TL;DR: If you’ve ever thought about becoming an online fitness coach, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we break down eight steps to becoming one and how to make money as an online fitness coach.

Have you worked in the fitness industry for a while and want to expand into the digital world? Or maybe you’re passionate about wellness and exercise and have been thinking about how to become an online personal trainer?

Whatever the case, becoming an online fitness coach is now more accessible than ever before. There are dozens of affordable tools to help you create content, connect with potential students, establish your brand, and grow your online business. 

So if you’re ready to work towards becoming an online fitness coach, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together eight steps to follow to help you get there.

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What do online fitness coaches do?

An online fitness coach is a fitness coach who delivers services and connects with clients online rather than in an environment like a gym or a studio. Online fitness coaching has gained popularity over the years as it lets coaches connect with clients globally and offers more flexibility with timing and clientele.

There are many different types of online fitness coaches as well. Some common examples include:

  • Personal trainers
  • Yoga teachers
  • Pilates instructors
  • Zumba or dance teachers

There are also many ways you can offer services as an online fitness coach. For instance:

  • Personalized one-on-one classes based on your clients’ goals and schedules 

  • Organized group classes that take place on a video stream every week

  • Workout plans that you organize either weekly or monthly, so your clients can follow along

  • A library of on-demand video content, so clients can access the workouts that appeal to them the most whenever they like

Some coaches also provide additional health and wellness services, like initial fitness assessments, health and diet tips, and check-ins. 

How do you make money as an online fitness coach?

Online fitness coaches can make money in many more ways than the traditional method of only charging for individual classes (although this is a great option too!) Here are a few possible strategies to get you inspired:

  • Offering monthly memberships. Instead of asking clients to pay for individual classes, you can collect monthly payments in exchange for on-demand fitness content.
  • Selling bundles of classes. If your clients aren’t ready to commit to a monthly membership, you can offer them a discount if they pay for a set number of sessions upfront. For instance, you could give clients five classes for the price of four.
  • Putting together and selling wellness-related digital products. You might consider creating an ebook, putting together a guide for pre and post-workout stretching routines, and recording soothing mindfulness meditations.
  • Branded content. If you build a decent following—particularly on YouTube, TikTok, or Instagram—you’ll open yourself up to a whole new range of business opportunities.

    Fitness-related companies may be willing to either give you free products or compensate you in exchange for featuring them in your content. And don’t forget: you don’t have to wait for brands to reach out to you. You can also take the initiative and get in touch with some of your favorite brands that align with the coaching you’re offering.

You can combine several methods if it suits your online fitness coaching business model. You can also look into affiliate email marketing!

8 Steps to becoming an online fitness coach

While there’s no one way to become an online fitness coach, this list of steps should give you a pretty good idea of how you can go about it. And when you start your new business venture, keep one thing in mind—being authentic and staying true to what you’re most passionate about will always produce the best results.

As online personal trainer, Michelle of Booty by Mich, says: “Try your very best not to compare yourself to other online coaches. Just be you.” 

1. Find your niche and level up your skills

There are many different kinds of online fitness coaches. You might specialize in a specific fitness routine, group classes vs. individual classes, or a specific exercise or wellness goal like weight loss, strength training, muscle building, or performance. You could also focus on a niche wellness discipline, like yoga, pilates, or dance workouts.

Whatever your specialty—determining your niche early on in your career as an online fitness coach is essential. It allows you to tap into your strengths as a fitness coach, develop your branding, invest in your own professional development, and connect with the right community.

2. Get relevant qualifications

While you might not necessarily need specific certificates or qualifications as an online fitness coach, doing so can help you in many ways. It can solidify your skills, expand your repertoire as a fitness professional, guide you in putting together your content, and give you more credibility when you start booking your first clients. 

If you’re looking for personal training certifications, the following organizations have some great, well-reviewed options:

Of course, if you want to teach a specialized practice like yoga or pilates, you should look into qualifications specific to those practices. For instance, it’s likely that your local yoga studio offers 200 or 300-hour yoga teacher training classes or can point you in the right direction. 

