To become an online personal trainer, you need to get your personal training certification, and then focus your efforts on growing your clientele in the online space.

In this personal training career breakdown, we look at the following aspects of becoming an online personal trainer.

  • Getting certified
  • Building your online presence
  • Growing your online client base
  • Strategies for online training

By the time you finish reading, you’ll know the best steps to take if your goal is to train fitness clients online.

Let’s do it!

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Get Certified as a Personal Trainer

It is possible to train clients without a personal trainer certification, but it is not a good idea. Not only do you need the credibility that comes with being a certified personal trainer, you need the requisite knowledge that you will acquire from a personal training certification to help your clients reach their goals.

You also need just as much business acumen to build your own online trainer business and many of the certification organizations have good content regarding the business side of things and what to do liability-wise to protect yourself and the people you work with. So, if you are wondering, do you need a personal trainer certification, the answer in most cases is yes. If most gyms it will actually be required.

Pick one a good NCCA accredited certification organization, learn the material, and get certified. 

There are some good study materials out there for the major certs, so make sure to prep adequately. If you pick the NASM CPT exam, find a quality NASM study guide. If you go with the ACE CPT, take some ACE practice tests along with your ACE study guide.

Most certifications are priced around $500, although the cheapest personal training certifications are a bit less, so make sure you budget accordingly.

Build Your Online Presence

In order to become a personal trainer with an thriving online business, you need an online presence. The world of the internet contains huge stars, and you need to display your unique skills and the benefits you can bring to your clientele through your own website and whichever social media outlets you decide to incorporate into your marketing.

The more information you have on your website or profiles and the more people who engage with those portals, the more opportunities you will have to create new business and a future personal training.

Here are some ideas for ways to engage your followers 

  1. Create online content which showcases your own skills as a personal trainer. 
  2. Share videos or images which motivates your followers to pursue their own fitness goals
  3. Make informational training, nutrition, or wellness tips which will help your online fans learn some basic skills that you could elaborate on with private coaching sessions.

Acquire Online Training Clients

Just like with in-person clients, you the online duties of a personal trainer require you to reach out to potential clients who need your training services.

You need a way to generate leads you can sell training sessions or packages to. If you are using a social media app like Instagram, you could reach out to the people who follow you or comment on your posts. Another tip is to follow other fitness professionals and see who follows them.

Learn from the people who already have a good online business. You could also create a free online fitness weight loss guide on your website, which people can download after filling out a form that puts them on your email newsletter list.

Finally, advertise your sessions using Facebook or Google ads if that fits within your budget from your fitness trainer salary.

For those questioning how long does it take to become a personal trainer online, know it’s going to depend on your marketing as well as training skills.

Transition Your In-Person Clients to Online Training

Once you’ve built a good online business infrastructure for training clients, talk to any current personal training clients and see if they want to make the move online. You can explain to them how much easier it will be to train online at home and the advantages of being able to schedule sessions anywhere at any time.

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Create Online Training Strategies

The more creative you can be with your revenue opportunities online, the more income potential you have. Here are some strategies that will help you make money as a personal trainer in the online world.

Workout templates

Most of your clients will fit into a few different types of groups. Make online templates, which can be sent via email to help record and keep track of the training sessions you complete with each client, and any outside work they do on their own. It will be much easier to communicate that way. This will also streamline and help organize your training sessions and only takes a few minutes to set up.

Subscriptions

Create an online subscription that includes a certain number of sessions or content videos every month for any subscribers. This will enable you to have income returning each month for your fitness business. Remember the best way to create an income as a trainer is to have as much repeat business with any client as possible. When you create a fan of your work they not only want more of it, they tell the people around them and that will help grow your market share over time. 

Live group training

Training multiple people at the same time is a great way to lower the cost for your clients, and increase the earnings for you. You can either coach multiple people who are all in the same room (like a group of friends, or a couple) or a live training session with people from around the world all sharing the session. If you want to become a group exercise instructor you may also find you want to get a group fitness certification as well to learn some of the coaching tips for teaching multiple people at once.

Video-on-demand training

Create a series of coaching videos which people can use to reach their own training goals. You can create a course that goes in-depth with information on how to design a training program or you can create a specific fitness program which people can purchase, complete with workout videos to follow and spreadsheets to track their progress. 

Combine with nutrition coaching

Most trainers know that for most people to reach their goals, they need both a solid exercise foundation along with a well-balanced nutritional plan. Become a one-stop-shop for your online clients by providing information on both training and nutrition. A good nutrition certification is a good place to get started, and once you have that foundational knowledge, increase your nutrition coach salary by creating some of your own unique recipes. Have fun with it!

Commit to Continuing Education

The more knowledge you acquire about new training techniques, new business strategies and the current fitness industry, the more income you will be able to generate and the more you will be able to help your clients with your online training business.

