We can all agree that life is shifting more and more to an online interface.
Everything from ordering a meal, filing taxes and catching up on your favorite tv show is increasingly done online.
The online marketplace or the digital economy is where the business is truly happening nowadays.
The same is now increasingly true for the fitness industry.
Online fitness coaching has experienced rapid growth with statistics showing it to soon become the more viable way to generate revenue in health and fitness.
Trends indicate that the digital information product sector (ebooks, audiobooks, online courses) is dominated by fitness-related products, making a stronger case for digitizing your personal training endeavors.
This is indeed the age of the virtual fitness coach.
Soon, I’ll be providing some expert resources on how you can start an online fitness coaching business and have the best outcomes for your clients and the best income for yourself.
Stay tuned for updates on that.
But why is being an online coach so lucrative and game-changing, aside from the fact that society is ever more glued to digital screens?
Why Online Fitness Is Changing The Game
Online coaching is based on the concept of remote fitness training.
Being able to train people without the need of being in physical proximity has been a part of the industry since the early days of aerobics VHS instructionals.
In this early period, these types of training products were revolutionary both in getting more people hooked into fitness, and more trainers experiencing a viable career.
VHS fitness tapes are amongst some of the best selling media products of their time.
Which brings us to today.
An age where media is hyper accessible through the internet and there is a constant jostling for attention and eyeballs.
That means any sort of value when it comes to attention is now earned online, and when it comes to the evolution of remote training, its size has exploded because of this.
The ability to produce said media has also grown exponentially.
Now all you need is a device that fits in your pocket, something to stand it on and computer.
You can also capitalize on providing readable content, which on the web, and in a digital context, is much more appealing to the modern generation than hard copy formats.
Lastly, online fitness is changing the way one can efficiently administrate their online business.
And from a client’s perspective, digital sign-ups and progress tracking are much more consumer experience friendly than having to sign and read swathes of paper and notebooks.
An automated experience that you can take anywhere and administer to more people in a flexible and scalable way is the triumph of online coaching.
So how do you get into it? Well, that’s why I’m here.
I’m here to guide you through the process of setting up and successfully running an online coaching business from the ground up.
Here are my 10 key steps to becoming a personal trainer online.
1. Get Certified!
If you’re reading this you’re probably already certified, or on your way to doing so.
If not, I strongly suggest you embark on this crucial step.
Certification is necessary to get your foot in any door in the fitness world.
It is your authentification.
When people ask me about how to become a fitness coach online, I direct them first towards how to become a fitness coach in general.
No matter how knowledgeable or experienced you think you are as a PT, not having the right credentials will not only hinder your career progress, it could also jeopardize it.
You need to be certified in order to get the necessary permits and insurances so that your operation is always covered and above board.
And let’s face it, even if you do happen to be the world’s greatest PT, no one is going to know that by just looking at you.
You need the right credentials.
Your best bet is a certification from an accredited certifying agency.
NASM, ISSA, ACE, NSCA, and ACSM are some of the most reputable cert agencies out there.
ISSA is an example of a good fitness coach certification online. You can read more about it here.
The key thing to look out for is accreditation, either by the NCCA or DEAC, which means you’re getting a good quality education and evidence-based knowledge resources.
When it comes to getting certified, you also want to make sure the type and variety of certs you gain make sense for your venture into the fitness industry.
I always advise specializing beyond just the run-of-the-mill PT cert.
I strongly suggest you get yourself a group training certification as this can count tremendously towards your career and earning potential.
Soon I’ll be bringing some premium content on small group training, but for now, I solidly advise you jump on that.
Another certification you should strongly consider is nutrition.
A great deal, and maybe even most of your online programming will involve a nutritional component.
Most of your clients will be seeking body recomposition and weight loss, nutrition is the pivotal factor in that regard.
Check out some of my previous articles on nutrition certs here for more on that.
So now you have a legit certification.
I guess this means you’re ready to jump straight into online coaching right?
Well not so fast. First, you should probably test your mettle in the real world.
2. Build Your Offline Reputation
The key to being a great online personal trainer is to be an experienced offline trainer.
Becoming a fitness trainer in-person allows you to cut your teeth and gain the functional tools required to deliver an effective and beneficial fitness experience.
