How to become an online personal trainer

Becoming an online personal trainer is markedly different from being a personal trainer who operates in a gym or client’s home.

Online personal trainers have the entire Internet in front of them and aren’t as limited as gym-based personal trainers in terms of geography, price range, and working hours.

So, if you’re an online personal trainer, the world is your oyster in terms of potential clients. The issue is that it is for many other online personal trainers too.

They won’t all be reading this article, though! Here are our tips on how to become a successful online personal trainer, including insights from those who have made a career out of it.


Define your unique selling point

All personal trainers, online or otherwise, must define their unique selling point. 

The difference is in-house trainers can’t be too specific because they rely on local clients. They might be the sole authority on a given subject in their area, but there might not be enough people to make it commercially viable.

However, the reverse is true when it comes to marketing yourself as an online personal trainer. The Internet is limitless, which means there are far more prospective client types than you would have access to in person.

Therefore, you should be much more specific about how you target clients to stand out. If your professional identity is too vague, you’ll be lost in a sea of competing trainers, and clients are spoilt for choice already.

The best way to distinguish yourself is through the services you offer, and for whom. 

You don’t just have to be a fat-burning expert – you can be a fat-burning expert specialising in clients with type 2 diabetes. In the grand scheme of things, you’re reaching out to a very small sample of people with a specific demand, meaning it’s easier to convert them into paying customers.

To decide on the niche you wish to target, you should:

  • research your competitors 
  • identify a gap in the market 
  • do your research 
  • establish and market yourself as the go-to expert on that topic 

Dr Aishah Muhammad, an online personal trainer and founder of The Way To Weight Loss: “Have a niche and know who you are targeting. This allows you to create great content that speaks to the people you want to be training. It makes you an authority of knowledge, so people are more likely to pick you as a trainer than someone else.”

Related: The best niche fitness markets personal trainers can take advantage of


Earn client trust

As you’ll know, the Internet is a minefield of scams and multi-level marketing schemes.

With online personal training being mostly unregulated, prospective clients may be more careful about investing in your programme. That’s why it’s vital to earn their trust from the get-go.

Considering they’re browsing your website looking for red flags, it’s a good idea to have your credentials, reviews, and education front and centre to give them peace of mind.

Take this testimonials page from Sheffield PT Nick Screeton’s website as an example. There are multiple testimonials from both in-person and online clients, alongside progress photos that demonstrate the value of his services. 

Try to place yourself in their position to pre-empt and dispel potential doubts. You’re only telling the truth; the hard part is getting across your sincerity and passion for your area of personal training. Make this implicit in your fitness programmes, website, and social media channels.

The greatest obstacle to enrolment is the impersonal nature of the online business model, so do anything you can to reduce the gap. It’s worth integrating a live chat feature on your website or offering free consultancies via Skype.

Related: How do I become a certified personal trainer online?


Understand client motive

Between Fitbit, MyFitnessPal, Strava, and many other apps, there’s a wealth of technology available to fitness professionals in the present day.

Even people’s grandparents are keeping an eye on the number of steps they’ve taken each day. You can see why online personal training is such a rapidly expanding industry.

What was an analogue, face-to-face experience has gone digital, and this needs to be reflected in the services you provide.

People could opt for online personal training because they travel for work or work unsociable hours, are short on time, or are socially anxious. They will have different motives for using an online personal trainer, so you need to do your research and show you understand them.

Affordability is often another motivating factor for clients. Online personal trainers tend to be better value for money than their in-house counterparts and usually provide a wealth of additional resources.

Dr Aishah Muhammad: “The traditional face-to-face way of training someone is great and has its benefits, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Some can’t afford a gym membership and a personal trainer, others may not have access to a gym they feel comfortable in. Online personal training makes it much easier for people to access fitness professionals who can help them with their goals.”

Related: SEO tips for personal trainers


Play to the strengths of the format

Online personal training offers a client much more flexibility and convenience than traditional in-house gym training. Moreover, online personal trainers can provide a range of online-accessible materials for their clients that in-house personal trainers simply can’t.

While you might not be with your client at the gym or in their home, there are advantages to going digital. 

