American Council on Exercise by American Council on Exercise
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Last Updated: September 12, 2023 

Building a coaching or training business online is something that all professionals may want to consider. Doing so can improve communication with your clients, broaden your potential reach and offer a more accessible option to your clients—all while increasing your income.  

With technology being affordable and available, taking your business online is easier than ever. All you need is a smartphone and you can get started!  

Consider these simple steps on how to start an online fitness coaching business or take your personal training online:  

  1. Talk to your clients to discover their needs.  

  1. Find a platform that your clients can use.  

  1. Tailor their programs to their schedule and environment. 

  1. Maintain consistency. Keep them on a schedule.  

  1. Expand their routine and improve it as their situation changes. 

This model isn’t just for one-on-one personal training. Ben Camara, owner and operator of No1 Fitness, points out that group fitness classes are also possible in this environment. With his No1 Fitness app, personal trainers and health coaches can train up to 5,000 people at the same time.  

Communication is the most important aspect of a trainer/client or coach/client relationship. Make sure that you're able to connect with your clients and aware of the challenges they're facing when it comes to continued participation and adherence to a program.  

Clients want ease and simplicity, so don't overcomplicate things when it comes to your online sessions. Many people tried online coaching or training for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic but are now veterans when it comes to using technology as part of their wellness routines 

Understand your Clients and Create a Program that Caters to Them  

Before you start, figure out who your clients are and what they want and need. Anna Woods, founder and owner of sheSTRENGTH, recommends doing some research and talking to your clients before you get started. Here are some questions to ask yourself and them.  

  • Who is your audience You'll want to tailor a program to each of your clients but figuring out your audience will help give you some direction on what demographic you’re focusing on and what they’re looking for.  

  • What equipment and how much time do they have What kinds of equipment can they access How much time does their schedule allow for exercise Knowing equipment availability and how much time they’re willing to invest allows you to set expectations.  

  • What motivates them Each client is uniquedo you know what motivates them Once you know that, you can structure a program that fits them. You want to tailor your programs to your clients, not the other way around, so the more you know about what they want and need, the better your programs will be.  

Use the Equipment Your Clients Have Available  

Ideally, clients would have resistance bands, dumbbells and a mat ready to use. But if not, work with what they have. Woods suggests using laundry detergent containers that are filled to an appropriate weight, gallons of milk or other household items to add resistance to workouts. Get creative!  

It doesn't matter if your client is working out in their living room, office, hotel room or apartment gym. Understand their environment first, then plan a routine based around that.  

One important piece of advice Camara has for online trainers and coaches involves making sure your clients know how to set up their cameras so you can see them working out. He recommends setting their phone/device at least 2 meters (around 6 and a half feet) away during their workout so you can clearly see what they're doing. They can use a tripod, sticky phone mount or other device to set it up. Pick a solution and make sure you coach them through how to use it.  

Find a Platform that Meets Your Business Needs  

The platform you choose depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. Facetime, Zoom, WhatsApp and several other free video conferencing platforms are available to use right away, as long as your clients know how to use them. Following is a list of platforms offered by Camara and Woods, respectively, and the benefits of each.  

  • Continuous coaching: Set goals with your clients and let Remote Coach track progress and motivate your clients daily, while you focus on building your business. 

  • Live interactive sessions: Experience a coaching environment with health data monitoring, live progress tracking and interactive programs while you focus on your clients. 

  • Support for group fitness classes 

  • Select between personal training sessions, group training sessions, and app programming.  

  • Daily workouts with coaching videos 

  • Access to our private online coaching community 

  • Private small chat group for added accountability 

  • Weekly check-ins 

  • One video chat a week with a coach, 24-hour messaging access with a coach 

  • Drop-in two times a week at a LIVE class  

Keep Your Clients Motivated and Stay Consistent  

The hardest part about training or coaching from afar is providing your clients accurate and appropriately timed feedback, which can foster motivation. You’ll need to do some more work when it comes to understanding what motivates each of your clients.  

Here are some tips from our experts:  

  • The most effective way to support your clients is by staying in contact. Conduct ongoing video sessions and connect with them any way you can to keep them engaged.  

  • The more accessible you are, the more likely your participants are to become and remain clients.  

  • Incentives work, but make sure the incentives you offer are tailored to your clients’ motivations.  

  • Work closely with them to build their programs. It will help your clients know that you're invested in their fitness journey.  

Adjust your Clients’ Programs to Meet Their Needs 

There are plenty of potential clients that only have 20 to 60 minutes per week to exercise and have to do most, if not all, of it at home. Woods coaches a lot of busy moms who start out slowly and work up to three to four workouts per week. Ideally, as they progress in their programs, clients will start to feel better and want to invest more of their time into exercising or health coaching.  

As your clients’ lives change, their training and nutrition routines will change, as well. When coaching clients online, be sure to adjust with them.  

Health Coaching from Home  

The above advice doesn't apply only to personal trainers. Health coaches, registered dietitians and other behavior-change experts can take their businesses online as well. The free video messaging apps offered by our experts work just as well for health coaching as they do for personal training.  

Camara and Woods agree that now is a great time to collaborate with your fellow professionals to expand your services. Trainers and health coaches can collaborate with each other, as well as other healthcare experts, to improve their clients’ health and help them achieve their desired health, fitness and wellness results.  

If you want to learn more about how to move your coaching or training business online, Camara and Woods participated in an inciteful ACE live panel discussion on the topic. 

 

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, check out the continuing education course Effective Business Strategies for Online Exercise Professionals (worth 0.1 ACE CEC). Or, if you are an ACE Certified Professional, be sure to take advantage of ACE Pro Compass, where you will see an unprecedented suite of career-support tools and resources to help you chart a personalized career path in the fitness or coaching industry.

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