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How To Start An Online Personal Training Business And Prepare For Success

September 23, 2021

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Becoming an online personal trainer is one of the best approaches for fitness professionals to get more clients and make more money. Especially now with the pandemic, the traditional fitness industry has been disrupted and many personal trainers or owners of any fitness-related business might be looking to offer their services online. 

In this article, we will show you how to start an online personal training business, and go over some tips to be better prepared to offer your services.

Let’s start with a rundown of the financial benefits of online personal training business.

Is Online Personal Training Profitable?

As a personal trainer, if you are only making money in the hours you are able to spend physically with your clients, you are limiting your income opportunities. What if a client goes on vacation or gets sick? And the same goes for you, if you get sick or decide to take a day off, no money will be made.

By offering your personal training services online (even if you keep some of your in-person clients), you will have a lot more ways of generating income. Here’s how:

  • You will be able to reach more potential clients by being more visible and easy to find.
  • You can offer personalized routines and diets for price-wary clients who may not be able to spend the money on 1-on-1 sessions.
  • Train your clients from basically anywhere. By eliminating the commute, you can take on more appointments.
  • Your current clients may want to take a break from personal training because gym memberships or your services are “getting expensive”. With online training, you can offer them a great gym alternative and keep their business.

As you can see, online personal training is a major revenue stream that every fitness professional should explore. But how do you get started? Let’s see what you will need to set up your training space.

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What will you need to start your online training business?

In order to start an online personal training business, you will need to have a proper training space, basic fitness equipment, and technology to run the business. Let’s dig into each of these with more detail.

Training Space

With online personal training, you can train your clients from basically anywhere (even when you are out of town). However, it is always recommended to have a dedicated home space so you can stay as organized and efficient as possible.

When you are setting up your training space you want to make sure you have enough room, proper lighting, and the right environment. Here’s what you should consider for each of these aspects.

Space

Is your training space big enough to demonstrate exercises for your clients? For starters, you need to have plenty of space between your demo area and your camera. You also want to have a place to sit and observe your clients while taking notes about their workout details.

Make sure to have space for all of your equipment in the same room. Your client’s time is important (and paid for), so leaving the room during a session because you need new equipment will not be professional.

Lighting

Good lighting is very important so your clients have as much clarity as possible during their sessions. If you are relying on natural lighting, make sure the windows are not right behind you as this will make you look dark and shadowy on camera. If that is the case, blackout shades should work fine for you.

Ring lights are a popular choice. They allow you to move the source of light and adjust the warmth as necessary. If the natural lighting in your space is not enough, you can also use softboxes that will help you increase the size of small light sources. 

Environment

Your clients need to be focused on you. The background they are seeing during demonstrations should be clean, professional, and free of distractions. You don’t want to train from your living room while your family can come in and out of view. Find a place where you won’t be interrupted by kids, pets, or outside noises. 

Crying babies, notifications from your phone, and barking dogs are bound to take away the value of the time and money invested by your client. You can consider hiring a babysitter or planning activities for your kids at the same time you have online training sessions. 

Fitness Equipment

Great workouts are possible even with little to no equipment. But if a client has equipment (and most likely will eventually choose to purchase more), you need to have a comparable item in order to demonstrate the proper form and usage.

For your virtual training space, the National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends basic equipment such as dumbbells, resistance bands, kettlebells, and slam balls. Anything that is within your budget and fits in your space is a good option!

A couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t worry about matching your client’s weight. You can use any weight as long as you can properly demonstrate the exercise.
  • Maximize the visibility of movements by using equipment of bright colors. A gray or black weight can get lost on camera, which would make it harder for your client to keep up. 
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Technology

You don’t have to make a massive financial investment when it comes to technology. Here’s what you need to get started.

A fast and reliable internet connection

This is, for obvious reasons, the first thing you should take care of. Try using a WiFi Booster to help you ensure a good experience.

A device you can use as a camera

Use one device to record yourself while demonstrating the exercises and watching your clients work out. This can be as simple as a tablet, laptop, or smartphone.

A second device to keep track of the client’s workout details

Record the reps completed and feedback to give your clients after each session. Make sure this second device is capable of running email tools as well as word processing applications like Google Drive which is free and effective.

