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Going online as a personal trainer can seem daunting. It’s hard to know where to start and whether or not it’s a good idea. When the COVID-19 lockdowns forced more people to find gym alternatives, more trainers started working online.
That move to virtual training might never replace in-person training, but it also isn’t likely to go anywhere. Serious personal trainers need to consider it as an option. Weigh the pros and cons and decide if working online makes sense for you.
With the rise of the internet came the rise in virtual versions of many things, including fitness. As technology has improved, it has become easier than ever to stream workouts, talk in real-time with a coach online, track progress through apps, and achieve many of the same goals as trainers and clients do in real-time.
Still, real-world gyms and training stuck around and continued to thrive as people became more aware of the benefits of regular exercise. Then came COVID-19, and gyms closed. Many people went online to get their fitness fix, and virtual training boomed.
What personal trainers need to know now is, will this trend continue? According to a survey from 2021, online training jumped 25 spots from its position on the 2020 list of top fitness trends, landing at number one.
People enjoy the convenience of working out at home and on a flexible schedule. They appreciated having the option during lockdowns to continue working out, and it turned into a habit for many. Some people are still wary of going into a gym full of people breathing heavily and potentially spreading illness.
Based on the trends and these reasons, chances are virtual and online training are here to stay, even if they don’t ever fully replace in-person sessions and gyms.
As a trainer, it’s essential to keep abreast of fitness trends. If virtual training is on the rise, you need to consider it as an option for your career. Don’t go into it blindly, though. You can still make a career as a traditional trainer, so take your time, think about the pros and cons, and then decide if this fits into your career and lifestyle.
A big draw for clients and personal trainers alike is that virtual training is often more convenient. People have busy schedules and lives and finding time for exercise is always a challenge. Current and potential clients will appreciate the convenience of working out where and when they want.
Trainers get the same benefit when not tied to a gym. There is no need to travel or coordinate schedules. As an online personal trainer, you can develop more creative workouts and training plans that utilize what your clients can access.
One major downside for online personal trainers is that working online makes it more difficult to teach form and safety. As an in-person trainer, you can see every angle of a client’s form during exercises and correct them immediately.
While it’s possible to educate someone on form through streaming and online chats, it’s not quite the same. The format just isn’t ideal for someone who is new to working out and needs more supervision and correction. Safety can be an issue if you are unable to fully ensure correct form.
Assessing clients at any level is also challenging when working online. Here is everything you need to know about doing virtual fitness assessments.
This also allows you to get more niche with your offerings. You might not be able to make it in your local community with a very specific type of expertise, for instance, workouts for pregnant women. But, if you work online, you can pull from a much bigger audience and find the soon-to-be moms who really need you.
In addition to convenience and flexibility, clients like the lower costs of virtual fitness training. The costs are lower when you don’t need a gym membership or use fuel to drive to in-person meetings. This means that online training has a lower price point. Your fees will need to be lower to compete with similar online trainers.
On the other hand, you can probably sustain a bigger client list. Working with people virtually is more efficient and requires less time. Whether or not this is enough to make up for the lower client fees depends on what you charge and how many clients you attract and retain.
Never underestimate how many people think about working with a fitness professional but feel intimidated by the gym environment or the idea of group classes. The gym-shy is a population worth reaching out to, and it’s easier to get them to sign on if you offer virtual services. They can work out at home or in their local outdoor area and avoid the gym. This is a whole new market to tap into for your personal training business if you market yourself right.
A major challenge of not seeing clients in person is motivation. Personal trainers are great motivators. The best know how to push their clients just far enough and to inspire them to put in the work to meet their goals. So much of this happens in the gym, working one-on-one.
Holding clients accountable and motivating them to get the workouts done is a unique challenge of online training. They can’t ignore you at the gym, but they can silence a phone and turn off an app if they don’t want to hear your inspirational message on a given day.
There is a certain freedom to working online that allows you to offer more services than in a gym. For instance, you can start group training classes online through streaming. At a gym, you would need to rent space and ensure everyone can be there at the same time.
As an online trainer, you can offer one-on-one live sessions, live group workouts, or a library of pre-recorded workouts. With apps, you can set up community groups for accountability and results sharing, or connect with clients one at a time. The options are virtually endless.
It’s not just traditional personal trainers who have gone virtual. Fitness and nutrition coaches are also available online more than ever. In many ways, coaching is more suited to the virtual setting than personal training. Trainers are hands-on in the gym with clients, educating and directing new exercises and proper form.
Coaches might do some of this as well, but they do so much more. They plan workouts, provide nutrition advice, motivate, and inspire, all things that can be done through a virtual relationship. There will be some challenges naturally, but with the right tools, like apps that help you track and communicate with clients, online coaching can be highly successful for both sides.
It looks like virtual training and fitness are here to stay. If you are a trainer, you need to consider it as an option. It’s not a must to earn a living, but weigh the pros and cons and decide if you should add it to your list of offerings for clients.
If you’re ready to take your existing business online, check out this complete online trainer guide with everything you need to know to be a virtual personal trainer. Continuing education is a fantastic opportunity to expand your career; consider these other coaching certifications:
And whether you plan to work online, in person, or both, you need the best personal training credential to get started. The Certified Personal Trainer Self-Guided Study Program from ISSA (International Sports Sciences Association) is the perfect certification to jumpstart your career.
The ISSA Online Coaching Certification is the fastest way to transition a fitness coaching business online. This course allows you to pick and choose what you need to learn about so it fits the needs of a new or seasoned trainer. The on-demand information is delivered in bite-sized chunks and it includes everything from how to set up email campaigns and FaceBook ads to positioning and selling your product to prospective clients.
Online Training Tops the List of 2021 Fitness Trends. Club Industry. (2021). Retrieved 6 July 2022, from https://www.clubindustry.com/training-group-exercise/online-training-tops-list-2021-fitness-trends-per-acsm.
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