Building a Successful Online Fitness Coaching Business

A Coach Business Guide to Get you Up and Running (and Rolling in it)

Intro.

It’s no secret — or maybe it is — fitness coaching is among the fastest growing industries today.

The fitness training industry is expected to grow nearly 20% by 2031. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

One of the most powerful moves you can make to become — or continue to be — a successful fitness coach is to leverage a hybrid business model with multiple income streams. Not sure what this means? No sweat. It’s all covered in this guide.

This guide is meant to arm you with the information and resources to build the online coaching business of your dreams. It will explain the things you really need to know to position yourself as a world-class fitness coach, become a smash hit with clients and easily maintain your business.

What You’ll Score from This Guide

We’ve laid out the most crucial pieces of the puzzle for you to thrive as an online fitness coach, personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach, (whichever you call yourself).

Get the scoop on:

  • How to get your online coaching business started.
  • How to find (and attract) your perfect clients.
  • Steps to set yourself up for success.
  • How to promote your business like a pro.
  • Liability insurance: Is this something you need?
  • Maintaining a successful business without working overtime.

Plus, what you won’t find in other fitness coaching guides:

  • How to build dynamite online programming.
  • How to diversify your income stream with tiered programming.
Crossfit man working out pull-ups on chin-up bar

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Chapter 1    |    Chapter 2    |   Chapter 3    |   Chapter 4    |   Chapter 5    |   Chapter 6    |   Chapter 7

Chapter 1:

Getting Started: Where to Focus Your Brainpower First

Below are the most essential, initial questions to ask yourself as you jump into the world of online coaching. Once you can answer these questions with confidence, you’ll be ready to dive in.

1. What type of clients will you coach? In other words, who do you want to work with?

To answer these questions, first answer this: Who do you offer the most value to? This could be anyone from a fitness newbie, to a competitive powerlifter, to an endurance athlete looking for strength training to prevent injuries.

2. What type of training programs will you offer?

Do your programs already exist? Do you need to start brainstorming the programs you want to offer?

3. How will you deliver programming and connect with your clients?

When choosing your creation and delivery method, consider which one(s) your particular clients would prefer the most. Sending your athletes PDFs and Excel spreadsheets certainly isn’t ideal.

Using an online platform such as TrainHeroic makes programming for and connecting with your athletes a breeze.

Take a peek at the snappy program builder in the TrainHeroic platform.

4. Does coaching management software make sense for your biz?

Building an online coaching business is time consuming, and getting started can feel like you’re sailing with no compass. Using a coaching management platform like TrainHeroic saves you time and allows you to scale your business at your own pace.

Top 5 reasons to use coaching management software:

1. It allows you to be more efficient and save time for everything life brings you.

2. Staying organized becomes a breeze, not a headache.

3. With a good software program, you’ll look like a true pro who’s been in the game for years, whether you’re a rookie or a seasoned coach.

4. You’ll provide a better client experience, leading to higher client retention.

5. You’ll be able to coach more athletes in less time, which means higher income potential for you.

 

Did you know?

TrainHeroic was rated as one of the Top Software Tools to Elevate your Business by Influencer Marketing Hub.

Chapter 2:

5 Steps to Placing Yourself in the Winner’s Circle

Now that you’ve decided which type of programming you’ll offer and how you’ll deliver it, it’s time to dig deeper.

Step 1: Identify your Target Audience

Before you hit the gas, it’s critical to get clear on this: Who is your ideal client? In the fitness coaching industry, it is vital to have a specialization, or a “niche.”

Not sure what your niche is? Ask yourself these questions:

  • What type of client do I like working with most?
  • What areas of training do I really love?
  • Who really needs my help?
  • Who is most likely to get the best results from training with me?
  • Which clients tend to gravitate towards me the most?

Answering these questions can help get you started on finding your niche. But remember, it’s possible that your niche is something you haven’t experienced yet. Especially if you’re newer to the game. Keep an open mind to new ideas and different types of clients.

In it for the long haul.

Remember, it’s not about the short game.

The most successful fitness coaches understand that they have the power to refine their niche over time.

Step 2: Craft Your Value Proposition

Your value prop is a short, one-line statement that will help drive all of your marketing efforts moving forward. When crafted well, this statement can become a powerful weapon in attracting your ideal clients. It should answer one critical question: Why should an athlete choose you as a coach — and buy your training programs — instead of buying programs from any other coach out there?

In other words, your value prop clearly states the value you’ll bring to your clients in exchange for the price tag on your programming. You’re the expert here, so let your inner prowess shine.

Here’s the value prop from a TrainHeroic Marketplace coach with Paragon Training: “Helping you lift more, stay strong, love your body, and LIVE big.”

Honing in on your value prop.

For detailed steps on how to create a killer value prop, we’ve got you covered in this article.