Having an established in-person client base and reputation is also a great launchpad for drawing in more clients and customers for your various online offerings.
The reviews and results that you achieve offline will soon translate and broadcast to prospective online clientele.
While starting your career solely online is possible, it’s much more of an uphill struggle as you will need to prove your worth and the authenticity of your claimed expertise more extensively than if you came in with an established real-world track record.
Straining people in the same room as you is your best shot at how to become an online fitness coach.
The next important tip is to get social. If you want to be online coaching fitness, you’ll need to have a front face to your brand and personality.
I mean that on two fronts, online and real-world networking.
From an online perspective, getting social refers to social media of course.
Having a strong, meaningful and relevant online presence will count well towards gaining a good footing in online coaching.
You have many options in terms of platforms.
Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and LinkedIn are all great digital networking platforms that you should jump on if you haven’t already.
The reason being, these act as great interfaces for an audience to interact with who you are and what you do, allowing you to more easily draw in new clients through authentic, but persuasive calls to action of course.
Content is king on social media, so make sure you have the best representation of yourself, your lifestyle and the results your clients have achieved.
Also, consider offering value that gives your audience some insight into what they can expect from your premium services and products.
Next up you have networking in real life.
Just as with building your career and expertise as a trainer with in-person work, the same is true for building your network and social influence.
You want to have a strong connection to your real-world fitness community before making the jump to an online platform.
When people such as your clients and peers have experienced you positively in real life, your online market value shoots up sharply through referrals and word-of-mouth marketing.
Another great networking activity is attending events such as functions, seminars and trade shows.
Industry-specific networking events and business workshops are not only great ways to build your social currency, but they are also great avenues for opportunity.
You won’t only gain access to more prospective clients, but you could easily forge business partnerships or even gain a mentor, which brings me to my next point…
4. Get A Mentor
A mentor might sound like something you can overlook as long as you have the knowledge and technical resources to pull off your endeavors.
In that case, you probably don’t need to read this. By gaining the knowledge and insight I am giving you, you’re basically allowing me to mentor you, albeit in an indirect way.
Having a mentor is in fact very important.
No success is achieved without standing on the shoulder of those before us or treading a path cleared by others.
Finding someone with more knowledge and experience than you in the field will allow you to gain insight on what to pursue and what to avoid.
Learn the easy way from their mistakes and expand on the things that they did successfully.
A mentor provides nuance while textbooks and lectures can only provide facts and figures.
Having a mentor can manifest in several ways.
You can have a direct mentor, where you act as an intern or apprentice, basically shadowing them through relevant activities and learning on their watch.
Or you can have a passive mentor, someone who’s success or knowledge you admire from afar or through recognition or study of their work.
Reading journals or articles of reputable figures in the fitness field or simply subscribing to the Youtube channel of a trainer who’s approach you relate to are examples of passive mentoring.
This entire website is a passive mentoring platform, and I’m here to help you in that way.
5. Walk It As You Talk It
“You can’t trust a skinny chef” as the old saying goes.
Although not entirely accurate, since I do know a few skinny chefs, the meaning is fairly obvious and applicable to online training and being a PT in general.
How so? You may be wondering?
Well, as a trainer or fitness professional, you certainly want to look the part right?
Just as you wouldn’t find a malnourished culinary professional legit, you wouldn’t find an out-of-shape fitness professional to be an authentic choice either.
Most personal trainers draw in their clients for one particular reason, they want to look like them.
It’s one of the most frequently asked questions for many personal trainers.
“What can I do to look like you?”
So in recognition of this, it is imperative that you stay in shape and keep track of your own fitness goals.
And it’s not just a matter of looking the part. Its also about integrity and sincerity.
If you are not making the choices or executing the habits that lead to a fit and healthy lifestyle, what business do you have doling out the same advice to others?
Never trust a sick doctor.
6. Make Sacrifices
In order to truly succeed in your online business, you’re going to need to sacrifice a lot of time and luxuries.
That includes your social life and recreational activities to an extent.
Growing your online base of operation takes a lot of work.
Meticulously producing and integrating content, tools, and systems that help optimize your efforts and your clients’ experience will be a huge initial struggle.
Just think of all the writing, video and image production, marketing and advertising and optimization of your online presence and activity.
