Back arrow icon
The Blog

10 Online Fitness Business Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Getting Started
March 7, 2023
tim saye

Personal Trainer Software

Save time, and build your fitness business with the #1-rated personal trainer software!
Start free trial
image of female personal trainer

The online fitness industry is expected to reach nearly $20bn in revenue in 2023 in the US alone.

Personal trainers have never had a better time to take their fitness ventures into the digital arena. However, it would be best to avoid common online fitness business mistakes and pitfalls to give yourself a real shot at success. So let's look at the 10 most common mistakes online personal trainers make and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1. Thinking the business is about you.

As a personal trainer, it is easy to assume that the business is about you. It isn't. It's about the people you help, so building a client-focused operation is imperative for any serious online fitness business owner. Everything from training programs and nutrition plans to eBooks and seminars should be designed to serve the client rather than your agenda. Furthermore, your marketing visuals across your social media accounts and your website must be relatable to your ideal clients as well.

The fix: Delivering everything your clients expect and more through your online fitness services is the best way to receive raving testimonials. Also, ensure all those aspects are communicated through your marketing messaging to attract the correct type of people to your online personal training services in the first place.

Mistake #2. Not writing an online personal training business plan.

While you must never lose sight of the fact that your daily operations are meant to serve the client, not taking the business seriously is one of the most common online personal trainer mistakes. Writing a defined and structured online personal training business plan is essential.

Think of it this way: you wouldn't encourage clients to follow random exercises and eating habits that are not aligned with their goals or designed to help them get from their current position to where they wish to be. Guess what? Your online fitness business journey will rely equally on understanding your objectives and the steps needed to meet them.

The fix: Writing an online personal training business plan will transform the business. Even if the journey ahead eventually deviates from the planned route, reverting to your business plan will provide valuable guidance for years. If you're not sure where to start, you can always search for personal trainer business plan templates and work your way through with some guidance.

Mistake #3. Not having a niche.

As stated, your online personal training business needs to take a people-centric approach. But while most clients share the goal of getting healthier and better looking, the vision may look vastly different from one demographic to the next. Therefore, targeting a broad audience with a one-size-fits-all solution may be one of the worst online fitness business mistakes.

The fix: Establishing your place in the market will make the road far smoother, not least because you'll understand your client's pain points. Once you prove that your content or training is the best solution to those issues, they will flock to your services. If you need inspiration, check out 8 niche ideas for personal trainers.

Mistake #4. Not keeping track of business numbers.

Tracking valuable metrics is critical in achieving sustained progress for your client. It helps identify where things stand, what's working, and which further steps are needed to reach their long-term goals. Similarly, your online fitness company will benefit significantly from monitoring the numbers behind the business.

Roughly 10% of all startups - across all industries - fail in the first year. According to CBS Insights, one of the top reasons for failure is a lack of financial management, specifically running out of cash.

The fix: Tracking revenue, expenses, cash flow, profit, and other financial issues will allow you to truly understand how your online personal training services perform from a business perspective. It could save you from significant errors.

Mistake #5. Trying to scale 1-2-1 coaching.

On the face of it, dedicated one-to-one training seems like the perfect solution. After all, it allows you to charge more money per client while also feeding into the idea of building a truly personalized program that helps them reach their goal. However, there is a ceiling when focusing on one-to-one coaching, especially if you plan to conduct LIVE sessions or coaching calls for each individual. Sadly, you will hit it quite fast.

There are only so many one-to-one sessions you can fit into your week. Your capacity will be limited even if you can communicate your value and charge as much for your online personal training services as in-person training.

Live streaming fitness video usage grew by 971% between 2020 and 2022. While attributed to Covid, it is here to stay.

The fix: There are many roads you can choose. If you prefer conducting live sessions, you can tailor them to a larger audience. While you can only charge a fraction per session, you can integrate it into a group coaching service with a monthly membership fee that provides added support and resources.

Or, if you want to avoid running LIVE sessions completely, you can develop a fully self-led online group coaching service that puts little demand on your time while your potential earnings will soar.

Mistake #6. Choosing the wrong software.

Virtually all modern businesses now rely on tech. Frankly, thinking that you can disrupt the digital landscape without a dedicated software package would be one of the worst online personal trainer mistakes you could make. Partnering with the right software solution will deliver a better client experience and help you manage the venture in style.