Step 3: Discover Your ‘Why’

Start by illustrating your top motivations as a coach. To make it extra easy, use these questions for guidance:

  • Why did you become a coach?
    • When addressing this, make sure to speak directly to your clients: “I became a coach because I saw the need from clients like you…”
  • What irks you most about poor coaching/training solutions?
    • How is your target audience being underserved by other coaches?
  • How will your training/coaching solve your clients’ problems?
    • I built my business to provide ________________ for _______________. Training with me will make you feel _______________.

Once you’ve answered the questions above, use this as a guide to tell your coaching story. This story will become your ‘Why”.

Step 4: Write a Positioning Statement

A positioning statement is a brief description of your product and target market, and how the product fills a particular need of that target market. In other words, it’s a summary of your selling story (see Step 3 above). Your positioning statement should be one to three sentences max.

BirthFit

BirthFit’s online coaching programs are designed by doctors, coaches, and mothers, and deliver fitness & mindset practices to your inbox weekly, so you can follow along at your own pace.

Train intentionally for pregnancy and recover intentionally postpartum.

Grindstone

I originally wrote Grindstone for a Fortune 500 CEO who firmly put wingtips to ass in the boardroom 70 hours every week while wanting to bench 400 pounds and squat 500 pounds.

From this experience, I created a unique approach for Grindstone allowing for a flexible training schedule with an eye on recovery and the right foot firmly on the gas pedal.

Step 5: Create a Simple Business Plan

There’s no need to expend your energy on an overly elaborate business plan, but it’s important to address three major aspects:

1. Your Goals

Make sure you’re clear on what you want out of your biz. Your goals should define your desired clientele, your desired income, and the value you’ll bring to your clients.

2. Your Methods to Achieve Your Goals

In this section of your plan, outline the following:

  • Marketing and promo tactics you’ll use to grow your clientele.
  • Mediums you’ll use to deliver dynamite programming to your clients.
  • Tools you’ll use to manage your business moving forward.

3. Your Timeline

Creating a loose timeline can help you stay focused and motivated. Define which benchmarks you’d like to achieve by certain points in time. Again, these can be related to your clientele and income goals:

  • 6-month benchmarks
  • 1-year benchmarks
  • 5-year benchmarks

The U.S. Small Business Administration has great examples of traditional and lean startup business plans.

Brace yourself for the online fitness industry to see an annual growth rate of 33% from now until 2028. (ResearchDive)

Chapter 3:

Build Programming Your Clients Will Rave About

Here’s where you get to tap into your true fitness expertise. The setting may change from in-person to online, but your coaching skills can shine through just the same.

5 Key Qualities of Winning Online Training:

1. Programming that creates progress on your clients’ specific “job to be done.”

2. Enough variability to keep it interesting and spicy. Now’s not the time to be a purist. A little fun never hurt anyone, so don’t be afraid to mix things up.

3. Clear instructions that include simple terminology, how to approach the session, what to focus on, and why each exercise is beneficial. TrainHeroic Marketplace seller Max Schmarzo does an excellent job of this!

4. Video demos of individual exercises like this one (when necessary). This can be a game changer in a remote setting. Plus, your clients will be thrilled

5. Awareness of your clients’ space — Are they training at home, in a gym, or at a studio? This can impact the equipment required for training.

Build a Diversified Income Stream with Tiered Programming

If your goal is to give yourself a bigger safety net by broadening your income stream, a pro move you can make is to offer tiered programming to your clients. We’ve outlined a money-making tiered approach below:

Good

Static programs designed for clients with a specific fitness goal. Clients purchase a one-time training program for a set length of time.

Better

Dynamic group coaching designed for a team of athletes with shared goals. Clients purchase a monthly recurring subscription to train with you and a group of athletes.

Best

One-on-one (or group) personalized coaching designed for high-dollar clients. Highly individualized training programs designed for a specific client.

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Chapter 4:

The BIG Challenge: Growing Your Clientele

Coaching may come naturally to a fitness pro like you. What often becomes the biggest hurdle for online fitness coaches is promoting your business and getting new clients. To give you a leg up, we’ve littered this section with inside tips for you to get the most out of your promo efforts.

Social Media

If your goal is to reach as many potential clients as possible, social media needs to be part of your game.

Three Critical Things to Consider When Crafting a Social Media Strategy:

  1. Who makes up your current following? If your following matches your target audience, jackpot. This becomes one of the easiest groups of people to convert into customers. Don’t have a relevant audience for your business? Check out these 9 tips to grow your social media following.

2. Which social platform are your ideal clients using? Here’s a quick breakdown per platform:

Millennial Mecca. In their prime and ready to grind.
Instagram

I’m over 45 and want to stay strong and healthy.

Facebook

Hey there, Gen Z! Let’s keep it fresh with fitness videos.
TikTok

Looking to gain steam as a professional fitness influencer?