3. Figure out who your ideal client is

Once you’ve nailed down your area of expertise, you still have some work to position yourself as an online fitness coach. Another essential step is reflecting on who your ideal client is. Doing so will help you become a successful online personal trainer because you’ll know exactly why your clients are working with you and what you can offer them.

For example, the classes you’d deliver to a late middle-aged person who wants to stay fit, increase their energy, and practice gentle movement would be very different from someone in their early 20s who wants high-intensity workouts to build muscle.

This step will be easier if you already have experience working as a personal trainer with clients in a gym or studio environment. You can consider the people you’re already working with and ask them for referrals to expand your community as an online coach. This is how online personal trainer Michelle of Booty by Mich has found the vast majority of her clients:

“I have been in this industry for over 12 years. I started being a personal trainer at a gym, built up my clientele (I would highly recommend this if you are new to the industry), then I decided to become self-employed. I got all my clients from word of mouth and referrals. This was before social media, and even today my personal clients are through referrals.”

If you don’t have any personal training clients yet, don’t worry. To figure out your ideal client, consider talking to people you know about what they would look for in an online personal training business and think about what clients you could best serve.

4. Establish your digital presence and develop your branding

Now that you know what kind of online personal training business you want and the clients you want to work with, it’s time to set yourself up online. Different online coaches use a variety of methods to run their businesses, but you’ll probably need some combination of the following:

  • A website: Your website will be one of the first places prospective clients go to learn more about you as an online personal trainer. Some coaches also choose to deliver their content and process payments through their website, although this isn’t always the case. 
  • Social media platforms: Social media channels like Instagram and TikTok help existing and prospective clients get to know you as a coach. You can also use them to enrich your branding and market your services.
  • A video conferencing tool: Many coaches who do live training sessions use video conferencing platforms like Zoom.
  • A checkout page platform: Another popular way to sell digital products as an online fitness coach is with a tool like Flodesk Checkout. It lets you create beautiful, on-brand sales, checkout, and product delivery pages.

Remember, your branding should be consistent across your entire online presence and align with who you are as a coach and the clients you work with.

Deliver online coaching content with Flodesk Email

Send beautiful, on-brand content with Flodesk Email to turn subscribers into your newest clients.

5. Determine your pricing and coaching programs

Another essential step is figuring out what kind of coaching programs you’re going to deliver, as well as how much you’re going to charge for them. These two decisions go hand in hand as they influence one another.

For instance, yoga and movement instructor Morin Gougain of Momosita Moves offers a mix of in-person, live, and recorded online classes. She describes why this system works well for her:

“I like online coaching because it allows me to connect with others not based on where I live. It makes the practice more accessible and sometimes more comfortable for people, having the option to practice from wherever they like. It’s a great way to create a worldwide community, connecting with people in all different time zones.”

With this setup, Morin usually asks students to pay a set amount per class or bundle or operates with a by-donation or pay-what-you-can system. When she does live classes, she often records them and gives participants access to them to rewatch afterward.

Some other pricing and class type options include:

  • Putting together a library of video content that clients pay monthly to access on demand (like Michelle of Booty by Mich)
  • Asking students to pay per class or bundle for one-on-one live training sessions or small group classes

Pro tip: If you’re getting started as an online fitness trainer, consider providing a free trial system or offering your classes at a lower price point until you get more well-established and build up your community.

6. Create your content

Now that you’ve worked out all the basics of your online training business, it’s time to start creating your content. Yoga and movement teacher Morin recommends dedicating a space that “has enough light, clean space, and good audio” for filming video content. 

How you carry out this step depends on the kind of fitness classes you’re going to create, but let’s consider a few ways this can look:

  • If you want to deliver live-streaming classes, pick a video conferencing tool that works best for your needs (like Zoom or Instagram Live). With live streams, you’ll be creating your content live, but you should plan out and practice your routines beforehand so you’ll come to class prepared, especially when you’re starting.
  • If you want to record video content, work out the best place and the best tools you have available to do so. Plan your videos, film your first series of workouts, and deliver them to your students on your website, by email, through a digital product delivery system, or any other method you choose. 