The market is blessed with many software solutions for online personal trainers, starting with video-sharing platforms like YouTube and Vimeo to deliver free or paid content. Meanwhile, Fitbit, Apple Watch, and MyFitnessPal are popular software and hardware solutions. PT Distinction has been highly rated by personal trainers on multiple review platforms, not least because it integrates with all of the above and provides automation and group coaching features that you won't see elsewhere.

The fix: You'll want to understand precisely what your online fitness business needs from software solutions to deliver your services efficiently and smoothly to your clients. If you're looking for online booking software, choose the one that suits your business and clients the best. The same goes for video editing software if you publish or stream video workouts regularly and for nutrition software, if you primarily help clients with their nutrition.

If you're looking for a comprehensive solution, you can compare Trainerize and TrueCoach with PT Distinction to find out which suits your online fitness business best.

Mistake #7. Not having an online fitness marketing plan.

Marketing is a vital feature of any business strategy, and it should be no different when starting an online personal training business. According to CoSchedule, marketers with a structured digital marketing strategy are 331% more likely to report success.

A robust marketing campaign will boost visibility, traffic, leads, and conversions while increasing customer lifetime values. Your marketing content should focus on more than brand awareness. It is equally crucial to showcase your ability to solve a prospect's pain points. Understanding your niche as much as possible will come in handy here.

The fix: A dedicated marketing plan should target prospective clients across multiple social media channels while focusing on SEO to attract people looking for online coaching. That all starts with a fitness website to which you drive traffic consistently via your marketing channels.

Other online fitness business mistakes for marketing include selling unrealistic rewards and keeping valuable content behind locked doors. Giving a percentage of your best content away for free can help you build a following. They will deliver higher conversions than outside audiences.

Mistake #8. Not delegating tasks or asking for help when needed.

Regarding online personal trainer mistakes, assuming that you can run the entire business with one pair of hands is the most likely to result in an implosion. If you are committed to giving clients the best fitness advice, you must be well-versed in training, injury prevention, rehabilitation, nutrition, psychology, and issues like coaching a niche sport. Teaming up with others may be necessary if some aspects are out of your scope.

You will also need to think about the operational elements of the business. Tools like PT Distinction will undoubtedly aid the cause by automating and streamlining many processes, but running a business means wearing many hats, including marketing, sales, professional development, managing finances, doing your accounts and more.

The fix: Choose the tasks you are good at, enjoy doing, and have the capacity and find a way to outsource or automate everything else. You may need accountants, admins, other personal trainers, and marketers on your team to see maximized ROIs. If nothing else, effective networking and surrounding yourself with the right people allow you to dedicate more time to your clients.

Mistake #9. Lack of consistency.

As a personal trainer, you will be used to reminding clients that consistency is king when looking to see sustained results. Once again, learning to practice what you preach could be the key to keeping your fitness company on the right path.

A ruthless and repetitive execution of the basics will establish the most robust foundation for clients and the business. But conversely, you must consistently maintain your audience's and client's trust.

The fix: It would be best to remain consistent with client communication and training, marketing strategies, business tasks, and more. It is another reason to delegate parts of your everyday business admin, as ignoring this will put you at risk of becoming overwhelmed and falling behind. If you've promised to post a video on a specific day or answer a client's concerns today, you better do it.

Poor communication and a perceived lack of professionalism are two main reasons people quit their personal trainer in favor of a competitor. And once you suffer this fate, there is a strong possibility that they will never return.

Mistake #10. Forgetting to follow up with new leads.

You will gain many leads if you have built a robust business model and launched effective marketing campaigns. Unfortunately, more is needed to guarantee business success. It would be best if you turn leads into clients. One of the most frequent online fitness business mistakes is that personal trainers fail to follow up with their leads to get those conversions over the line.

The fix: Once a person is in the consideration stage, they will likely start a fitness plan. Creating a lead follow-up system for your online fitness business will increase your chances of them signing up to a program with you. In addition, keeping your business fresh in their mind and proving your ability to solve their pain points should boost your conversions.


There has never been a better time to enter the online fitness industry, but you better be prepared for what it takes to succeed. You can build a more substantial business by supporting yourself with a winning strategy, a defined business journey, and the right people. Meanwhile, dedicated fitness business software will allow you to maximize every aspect of your venture.

Read More