LinkedIn

3. Focus on posting three types of content, regardless of platform: 

Discoverable content: helps people find you

Ex: Check out my newest workout to get your quads burning…

Community content: keeps people engaged

Ex: Here’s a surprising story from one of my clients…

Promotional content: persuades your audience to take action

Ex: Join my new 8-week program to get you through the holidays…

55% of consumers today learn about brands and companies on social media. (Sprout Social)

Your Own Website

Creating a website for your business can benefit you in three ways:

You become more discoverable.

Prospective clients can find you by searching on the web 24/7.

You’ll be the real deal.

Current clients can refer you to others by sharing your website. 

You get to control your brand.

Show who you are. Share images, videos, stories and testimonials.

Three tips for building a killer webpage:

1. Write directly to your customer.

  • What do they really need to know about you and your training programs?
  • How will your training help them reach/exceed their goals?
  • Use the second person — “you” and “we”

2. Be clear and concise.

  • Don’t leave your customers guessing. Make sure you include all of the important features and highlights about your training programs.
  • Use headlines and bullet points (when appropriate) to keep it concise.

3. Be authentic — show us the real you.

 

  • State your value prop (see Step 2 above).
  • Tell us your story, or your “why” (see Step 3 above).
  • Use images, videos, and testimonials to show your audience what makes you the coach they’re looking for.

Over the last 12 months, 2.1 million athletes have visited the TrainHeroic Marketplace, looking for coaches like you.

Email

If you already have a growing list of relevant contacts, this may be an effective channel for you to promote your business. If you decide to give this channel a shot, we recommend using an email marketing platform such as MailChimp.

How to leverage your email list:

  • Send a “launch” email: Spread the word to your community that you now offer online coaching services.
  • Promote your existing training programs, as well as new programs and services as they emerge.
  • Send a monthly “newsletter” to your list to keep them updated and remind them of the training programs you offer.

Tips to Grow your Email List

  • Add a “Join my Email List” button to your website.
  • Promote your email list on your social media pages.
  • Encourage your readers to share your business with others who may benefit from your training.

Pro Tip: Allow your readers to opt in or out of this newsletter. Sweeten the deal by offering a discount to anyone who refers you to their friends and family.

Leveraging Client Testimonials

Who can sell your programs even better than you can? Your clients.

One thing you can (and should) highlight across all channels, is what your current and former clients love most about training with you! Client testimonials are ideal for social media, your personal webpage, email content, and likely any other channel you use to promote your business. Check out “The Proof” section from Gladiator Strong’s page in the TrainHeroic Marketplace.

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Chapter 5:

Pricing Your Fitness Programs: How Much Should You Charge?

Pricing your services accurately can be a balancing act. If your programs are overpriced, this could become a blocker in growing your clientele. However, you don’t want to sell yourself short. That’s why it’s important to do your research on appropriate pricing for your business.

How much should you charge for your online training?

A monthly recurring training program sold in the TrainHeroic Marketplace typically costs anywhere from $25 to $150 per month. Some online trainers will charge more than $200 for a monthly program. Static training programs can range anywhere from $15 for four weeks to up to several hundred for a 3+ month program.

See the pricing from TH coach Vernon Griffith, who offers tiered programming to clients.

5 Things to Consider When Determining Your Pricing:

1. Your Experience
Are you a new coach, or an established coach with years under your belt? Overall, what’s your level of experience?

2. Your Qualifications
What certifications or other related credentials do you have?

3. Your Expenses
What business costs do you have? It’s important to consider any and all costs you put into your biz when determining pricing.

4. Your Programs
What type of programs are you offering (one-on-one, group coaching, etc.)? How much time do you invest, and how available are you to your clients? Remember: Your time costs money.

5. Your Clients
What are your ideal clients willing to pay? A fitness novice will likely look for a lower rate than a high-level celebrity athlete.

Chapter 6:

Retaining Clients in a Remote Setting

Just as important as growing your clientele, is your ability to retain your clients. It’s vital to keep them happy and excited to train with you as you help them reach their goals.

Provide a Valuable and Smooth Experience

Consider how you will:

  • Deliver your programming (including video components) to clients
  • Provide feedback from training sessions
  • Communicate clearly and timely with clients throughout their journey

All of these aspects need to be set in place in order to provide the best experience to your paying customers.

Tips for providing a top-notch client experience:

  • Be consistent in your program/session delivery methods so your clients know what to expect.
  • Set parameters for providing timely feedback. E.g. “I will always provide feedback within 24 hours of a training session.”
  • Establish clear communication channels.
    • Pick a platform, and stick to it. Whether it’s Messages, WhatsApp, FaceTime, email, etc., make sure your clients know how you will communicate with them, and how they can reach you.

