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How to Become an Online Fitness Coach (from 0 Clients)

May 31st 2024
Home > Blog > How to Become an Online Fitness Coach (from 0 Clients)
Become an online fitness coach.

What is a Fitness Coach?

A fitness coach is someone who creates sustainable programs for their clients. Their approach is holistic, which means they’re not just focused on providing workout routines and gym schedules – fitness coaches will motivate and guide their clients to make lifestyle changes and improve themselves for the better. Many fitness coaches help with different areas of a client’s life, such as exercise, nutrition, and even decision-making.

Skills Needed to Become a Fitness Coach

  • Fitness and nutrition knowledge – Fitness coaches should be clued up on the latest research in their niche. They need a good understanding of fitness and nutrition so they can curate specific plans and programs based on the individual needs of their client.
  • Communication – Both written and verbal communication skills are essential for this role. Fitness coaches don’t just engage verbally with clients; they might find themselves writing emails, cold-calling potential customers, designing nutrition plans, and more.
  • Friendly personality – Being open, friendly, and approachable is key to attracting new clients, and being able to keep them.
  • Motivation – Fitness coaches should be motivated to keep up with their own lifestyle changes and also the demands of their clients.
  • Creativity – Whether it’s designing individual nutrition and exercise plans for specific clients or finding new and exciting ways to keep them motivated, creativity will help build a thriving online business.
  • Marketing – With 740 thousand fitness and personal trainers currently taking up space in this niche worldwide, and an expected 2.1% growth from now to 2026, today’s fitness coaches need to be able to market themselves.
A personal fitness coaching working with a client.

Online Fitness Coach vs Personal Trainer

Although they may seem similar at first glance, fitness coaches and personal trainers offer different ways of managing fitness and the overall happiness of their clients. 

Online Fitness Coaches:

  • Focus on the overall well-being of their clients – Taking a holistic approach, their goal is to improve different aspects of their clients’ lives – not just their ability to perform well at the gym.
  • Will create nutritional plans tailored for clients – The goal is to improve their clients’ long-term health and fitness, and sustainable nutrition plans are essential for this.
  • Don’t train in person – Unlike personal trainers, fitness coaches won’t monitor their clients while working out; instead, they’ll focus on many different areas of their lives to create a well-rounded approach for improvement.
  • Online-based – Many fitness coaches help their clients from the comfort of their own homes. They don’t have to be in the same room to help individuals achieve their goals.
  • Critical in helping people reach their fitness goals – For many people, fitness coaches are invaluable, encouraging lifestyle changes their clients wouldn’t have the motivation to make on their own.

Personal Trainers:

  • Focus on improving performance – Personal trainers tackle fitness with a focus on strength building, improving speed, and increasing power.
  • May help clients who are recovering from an injury – They’ll design specific plans and programs to help their clients build their strength and find their inner power.
  • Train their clients in-person – Clients will meet with personal trainers at the gym, where they’ll motivate and guide them through their workouts.
  • Gym-based – Personal trainers will offer gym inductions, show their clients how to use gym equipment, and may even carry out basic equipment maintenance.
  • Critical in helping people reach their fitness goals – Just like online fitness coaches, personal trainers are dedicated to helping clients transform their lives and health. 

Which One is Right For You?

Deciding whether to become an online fitness coach or a personal trainer is specific to you and your own goals. Are you someone who would prefer to work from the comfort of your home, or would you rather be in the middle of the action? Here are some advantages of deciding to be an online fitness instructor:

  • Cost-effective – Since you’re not setting up your own studio or frequenting the gym every day, choosing a career as an online instructor is more cost-effective, especially if you’re just starting out.
  • A bigger client pool – There are a couple of reasons for this. First, you’re helping people with different areas of their lives, as opposed to simply helping them with their fitness performance, which can broaden the pool of clients. Secondly, if you’re based online, location is not an issue – you can find clients from all over the world.
  • Better for creative minds – If you’re someone who needs a creative career to thrive, online fitness coaching might be best for you. You’ll have to get creative when it comes to motivating clients, creating nutrition plans, or even designing products. Many fitness coaches even offer books and guides.
  • Flexibility – Fitness coaches don’t have to adhere to gym opening times. Schedule meetings when they’re most convenient for you. This makes fitness coaching a better fit if you live a full life or have other commitments, such as children or a second job.

