to conduct live classes, you will need to invest in a video conferencing tool such as Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime (for iOS devices).

Using a training software like LearnWorlds allows you to manage your client base more effectively as well as store your documents and videos, deliver your online services – courses and training programs, and choose the billing and payment options that suit you.

Here are some winning features the LearnWorlds platform offers:

It allows you to carry out live training sessions through the Zoom integration:

It helps you create an inclusive online community where people can engage in discussions and learn from one another:

Managing an online community
Image Source: Community and Groups

It supports interactive learning content including video & H5P with self-assessment tools that allows people to document their goals and progress.

Creating interactive self-assessment in H5P.
Image Source: Image Source: H5P

It comes with a range of payment options (Stripe, PayPal, etc.) for both the US and EU.

Creating interactive self-assessment in H5P.
Image Source: Payment Gateways

Ready to give LearnWorlds a try? Get your free 30-day trial today!

Step #7: Decide How Much to Charge for Your Services

Time to set the ideal price for your business model. While there is no such thing as ‘best’ price, you should calculate your optimal price – which shouldn’t be too high or too low.

Typically a one-hour training session can cost around $40 to $70 and if you are an expert at what you do, you can charge up to $100 per one-hour training session.

However, the best way to decide how much you need to charge is by investigating the market. This should help you learn how much other personal trainers charge for their services as well as how many potential clients will be willing to pay for it and adjust your marketing strategy accordingly.

Also, you should calculate the overall value you bring to the table – the long-term benefits and life-changing solutions you offer.

To help you out, consider the following:

If you find it difficult to prove the overall value of your online services, there are ways to work around it.

Testimonials from clients, sharing before and after photos showing real results from people who have succeeded because of you, and giving money-back guarantees are all great ideas you can try out.

Finally, considering that online personal training often costs less than in-person training, you can offer subscription plans, promotional coupons, discounts, and bundles of courses at a lower price.

Need more help on calculating how much you should charge your online services? Check out our relevant pricing article.

Step #8: Establish the Profile of a Fitness Expert

Becoming more ‘present’ in the market plays a huge role in retaining a reputation, especially for online personal trainers who want to establish themselves as top professionals in the field.

How can you establish a strong online presence?

Build a website for your business

If you are not online in today’s digitally-driven society, then it means you don’t exist. Having a dedicated website improves your chances of getting noticed, as it allows people to get to know you, and become familiar with what you do that can change their lives for the better.

Start a fitness blog

One of the reasons why you should retain an online presence is to share your knowledge and ideas with the rest of the world. A fitness blog can build on brand awareness, attract new clients, help you get the attention of industry leaders, and can offer new opportunities as a speaker, writer, or coach that will expand your online influence.

Create a YouTube channel

Speaking about online influence, it wouldn’t be wise to leave out social media. Facebook, Instagram, and most importantly YouTube are the go-to channels you need to invest in heavily. Needless to say, top fitness influencers have started their successful businesses with a YouTube account that is followed by thousands of online clients and still retain it to this day.

Write an ebook

Coming up with an ebook is a great way to build on authority for your online fitness business. An ebook on “how to lose 10 pounds in a month” or “5 steps to becoming fit” can prove to be super valuable for your target audience. Offering yours for free or as a lead magnet that enhances your email marketing efforts can impress potential clients and help them answer their most burning questions. Consider using industry influencers, such as renowned fitness instructors or top-ranked certified personal trainers, to co-sign your ebook.

Invest in partnerships

Forming partnerships with like-minded professionals or experts in health-related fields like nutrition and mental health can build trust and credibility. It also allows you to offer more value to those clients who need additional help. This is something you can do through affiliate marketing, with the chance to get paid referrals and increase your sales.

Stay up to date

Success comes through consistency and adopting a lifelong learning mindset. It’s all about updating your knowledge, setting goals, and smashing them while striving to become better at what you do. As a member of a professional association in the fitness industry, you can stay up to date with recent developments in your field and learn about important workshops and events that take place worldwide. This will boost your customer retention by helping you to provide your trainees with the most updated services.

Need more help? Check out our article that lists 30 marketing ideas to further promote your business.

We’re Helping You Get Your Skills Online

Taking advantage of the digital world as an online personal trainer can only work for you – not against you. At LearnWorlds we are offering you the best online tools, elearning resources, and advice to achieve your potential as a successful online personal trainer and make your business aspirations a reality.

Fitness trainers and coaches like the creators of The School of Calisthenics are living proof of that. By using LearnWorlds as their elearning platform, the online academy has seen rapid growth reaching up to 40,000 users in less than a year!

Want to learn more about The School of Calisthenics? Here’s the case study behind it.

Ready to achieve similar results as an online personal trainer?

Claim your free 30-day trial with LearnWorlds today and find out where it can take you!

Create a beautiful online school without any technical skills.

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Content Creator at

Kyriaki is a Content Creator for the LearnWorlds team writing about marketing and e-learning, helping course creators on their journey to create, market, and sell their online courses. Equipped with a degree in Career Guidance, she has a strong background in education management and career success. In her free time, she gets crafty and musical.