How to Build an Online Personal Training Business in 2023

Are you a personal trainer looking to expand your business? Have you ever considered offering online classes and sessions?

The fitness industry has been growing steadily for the last ten years, a development primarily motivated by people who want to get fit, lose weight, and improve their health (and, since we’re at it, who want to see results fast!). In fact, 2023 is likely to be a year of growth for trainers and coaches, especially if the 314% growth in the number of coaches post-pandemic continues.

So, what are the options available to you if you want to offer your clients personalized workouts without needing to meet them at the gym? Could you actually run your own successful online personal training business? 

In this article, we will show you how to build an online personal training business in 2023. We will also explore what makes a successful online personal training business, how to set one up using WordPress, and the best tools and services available.

Benefits of Personal Training Online Vs. In-person Training

There are several differences between offering personal training sessions in person or online, and each has its advantages and downsides. Since you might be more familiar with in-person training, this section will focus a little more on the virtual side of things so you can see its potential!

If you offer in-person personal training sessions, you will be able to pay more attention to detail and usually have access to a selection of exercise equipment – but you will also be limited by the number of clients you can take on (because both you as the trainer and your potential clients must coincide in availability and location).

On the other hand, offering online classes can allow you to can train a number of students at the same time using virtual group sessions. Plus, you can also give clients materials they can use on their own time.

Both options can lead to a successful business, but if you’re considering offering online training, you will also have more control over your pricing. Rather than charging by the hour, you can charge by the session or by the month if you want to sell ongoing access to your programs. 

The most significant benefit of offering online training is the fact that you can easily scale up your business as it grows. This model makes it very easy to add more products, such as 24/7 access courses and materials, and memberships that people can fit into their busy schedules no matter their time zone. Plus, with virtual sessions, you can take your business with you and work from anywhere in the world! 

Becoming a Certified Online Personal Trainer

Let’s quickly explore what a personal trainer is and how they compare to a fitness coach. The main difference has to do with the training focus and how the workout plans are created. 

While a fitness coach can advise you on wellness and weight loss, a personal trainer will be able to create personalized routines for different types of clients. For example, they can plan sessions for bodybuilding, competition prep, and other specialized types of plans.

You will need to be certified to become a professional personal trainer. The process of achieving personal training certification usually takes about four weeks, provided you meet all requirements. To become a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)-certified personal trainer, for example, you need to have a high school degree or GED and do a CPR certification and an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) certification (even if you intend to only run your business online).

NASM certification options

How Do You Build an Online Personal Training Business?

There are many ways to build a personal training business; for instance, you can start in a physical gym, create affiliate and referral programs, or sell digital products. However, one of the best things you can do to get your business going is to create your own website.

Having a site for your online training business offers several advantages. For one, it allows you to provide personalized services to your target customer base. It is also a perfect space to promote your digital products, such as training courses and monthly memberships. So, let’s go through the steps you should take if you want to start an online training business!

1. Choose a Target Market

The first thing you should do when starting a business, especially if you’re a new personal trainer, is find out more about the industry. While doing research, you will most likely learn of opportunities to promote your business; for example, if you uncover a space where there is a lack of services, representation, or meeting of needs.  

It’s always a great idea to choose a target audience and validate its viability by interviewing people and studying their purchase behaviors. For instance, you may find that some clients who are looking for training locally aren’t getting it in the language they speak. Or there might be a specific demographic that is being left out. You can reach out to these groups and talk to them so you can better understand their needs and desires and plan your business around them.

Another thing you can do once you have a view of who your potential buyers might be is to research your competitors. See how you can compare to them and if there’s anything you can do differently to stand out. (Hint: it likely won’t be price-related. Instead, try to think in terms of experience and how your sessions can make a difference in people’s lives!)

For example, membership site MaYoga created a site for moms-to-be and new mothers who want to take yoga classes but can’t leave their homes. All their programs are tailored to each member, and the site offers several custom care packages to support and guide new moms.

MaYoga landing page

2. Build a Website

There are many platforms that can help you set up an online personal training business. Some popular ones include Teachable and Thinkific, which are dedicated sites where you can create and share online courses. One thing to keep in mind is that while these tools allow you to prepare lessons, offer downloads, and sell memberships, they offer very few customization options. This means you won’t have complete control over the design and functionality of your courses or be able to tailor your plans to your preferred business model.

If you want to create, customize, and sell your personal training lessons online, you should instead consider using WordPress and AccessAlly. WordPress is a content management system (or CMS) that helps you host and build websites, and AccessAlly is a powerful plugin built for WordPress that is used by coaches to build their sites (and their businesses!) according to their needs. We’ll go into these tools in more detail later in the article.

What’s important here is to remember that a website can allow you to create and promote your online sessions without depending on a specific platform, so it’s something you should definitely consider as a launching platform to grow your business.

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3. Get Insured and Set Up Policies

If you’re thinking of starting a personal training business, it’s essential to get liability and professional indemnity insurance as soon as you can. This is so you can cover yourself and your clients during your sessions. It’s also a good idea to insure your earnings and equipment. For online coaches, this will typically include all electronics you need to do your work, such as cameras, lights, microphones, and computers. You should consider covering yourself against personal accidents, too. 

