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How to become an online fitness coach: A complete guide


Feb 2, 2021
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Fitness coaching has made the leap to the digital realm with great success. It's much easier than you think to switch to training your clients right from home.

So how do you turn your passion for fitness and exercise into a lucrative online career? Let's walk through how to become an online fitness coach.

What is online fitness coaching?

An online fitness coach uses the internet to train clients just like in a gym or studio. The difference is in the convenience and flexibility of working out at home.

Fitness coaches offer exercise guidance in all kinds of ways. Virtual classes, individual training sessions, and printable guides are all effective methods.

Your personal version of how to be a fitness coach can take on many forms. You might:

  • Provide general weekly and/or monthly workout plans for your entire client base
  • Offer custom fitness plans for individual clients based on specific goals
  • Offer a hybrid approach of virtual support mixed with in-person group workouts
  • Enhance your prescribed fitness regimen with nutrition coaching and health tips
  • Conduct virtual fitness assessments, such as body composition tests
  • Create a video library demonstrating proper execution and form for exercises

Why become an online fitness coach?

Female personal trainer recording video for online fitness coaching demonstrating exercises

As a health and wellness expert, you're invested in helping people lead full, healthy lives. But you’ve probably heard clients talk about the costs and inconvenience of working out in a gym.

As an online fitness coach, you have the power to resolve this issue completely. Instead of exercising in a gym, clients can work out from the comfort of their own homes.

Becoming an online fitness trainer also gives you different coaching options. You can make downloadable guides that your clients can use at any time. You can also set up progress tracking through a proprietary app. Instead of coaching around the equipment and space that you're given, you can make it your own.

Becoming an online personal trainer is also:

  • Scalable: Being an online fitness trainer means as much business as you want. Your clients don't need to have you there in person with them. This means you can take on far more work than you could as a traditional personal trainer.
  • Flexible: Moving your fitness coaching business online provides unlimited versatility and flexibility. You can coach in whatever way suits you best with the technology that fits your style. Create an app with multiple programs or take on clients one-on-one. You can collaborate with other coaches, or host virtual live classes. But most importantly, you can do it on your own schedule and wherever you choose.
  • Cost-effective: Online fitness coaching is often more budget-friendly for your clients. This makes your business much more attractive than expensive gym-based personal training. Customers can get in a sweat session without paying inflated membership fees. It's also a more cost-efficient option for you, too! You get to design your program and work with clients without commuting to a studio or gym. You also get to set your own rates and keep the entire fee for yourself, rather than sharing it with the gym employing you.

On top of all these benefits, the global online fitness industry (currently valued at about $6 billion) is expected to reach a market value of over $52 billion by 2027. With that kind of growth, you’ll be in high demand as an online fitness coach.

7 steps to becoming an online fitness coach

So, you've decided to learn how to start an online fitness coaching business. Now it's simply a matter of putting a few things into motion. Here's how to do it.

1. Choose your specialty

Different types of fitness coaching specialties

You may not have been able to be very picky as a traditional personal trainer. But as an online fitness coach, you have a unique opportunity to choose a niche to specialize in. In fact, you'll be an even better teacher when you're genuinely passionate about what you're teaching.

Consider your personal strengths… what do you excel at? What do you want to dive into deeper? Do you love endurance training? Are you known for quick and safe rehabilitation techniques?

A few examples of coaching specialties include:

  • Strength and conditioning training
  • Discipline-specific support (i.e., marathon training, CrossFit, Pilates, etc.)
  • Pre- and/or post-natal training
  • Mobility and recovery
  • Competitive athletics

Another benefit of establishing a specialty: you set yourself up to be the go-to expert in your field. Clients will come to you because you've established authority in your fitness domain. Plus, establishing a reputation will make your marketing efforts more effective.

2. Gain the right qualifications

Determine whether more education or training is required or would be beneficial. Yoga instructors, for example, must complete a required number of training hours before being certified to teach.

