Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.
David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.
Published on February 5, 2022 Updated on February 14, 2024
$4,350 - $9,800
$55,000 - $110,000 p.a.
Time to build
$50,000 - $100,000 p.a.
Is there anything you can’t do online now? Even personal training has gone virtual. Instead of going to the gym, many people now work out at home, but still want the push of a personal trainer. As a result, online fitness is expected to expand ten-fold — from $6 billion in 2019 to nearly $60 billion by 2027.
The pandemic has presented many challenges, but it’s also created many opportunities. If you enjoy fitness, you could start an online personal training business, help people around the world feel stronger, healthier, and more confident, and grab a share of this booming market.
Jumping in, however, requires a bit of education. You need to fully understand the ins and outs of launching and running the business, as detailed in this step-by-step guide. Once you absorb all the info below, you’ll be ready to take the leap and start your online personal training business.
Step by Step Business values real-life experience above all. Through our Entrepreneur Spotlight Series, we interview business leaders from diverse industries, providing readers with firsthand insights.
Number of people employed – There were more than 300,000 jobs for fitness trainers and instructors in the US as of 2020.
Trends and challenges
Trends in the online personal training industry include:
On-demand streaming of personal training videos has been growing at a faster rate than live streaming. This presents an opportunity for online trainers to create workout videos targeting specific groups of people and be able to train more people in any given time period.
Hybrid training subscriptions, which give clients the choice of on-demand streaming or live sessions, is expected to grow, as people appreciate the convenience.
Due to the convenience, senior citizens are flocking to online personal trainers for workouts with physical and mental benefits. Yoga and strength training are among the most popular workouts for seniors.
Challenges in the online personal training industry include:
Sharp growth has led to a market saturated with online training options, creating a highly competitive environment for personal trainers.
The lack of in-person interaction can be a challenge for a trainer’s monitoring of progress and result in advancing a client’s workout too quickly, causing injuries.
What kind of people work in online personal training?
How much does it cost to start an online personal training business?
Startup costs for an online personal training business range from about $4,000 to $8,000. Your main expenses will be a computer, website, equipment, and personal training certification.
It’s not required, but being certified is one of the surest ways to attract clients; without it you’ll struggle to compete. You can get certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) in 12 weeks for around $700.
You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your online personal training business, including:
Computer with audio, video, and lighting equipment
Setting up a business name and corporation
$150 - $200
Business licenses and permits
$100 - $300
$100 - $300
Business cards and brochures
$200 - $300
$1,000 - $3,000
Computer with audio, video, and lighting equipment
$1,000 - $3,000
$300 - $700
Personal training certification
$1,500 - $2,000
$4,350 - $9,800
How much can you earn from an online personal training business?
Pricing for online personal training is generally done as a subscription model. A basic monthly plan, which includes one session per week, might cost about $200. You can increase the price based on the number of sessions. These calculations assume your clients will pay an average of $300 per month and that your profit margin, after marketing costs, will be 90%.
In your first year or two, you could have 15 clients, bringing in nearly $55,000 in annual revenue. This would mean a profit of nearly $50,000, assuming that 90% margin. As your brand gains recognition and you start to get referrals, your client numbers could climb to 30. With expected annual revenue of almost $110,000, you’d make close to $100,000.
What barriers to entry are there?
There are a few barriers to entry for an online personal training business. Your biggest challenges will be:
Certification – while not required, it will add tremendously to your credibility
Competition – the market is saturated with personal training options
Related Business Ideas
If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
Now that you know what’s involved in starting an online personal training business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market.
Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.
Why? Identify an opportunity
Research online personal training businesses to examine their services, price points, and customer reviews. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing an online personal training business for senior citizens.
You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, such as personal training for new mothers.
This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away.
What? Determine your products or services
You’ll need to determine if you want to specialize in certain types of workouts, and what levels of workouts you want to offer. Then you’ll need to decide how to package various training plans.
How much should you charge for online personal training?
Prices for online personal training subscriptions range from $200 to $600 based on the frequency of training sessions. If you decide instead to charge by the hour, prices range from $50 to $75. You should aim for a profit margin of about 90%.
Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your markup and final price point. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.
Who? Identify your target market
Your target market will be broad, unless you decide to specialize in a certain type of training, like personal training for senior citizens. If your target market is broad, you should spread out your marketing to include TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and even LinkedIn. If you target a group like seniors, you should just focus on Facebook.
Where? Choose your business premises
You can run your online personal training business from home, but if you ever decide to open a studio for in-person personal training and fitness classes, you can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.
When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:
Central location accessible via public transport
Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Step 3: Brainstorm a Business Name
Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.
Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:
Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better
Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
Including keywords, such as “personal training” or “online fitness”, boosts SEO
Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “FitFlex Online Training” over “Weightlifting Training Online” or “Online Boxing Training”
Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these.
Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that set your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.
Step 4: Create a Business Plan
Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:
Executive Summary: Summarize your Online Personal Training business plan, highlighting your goal of providing personalized fitness coaching through digital platforms.
Business Overview: Introduce your fitness coaching business, explaining the services you’ll offer, such as personalized workout plans and nutrition guidance.
Product and Services: Describe the specific fitness programs, coaching packages, and additional services you’ll provide to clients seeking online personal training.
Market Analysis: Analyze the fitness industry, focusing on the demand for online personal training, trends in digital fitness, and potential for growth in this market segment.
Competitive Analysis: Identify competitors in the online fitness coaching space, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and explain how your services will differentiate you.
Sales and Marketing: Detail your strategies for acquiring clients, including online advertising, social media marketing, content creation, and partnerships with fitness influencers.
