How To Dominate In 2021 As An Online Trainer


Jan 15, 2021

By Tim Saye

How To Dominate In 2021 As An Online Trainer

Over the last year, working as a face to face personal trainer has been a tough job. With unpredictable gym closures, and unclear guidance on what's allowed and what's not allowed, navigating the fitness industry during a pandemic has been more stressful than ever before. 

With that, more trainers have considered taking their fitness businesses online to continue to support their clients and make a living. How can you have a successful and secure online training business and avoid all the lockdown stress?

How to Get New Online Training Clients?

When you first move online, you may be bringing some of your face to face clients into your online training programme immediately. But if you don't have any clients yet or need more, you might feel intimidated by all the other online trainers and coaches out there. So where should you start?

It might seem like the online fitness space is saturated. To be honest, you're right. There are a lot of "online coaches" out there. But they aren't you. The clients who want to work with you buy into the feeling that you believe in them and have the skills to help them. There's only one you. That market is firmly monopolised - by you! So let's look at 4 simple ideas that will help you build a solid online training business.

#1. Know Your Ideal Clients

This is such a piece of essential marketing advice that you've probably heard it a million times before. Still, in fact, this is slightly different in the online world. You get to be, and you need to be, incredibly specific about three things:
- Who you help
- What result you help them get
- How quickly you can do it

Those three questions answered precisely as possible, will give you the formula for your online marketing. Consider, "I'm a fat loss coach" compared with "I help single dads in their 30s to drop 3 notches on their belt in 12 weeks".

It's specific enough to eliminate a large portion of the market, and this scares a lot of face to face trainers. When you're on the gym floor, you may have a demographic that you help, but it tends to be much broader, such as "I help women who are new to exercise to feel comfortable in the gym". 

But marketing your online training services in the same way you promote your face to face training will not work as effectively, being more specific works brilliantly as your overall market is much, much larger.

#2. Provide A Comprehensive Service

Even if you're providing that service to just a single person, for now, doing a great job is not an optional part of being an online personal trainer, even if many in that "saturated marketplace" seem to think it is. This is where knowing your niche and what results you can get your clients comes in handy. You want to provide an excellent service as a baseline. Still, if you're going to dominate in 2021: you'll need to go over and above what they expect. 

How do you know what they expect? Ask them. Survey them regularly (once a quarter is great) and ask them what they love about the service, as well as what they'd like to see. Thank them for giving you feedback, and act on it to shape the service into something they value. 

#3. Referrals

Your current clients are your best source of leads. They will generate referrals and new business for you very effectively. So doing a great job, and making sure that people know about it is vital.

Ask your clients regularly, around once a month or so, if they would like to give you a testimonial or refer a friend into the programme that would like to get the same results as them.

Use your existing social media network to expand your reach beyond your current clients by talking about the work they're doing with you. Tell people about the results they get. It's not all about the before and after images either, so learn how to tell a good story about the "hidden transformations" they experienced.

#4. Use Templates

You can create goal-specific workout templates that you tailor to each client's needs. PT Distinction provides its trainers with an option to create such templates. You can also design them in a cloud-based service like Google Sheets or on paper if that's your preference. 

At first, it might feel like you're doing your clients a disservice. Still, the truth is that most clients you work with will fit into the same rough template, especially if you understand your niche correctly.

That doesn't mean that you don't make adjustments to each individual, adapting to their specific circumstances. But the templates are a great starting point and will save a lot of time because many things won't change from one client to the next across the same phases of training, such as:
- Sets, rest and tempo, are likely to stay pretty similar inside a template.
- The order in which you programme the movements are likely to remain similar-
- Training frequency.

Now consider the other items that should be consistently the same for each client that comes in to your coaching set up such as forms, assessments, welcome messages, habit tracking, recipe cards etc.. These items should be set up and ready to go so your clients all get the same great service delivered on time and you don't have to spend hours repeating tasks. Using PT Distinction can make the delivery of these items as simple as ticking a box.

Making life easy for yourself and providing a better service to your clients are often the same!


Getting to grips with the online training world can feel confusing at first, as there are some differences between online and face to face that you don't always realise until you've done both. Marketing, delivery, retention of your best clients, scaling your business - and more - are all covered in the Become An Online Personal Trainer Course by The Institute Of Personal Trainers. 

While some online training principles are the same as in person training, such as doing a great job delivering your service, others are quite different. Having resources like templates and software can help, but realising your mindset is an integral part of success will be important too.