American Council on Exercise by American Council on Exercise

Our Live Panel on 3/18, 'Take your Coaching & Training Business Online', provided ACE Certified Professionals and exercise professionals with valuable advice on converting their existing training & coaching business to an online service model during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Did you catch it? If not, don't worry. We recapped the key points here to give you a cheat sheet on how to take your business online. You can watch the live panel in its entirety here 

If you are still looking for advice, reach out to us on social media:

Above all else, please keep yourself and your family safe. Read our list of recommendations on how to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Is Building an Online Training or Coaching Business a Viable Option? 

During the live panel, Anna Woods started off explaining that building a viable training or coaching business online is not only viable but something that all trainers should consider. It can improve communication and consistency with your clients while increasing your income.  

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

How to Get Started 

We distilled the advice from our experts into 5 simple steps to start your online coaching business: 

  1. Talk to your clients to discover their needs 
  2. Find a platform that your clients can use  
  3. Tailor their programs to their schedule and environment.
  4. Maintain consistency. Keep them on a schedule. 
  5. Expand their routine and improve it as their situation changes.

This model isn’t just for 1-on-1 personal training. Ben Camara made sure to mention 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.  

My Le Goel stressed that communication is the most important aspect of a trainer/client relationship. Make sure you're in constant contact with your clients and aware of the challenges they're facing as the COVID-19 pandemic changes.  

Clients want ease and simplicity, don't overcomplicate things when it comes to training. She made it a point to mention older clients who are looking for a way to train right now since they're sequestered at home, make sure to talk to them and keep them engaged. 

Understand your Clients and Create a Program that Caters to Them 

Before you start, you need to figure out who your clients are and what they want and need. Anna Woods recommends doing some research and talking to your clients. 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.  
  • How much time do they have? What equipment do you have access to? Knowing what your audience is capable of and how much time they’re willing to invest allows you to set expectations.  
  • What motivates them? Everybody is different, how are each of your clients motivated? 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 they more you know about what they want and need the better your programs will be. 

Use the Equipment Your Clients Have Available  

Ideally, your clients would have resistance bands, dumbbells, and a mat ready to use. But if not, work with what you got! Anna Woods suggests using laundry detergent, gallons of milk, or other household items to add resistance to workouts. Be creative!  

Remember, work with what you got. 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 Ben Camara had for online trainers and coaches: making sure your clients know how to set their camera 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 tripodsticky 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. You have Facetime, Zoom, WhatsApp, and several other free video conferencing platforms that you can start using right away as long as your clients know how to use them. Here are the platforms our experts use and the benefits of each. 

Remote Coach

  • Continuous Coaching: Set goals for 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

Flight Wellness 

  • Flight Wellness is a free-to-use, custom-built, two-way live streaming video platform 
  • Trainers canget started instantly. Just sign up, find your clients, and start working from home. 
  • Great for small groups and 1-on-1 coaching: up to 3 people in a session 

She Strength

  • Select between personal training sessions, group training sessions, or App Programming 
  • Daily workouts with coaching videos
  • Access to our private online coaching community
  • Private small chat group for added accountability
  • Weekly-check in’s
  • 1 video chat a week with a coach, 24-hour messaging access with a coach
  • Drop-in 2 times a week at a LIVE class 

Keep Your Clients Motivated and Stay Consistent 

The hardest part about training from afar is keeping your clients motivated. It’s hard to keep them honest when you’re not in person to coach them. You’ll need to do some more work when it comes to understanding what motivates them. 

Here are some tips from our experts: 

  • The most effective way to keep your clients motivated is by staying in contact. Conduct ongoing video sessions, connect with them any way you can to keep them engaged.  
  • The more available you are, the more your clients are likely to sign up and remain subscribed. 
  • Incentives work! But make sure the incentives you offer are tailored to your clients’ motivations.  
  • Work closely with them to build their program. It will help your clients know that you're invested in their fitness journey.  

Ben reminded our audience several times throughout the panel that consistency is key. Continuing your clients' programs regardless of the limitations COVID-19 causes is key and online training and coaching is the perfect way to do that. Whether your clients are stuck at home or in a hotel room, make sure you’re checking in regularly and keeping them on track.  

Adjust your Clients’ Programs as Their Situation Changes 

With COVID-19 evolving on a daily basis and causing more and more closings, remember that your clients are going to be dealing with an ever-changing schedule. Especially clients that have kids, their lives are in a constant state of flux right now. 

There are plenty of potential clients that only have 20-60 minutes per week to exercise and have to do most if not all of it at home. Anna Woods coaches a lot of busy moms who need to start out slow and work up to a ¾-day per week schedule. As you train and coach them, clients will start to feel better and want to invest more of their time into exercising.  

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

Health Coaching from Home  

This advice doesn't only apply to personal trainers. Health coaches, nutritionists, and other behavior change experts can take their business online as well. The free video messaging apps work just as well for health coaching as they do for personal training.  

Our panel of experts agreed that now is also a great time to collaborate with your fellow professionals to expand your services. Work with health coaches or nutritionists to help bolster your clients' routines and get them into even better shape.  

The ACE Panel of Experts

Post Author

Panel Member

Ben Camara

Owner and Operator of No1 Fitness

Ben Camara, As an ex-professional Soccer Player, Ben moved into the fitness industry just 10 years ago. He is the owner and operator of No1 Fitness in London, 2 private personal training studios. In 2013, Mens Health awarded Ben Personal Trainer of the year.  Ben also owns No1 Education Academy which provides courses for aspiring personal trainers and those looking to continue their professional development. He recently launched the Remote Coach platform, a platform designed at helping exercise professionals and health coaches provide services for clients online through live interactive sessions in group and one-to-one format

Post Author

Panel Member

My Le Goel

Founder and CEO of Flight Live

For Goel, physical fitness has been a lifelong interest beginning with ballet in elementary school to soccer and field hockey in high school and as a coxswain for her college crew team. A busy, stressful career and a health scare inspired her to start her own company to make personal fitness training more accessible to busy people everywhere. She received her undergraduate degree from Smith College and her graduate degree from Harvard University. Originally from Vietnam, she’s a former geoscientist from the Smithsonian and previously worked at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Her company, Flight Live, is a mobile fitness platform that connects personal trainers and yoga instructors to clients all over the US for 100% live, interactive personalized workouts at any time and anywhere. 

Post Author

Panel Member

Anna Woods

Founder & Owner of sheSTRENGTH

Anna Woods is a wife and mom to three from central Kansas. As a CrossFit Athlete, she was given the name Home Gym, because she was the only competitor who did not belong to a gym. She chose to workout at home for many reasons, but mostly for her family including a child with special needs. She retired from competing to develop her business, sheSTRENGTH which has empowered women all over the world as she coaches in the barn on her property and through her online app.


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