However, as with everything, there are a few disadvantages to choosing fitness coaching over personal training:

  • It’s less personal – If you’re someone who prefers to meet new people in person, and you like a hands-on approach, personal training may be better suited for you.
  • You’re at the mercy of technology – If your computer breaks or your internet cuts off, this can cause huge challenges for your business.
  • Less specific – Fitness coaches work with lots of difference areas of fitness, such as nutrition, yoga, meditation, and more. You might find yourself out of your comfort zone more often than with personal training. 

Choosing the right path for you involves weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of each.

A fitness coach working on her laptop.

What Does an Online Fitness Coach Do?

Daily Responsibilities of a Fitness Coach

  • Planning workout sessions
  • Recording instructional videos
  • Conducting live sessions
  • Designing nutrition plans
  • Outlining fitness plans
  • Providing feedback and motivation

Client Management

Fitness coaches use online tools to interact with their clients. This will include messaging apps so they can contact their clients directly one-to-one, scheduling tools so they can sync calendars and schedule meetings, video platforms such as Zoom or Teams to talk face-to-face, and even apps and tools to track their clients’ progress.

Many fitness coaches use all-in-one platforms such as Teach.io to interact with and manage their clients. This means they don’t have to jump from app to app – all the tools they need are in one place.

How Much Money Does an Online Fitness Coach Make?

According to GlassDoor, online fitness coaches make anywhere from $72K to $135K a year. The average yearly online fitness coach salary is $120,527. 

However, keep in mind that many different factors influence income levels, such as your specialization, experience level, and the size of your client list. Although your salary may be less when you’re just starting out and building up your client base, your brand (and income) can quickly grow.

Furthermore, online fitness coaches can tap into many different revenue streams, including:

  • One-on-one coaching sessions
  • Group classes
  • Personalized workout plans
  • Personalized nutrition plans
  • Pre-recorded courses
  • E-books
  • Fitness products (such as supplements or clothing)
  • Affiliate marketing

Do You Need Training or Certification to Become an Online Fitness Coach?

Certification Requirements

If you’re looking for clients online, you don’t need specific qualifications to start your fitness coaching career. However, formal training and certifications will help you attract a client base, especially if you’re starting from scratch. Consider taking fitness, sports science, and nutrition courses to enhance your credibility. Ensure clients are aware of these through your website or during consultations.

Not sure where to start? Here are our most recommended certifications that will help you build your credibility as a fitness coach:

  • ACE Certification – From personal training and health coaching to group training, ACE has a range of certifications you can obtain to kickstart your career. Prices start at $500+, but they offer flexible pricing plans.
  • AFAA – Get certified in group fitness, nutrition, sports, yoga, and more. They offer no-interest payment plans without credit checks.
  • NASM – The National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer Certification is well respected among fitness professionals. With a prep course and an exam, prices start at $999.
  • ISSA – With a range of different course bundles available, you can kickstart your career. They offer payment plans, with prices starting at $99 a month.

The fitness industry is always in a constant process of change, which means even seasoned professionals should take courses to update their knowledge and skills.

A fitness work out session.

Millionaire Online Fitness Coaches & What They Did

The following fitness coaches have taken their passion for fitness and transformed it into a successful career using various digital marketing strategies. We’ve dived into some of their best-performing strategies, which you can implement to grow your own business.

1. Kayla Itsines

Since 2008, Kayla Itsines’ goal has been to empower women to take control of their fitness, helping them feel strong and confident. A true fitness coach, she focuses on helping women work around their busy lifestyles, as opposed to sacrificing them to get fit. She’s recognized as one of the most influential fitness coaches in the world.

Success Strategies

  • Flexible programs – They’re designed to fit in with her clients’ busy lifestyles.
  • Programs to fit both beginners and professionals – This helps her attract a large and varied client base.
  • eBooks – “Reboot” and “The Bikini Body 28-Day Healthy Eating & Lifestyle Guide” are designed to provide even more value for clients.
  • Free trial – Clients can decide whether they want to join her community before committing.