Once you have set up your training space, it is a good idea to host a remote trial class with a family member or a friend to help you identify any potential issues. This will allow you to get familiar with what things would look like from your client’s perspective.

How should you prepare for it?

Aside from a well-organized training space, you will need to prepare yourself to provide the best quality of service. Nowadays there is more competition than ever in the online personal training industry so you want to make sure you stand out. Here are some tips to get you on the right track.

Get A Business License

Every state’s government has different requirements as far as getting a business license. While your state may not require you to have one, it can help you compete with other personal trainers targeting the same clients. The process might take some time, but it is worth it if you want to start building a business structure.

A business licence can help you gain trust and attract potential clients by showing them they are hiring someone with authority. It can also help you fulfill some legal requirements because you are showing that you are a responsible business owner. 

For example, if you need to apply for a loan or any other funding, a bank’s application process may require you to provide a business license. 

Define Your Niche

Try to find your area of interest and expertise so you can refine your niche. Online training is different from 1-on-1 training in a gym. In a gym, you have to know how to train for all kinds of clients because you don’t know who might be walking through the door. But not online. 

When you narrow down and focus on a specific audience you can market yourself as an “expert” in that area and have many more prospects coming your way. You will have less competition and your clients will feel they get a better value for their money because they have an expert to target their specific fitness goal.

For example, you can be a bodybuilding specialist, youth and senior fitness specialist, weight loss transformation, or focus on corrective exercises. Always consider the type of training you have more experience in, the equipment you like to use, and the type of clients you feel more comfortable working with.

Build a Website

Your website will be the face of your business, it is the first thing that potential clients will see. Based on your website they can make quick judgments about you and your business, so you have to make sure it competes.

You need a professional, motivating, genuine and persuasive website with a direct call-to-action for your services. Make sure you include all important information like bio, testimonials (including before and after pictures if you have them), pricing, contact details, and scheduling tools.

Try to keep your website user-friendly by ensuring a good loading speed and maintaining a balance between text and visual elements. Also, try to come up with a personal training business name that is catchy and easy to remember.

Create Video Library of Exercises

Since you won’t always be doing live sessions, you won’t be there to demonstrate exercises for your clients. You can shoot and upload your own videos, or compile a set of links to YouTube videos. This makes it easy to find good examples of the recommended form for the most popular exercises.

Always make sure the videos you include in the library describe all the progressions, regressions and modifications you might use in your routines. If you are recording your own videos, keep them simple, and short; 10 to 20 seconds should be enough to perform at least two full reps. 

They should be only for instant reference in the middle of the workout. Try not to include sound and ensure decent lighting as the client only wants to see how to do it. You can organize them by movement pattern (core, abs, lower body, etc.) in a simple spreadsheet. If you are an influencer who posts social media videos, here’s our guide to monetizing Instagram fitness accounts.

Create Workout Templates

Most of your clients will fit very well into categories. If you have a 30-year-old woman who wants to lose belly fat, it is very likely that the workout for her would be similar to the last one you wrote for that same type of client. 

This doesn’t mean your training programs won’t be personalized. You can still adapt them to each client based on their specific goals and abilities once you run the initial assessment. But there are some parts of the templates that might stay constant like the amounts of reps, rest and tempo, or the workout split during the week.

Having the workout templates already created will save you a lot of time. You can find online platforms that provide you with pre-made workout programs or create your own.

How much to charge as an online personal trainer?

There is such a wide range of rates for online personal trainers. You need to decide how much to charge, which is not always easy. But there are some factors that you can consider to help you figure it out.

Level of Experience

Obviously, the more experience you have, the more you will be able to charge. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t charge a decent rate if you are just getting started, but you should consider raising your rates based on your experience.

You would charge more if you have a personal trainer certification, you have a career specialization, or have been in the business for many years. 

Business Costs 

You will more likely be spending money on marketing, internet connection, website development, office equipment, etc… The more costs you have, the more your rates will go up if you want to at least break even (ideally make a decent income). 

Create a list of all of your yearly expenses and divide them by 12 to get an idea of how much income you need a month to keep your business going. 

Type of Services Provided

Your rates for a specialized one-on-one session and a group coaching session will be different. The more personalized your training is, the more time you need to invest in it, therefore the rates will increase. Access and convenience have a cost, and if your clients can get in contact with you all the time for guidance and questions, make sure you are adjusting your rates accordingly and value your time.