Lots of planning, testing and modification will be part and parcel of the initial stages as well as the very involved level of maintenance required once everything is running.
I’m not saying you have to completely sacrifice any idea of having fun or social life, in fact, completely eliminating recreation and social interaction might be just as bad as living life on easy mode.
You need to balance. You need to be able to strike a decent medium between having fun and putting in the work.
Discerning between taking a necessary break and the important maintenance of relationships vs overindulgence in festivities is what I’m getting at.
Basically, you’ll have to dial down your inner party animal a lot, but not completely.
7. Find Your Niche
Playing to your strengths is essential in winning the online game.
Space is just as saturated as real-world fitness.
You will need to stand out in order for your brand to stick out to new prospects.
The best way to stand out is to play to your strengths.
What are you known for as an individual, or what do you consider a unique attribute?
Find a creative way to meld this essence with your fitness brand and online image and run with it.
An easy example would be if you are trained in a specific martial art.
You could take the core elements of that discipline and create a fitness and exercise system that goes in line with this type of training while following the guidelines of tried and tested exercise science.
Even something as basic as having a funny nickname that you incorporate as a running theme in your brand image can work to give you a unique portrayal and thus a niche.
You can also find your niche by nurturing your talents and areas of expertise.
If you have a flair for writing, use it as an opportunity to produce some of the best possible health and fitness articles on the internet.
If you are an illustrator, use it to produce some captivating content.
If you are multilingual, you can target multiple regions and open yourself up to a diverse group of populations.
Find your lane and stick to it.
8. Create Your Digital Real Estate
Anyone who is truly successful will have some form of investment, typically in real estate.
A fixed asset that holds value and has the potential to generate somewhat of passive revenue for its owner.
The same concept can be applied online through digital real estate.
But what do I mean by that?
I mean anything that exists as part of the internet under your complete ownership.
This can be in the form of a web domain, or, as I previously mentioned, social media profiles.
You can’t really function optimally as an online PT without a great piece of digital property anyways.
A well thought of domain name and a well-designed website, encouraging clicks and conversions that are SEO optimized and links from all social media platforms while providing links to them is what you’re going for.
And just like a real-world property, digital real estate can be used to generate revenue.
Of course, your online services and products will be promoted and sold through the e-commerce outlets you’ve set up.
But beyond just sales, subscriptions and conversions, you can make money simply by how valuable your digital assets are.
For example, your youtube videos, if you decide to go that route, can be revenue generators in their own right regardless of whether or not they lead to increased sales for your online PT business.
A website with enough traffic can also become an attractive space for companies to advertise on.
9. Make it Fun
One of the drawbacks of getting fit is the lack of enthusiasm or motivation.
This underpinned by the inherent lack of fun that comes with disciplined grinding and a new, often restrictive diet.
If you want to optimize client retention, perhaps consider different ways to make the journey as enjoyable as it is essential.
Include games and challenges as part of your programming.
Healthy food cookoffs or “guess the calories” games that allow your clients to be amused by the experience of being coached by you online.
Have an incentive system for the completion of challenges or participation in games where clients can win giveaways, discounts or sweepstakes.
If you’ve aligned your social media presence correctly you can partner with sponsors who can add value to this incentive system with product hampers, discount codes or vouchers you can give your clients for completing tasks.
One last step, or rather strategy I would suggest when it comes to making the most of your online prospects is to integrate your online coaching with your in-person activities.
This brings everything full-circle in a move that can see you capitalize on both domains simultaneously.
Successful integration means more than just having a hybrid business model, it means making each side work for the other.
Making your in-person endeavors feed into the online business and vice versa.
You can achieve this by integrating your training with in-person clients to include online components or value-added options.
You could host boot camps where your online clients get special discounted access to such events.
Integrating your in-person training with your online training seamlessly allows you to captivate a wider audience and thus a bigger client base while playing on each side’s pros and offsetting each side’s cons.
Conclusion on becoming an online fitness coach
So that’s it folks, my definitive step-by-step guide on how to become an online fitness coach.
Just as any sort of coach, an online fitness coach needs to follow the rules while also creating a unique experience for each individual client or trainee.
A good online fitness trainer starts off as a great in-person fitness trainer.