How to Do Online Personal Training
Contrary to popular belief, personal training is not the exclusive domain of the wealthy and influential. People from all walks of life employ personal trainers these days, and with the advent of the internet, PTs now have a way to expand their client base and bring their expertise to an ever-larger audience.
Why take your personal training business online? The benefits are many. For starters:
- It works while you sleep – Clients can visit your website or use your app to access workouts, content and important information 24/7.
- You make more money – In January 2020 the average price of petrol was £1.07 per litre. As of this writing, it’s £1.65. Staying put means fewer overheads, plus you can reallocate time spent travelling to your actual revenue-generating activities.
- You enjoy greater freedom – Digital business tools do a lot of the management and analysis for you, meaning you get more time to yourself. You can use that to take on more clients and earn more, or boost your work-life balance.
Keeping these benefits in mind, we are going to take a close look at just how to do personal training online. We’ll cover: Who should consider becoming an online personal trainer? How can you get clients? How should you market yourself? And much more.
To begin with… what is an online personal trainer?
An online personal trainer dispenses their knowledge and expertise via internet-based live streams, videos and other media. The online personal trainer does everything a more traditional personal trainer does. The main difference is that online personal trainers can conduct their sessions from virtually any location.
Is it easier to be an online PT than a traditional PT?
That depends on how you like to work. Those who find success as online personal trainers usually:
- Have at least a year’s experience training clients face-to-face.
They have already smoothed out the kinks and settled into their programme, so are able to confidently make the leap to training people who watch and listen through a smartphone or other device.
- Have a speciality they focus on.
Perhaps you work primarily with older individuals, overweight people or those with diabetes. Maybe you focus only on male or female athletes, or are carving a niche for non-binary individuals. As a rule of thumb, the going tends to be tougher for those who offer generic one-size-fits-all training.
- Are reasonably tech-savvy.
It’s not essential because learning is made so easy these days (as you well know!), but an openness to technology is helpful. You may wish to conduct a live stream or podcast, or share blogs and Facebook posts, all of which become available to you when you take your business online.
There are exceptions to every rule, so even if you are fairly new to personal training you may be able to leap straight into doing it online. Where there’s a will…
How to Start an Online Personal Training Business
The following steps assume you are already a qualified PT who works with clients face-to-face.
Step 1: Decide Which Type of Online Personal Training You Want To Conduct
It’s generally accepted that there are 3 types of online personal training sessions:
Private Online Personal Training
Using this model, the trainer works with a single client at a time. It is a very individualised brand of training, essentially the same as meeting the client face-to-face, only now you’re doing it over the internet. Lots of PTs prefer this because it enables them to build more productive relationships which they feel yield more satisfying results.
Group Online Personal Training
You will need to be a bit more tech-savvy for this type of online training and it can be very lucrative. With group training, you bring together clients of similar abilities at an appointed time using software such as Zoom or Skype. The content of the workout is up to you and everyone will have paid in advance for the right to join the session. If you are looking to optimise income this is a good way to do it.
Hybrid Online and In-Person Training
With this model, you mix in-person sessions with online sessions. There are a couple of ways to configure this type of business. Either you can work with some clients exclusively face-to-face and others exclusively online. Or you can offer all your clients a combination of in-person and online training. Or you can work predominantly online but offer in-person sessions at an elevated rate. That last point is important because face-to-face sessions will demand more time and cost more to conduct.
Step 2: Make the Change Incrementally
If you decide to work exclusively online you should not abruptly cut all of your in-person clients loose. Instead, pick one and transition them to a hybrid model of training where half of your sessions are in-person and half are online. This will enable you to get used to online training, work the bugs out of your online programme and not lose any clients (aka, money) while you make the transition.
By the time you are ready to take your next online client, you will have a much better idea of what works and what doesn’t. You could transition all of your current clients to online training one at a time in this way. If there are some who resist the move you will need to decide whether to keep seeing them in person or refer them to another PT.
By the time you finish transitioning your current clients online, your operation should be running like a well-oiled machine and you will be ready to start taking on additional clients.
Step 3: Get Qualified
If you are already a certified personal trainer, you can skip to the next step. But if you are not, then we would highly recommend you seek out and acquire certification. Being certified will help nullify any doubts potential clients may have about working with someone they have never met. In addition, you are likely to learn a few things during the certification process that will help you become a better PT in the long run.
There are a number of organisations that provide personal trainer instruction and certification. But not all are created equal. We recommend you try Study Active. They have an outstanding reputation and cover pretty much every type of PT certification available.
Before we move on let’s be clear about one thing: it is not legally required that you get certified in order to offer online personal training. However, certification will make it easier to attract clients and will also allow you to justify charging more for your service.
