Getting Started In Online Personal Training
Online personal training was already growing strongly in the run-up to 2020. But since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s been in overdrive. It turns out that people still want training from experienced fitness professionals, even if gyms have closed their doors.
For personal trainers, this is excellent news. While traditional training forums, like gyms, might be unavailable for a time, there are ample opportunities for you to share your expertise with clients online – and earn some money at the same time.
Data suggests that the fitness industry is worth more than £2 billion in the UK, and comprises more than 4,780 individual businesses. The sheer size of the sector is evidence that people want services from seasoned professionals who can help them achieve their lifestyle and body goals.
COVID-19 hasn’t eliminated that demand. Gyms might be shut, but there is still a giant need for people who understand fitness inside out.
If you’re thinking of diving into the virtual PT world, it’s important to remember that the nuts and bolts of what a personal trainer does remains the same. You are still working with clients generally one to one, finding out about their goals and delivering tailored exercise programmes for results…but virtually.
In this guide, you’re going to learn how to be an online personal trainer and offer your additional services to your clients. Once you know the basics, you can boost your income and expand your horizons.
Put The Foundations In Place
While the industry is mostly unregulated, industry bodies such as CIMSPA set clear standards and benchmarks for how qualified personal trainers should operate. So make sure you establish your online PT services recognising that these procedures and protocols still apply. Clients prefer to work with a virtual personal trainer who can demonstrate a proven educational background, and are most likely to check this out, before they are willing to part with their cash. Personal training and online fitness coaching is a competitive sector with many trainers vying for clients. Having a solid background helps to convince novice online fitness users to take the plunge and give your services a go.
Assuming that you have the relevant qualifications, what else do you need to do to lay a solid foundation for your new enterprise?
Decide Which Client Niche You Will Target
Clients seek out personal trainers for all kinds of reasons, from improved fitness, to helping with new ideas and inspiration and achieving specific bespoke goals such as improved strength and body fat reduction. The public, in general, therefore, want their online PT to offer them highly targeted services and for this to deliver results.
Those new to online personal training, however, don’t always consider this vital aspect of their business. Instead, newbies dive headlong into their venture, believing that they should serve everyone.
Taking this approach in a highly competitive market, like online personal training, can be a bad move. While casting your net wide seems logical, especially in a virtual setting, you’ll likely miss opportunities to help those who need your services the most.
Pick a niche you know you’re good at and stick with it. Become the person people associate with anti-ageing, flexibility, rehabilitation or strength gain, for example. Be the PT who helps people beef up their legs or improve their posture. Don’t be the one who offers a mishmash of everything: become famous for helping in a niche that you’re really passionate about, and clients with that need will flock to you.
On a side note, you don’t want to take your uniqueness too far. Keep your target market small, but sizeable enough to support your business ambitions and capacity.
Create Training Templates
Many personal trainers (and industry commentators) rail against the idea that clients should follow set templates. People are too different from each other for that approach to work, so the argument goes.
However, when you become an online fitness coach, you soon realise that people are more similar than you imagined. Yes – your marketing should talk about how you adopt a personalised approach, but most forty-year-old mums who train with you will have related needs.
Creating templates, therefore, provides you with a quick, go-to process you can use to impress your clients and allow them to begin training immediately. If something doesn’t quite fit the client (because they have an injury, for example), then you can easily make ad-hoc changes here and there.
Having a range of programme templates allows you to create materials for each of your clients with maximum speed and impact. You simply conduct an interview, find out what they want, discuss their limitations and PARQ, and then adapt the master document to fully reflect their needs.
Set Up Your Website
Once you’ve decided on your client niche, you’re ready to set up your website.
Personal training websites are, fortunately, straightforward to construct. Often, you don’t need anything more than a single, professional page or a few pages that easily provide all the information that clients need, plus a call-to-action.
The purpose of the website pages should be to overcome your client’s pain points, explain what you do, list your prices, talk about benefits and convert. There are two ways a customer may convert from your website; firstly, they might enquire and secondly they may choose to purchase directly and sign up to an online personal training package.
Buying a domain and setting up a website requires very little investment from you. (Prices for web domains and website builder services average less than £25 per month).
Most PTs choose a domain that is simply their name, plus the phrase “PT” or “personal training.” If that is too long, you might want to consider using a more generic brand, though fewer personal trainers go down this route.
Remember, you don’t have to commit to online training full-time. It can easily remain one method of reaching and working with clients and be offered as part of your wider PT business services.
Calculate Your Earning Potential
Many personal trainers we work with have the following question: is online personal training profitable?
The answer, unsurprisingly, is yes. In fact, providing personal training over the internet is inherently more profitable than other methods because you can sign up multiple people to online training packages and deliver services to groups. You also remove geographical and logistical constraints such as where clients are located, gym access and availability of equipment.
What’s more ask any experienced Personal Trainer and they’ll tell you about drops in their income when clients travel for work or leisure. This can be a thing of the past if you incorporate a virtual PT offering.
The amount of money you make from online personal training depends heavily on whether you choose a scalable business model, so let’s think about this in a little more detail.
If, for instance, you train individual clients by the hour, your earnings will be capped by your hourly rate.