Typically, becoming an online fitness coach doesn't need a specific degree. . Many training programs simply require a high school diploma and CPR certification.

But depending on your specialty, you might want qualifications that establish you as an expert in your field. This could be teacher training credentials or a full degree in exercise science

Some of the programs that provide personal training courses include:

  • National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM): NASM is a huge name in health and fitness coaching. The organization offers science-based training programs in personal training and nutrition. In fact, if you're already a personal trainer, odds are you've completed this training. Over 190,000 fitness trainers in the U.S. hold a NASM-CPT certification.
  • International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA): This training program offers both a personal training certificate and an Associate's degree in exercise science. 
  • American Council on Exercise (ACE): The ACE offers certifications and curriculum for group fitness instructors, personal trainers, medical exercise specialists, and more.

Even if you don't earn more certifications, it's smart to continue your education. Staying on top of the latest methods and tools keeps your services fresh and relevant.

Consider hiring a mentor

Everyone can benefit from expert advice. This is especially true when learning how to start an online fitness coaching business.

A mentor can offer advice on what worked well for them, as well as steer you away from mistakes they made. Plus, they'll be able to relate to your successes and frustrations as they arise. They will celebrate wins with you and offer perspective in difficult situations.

3. Define your ideal client

Worksheet to help fitness coaches define their ideal client

Deciding the type of client you want to work with is just as important as picking your specialty. Beyond their general fitness profile, consider the personality types you enjoy being around. Think about the level of attention and communication they may need, too.

Start by answering the following questions. Are your ideal clients:

  • Self-directed or do they want regular instruction and check-ins? 
  • Experienced athletes or newbies looking for introductory fitness classes? 
  • Any age and gender or in a specific demographic?
  • Interested in a specific type of fitness instruction (e.g. yoga, Pilates, HIIT training)?
  • Looking to lose weight, build muscle, or train for a big event?

Defining your client also influences your own day-to-day experience as a coach. It can help determine the kinds of content you offer as well. Here are some further considerations when figuring out how to be a fitness coach and who you want to teach on a regular basis:

  • Do you want to work one-on-one with clients or teach virtual group classes?
  • Would you rather create one-size-fits-all training templates that don't require daily maintenance? Or, customized plans for each client to help them meet their personal fitness goals? 
  • Do you have the bandwidth or desire to be "on-call" for needier clients? Or would you prefer fewer regularly scheduled check-ins like a traditional training schedule?

The answers you provide will help fill out a picture of your ideal client base.

4. Create a professional website

Woman sitting at laptop building website of online fitness coaching program

Your first order of business as an online fitness coach is to create a professional website. Your site is your first opportunity to make an impression on potential customers. It should be a reflection of who you are and what you value as a personal trainer.

You'll want to include all of the important basics of a great website. Include information about:

  • Your qualifications. Why are you the perfect online fitness trainer for your ideal client?
  • Your program(s) and pricing structure.
  • How people can reach you.

Create search-engine-optimized (SEO) content to help those people looking for online personal training find your site. A blog is a great way to post timely, relevant content that highlights your subject matter expertise.

Not sure where to start? Kajabi's website builder does all of the work for you. Find beautiful design templates ready-made for you. Use pre-built payment portals to sign up new clients immediately and don’t forget to transfer current clients to your new site.

Kajabi's online coaching platform can help you grow your fitness business through features like email marketing tools, lead tracking, automated campaigns, course creation, and so much more!

5. Make content that increases your credibility

Online fitness coaching lets you take advantage of a wide variety of content forms to showcase your skills and personality.

Video content is an especially useful format. You can use video to instruct and communicate with your client base.

Adding a blog can pay dividends for your online fitness training business down the road. On top of helping your search engine rankings, a blog can help your bottom line: brands that blog get 67% more sales opportunities than brands that don’t.