Pro Tip: Learn how to use automated emails to onboard new clients with TrainHeroic and Zapier.

Automate like a pro, and get more clients in the “door.”

3 Reasons Why Using a Coaching Software Helps You Retain Clients

1. It’s Seamless — Everything Is in One Place
A smoother experience for your clients, and an easier job for you.

2. Stay Connected
Utilize videos, chats, and advanced communication tools to keep clients engaged and inspired to keep training with you.

3. Look Like a Pro
Your clients will easily see the level of expertise and the value you bring as a coach when you use an advanced tool such as TrainHeroic.

Billing, Insurance and Certifications

It may not be the most exciting part of your business, but the end result (getting paid by your clients) is pretty essential. The trick here is to make billing as simple and painless as possible so it doesn’t become a headache for you or your clients. The best way to do this is to use a billing or accounting software.

Benefits of using a billing software

  • It saves you time with automated invoices and instant payments.
  • Access and manage your invoices from anywhere in the world.
  • Easily manage your biz operations and never miss payments from clients.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few trusted software products we recommend:

  • Wave: Free software with invoicing, accounting, and banking features.
  • Rerun: Subscription and membership billing made easy.
  • Stripe Invoicing: Easily create invoices and collect payments.

Liability Insurance: Do You Need It to Cover Your Tail?

Any fitness pro who provides training plans and/or offers coaching or fitness advice to clients will potentially want to consider obtaining liability insurance. The type of insurance you need can depend on your situation and how you run your business. It’s not so fun to think about, but liability insurance will protect you from any legal actions from a client if something unfortunate happens.

To learn more about this, check out NASM’s guide for personal trainer and coaching insurance. If it sounds like you want to get the ball rolling on this, check out these three trusted resources for fitness coaches:

Looking to get certified?

If you’re looking to gain knowledge, add credentials to your bio, and position yourself more competitively, a certification may be a smart choice for you. We’ve singled out the top certificate programs for strength and conditioning coaches and personal trainers.

CSCS vs. CPT: Which certification is for you? Use the links below to learn more about each certification.

CSCS: Certified S&C Specialist

CPT: Certified Personal Trainer

NSCA – CSCS NSCA – CPT

National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA)

Benefits:

  • Access detailed exam preparation guidelines and extensive study materials.
  • Choose from hundreds of testing centers located worldwide.
  • Exams available in English, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Korean and Spanish.
DU – S&C and Fitness Coaching Cert NASM – CPT

Benefits:

  1. A comprehensive, graduate-level certificate program.
  2. Learn from expert faculty in S&C, coaching and coach education.
  3. Includes coursework to prepare students for the CSCS exam.

Benefits:

  1. 30 years of industry experience.
  2. State-of-the-art digital learning platform.
  3. Choose from self-study or guided study programs.
Chapter 7:

Play the Long Game to Grow Your Business

Just as important as growing your clientele, is your ability to retain your clients. It’s vital to keep them happy and excited to train with you as you help them reach their goals.

Tips to Set Yourself up for Future Growth

Equip yourself with tools that will scale with you.

Tasks that appear simple with five clients become more difficult when that number reaches 30 (or 100). Don’t get caught in a whirlwind of disorganization. Below are a few tools to set in place before you reach the point of no return:

CRM
A Customer Relationship Management tool, or CRM, can help you easily manage and maintain client lists and contact info. Several modern CRM tools on the market today come with a built-in email platform, too.

Billing
Remember that billing software we mentioned? You’ll gain a new appreciation for it once your clientele grows to larger numbers.

Coaching Management Software
If you decide to go with a software tool to manage your business, it’s best to get rolling with this from the beginning. Some of these will eliminate the need for a CRM and/or billing software, as these elements may be integrated within the platform.

Three Ways to Adopt a Growth Mindset for Your Business:

1. Consider how your business and/or programming might evolve as you grow. How might your “niche” change or expand over time? Maybe you hit the nail on the head from the get-go, or, it’s possible (and likely) you’ll discover new strengths and opportunities along the way.

2. Keep your eyes open to any and all possibilities that may pop up related to your coaching business. After all, you became a coach to make a difference in people’s lives. Now is not the time to place limits on the impact you can make.

3. Get moving now. Stop waiting until next week, or next spring, or the New Year. Your future clients are waiting. It’s time to push the pedal to the metal and guide athletes around the world to Be Their Best.

Elevate Your Coaching Career

Nobody likes worrying about client turnover. Upgrade to tools that help you keep them engaged and making progress.

TrainHeroic is designed to help you keep the clients you have and find new ones. Our fast, user-friendly business management tools free up your time to coach at your pace with your schedule, locally or remote.

Connect with your athletes, track their progress, improve your programs, and scale your business.

Try TrainHeroic for free for 14 days. You’ll wonder how you ever did it without us.

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