If, however, you offer training to groups or create templates that multiple clients can follow offline, you can scale your revenue faster.
The trick to higher earnings, therefore, is to create a repeatable service you can sell to multiple clients without using up more of your time. Charging a client £50 for an hour of training might sound like a great rate. But if you charge ten clients £10 per hour, you can make £100 in the same period. Scaling, therefore, makes sense, if increasing your earnings is a key business goal.
Choose Your Live Streaming Platform
If you intend to deliver training live over the internet, you’ll need a live streaming service (or perhaps several).
Here are some of your options:
- Glofox. This service for studios and gyms allows fee-paying clients to join in with live training sessions.
- Zoom. The coronavirus pandemic shot Zoom to new levels of popularity. Its ubiquity makes it ideal for personal trainers who want to set up training with clients fast.
- Zype. Not to be confused with Skype, Zype is a content distribution platform that allows trainers to sell live, on-demand sessions to their clients.
- gymGO. gymGO was already popular before COVID-19 forced gyms to change their business models. Now the platform is going from strength to strength, helping PTs broadcast training sessions to large numbers of paying clients.
Preparing For Success
The next step in the process is to prepare for success. This stage involves building a thriving client base and ensuring that you get paid for all your hard work.
So what do you need to do?
Pick Personal Training Software
Online personal training software is fast becoming one of the most important tools of the industry. Essentially, these are apps that make managing clients and running an online training business far easier. They aren’t mandatory, but they’re so helpful, the vast majority of online personal trainers now use them.
Personal training software comes with the following benefits:
- The ability to communicate with customers through the app
- Scheduling tools and reminders
- Encouragement tools to help clients stick with their training routines and diet plans
- Facilities to take payments from clients upfront, instead of chasing them for invoices
- The ability to upload training video libraries
- Video communication tools
- Client progress tracking facilities (such as weight loss or strength gain)
Currently, there are two leading personal trainer apps that online PTs use: Trainerize and PT Distinction. Both have pros and cons, but either will provide you with the facilities that you need to get started. If you want more than a basic service, you’ll have to upgrade to a premium plan and pay a fee.
Online personal trainer apps are helpful, but they are by no means essential. If you think you know how to manage your clients and have tried and tested systems in place you may find it easier, especially to begin with, to stick with your current methods.
Seek Out Your Niche Clients
Once you decide on your niche, the next step is to reach out and offer your services. People need to know what you do and how they can benefit. Getting online personal training clients, however, isn’t always easy.
Fundamentally, you’ll need to engage in marketing – something you should have studied in the business section of your personal trainer course.
This topic is wide-ranging, so let’s break it down into bite size chunks.
Market Your Website
Once you build your website, you need to market it. You can do this yourself, or you can pay a professional SEO agency to do it for you. Results will likely come faster (and be easier to attain) if you choose the latter.
Marketing your site requires building links of other websites, generating engaging content, and there’s also the option of paid online advertising.
Create Social Media Channels
The next step is to create social media channels and link them to your site.
Personal trainers love YouTube because it allows them to show their audience their techniques and approach in action. It also provides them with a way to build trust and authority with prospective clients. People can watch your videos, enjoy your content, and then decide if they want to use you for training services over your rivals. Other options include Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook.
Engage In Online Discussions And Guest Post
Many personal trainers regularly write articles and make comments on sites that target their niche audience. Commenting on popular products on Amazon or writing articles for top fitness websites can help attract people to your online services and generate interest in buying personal training sessions from you.
Set Your Prices
Online personal training prices tend to vary dramatically from trainer to trainer. Some charge top rates to signal quality, while others try to grab market share by promoting lower fees.
If you charge a premium, you’re indicating that you offer a quality service that gets results. Your audience, however, will want proof that you’re as good as your fees suggest you are. Typically, trainers who work with celebrities or have an excellent track record of online training can charge top rates.
If you charge less money, you will usually attract more clients, but you’ll also have to work hard to prove yourself. Use freebies wisely as most people are wise enough to understand that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. They are used to the idea that you get what you pay for, so a discounted taster session may be the way to go.
The price you charge will, therefore, depend heavily on the value you can demonstrate. Personal trainers who oversee radical total body transformations and turn their clients’ lives around can typically earn more than those who don’t. If people believe that you offer effective techniques to support their body goals, then there is often no limit to what they are willing to pay.
Choose A Payment Processing Service
Some personal training apps include payment processing as part of the service. If, however, you decide against using in-app options, you’ll need to settle on a third-party service.
The vast majority of PTs offering training over the web accept two forms of payment: PayPal and credit/debit cards.
Both of these payment options require you to pay fees, but they ultimately help your business thrive. Your clients expect you to easily accept payments just like a regular company and they won’t like the idea of old fashioned cheques and bank transfers that are more hassle for them. If you’re worried about processing fees, make sure you review your business plan and check you have accounted for all your costs when you set your prices.
Become An Authority In Your Niche
Doing all of the above will undoubtedly help you get started in online personal training. Even so, nothing compares to the success you will achieve if you can build a compelling fitness brand. When you present yourself as an authority in your target niche, you convince people you’re the best option.
Create content, share success stories, work with high-profile clients, and share your unique philosophy to differentiate yourself from your rivals.
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