Some ideas for relevant, original blog content include:

  • Demo videos of yourself performing reps or full workouts
  • Infographics that help visually explain different body compositions 
  • Blog posts on common exercise myths
  • Guest posts from big names in your industry
  • Fitness FAQs for beginners

Just remember: when creating your content, always keep your ideal client in mind. A professional athlete will be interested in way different content than someone who is brand new to fitness.

Seek and highlight testimonials

The power of customer reviews is massive, no matter your industry. When you're just figuring out how to start online fitness coaching, they're crucial. Testimonials go a long way in creating trust and authority before a client even signs up with you.

Consider asking current and former clients to provide reviews of your services. You can post these on your new website for future clients to see.

A great time to request a testimonial is after a client has completed a big goal. They have had enough time working with you to make an honest assessment of the process. Plus, the excitement of achieving a big milestone may nudge them toward a five-star review.

If you're just starting out as an online fitness coach, you may not yet have a client base. That's okay. There are still ways to get testimonials for your site.

Consider offering a few coaching sessions for free in exchange for an honest review. You can coach your friends and family at a discounted rate, too. You'll get experience and feedback from people who genuinely care about your success.

6. Create an online training course or coaching program

An online fitness trainer relies on digital tools to guide their clients. Find ones that let you build full training lessons for your clients to follow, with or without your help.

Creating an online course is one of the biggest advantages of being an online fitness coach. You can do things like:

  • Record specific workout sessions to follow.
  • Host a library of tutorials for your clients to reference on their own schedules.
  • Integrate progress checkers with before and after photos.

Depending on how you set up your program, your online course could do a majority of the actual coaching for you!

Don't have content yet for a course? Want to offer individual tailored coaching? You could also host a coaching program, with individual or group coaching sessions. This way you can work directly with clients and can get started faster than filming an online course.

With Kajabi, creating online fitness courses and coaching programs couldn’t be easier. Our product templates allow you to create and upload content with ease. With options for subscriptions, assessments, and mobile, you can create the perfect fitness class for your clients.

7. Market your fitness coaching skills

The last element of becoming an online fitness trainer is growing your brand. Yes, word of mouth is often the most reliable form of promotion. But you'll need to expand your marketing efforts beyond relying on clients and friends to spread the word.

There are a wide variety of tools at your disposal to increase your exposure. You can interact with fitness communities on forums like Reddit, or host a live online workout in partnership with a local gym or studio (maybe the one you already work at!).

You can also:

  • Offer referral bonuses to existing clients when they share your business.
  • Attend local fitness events (or even better, host them yourself!).  People will connect a real person with the profile they see on their screen.
  • Train fitness influencers at a steep discount. Ask them to market your services on their social channels in return.

Don’t sleep on the power of social media! Many of the biggest names in online fitness succeeded through social media networking. Social media offers an even more personal connection with your followers. You can:

  • Host live videos and respond in real-time to those tuning in.
  • Livestream your own workout for your followers to join in on.
  • Offer flash discounts or free consultations for tagging other friends. (This turns into more exposure for your business!)

Private Facebook groups also offer a ton of marketing opportunities. Clients can connect with each other, work out together, and more. These connections inspire feelings of support, leading to even more positive chatter around your fitness business.

Get creative with your marketing efforts! That's how you'll differentiate yourself from all the rest.

Run your online fitness business with Kajabi without breaking a sweat

There’s never been a better time to become an online fitness coach. The industry is booming, and more and more people are loving the convenience of virtual classes.

With a specialty and ideal client in mind, you can start to create your business, incorporate it with top LLC companies, then create classes, blog posts, and product offerings. However, if you don’t have the time or technical know-how, creating a site from scratch can take weeks or months.

That’s where Kajabi comes in. Our all-in-one platform gives you the power to create a beautiful website customized to your brand. Create your fitness classes, run email marketing campaigns, create sales funnels, and get detailed analytics all in one spot.

No integrations. No fuss. Get your hustle on with Kajabi.

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How to become an online fitness coach: A complete guide
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