Additionally, consider setting up policies to clarify what customers should expect from your company regarding cancellations, length of programs, and other potential issues you may run into. And lastly, although you can choose to run your online personal training business as a sole proprietor, you may want to incorporate or get a new business entity registered for liability purposes.

4. Create Your Online Training Products 

Once you’ve chosen an audience, created a website, and set up your policies, it’s time to start working on the details of your personal training business. In particular, the packages you will create to meet your target clients’ needs. Try to think about them in terms of how you can upgrade and update them in the future, so they can change as your company grows.

It’s best if you give each training tier a different price (the more variety, the more people you can attract!). It’s also a good idea to have different access periods and offer various types of content, as well as the option to have check-in calls and virtual training sessions. Ideally, all of these services should be tiered. Common names for the tiers are basic, pro, and premium plans – but don’t be scared to create and brand your own! Here’s a naming tiers guide to help you get started.

Just remember: while it can be tempting to create a 3-month and 6-month training package and hope some users renew them, you should always have a few backup options. Some popular strategies for customer retention used by coaches and trainers include memberships, online courses, and content and equipment subscriptions. To implement these, you’ll want to use a good membership management tool and an LMS tool, or some specialized personal training software.

AccessAlly course builder

5. Set Up a Marketing Strategy

Once you’ve chosen the packages you want to offer, it’s time to figure out your marketing strategy and choose the tools you’ll need for every step of the job. There are dozens of ways to market your business, so we’ve divided this section into the most popular ones to give you a better idea of what they can do for your personal training business.

Social Media

Having a social media presence is important to grow your business, but don’t let it fool you into thinking you need to be on every network! Instead:

  • Research your audience and find out which social media platforms they prefer.
  • Start with only one or two of them so you don’t get overwhelmed.
  • Use a content scheduling app like Later to upload tutorials, answer FAQs, and give daily bits of value to potential customers more easily.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a great way to bring on new clients. Here are some ideas to take this channel to the next level:

  • Make sure you give new website visitors the option to sign up for a giveaway. You can, for example, offer free training sessions or send them a piece of content they value in exchange for their email. 
  • Set up templates and automations with an email marketing tool to distribute emails about upcoming training program releases, openings for personal training clients, live group sessions, and more. 
  • Send newsletters and messages regularly to keep your audience engaged and remind them you’re still there when they’re ready to start tackling their fitness goals!

Affiliate Marketing

Personal training is a business that many influencers find attractive, which opens the door for you to offer affiliate incentives. Some things you can do include:

  • Reach out to influencers that can help you spread the word about your business.
  • Share affiliate earnings with them so they can help you get new clients.
  • Use an affiliate marketing tool to help you keep up with all your affiliates and make payments to them for promoting your sessions. 

Online Ads

Ads are also an excellent way many small businesses use to create more awareness of what they have to offer – particularly when targeting local clients (although this is not a must if you teach online). You can use ads to:

  • Reach a worldwide client base using social media pay-per-click (PPC) ads.
  • Identify and target specific trends for your audiences, such as who they follow, the content they prefer, etc. 
  • Consider email advertising and thought leadership pieces to help your website gain more traction. 

6. Scale Your Business

As you start to take on new clients and sell your fitness programs, it’s always a great idea to create surveys so you can gather some valuable feedback. This is also an excellent way to stay in touch with your clients as you gain knowledge of what they think about your products. Yes, it’s not always easy to hear someone is not 100% satisfied, but asking about it can help you see where you have some room for improvement.

Other ways in which you can scale up your business include increasing your client capacity, expanding the package options you offer, upskilling yourself and other trainers you want to take on, and improving your branding and social media presence. 

If there’s one thing you should take away from this section, it’s this: Your website and all your tools should allow for easy scalability without depending on add-ons. So, plan for growth even when your business is small!

7. Start Your Online Personal Training Sales With AccessAlly

As we mentioned, AccessAlly is an all-in-one tool preferred by online coaches all around the world. This plugin can help you create, manage, and scale all kinds of online programs, including personal training sessions.

AccessAlly allows you to set up beautiful websites that include branded sales pages. You can also offer certificates for the customers that finish your courses and track all of your students’ progress as they move through different stages of learning (you can do this easily from the centralized dashboard). 

Business-wise, AccessAlly has many features you will find extremely helpful, too. For example, the plugin allows trainers to offer cross-sells, upsells, and order forms which can be customized according to each user’s needs. Automation and affiliate features that come built-in with AccessAlly also make marketing easier.

And, great news: AccessAlly doesn’t charge per user or number of courses. You can increase your capacity as your business grows, all while maintaining the same price. So, if you replace your toolbox of third-party software with AccessAlly, you will save on money, time, learning curves, and potential compatibility issues!

Examples of online courses created using AccessAlly

Start Personal Training Online

Starting a personal training business online is a challenge definitely worth taking. If you can offer online sessions, you will find this opportunity uniquely scalable – not to mention a chance to focus on what you love.

If you’re considering starting a personal training business, you should definitely look into AccessAlly. This plugin will make a difference in terms of ease of use and scalability – and, unlike online learning platforms, you will have the chance to manage all your content and design, offer various membership levels, handle registration, track your students’ progress, offer certificates, and cross-sell your products and services to increase your business’s profitability.

Try AccessAlly to start building your online personal training business today.

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