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How to Start Online Training Without In-Person Experience

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, How to Start Online Training Without In-Person Experience

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If you’re new to personal training, you’re likely considering online training. However, if you don’t have any in-person training experience, you’re probably wondering how you’ll be successful in coaching your clients.

Follow along as we explore some of the benefits of online personal training and nine tips that can help you get your online business moving without in-person training experience. 

Want a head start? Take ISSA’s Online Coach certification to set up your marketing and taking your online business to the next level. 

Benefits of Online Personal Training

Although many personal trainers and clients will likely return to the gyms when conditions with the Covid-19 virus start to improve, the personal trainers building a virtual presence with their online business now will be just as essential as those in the gym. The transition from in-person to online personal training happened quickly and was not ideal for many trainers but there’s quite a bit of value in having all or part of your personal training business online. 

Access to Clients Who Are Not Gym Members

A large number of people don’t own gym memberships. They may not have a convenient training space, don’t the time, or may feel uncomfortable in a gym. Online training provides the perfect opportunity to help these types of clients. 

Help Others While Social Distancing

Health professionals have consistently recommended social distancing as a way to slow the spread of Covid-19. This, however, has caused some challenges with physical and mental health—two things that can be positively impacted by exercise. Online personal training allows fitness professionals to maintain their distance and use their online business to support clients with their health and fitness goals.

Modify Your Personal Training Schedule

Depending on how you structure your online business, you may be able to adjust the time you spend in your training sessions. If you are virtually coaching your clients live, the best times to train are during the windows of time that work best for your clients. But, as you establish trust in your client’s commitment, consistency, and form, you may provide them a pre-written training plan or a pre-recorded online class and have check-ins with them throughout the week. This allows you to do the bulk of your work during your availability and free up parts of your day. 

Possibility to Train More Clients

This, too, depends on how you structure your online business. You may be able to increase the number of online personal training clients you coach each month. Plus, you aren’t limited by the gym’s hours. You will likely spend more time with new clients but once you’ve put good systems and processes in place and established consistent clientele, you can start to expand or bring on additional online personal trainers to work underneath you. 

Diversify Your Clientele

International clients, social media followers, and clients on the opposite coast all become potential clients when you have an online training business. 

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, How to Start Online Training Without In-Person Experience

9 Tips for Online Personal Trainers Without In-Person Experience

The following list includes nine tips for online personal trainers starting their virtual training career with little to no in-person training experience:

1. Keep It Simple

Start small! Limit the number of clients you take on at the beginning. You want to ensure you allow yourself the bandwidth to research when you need to, take your time to do things right, and develop systems and processes that help you stay organized as a personal trainer and online fitness coach.

2. Be okay With Not Knowing It All 

You will not know everything—and that’s okay! Be willing to learn. No one knows everything, not even an expert instructor. However, it’s important to be confident, regardless. Be honest when clients ask you questions you don’t know the answer to. Do your research to gather accurate info and follow up with them appropriately. Remember, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day!’

3. Practice Coaching Your Close Friends and Family

Family and friends that you’ve stayed close with during quarantine are an excellent way you can get “in-person training” and coaching experience. You may find it valuable to practice static and dynamic movement assessments and analyze live movement with people who understand you’re learning, are invested in your success as a personal trainer, and can provide solid feedback.

4. Don’t Mislead Clients

Be honest with your clients about being a new personal trainer and let them know you are growing and learning. Ask them to be open with you about the things they like or don’t like. This allows them to be invested in you and help you by providing critical feedback that will help you become a better online personal trainer. 

5. Complete Your Personal Training Certification and Continue to Invest in Yourself

Become a certified personal trainer through an accredited program. In addition to your personal training certification, a degree program like exercise science or other higher education is valuable as well – but not required. Expand your skills as a health and fitness professional but remember other types of learning are worthwhile for your growth as a personal trainer and entrepreneur. There are courses on organization, marketing, business, etc. Many of them have online course options, making them safe and convenient. You don’t need to complete every course at once, but you must be properly educated (with an accredited certification) and committed to lifelong learning. 

6. Find an Online Trainer Who Can Mentor You

There are numerous successful online personal trainers. Many of them have navigated some of the challenges of both in-person and online training. Experienced online personal trainers can suggest resources or platforms that can help you stay organized, critique your training, and help you improve your online movement analysis and remote teaching skills. 

7. Work on Your Video/Tech Skills

A huge part of personal training is helping clients activate the right muscles and minimize injury. This means you need to ensure your client’s form is correct. When clients are learning new exercises, you must provide clear instruction and cues, common errors, and an exercise library with proper lighting. Both live and recorded videos can be helpful. When clients submit training videos to you, there must be good lighting and they should provide views from more than one angle as well. Check out this article for additional tips on making the best videos.

8. Invest in Good Technology 

You don’t need much to be successful! However, you’ll want to have access to solid wi-fi, a good computer or phone, and take the time to determine which online platform is best for your live interactions (Facebook, Zoom, Skype, etc.). Practice using the technology so you know what you’re doing and can provide clear directions to your new clients. Once you have the basics, you can navigate which additional tools, apps, and resources will help improve your online personal training business. Spend time improving your social media and marketing skills as they can be key in helping you grow your online business as well. 

9. Consider Your Equipment Needs

Initially, you may start your online personal training clients with bodyweight exercises. This is ideal because you don’t need to invest in equipment and bodyweight training can be appropriate for your beginner and advanced clients. A bodyweight training program is also a great way to help clients perfect their form. As your training progresses, you can think about the equipment best suited for your training style, space, and clienteles’ needs. Keep in mind, most clients won’t have a full gym in their home, so you’ll want to keep things simple when you start to add equipment.

There are many successful online personal trainers. So, virtual training can be done and can be done well. Don’t be afraid to be a beginner at something new. That’s where everyone starts. The knowledge you have is valuable. The passion you have is important. The world needs people that are invested in the health and fitness of others. Your ability to adapt and learn will help you pave your way and make a difference. 


Are you ready to become a personal trainer? ISSA is a world leader in fitness education and certification with students in 143 different countries. You too can help change the world by becoming an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer.

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