Your personal training certification organization will require continuing education credits to renew your certification every few years, but be proactive in taking other courses on any fitness topics that could aid your training as well as business courses to give you the tools to build your online personal trainer business.

In addition, you may want to add some higher level fitness certifications to your tool belt to attract new clients. For example, if you have the NSCA personal training certification or you passed the NASM CPT certification and want to train more athletes, you might thinking about studying for the CSCS exam. That exam is quite challenging so consider mastering a CSCS practice test before taking it. If you do pass, the NSCA CSCS is very highly regarded, which will mean you have yet another tool in your trainer belt.

You can always pick up another CPT cert if you need a little more knowledge.

If you feel like you need more guidance in inspiring your clients and are deciding NASM or ACE, go with ACE, but if you wanted more corrective exercise info, add NASM.

Between NASM vs ISSA, the ISSA CPT has more online tools to help you build your business so that cert could be a welcome addition if you need help there. If you compare ISSA vs ACE or NASM, know that they are industry recognized as well, but are a little newer to the online certification system.

If you decide you want to reach into a different side of wellness, consider one of the best yoga certifications as well. Yoga is very easy to teach online because it doesn’t rely on a lot of heavy equipment.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to become a personal trainer online?

On average, it takes one to three months for most people to prepare and take their certification exam. After that, you can start immediately, but building a sustainable base of clients for your business could take anywhere from a few months to a year to build your online personal training business, depending on how motivated you are. So, if you want to know how long online vs in-person, the answer is usually a bit longer because of the set-up time.

How much does the average online personal trainer make?

The national average online salary is $52,647; however, this amount could be much higher depending on your revenue streams and the total number of clients per week.

Can you get a personal trainer certification online?

Yes. The best online training certifications are ISSA, NASM, Fitness Mentors, NCSF, and ACE. 

How do online personal trainers make money?

As a qualified fitness instructor, you can offer various services, which you can charge people for, including private personal training sessions, online fitness coaching, group fitness classes, and individualized fitness programs or plans you can provide to someone looking to improve their own fitness. Other unique ways to earn an income include equipment and apparel sponsorships, and content creator income from whatever platforms you use.

What is the average cost of becoming an online personal trainer?

It can cost anywhere from around $500-$1000 to get started as an online personal trainer. You have the certification cost, then you will also want a few hundred dollars to invest in some home gym equipment, lighting, and a computer and camera set-up to be able to interface with your clients along with insurance costs.

What are the qualifications to become an online personal trainer?

If you want to be taken seriously as a trainer, you need to be certified. Other qualifications often include previous history working as a personal trainer at a gym,  but the most important qualification you need is the ability to provide a quality online service to your customer base, which will come from knowledge and practice. In addition, you need the sales ability to attract clients. 

How do you know if an online personal trainer is qualified?

A trainer with at least one certification from a reputable organization and a proven track record of helping their clients succeed is a qualified trainer. Other things to notice is how many clients they have, what do those clients say about them and how long they have worked with this trainer. The best personal trainers tend to work with a client for a long time rather than shuffling through new people every month. 

What are the pros and cons of online personal training?

On the positive side, your income potential is unlimited as an online fitness coach. You can train almost anybody in any location and sell a fitness product to anyone online from the comfort of your own home, office, or gym. On the more challenging side, you have to be incredibly proactive and intelligent when it comes to sales as an online trainer, because there are a million fitness trainers and influencers out there in a very flooded market and it is harder to gain someone’s trust online versus in-person.

What are some things an online personal trainer should know?

To be a successful online personal trainer you need to know how to be a good fitness coach and how to market yourself to an online community. Find your niche and the type of people you want to coach. Reach out to other successful trainers in the online community and learn from them, and develop your own market strategy to set yourself apart. 

What are the best online personal trainer certification programs?

The ISSA CPT is the most well known online personal training certification and they have the most comprehensive information on online marketing of all the certification organizations.

Conclusion

Becoming an online personal trainer is a great option in the current fitness market landscape. More and more people are taking the step to go online, which provides a much larger audience for you to train; however, it is also a very flooded marketplace and you will need to work hard to differentiate from the other online trainers. You can do this through creativity and hard work, and the rewards are great, but it could take some hard work. Go for it! 

References

  1. Hiesinger K, Tophoven S. Job requirement level, work demands, and health: a prospective study among older workers. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health. 2019;92(8):1139-1149. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00420-019-01451-2
  2. ‌Binkley B. The Future of Personal Training: Where is the Industry Headed? www.nsca.com. Published October 2015. https://www.nsca.com/education/articles/career-articles/the-future-of-personal-training-where-is-the-industry-headed/
  3. ‌Kikuchi N, Mochizuki Y, Kozuma A, et al. Effect of online low-intensity exercise training on fitness and cardiovascular parameters. International Journal of Sports Medicine. Published online August 10, 2021. doi: https://doi.org/10.1055/a-1582-2874

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