How to Get Started as an Online Personal Trainer

Getting Started

Dec 10, 2021

By Tim Saye

Many personal trainers are in the process of either launching their online coaching services or trying to figure out what steps are needed to get started as an online personal trainer.

If that's you, this article helps clarify the first steps and shows that it's simpler than you might think. Whether you've been in the industry for some time or you're a complete newbie, following these 5 steps will help you develop an online training service that is ready to accept clients. Let's dig in.

Step 1. Decide What Service You Want to Offer

At first, you might think this is a challenging step because you have no experience and thus have little idea of what might sell well in the online fitness space. Worry no more. There is a simple way to narrow down what you'd be the best offering. You need to ask yourself a simple question: "Who are my ideal clients?" In other words, you need to find a niche for your online training business. Once you know who you want to train, it'll be much easier to decide the rest of the aspects of your online personal training services.

In general though all online packages that get results include similar things:
Training programs
Regular assessments to track progress
Nutrition and habit coaching
Nutrition tracking
Communication with your clients

Some coaches also include:
Lifestyle advice
Activity tracking
Exercise technique reviews

Fortunately all of this can be done very easily using PT Distinction.

One important decision you might need to make is whether to be a 1-2-1 online fitness coach, or offer group coaching online, or both.

Online 1-2-1 personal training is ideal for clients who have specific goals and needs, including regular 1-2-1 support and accountability. Group coaching works better for people who are generally happy sharing their experience, asking for tips and advice from fellow community members and have lower budgets.

Step 2. Upgrade Your Coaching Skills

You might want to consider if there are any skills you need to develop or improve to become a successful online personal trainer. One of the most important ones will be your communication skills. Other skills a great online coach needs are program design and the ability to guide clients on nutrition and help them change their habits to get great results.

Step 3. Consider LIVE Sessions and Calls

First of all, not all online personal trainers offer live calls or sessions. However, if you're new and don't have much experience getting your clients results while communicating purely online, you might want to include regular check-ins where you can chat and see your clients' faces to establish rapport.

There are a few ways you can do that:
Weekly/bi-weekly/monthly video call check-ins
Real-time virtual training sessions via Zoom can work for 1-2-1 and small-group online personal training
Live seminars or Q&As for group coaching

If you offer multiple services, figure out how much capacity you have. Keep in mind that one of the benefits of becoming an online trainer is being more flexible with your time. If you schedule too many fixed time slots for live sessions or calls, you might not enjoy that benefit to the fullest.

Step 4. Set Up Your Systems and Tech

Now that you know what you offer, how you want to deliver it and whether or not you want video check-ins and sessions, you can start putting it all together and create your systems. Here are a few things you might want to consider employing:

A booking software where you can pre-set your availability, and your clients can book their slot for consultations, video check-ins and virtual training sessions.

Forms and Documents
Business documents for your clients to fill out during onboarding. These can include an informed consent form, PARQ, goal, lifestyle and nutrition assessment forms, monthly review form, new client agreement and so on. You can use the pre set forms in PT Distinction or make your own using our form builder.

Since you'll be taking payments online, you need to figure out the most accessible and most user-friendly option for both you and your clients. PayPal is easy to use, well respected and links up to PT Distinction easily if you wish to do it, Go Cardless is also an excellent payment platform.

Member portal and online personal training software
Using software like PT Distinction to systemise all you can in your online fitness business is a wise move, so you can save a lot of time with all the above points and even have much of it already done for you from inside our library or pre made content.

A device equipped with a camera with good resolution for videos and live calls. The latest smartphones, tablets and laptops will meet that criteria nicely.

Video Software
Zoom is great for live sessions and video calls. You can also consider Google Meets, WhatsApp, Skype or Rooms on Facebook. You might want to look into video editing software if you intend to publish many videos as part of your service.

Step 5. Enrol Clients and Deliver Your Service

That's right. Your online personal training service is ready to take on clients! It might feel overwhelming to try and sign up your first clients, but it doesn't have to be like that. The best place to start is your social circles. You can even start with a one-off launch offer where the first 5 clients get a significant discount in exchange for honest reviews.

Then you want to make sure you overdeliver on all fronts so that those reviews will be raving about your online training service. It's also a great idea to ask your clients what they like and what they think you could improve. If something comes up more than once, consider acting on it. Then tweak, rinse and repeat.


Becoming an online personal trainer doesn't have to be perfect, nor too hard, so long you get the first steps right. It's better to get started and develop the service as you go along than aiming to get it right from the start and delaying your launch forever. You'll realise that you will end up tweaking and pivoting regularly based on feedback and as you learn more about your clients, the market and your preferences as an online coach.