Management Team: Highlight the qualifications of your team, emphasizing their expertise in fitness training, nutrition, and online coaching.
Operations Plan: Explain how your online personal training business will operate, covering client onboarding, personalized training plans, progress tracking, and support methods.
Financial Plan: Provide financial projections, including pricing models, revenue sources, startup costs, and profitability forecasts, demonstrating the business’s potential for financial success.
Appendix: Include sample workout plans, success stories from past clients, trainer credentials, and legal documents like terms and conditions for clients to build trust and credibility.
If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.
Step 5: Register Your Business
Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.
Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!
Choose where to register your company
Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to online personal training businesses.
If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.
Choose your business structure
Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your online personal training business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.
Here are the main options:
Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have.
The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.
Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.
It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.
Step 7: Fund your Business
Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:
Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.
Bank and SBA loans are probably the best options, other than friends and family, for funding an online personal training business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.
Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits.
You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more.
Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your online personal training business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.
Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account.
Step 10: Get Business Insurance
Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.
Here are some types of insurance to consider:
General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.
As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business.
Essential software and tools
Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.
You may want to use industry-specific software, such as mypthub, or Trainerize, to manage your sessions, client communications, billing, marketing, and client nutrition plans.
If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.
Develop your website
Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism.
You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.
They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.
Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your future business:
Leverage Social Media Challenges: Engage your audience on platforms like Instagram or Facebook by creating fitness challenges that encourage participants to share their progress, using a branded hashtag to increase visibility.
Host Live Q&A Sessions: Conduct regular live Q&A sessions on platforms like Zoom or Instagram Live to address fitness-related queries, showcase your expertise, and build a personal connection with potential clients.
Create Engaging Video Content: Develop short, informative, and visually appealing workout videos or tips to share on social media platforms, demonstrating your expertise and offering a taste of your training style.
Partner with Influencers: Collaborate with fitness influencers or bloggers to reach a broader audience and gain credibility, allowing them to experience and endorse your online training programs.
Offer Free Webinars or Workshops: Host webinars on relevant fitness topics, providing value to your audience and showcasing your knowledge, which can lead to increased trust and interest in your training programs.
Implement Referral Programs: Incentivize your existing clients to refer friends or family by offering discounts or exclusive benefits, creating a word-of-mouth marketing network that expands your client base.
Optimize Google Business: Ensure your business is listed and optimized on Google Business, encouraging positive reviews and testimonials to enhance your online reputation and visibility.
Collaborate with Fitness Apps: Explore partnerships with popular fitness apps, allowing you to tap into their user base and promote your online training services to a wider audience.
Create a Branded Email Newsletter: Develop a regular newsletter with fitness tips, success stories, and exclusive offers to keep your audience engaged and informed, fostering a sense of community around your brand.
Utilize Paid Advertising Strategically: Invest in targeted online advertising on platforms like Facebook or Google Ads, focusing on demographics and interests relevant to your ideal client base to maximize your marketing budget’s impact.
Focus on USPs
Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your online personal training meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire.
Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your online personal training business could be:
Calming, healthful online personal training for seniors
Anywhere, anytime – online training for all fitness levels
New baby? Get back to your pre-baby weight with your online trainer
You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running an online personal training business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in personal training for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections.
The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in online personal training. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business.
Step 12: Build Your Team
It’s unlikely that you will ever need employees for your online personal training business, but if you do, free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent.
The online personal training market is exploding, and now’s the perfect time to get in on the action. Some trainer out there is going to be raking in some of that multi-billion-dollar pot — why not you?
People are increasingly health-conscious and still spending a lot of time at home, so your services are likely to be in high demand. You’ll just need to set up some live streaming equipment or make workout videos for your clients. Now that you’ve gotten all the relevant information, keep that momentum going by launching your new online personal training business!
Online Personal Training Business FAQs
Is an online personal training business profitable?
Yes, you can charge monthly fees for fitness plans ranging from $200 to $600. Your ongoing expenses will be very small, so you’ll keep most of that as profit. If you have only 20 clients, you can bring in a nice chunk of change.
How much can I charge for online personal training?
Prices are generally charged on a monthly subscription basis and are based on how many personal sessions are done. Those subscription fees can range from $200 to $600.
How do personal trainers gain clients online?
Personal trainers can gain clients online by building a strong online presence through a professional website and social media platforms, offering free resources and content to showcase their expertise, utilizing online directories and platforms, and leveraging referrals and testimonials from satisfied clients.
How many clients should an online personal trainer have?
The number of clients an online personal trainer should have depends on several factors, including their capacity to effectively manage and provide personalized attention to each client. It’s important to strike a balance between quantity and quality.
How do I build trust and establish credibility as an online personal trainer?
To build trust and establish credibility as an online personal trainer, consider the following strategies: consistently delivering high-quality training and coaching, showcasing your qualifications and certifications, sharing client success stories and testimonials, providing valuable educational content, engaging with your audience through social media, promptly responding to inquiries or concerns, and offering transparent and fair pricing.
How do I create personalized workout and nutrition plans for my online clients?
Creating personalized workout and nutrition plans for online clients requires gathering relevant information about their goals, preferences, and limitations. Utilize comprehensive client questionnaires to understand their fitness levels, medical history, dietary preferences, and availability for training.
How to Start an Online Personal Training Business
Decide if the Business Is Right for You
Hone Your Idea
Brainstorm a Business Name
Create a Business Plan
Register Your Business
Register for Taxes
Fund your Business
Apply for Licenses/Permits
Open a Business Bank Account
Get Business Insurance
Prepare to Launch
Build Your Team
Start Making Money!
Online Personal Training Business FAQs
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