When Dave Smith decided he wanted to learn how to become a personal trainer, he earned a fitness certification and started training clients in the gym.
It was a great way to get started. But he wanted more control over his schedule, more time to spend with his family, a way to earn more money, and ultimately to help more people achieve their health and fitness goals.
Sound familiar? If you’ve been thinking about how to become a personal trainer, there’s more than one path to success than training people in the gym.
From the Gym to Online Personal Trainer
Dave’s next move? He went from learning about becoming a personal trainer to launching his own business training clients at home. He opened a gym and hired other trainers. He was named Canada’s Top Fitness Professional. And then his work schedule became too demanding.
At this point, Dave sold his gym and went back to the drawing board. But this time, he took everything he had learned about personal training and the business of personal training, along with his experience, and created an online personal training business.
Online Fitness: How to Become a Personal Trainer
If you’ve been thinking about working from home (or wherever in the world you want) as an online personal trainer, you probably have some questions about what to expect and how to make it happen.
There’s more than one way to create an online personal training business. But there are a few key steps you can follow to be successful. Here's how to become an online personal trainer:
1. Make a long-term commitment
Building an online personal training business takes time. You might know a lot about health and fitness, working out, weight loss, and building muscle, but that won’t make you an online success overnight.
Think about it like this: Can someone shed 50 pounds of fat, pack on muscle, or achieve the ideal physique overnight? No—it takes time. But consistent effort from day to day will help you reach your goal.
2. Get certified
If you want to be recognized as an online fitness expert, take the time to earn a fitness certification. Most traditional gyms require personal trainers on staff to hold a fitness certification, complete an in-house training program, or have a health/fitness-related degree.
When people go looking for information online, proof that you have the experience and training to help them achieve their goals is critical to your success.
- Complete the requirements to be a certified personal trainer. This typically requires passing a comprehensive exam. Some certification organizations also require CPR certification to be a personal trainer.
- Specialize in a specific area such as Pilates, yoga, weight loss, or injury prevention. Do your research to find a certification program that fits your goals in creating an online personal training business.
3. Develop online training strategies
Training clients online versus in the weight room, yoga studio, or boot camp class is a different experience. Even though tech options make it possible to virtually coach clients face to face, it’s not the same as in-person training. You’ll probably need to adapt or develop your approach to personal training to create a positive and effective experience for your online clients. Consider some of these questions to develop your online training strategies:
- How will your clients contact you when they have a question about the workout plan or nutrition guidelines you’ve provided? Phone, email, social media, web-based app?
- Will you train people via a live video feed in person, pre-recorded workout videos, or a written program with exercises and meal plan recommendations?
- Without meeting your clients in person, how will you monitor their progress?
4. Learn tech skills
The process of learning how to become a personal trainer online requires more than just a certification. You may need to learn new tech skills to help you run your business.
If learning how to use new technology, platforms, apps, software programs, and online tools feels a little overwhelming, that’s normal. Keep going. A lot of people who want to start an online personal training business give up too soon because of this.
Lots of free and low-cost training is available online on sites such as YouTube, Udemy, and others to help you learn how to:
- Design a website
- Create graphics
- Record and edit videos
- Manage a social media profile
- Sell products and services
- Collect payments
5. Master digital marketing
This is one of the most important skills to develop if you want to have your own personal training business. In the traditional personal training model, working in the gym makes connecting with prospective clients easy. But in the online space, you’ll need to master digital marketing skills so people can find you online.
If you haven’t done any kind of digital marketing before, you’ll have much to learn. But you can do this. Digital marketing activities that will help you build your online personal training business include:
- Conduct market research to identify your target audience
- Identify key phrases and search terms your ideal client is using (e.g., fat loss diet, build muscle, transformation program)
- Write blog posts that drive traffic to your website
- Run social media ads
- Create a free lead magnet to promote your services
- Use email marketing to get subscribers, and turn them into paying clients
- Leverage social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram to grow your audience
6. Learn by Doing
If you give a personal training client a workout plan and nutrition guidelines, that’s not enough for them to get results. They need to do the work. And so do you.
If you want to learn how to become a personal trainer online, start. Learn by doing. Make adjustments as you go to improve. Then keep going.
If you need a little more direction on how to run your online business, check out the free guide How to Start a Successful Online Personal Training Business.