Step 4: Refine Your Business Structure
The more you work online, the more you will understand that the online environment offers a variety of unique business opportunities in addition to the 30 or 60 minutes of internet face time that occurs during training sessions. Some people are curious about the changes they are undergoing and want to know more. Others want to get in shape but are not available to join your live online sessions.
If you record your training sessions you can create an online library for clients to access. You can also make this library available for a fee to people who are not currently clients. This enables you to make money while you’re sleeping or out at dinner or on holiday, and provides the possibility of converting those non-clients into clients.
You can also offer informative PDFs on your website that cover related topics like nutrition and recovery after a training session, and create YouTube videos that highlight your expertise, cover general topics, generate ad revenue and attract even more clients. The possibilities are endless.
How to Get Online Personal Training Clients
Once your online training business begins to gain traction you will want to start attracting more clients and maximising your earning potential. Here are some ways you can do that.
A) Get to Know Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is a term that is bandied about a lot these days, but not a lot of people actually know what it means or how it works. And that’s understandable because most of the information available on the topic is less than clear.
So, in the spirit of clarity, here is how to sell online personal training with social media marketing.
- Research your target audience – Use client feedback forms to determine what parts of your PT programme are resonating with your clients and what parts are not. This information is crucial if you are to create social content that gets attention.
- Identify your key performance indicators (KPIs) – KPIs for PTs typically include hours spent with clients, net client gains per month, time spent assessing client progress, time spent on complementary services (if any) and more.
- Create a campaign playbook – This will include your KPIs, overall goals, schedule, anticipated challenges, subjects to create content around and more.
- Set aside time to deal with different aspects of the campaign – If you launch social content with the intent of prompting engagement and then you don’t engage your campaign will be sunk. Set aside time to create posts, react to comments, answer questions and more.
- Only post relevant content – Every piece of content in your social campaign should be related to those aspects of your profession and practice that people appreciate. You can also react to breaking news that is related to personal training in order to spark discussion and increase engagement.
- Create different content for different social media channels – While all the content in your social media marketing effort should touch on similar topics and themes, you should not simply cut and paste from FB to Twitter to Instagram and so forth. Mix it up.
- Analyse your results on a monthly or even weekly basis – Keep tabs on what is generating engagement and what is not and tweak your efforts relentlessly to ensure you reach the widest possible audience.
B) Build a Website
In this day of social media dominance, while websites might seem a bit outdated, they are anything but. If you are serious about building a successful online personal training business, a website is essential.
Whereas social media platforms only allow you to give out advice, tips and other information in tiny bits, you can create a blog and be as indulgent as you need to be on your website. Even if the site is not attracting a huge number of visitors it will still help bolster your image as a true professional. And that’s not all…
- Plays an important role in your ability to disseminate useful information.
- Enables you to provide a comprehensive bio and list of your credentials.
- Becomes an invaluable platform for posting positive reviews.
- Hosts your video archive which you can offer for free or charge for access to.
- Provides a forum for your clients to support each other and share their experiences.
C) Develop Your Own Branded App
A website is one thing, but to truly make it these days you can’t beat having your own app. It’s without question one of the most powerful tools to emerge in recent years for scaling business.
Possibilities are endless, but some of the most useful benefits to a personal trainer include the ability to:
- Expand your customer base by providing people who are not currently clients with access to your workout library.
- Run promotions that attract new clients, get existing clients to renew, or sell app-only merchandise.
- Create app-only content that is available by paid subscription only.
- Enable current clients to gain access to more materials and communicate with one another via a client forum.
- Create a stronger brand by leveraging app-driven branding opportunities such as colour schemes, logo placement and company motto placement.
- Implement a loyalty programme that provides returning customers with a discount on future training packages and merchandise.
- Get traffic moving between your social media accounts and raise awareness of your offerings by encouraging app users to share their experiences with others on FB, Instagram and more.
- Obtain valuable insights into your customer base including key demographics, retention rates, number of downloads and installs, the number of daily, weekly and monthly users and more.
All of these options will help you earn more and develop a vibrant community around your personal training business.
D) Harness the power of positive reviews
Positive reviews can be the most influential ingredient in getting a reluctant person to take the leap and sign up for online personal training. Don’t be shy about soliciting reviews or posting them to your website, including them on printed materials and featuring them in your mobile app. Anyone who is genuinely pleased with the nature of your personal training service should be more than happy to pen a short (or not so short) testimonial that you can use.
A Personal Training App That’s Cross-Platform Compatible
The struggle to achieve cross-platform compatibility has always been the bane of web designers. But a branded app from Disciple is compatible with all recent iOS and Android operating systems and platforms including smartphones, iPhones, laptops, notebooks, tablets and iPads. Heck, even if you still have a PC the Disciple app will work on that as well.
And let’s not forget that you also have the ability to monetise your Personal Training app in any way you see fit. You no longer have to worry that the platform you’re using (Facebook, YouTube etc) will shoot down your monetisation efforts while they simultaneously cash in on your community.