Hammer home these advantages by providing an active and exhaustive archive of:

  • video tutorials 
  • infographics
  • vlogs
  • testimonies
  • nutritional advice
  • exercise routines
  • equipment recommendations

Providing a digital service isn’t only of benefit to your clients, though. It’s also of benefit to you. 

You’ll have access to further marketing insights and opportunities via social media, mailing lists, SEO and web traffic analytics by being based online. 

There are several purpose-built personal trainer apps that you can use to monitor your client’s progress, such as TrueCoach. Not only are these useful for managing your business, but they’re also invaluable when scaling it. 

Software allows you to handle an endless number of clients and automate your business, saving you time and increasing your income tenfold when used alongside an effective marketing strategy. 

There’s a logical synergy between fitness technology and your online fitness service. Together, this will provide a comprehensive personal trainer experience that sets you apart from the others.

Dr Aishah Muhammad: “My advice to online personal trainers is to create plenty of free content, whether that is through a blog, podcast, YouTube or social media, so your potential clients can see that you are serious and have value to offer.”

Related: What is a typical personal trainer salary in 2022?


Market yourself effectively

Marketing is more than gaining a huge following across your social media channels and signing up tons of online clients. 

While this may work for some, it’s certainly no way to market a sustainable business model. The façade of those who use false information to snare more followers is crumbling, thanks to the rise of a few online PTs who are honest and straight with their audience. 

Transparency always wins. If you want to become a successful online personal trainer, you should adopt this in your marketing strategy. 

Aside from the personality you wish to get across in your marketing strategy, you also want to establish where your audience is and get your content in front of them. 

While SEO and blogging are great ways to market your services, they could be less useful to you in comparison to platforms like TikTok and Instagram, if that’s where your audience spends their time. 

So, you should always keep your target client base in mind when creating your marketing strategy, as this is the only way to make it effective. 

To make this easier for you, here’s a useful example of an online personal trainer who has structured his business around his online marketing strategy. 

As you can see, Sean Casey (@scaseyfitness on TikTok) uses a transparent, no-nonsense approach to relate to his audience. 

He shares free fitness tips and macro-friendly recipes on the platform, which ticks the box of offering genuine value to potential clients for free to introduce them to his business. 

He also regularly calls out fitness influencers who lie to their followers, further building rapport and trust with those who follow him. 

This extremely effective marketing strategy has gained him 2.1m followers on TikTok alone. 

He did this using only his smartphone, the ingredients he uses to prepare his meals, and his own knowledge and research. He’s a great example of an online PT with a successful marketing strategy, as he built a huge client base without a ridiculous budget or by hiring an agency to do it for him. 

It all boils down to building a brand and persona that potential clients trust and doing so within your niche. Casey targeted those who want to lose weight with a macro-friendly diet and don’t want to follow advice from fitness influencers trying to exploit them, which certainly worked!

Related: Biggest personal trainer marketing mistakes 


Know your stuff

Being thorough and knowledgeable will only enhance your professional reputation and career prospects in the long run.

Without this solid foundation, no amount of marketing, online presence or reach will make you successful. Clients will detect your level of knowledge and commitment and drop your training service if they’re dissatisfied.

Go above and beyond for them. Don’t cut corners—plan bespoke fitness routines that deliver tangible results. Demonstrating that you know what you’re talking about is the simplest way to give your clients confidence in your business.

Make sure they know they’re valued as individuals and not being given a cookie-cutter training programme. It would be best if you showed you’re as invested in their fitness as they are, as they need to feel that.

It would help if you kept up to date with your chosen area of focus by researching it in your spare time and following any relevant channels on social media. If they’re relevant to your niche, you could even take some personal trainer continued professional development courses. 

You can share anything new you learn with your client base and establish yourself as the go-to expert in your field. 


Specialist personal trainer insurance from Insure4Sport

Becoming an online personal trainer can be risky without the right insurance. Why risk losing everything you’ve worked so hard to build? 

With Insure4Sport, you’ll receive bespoke online personal trainer insurance that covers you to teach up to 30 clients online in one-to-one sessions. Pre-recorded sessions are also covered, which are important for scaling your online business. 

We also offer Public Liability and Professional Indemnity cover from just £38.49 per year to protect you in the event a client injures themselves as a result of your advice or instruction and goes on to make a claim. 

So, what are you waiting for? If you’re not already covered, click the button below to get an instant online quote.


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