Your In-Person Rates

If you are already providing in-person training services, you are probably not going to charge the same rate for an online session. A good idea is to charge from 20 to 25% less for online sessions. For example, if you are charging $130 an hour for in-person training, you could charge between $90 to $100 for an hour online. 

If you are not yet offering personal trainer services, you can base your prices on the average at-home personal training rates by researching your competition.

Of course, this is completely up to you, and chances are, your pricing system will not be flawless from the first try. There is no standard when it comes to pricing, it all depends on what you have to offer and who your market is. So don’t be afraid to make changes and update your prices as you move along. 

What to take into consideration

Now, let’s go over a few other tips to have in mind when starting your online personal training business:

Stay organized

When working as an online personal trainer, finding efficient methods for organizing and optimizing the way you operate. Here are a few things you can do to give your business a more professional appearance and help you keep a good work-life balance:

  • Avoid using your personal email, phone, and social media account to run your business. There are many inexpensive or even free services that you can use exclusively for your business, including Google Voice to identify business and personal calls on your phone. 
  • Create a set of standard operating procedures to systemize what’s going on in your business. Apply a membership/session cancellation policy, onboarding, and client assessment procedures
  • Set schedule boundaries to avoid burnout and maintain your time value. You may always feel pressured to take on one more client, especially with the freedom that online training gives you. But it is always good to have some time for yourself and recover. Establish a limit on back-to-back sessions, establish a time to stop checking client’s emails or texts, and designate a time of the day for your personal fitness time.
  • Use online personal training software, designed especially to help you store client’s information, create workout templates, and design each session as you want it. 

They can also help you stay in constant communication with your clients by sending message alerts and even messages to get them motivated to work out. This will show them your commitment and interest in their fitness journey.

Get insurance

As a certified personal trainer, it is important to protect yourself against any client injury, dissatisfaction, or other potential liability issues. Your mission is to help your clients reach their fitness goals, but there is always a chance that something might go wrong. One unfortunate incident could put your career at risk.

Getting personal trainer insurance will protect you financially in case a client decides to open a lawsuit due to an accident. In general, there are two types of insurance used by personal trainers: General and professional liability insurance.

General liability insurance will cover you financially in case of an accident or lawsuit. If a client trips over during an exercise, this insurance will cover the cost of treating injuries. 

The professional, on the other hand, will protect you from any lawsuit claiming you made a mistake while providing services. It is also known as “errors and omissions insurance”.

Get Certified

Being certified is one of the most important factors in personal training. It is not legally required, in fact, you can provide online personal training services in any state without having a certification. But if you are serious about your career, you must consider getting certified. 

This is one of the first things a potential client will look for in a personal trainer. Especially when you are offering your services online because they may never have a personal interaction with you and they want to make sure they can trust your services. There are many options out there, and while word of mouth and good reviews can help, a lack of certification may be a deal-breaker for many.

Another important aspect is, some insurance companies may not provide you with a policy if you do not have a certification to show that you are qualified to work with clients and that it is less likely for them to have accidents or injuries. 

When looking for a certification, choose one that is accredited by one or more recognized organizations. The NCCA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) accreditation is the most respected in the industry. Some of these certifications include NASM, ISSA, and ACE. 

How about a little help? (Or a lot…)

Do you need some help getting started? In System2 we have all the help you will need to kick off the process and build a successful online personal training and fitness business. But how exactly can we help you? 

We will provide an online platform that you can rely on, incorporating all the tools you will need to run your business and stay organized. These include:

  • A custom-built website with your branding to help you reflect the main characteristics of your company and build up your credibility.
  • iOS & Android apps that are custom branded and you can use to provide your services in a more professional and user-friendly platform.
  • Professionally designed workout templates and a workout builder for you to smoothly customize routines according to your client’s needs.
  • Marketing assistance and business insights to help you amp up the promotion of your business and develop sales strategies to maximize your profit. 
  • Client onboarding, communications, and payment management to ensure a hassle-free process for both you and your clients.
  • An optional account manager who can take care of all administrative tasks so you can focus on what you love the most; helping your clients improve their health and fitness.

With all this help, you will have what it takes (and more) to manage your business and succeed in your career as an online personal trainer. Get in touch with us today.

Written by: Brenda Hernandez

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