Margeaux’s Note: My client requested a practical, detailed ebook to use as an email marketing deliverable for his online training platform. He asked for a friendly, motivational tone and lots of resources to help get readers inspired.
A Non-Techie’s Guide to Building a Successful, Stress-Free Online Fitness Business
If your mission is to expand your fitness business by way of the internet, you’ve come to the right place. While the internet does offer untapped potential for personal trainers, yoga teachers, and group fitness instructors, most fitness professionals stumble over one of the following challenges (or all of them!):
- Inability to convert in-person clients to online clients.
- Giving away or charging too little for valuable services.
- Struggling to connect with new clients due to the incredible scale of the internet.
- Failure to be seen, heard, and appreciated in a sea of other instructors.
- Difficulty building strong, long-term client relationships.
- Failure to implement an organized, strategic, effective marketing approach.
- Frustration navigating technical challenges, including using video platforms, creating marketing content, and communicating with clients effectively.
Maybe you see yourself in this list. Maybe you’re tired of feeling like an untrained IT person instead of the skilled fitness professional that you are.
Through this guide, you’ll learn how to avoid these pitfalls and build a self-sustaining, rewarding, and lucrative online business.
The Internet Has Always Been the Future. CO-VID 19 Just Accelerated the Process.
Maybe you’re on the other side of this idea – you believe that the current shift towards virtual and online fitness options is just a temporary response to the coronavirus crisis and that once a vaccine is developed, the landscape of the fitness world will return to ‘normal’. After all, nothing beats the accountability, oversight, and connection offered by in-person sessions – right?
Reality is, the shift towards online fitness began long before coronavirus. The pandemic has just moved the schedule along a little more quickly – 2020 now looks like 2030.
Parents of small children, professionals who travel frequently, and individuals with compromised immune systems need fitness solutions that mesh with their lifestyles.
If you think that you can’t compete with the thousands of workout apps, free videos, and printable workout plans available on the internet right now, here’s the thing: You’re right.
But let’s circle back to that idea of accountability and connection offered by one-on-one training and teaching. What if you could harness that principle via the internet? What if you could train clients via video, offering form corrections, customized workouts, and camaraderie?
This is the beauty and necessity of online training and teaching. If you’ve trained someone in person – or taught a class at a studio or a gym – you have all the skills you need to be a successful online professional.
Let’s look at the next steps.
Starting an online fitness business is a lot like starting any business – you need a plan. This doesn’t have to be complicated, however. Get out a notebook and write down answers to the following questions:
What location will you train from?
Anywhere with a good internet connection works. Get creative – your home, a park, or a local gym or studio (with permission) are all great options.
What are your offerings?
An ‘offering’ is your product. Here are a few examples: 60 min. 1:1 yoga class, 30 min. 2:1 HIIT workout, or a 60 min. 1:1 personal training session. If you aren’t sure what to list here, start with what you’re already doing (or what you were doing pre-COVID). That’s your area of expertise.
What are your price points?
Start off charging the same as you would for in-person sessions (look at other gyms and studios in your area to get a good average cost if you want to do more research). If your online clients are from other states, you may want to look into adjusting based on national markets. But you don’t need to worry about that initially.
How many virtual sessions would you like to book per week?
Based on your current responsibilities, how many virtual sessions/classes would you like to add per week? Know that you can train as much as you want to! The clients are available, once you learn how to reach them.
Describe your ideal client.
Do you want to work with new yoga students? Busy executives? Endurance junkies? While most trainers and teachers wind up working with a variety of clients (this keeps things interesting and fun), it’s worth thinking about who you would love to train.
The Tools You Need (Technology Doesn’t Have to Be Hard!)
Here’s the good news: The overhead associated with becoming an online trainer is very low. Here are the basic tools you’ll need to succeed online. You probably already have most if not all of them.
A reliable internet connection.
A laptop with a webcam (a smartphone works too, but it’s good to have both).
An adjustable smartphone tripod (this is optional but really handy).
A variety of basic gym equipment.
A Paypal account.
Client acquisition is the toughest part of online training.
With in-person training and teaching, you can build rapport through face-to-face interactions, and legitimacy through affiliations with local gyms and studios. It’s very difficult to create similar relationships online.
Many online trainers invest years building a social media brand that clients learn to ‘know, like, trust’ them (a key principle in marketing that we’ll touch on later), but this kind of work is grueling and often thankless.
Standing out in a saturated social media market may require gimmicks and costs that aren’t worth it to many serious fitness professionals.
This is where our platform comes in. This unique online marketplace allows you to navigate client acquisition with ease, bringing serious clients directly to you at little cost. You post your offerings and credentials, and members who are already interested in online training can easily find you.
If you can set up a social media account, you have the technical skills necessary to get started on our platform. This website will create the connections you need to build a successful and thriving online fitness business.
Which Is Right For You: 1:1 or Group Sessions?
What fitness roles do you have experience in (personal trainer, group fitness instructor, yoga instructor)?
While you can start a new role via our platform, you’ll probably feel most confident if you start with a skill you have experience in. Creating rapport and connection through the internet requires the confidence and adaptability that comes with experience in the fitness industry.
Do you prefer the energy and excitement of group settings, or do you shine when showing empathy and support one-on-one?
Many fitness professionals thrive off of high-intensity group settings, while others prefer the slower pace and deeper connection that comes with one-on-one sessions. Reflect on which format you personally find energizing and fulfilling. If you’re happy, your clients are much more likely to be happy as well.
When have you gotten the best feedback (from students/clients/managers)?
Pay attention to the feedback you’ve gotten from people you’ve worked with in the past. Often times, fitness professionals are their own worst critics. You may think you’re not great in a particular format, but if the feedback you’ve gotten suggests the opposite, it’s time to get out of the way of your own success!
What format allows you to share your expertise and education most effectively?
If you have a nutrition coaching certification, this naturally lends itself to one-on-one work. If you’re certified to teach yoga for men, that may fit perfectly in a group setting. Think about your expertise and what offerings allow you to share it most effectively.
What kind of results do you want to help people attain?
Do you feel most fulfilled by your job when you’re able to help people achieve major transformations? Or do you just want to help as many people as possible feel more energetic and positive? Your specific goals for your clients can help you dial in on the ideal format.
Marketing Strategy: Instagram and Facebook
While our platform will take a lot of the work of client acquisition off of your plate, implementing an effective and sustainable marketing strategy is a key part of longevity online.
Don’t worry, though – you don’t need to post every day or take endless gym selfies wearing expensive workout gear! Here’s a simple and stripped-down approach to social media marketing that anyone can do:
Post 3X/week – one post for each of the following categories: Educational, Offer, Lifestyle.
This will look different based on the individual. A yoga teacher might share a short video on how to stretch your low back (Educational), a text image explaining a new group class option (Offer), and a recipe for a seasonal smoothie (Lifestyle).
A bodybuilding trainer, however, might post an infographic about the impact of sleep on muscle development (Educational), a picture featuring a client’s results and how virtual training can help prospective clients achieve similar results (Offer), and a picture of their favorite lifting shoes (Lifestyle).
Brainstorm four ideas for each category. You now have your content planned for a whole month!
Focus on sharing useful, accurate information as well as making sure that people know you offer virtual services.
This is where the ‘like, know, trust’ factor comes into play. Every time you post something, ask yourself: How does this help a prospective client feel like they like, know, and trust me? If all you do is promote your services, people won’t be able to develop a relationship with you. Try to strike a balance between self-promotion, education, and helping people with their fitness struggles.