How to Become an Online Fitness Trainer

The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard for everyone. The pandemic forced many businesses to close, forced others to change the way they did business altogether, and more than a few shuttered forever.

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The pandemic has been particularly rough on the fitness industry, which generally relies on a physical place to take classes, access equipment, and get training. But some entrepreneurial souls have taken the opportunity to move their business online. Here are a few steps you could take to do the same.

Choose a Channel

First, think about how you want to communicate with your audience and customers. Do you want to offer one-on-one video training sessions through your website? Do you want to start your own YouTube channel and make instructional videos? Or both?

There are advantages to both approaches, and many online trainers do both. Offering one-on-one services can make more money from individual sessions, while monetized YouTube videos might offer more revenue over time. Focusing on your website can also allow you to pursue other potential income sources, like ebooks, instructional PDFs, premium online training courses, and more. A hybrid method that employs both strategies is definitely more work but could have a major payoff in the long run.

Become Certified

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Your next step in becoming a successful online trainer? Certification.

While a professional certification isn’t necessary to start your own business, it does provide a major advantage — namely, credibility. Potential customers will be more likely to sign on if they know you’ve got the proper education and training to be doing this for a living. It’s an invaluable step toward building trust with your customers — it lets them know you’re concerned with their safety and well-being and that you’re not a charlatan or opportunist.

A fitness training certification will usually take one of two forms: ISSA or ACE.

Both organizations have a long-standing reputation for credibility within the fitness industry. ACE certification requires a high school diploma or equivalent and previous certification in CPR and AED.

ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association) certification focuses on designing programs and training regimen for clients. ISSA offers somewhat better recognition with the fitness industry, though both certifications are valuable.

Pick a Niche

Another vital part of finding success as an online fitness trainer is finding a niche. A niche is something that sets you apart — something beyond getting people fit and healthy. In short, something that makes customers want to learn from you and not anyone else.

Some potential niches might include things like workouts for superhero fans, a focus on a particular demographic (like police or LGBTQ people), or marketing to people with disabilities or chronic illnesses. Ideally, your niche should be something that interests you in particular, something that draws from your own life so you can bring your own experience and perspective.

Leverage Social Media

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The next step in building out your audience (and your business) is getting your name out there. Just making a website and hoping for the best isn’t enough — to get the word out, you’ll most likely have to master the use of social media.

Putting short video clips on Twitter or Instagram can be a great way to build a following — you could even make a TikTok account for creating enticing content. On your website, you can offer free ebooks or a newsletter subscription to keep your name in the forefront of people’s minds.

Produce Helpful Content

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Speaking of which, another cornerstone of getting the word out there about your business is making helpful content. It’s not enough in 2021 to market directly to people by encouraging them to buy what you’re selling — to get the most out of your marketing, you must also provide something with some utility, to get people interested right away.

Videos, blog articles, guides, and other useful content given away for free can offer a huge boost in your publicity. If it’s funny, compelling, or easily shareable, that’s even better. Guest posts or articles on other fitness and health blogs will also get your name into the wild and build credibility with potential clients.

Diversity Your Services

If you’re noticing a common theme among these suggestions, that’s not an accident. One of the biggest keys to your success as an online fitness trainer is diversifying your offerings. That doesn’t mean trying to find more than one niche (although you could totally do so if you think you can pull it off).

Rather, make sure you offer a wide variety of premium services, free goodies, and useful content along multiple platforms and channels.

You might offer coaching services and personalized nutrition plans on the side. You might offer video courses to other trainers once you’re established enough. Making a premium “members-only” community or forum is also a great way to offer a sense of exclusivity and usefulness to customers. It’s important not to over-extend yourself but making your offerings as diverse as possible is great for business.


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