7. Market yourself

Once you’ve got everything set up and are ready to start providing classes as an online fitness coach, it’s time to market yourself and get the word out about your business. Here are a few strategies to use

Talk to people in your community

Beyond just letting your friends and family know about your new business, cast your net even further. If you already work at a gym or a studio, let your clients or acquaintances know you’re starting to provide classes online. Or, if you work out somewhere regularly, talk to the people you know there and let them know about your new venture (and be sure to ask for referrals).

Use social media channels to your advantage

Start a dedicated page for your online fitness coaching business on the social media channel that aligns best with yourself and your audience. Begin posting there regularly, sharing information, and showing how valuable what you’re teaching is. You can also search fitness communities online and post about your classes there, like regional Facebook, Discord, or Slack groups.

Connect with your peers

If you know any other people working in the fitness industry (even if they specialize in something totally different), ask them if they’d be willing to share information about your classes and get you some referrals. You could offer to feature them in your posts in exchange (or give them some free sessions!).

Consider putting together a lead magnet

Try brainstorming potential fitness-related lead magnets you could put together and offer potential clients in exchange for joining your email list. The sooner you start building your email list, the better.

8. Run test groups with friends and family

Last but not least, run your first online training classes with people you know. Once you’ve created your initial content and are ready to take the leap with an actual class, put together a test group of family and friends, free of charge. Doing so will help you iron out any kinks in your classes, gain confidence in your work, and exchange feedback in a comfortable environment.

Yoga and movement instructor Morin got her first students that way, and it even helped her build her email list from the get-go:

“My first online clients were mainly my friends and family or friends of friends. I posted first on Instagram asking if people were interested in having yoga online during lockdown, and asked them to send me their emails. Once you have an email list, you can communicate with your students/clients and always grow the list.”

Take your coaching online with Flodesk

Getting started as an online fitness coach doesn’t have to be an intimidating experience. Tap into and develop your skills; create a business model that will align with your preferences and brand; create your content; and start connecting with and expanding your community.

And if you’re looking for an easy way to sell your digital products as an online fitness coach, look no further than Flodesk Checkout. Our platform makes it easy to create a unique, memorable experience for your clients with branded sales pages, checkout pages, and product delivery pages. We’ve also got a free trial you can try out for 30 days, no strings attached.

Online coaching content, delivered

Use Flodesk Checkout to sell your online fitness content on a beautifully branded sales page with a seamless checkout and delivery experience.

FAQs about online fitness coaching

How do I start online personal training?

There are several different paths coaches take to start online personal training. If you’ve already got experience working as a personal trainer with face-to-face clients, half your work is already done. You’ll simply have to create or optimize your website and digital presence, turn your classes into formats that work online, and spread the word about your new venture as an online personal trainer. 

On the other hand, if you’ve never worked as a personal trainer, you’ve got to take a few more steps. Before you start creating your content and marketing yourself, you’ll need to spend time narrowing down your niche, leveling up your skills, figuring out who your ideal client is, and getting relevant qualifications first. 

How do I find my first online coaching client?

Most online fitness coaches find their first clients by teaching their friends and family. Starting with your personal connections is a great way to gain confidence, collect valuable feedback, and get more comfortable teaching people online. And if your friends and family enjoyed your online training sessions, they’ll spread the word to their community members and networks and land you your first official clients.

Is online fitness coaching worth it?

Yes, online fitness coaching can absolutely be worth your while. It’s a great way to connect with clients who don’t live in the same geographic area as you, empower people to work on their fitness on their own time and in the comfort of their homes, and expand your skill set.

However, to generate consistent income from online fitness coaching, you’ll need to organize how you deliver your online services. That means offering one-on-one coaching sessions and creating online training programs and on-demand virtual sessions.