By James Breese

In today’s world of choice, those who want to get fit have two options: hire a personal trainer or look for an online training program. Each option has its pros and cons, and while in a post-COVID-19 world everyone is now “offering” online personal training, it isn’t the best solution for everyone. Sometimes, an in-person personal trainer is the best choice. However, we now must accept, as personal trainers, online training isn’t going to go anywhere anytime soon – in fact, it’s only going to get bigger as more and more people are hesitant about re-joining a gym. This means one thing, we as trainers need to adapt fast to this new emerging market or risk missing out.

Technology has changed every aspect of the way businesses operate. It was only a matter of time before it hit the world of personal training. Even Apple is investing heavily in health care and wellness. According to Tim Cook, CEO, “health care is big for Apple’s future.”

However, in the grand scheme of things, online training is still in its infancy.

As the rise of online training continues, so does the rise of fitness marketing companies. These companies and individuals are starting to make some big promises. They’re preying on the fears and insecurities of trainers, and as a result, trainers are jumping in with two feet despite what some might consider wild promises.

These include:

  • Earn $10,000+ a month.
  • Grow an online training business for a guarantee of increased income and freedom.
  • Afford more time with family and friends.

They’re very enticing and it’s no wonder that so many personal trainers are now turning to these online companies for help. Wouldn’t you? Who doesn’t want to earn $10,000+ a month, right?

Before you start investing your hard-earned money, I want to share with you the best bit of advice I can offer to help you get online for free and maybe save you a few cents, and a bit of heartache too. I learned the hard way, and I hope this advice will serve you well and help you avoid the same mistakes I made!

There are three secrets to getting started with online coaching. They are:

  1. Choose the correct software for you and your business.
  2. Develop a system of assessments suitable for online training.
  3. Getting your first online client(s).

Step 1: Choose the Correct Software for Your Business

Online personal training software is not just a valuable tool to create, deliver, and maintain your coaching services – it is essential for your business to make you stand out and look more professional. The more clients you have, and the more complex your business becomes, the more you and your clients will rely on the software to keep in touch and stay on track.

Personal training software should make your life easier. Too often, it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s because people chose a platform that wasn’t suited to their needs or tech skills. The challenge is picking the right one for your business. My advice here is to take up two to three offerings with some different providers (we use True Coach at Strength Matters) and make use of their 30-day trials. Get comfortable with the software and determine which is the best fit for you. There’s no one platform that’s right for everyone. Then when your free trial ends, take the one that best suits your needs.

Step 2: Develop a System of Assessments for Online Training

One of the biggest mistakes I made when I started online was by not having a system of assessments that were suitable for online training. I thought I could just get through it. Boy was I wrong. Let this story be a tale of caution. The day I decided to do online training I emailed my entire email list and overnight we secured 82 new clients (this isn’t the norm ty the way, this is after years and years of hard work). Within three months, only seven stayed with us. SEVEN!

Why? Because we were disorganized, had no systems, and we couldn’t assess people to put them into certain categories or deliver a truly personalized service. We were truly terrible at delivering an online service. With online, you can’t visually see what’s going on like you would when someone walks into your facility and not everyone is as competent as you in doing certain movements or assessment procedures.

The way we got around this was creating assessments around the four pillars: health, movement, strength, and cardio. Then, I tested them out with my mother – I did the ‘Mom test’. Could my Mom follow the instructions and do them correctly? If it was a yes, we kept them in, if it was a no, we disregarded or modified them accordingly.

Either way, don’t do what we did, avoid my mistakes as I’d hate for you to lose 75 clients too. With your new shiny online training software, figure out how you will deliver assessments, play with the software, and try them out on yourself – don’t assign them to clients yet. Make sure you know how it works first!

Step 3: Getting Your First Online Client(s)

This is the exciting bit – getting your first online client(s)! However, contrary to what some of the online marketing companies are telling you, don’t go spending money on Facebook advertising, or at least not yet anyway! There’s a lot of expensive mistakes you could still end up doing (like me). So, before you go inviting every man and his dog to join your online training services, my advice would be to follow this simple methodology to get your first online client(s):

  1. When you are comfortable with the training software AND have your assessments nailed down, invite YOUR BEST in-person training client who is tech-savvy to try this new system out with you. They will be more forgiving and will be excited to join you on this journey. Stick with just one client for now, until you feel comfortable.
  2. Once you’ve spent time working with just one client online, repeat the process. Invite your next best client to join you so you have two people. There is a big difference between working with one and 10 people online, so don’t jump to big too soon.
  3. Keep repeating this process until you have as many of your current in-person clients using this new software as you can handle or want. Then when you’re ready, and only then, is it wise to start advertising it – as you’ll already be comfortable to handle any online eventuality that may come your way. And trust me, they will.

Online training is a liberating experience for personal trainers – it really does allow for the lifestyle you have always dreamed about. It’s one of the best things we ever started to offer at Strength Matters. However, it’s also quite daunting. Hopefully, by following the advice above, you won’t be overwhelmed, and it won’t cost you too much money to get you started. And remember, this new shiny piece of software will work just as well for your in-person clients too. It becomes a big talking point and they start to share their app and results with friends and family – which becomes a referral network for you.

About James Breese

Besides chief dream maker at Strength Matters, James Breese is an author, speaker, podcaster, and vlogger.  You’ll mostly find James in the mountains of Wales or Austria as well as drinking coffee, going to the cinema, listening to live music, playing cricket, and watching his beloved Wales rugby and Manchester United soccer teams.