Find her on Instagram and Twitter.

2. Jeff Cavaliere (Athlean-X)

Jeff Cavaliere is a huge name in the fitness industry with a well-respected background. He served as the Head Physical Therapist and Assistant Strength Coach for the New York Mets during the National League East Championship in 2006, 2007, and 2008. Jeff has the education to back his skills up, too, having obtained a Masters Degree in Physical Therapy and a Bachelor of Science in Physioneurobiology / Premedicine from the University of Connecticut. 

He used all the knowledge and skills he gained to launch his YouTube channel, Athlean-X, where he provides fitness tips and demonstrations, turning viewers into paying customers.

Success Strategies

  • A successful YouTube channel – Acting as a lead magnet to his community, Jeff Cavaliere provides valuable tips, tricks, and techniques that viewers can use to begin their fitness journey. 
  • Flexible programs – Jeff Cavaliere offers various fitness programs to help customers find the best one for them.
  • Supplements – He also sells supplements to help clients on their fitness journey.
  • Results and testimonials – Find success stories on his website to support his claims.

Follow him on Instagram or check out his YouTube channel.

3. Cassey Ho (Blogilates)

Cassey Ho, otherwise known as Blogilates, is the creator of POP Pilates, a community that trains other inspiring instructors. She started her fitness coaching career on YouTube, where she provides a range of tips and tricks, such as “Stretch + De-Stress.” She is now a fully-fledged entrepreneur who designs and markets her own line of fitness apparel.

Success Strategies

  • A successful YouTube channel – Cassey Ho provides value to views with her channel “blogilates”.
  • Blog – She provides expert advice for inspiring fitness instructors, using her blog to turn them into paying clients.
  • POP Pilates – Rather than instructing beginners, her company is aimed at coaching instructors.
  • Apparel – Cassey Ho offers a range of fitness apparel that appeal directly to her target audience.

Find her on YouTube and Instagram.

4. Joe Wicks (The Body Coach)

Although Joe Wicks started with a small personal training business, he’s now expanded his reach to huge heights through social media and his range of recipe books. His 4 million social media followers agree that his methods are life-changing. He’s the perfect blueprint for anyone inspiring to be an online fitness and nutrition coach.

Success Strategies

  • The Body Coach App – Complete with workout plans, tracking tools, and nutritional advice, this app is designed to improve the lifestyles of his clients.
  • Recipes on a Budget eBook – This acts as a lead magnet, providing a portion of the value clients will get if they invest in his services and products.
  • YouTube channel – Here, he provides tips, tricks, and techniques to stay fit and motivated.

Follow Joe on Instagram and YouTube.

5. Simeon Panda

Simeon Panda is one of the most influential fitness professionals worldwide, but it wasn’t always that way. He started by sharing his training tips and nutrition regimen online.

Success Strategies

  • Motivational social media content – By posting pictures of his body and gym days, Simeon Panda creates an image that like-minded individuals can inspire to.
  • Email marketing – His audience can sign up for his newsletter, which provides a channel to connect with them directly.
  • Fitness products – He sells natural fitness supplements to help his audience on their journey.

Keep up to date with Simeon Panda on Instagram and Twitter.

How to Become an Online Fitness Coach

Becoming an online fitness coach requires dedication, motivation, and planning. A fitness coach business doesn’t appear overnight. To succeed, you must identify your target audience, set up your business structure, and learn how to market your services. This might seem overwhelming at first, but following our in-depth guide will help you learn how to start an online fitness coaching business.

1. Identify Your Niche and Target Audience

Assess Your Strengths

Before you set up your online fitness coaching business, it’s important to outline your skills and strengths, as this will help you decide which services to offer. 

The examples of successful fitness coaches above all have one thing in common: they focus on specific areas. Is there a specific skill or area in which you excel? Or is there anything you particularly enjoy? Whether you love a yoga class or believe Pilates is your thing, identifying these areas can help differentiate you in the online marketplace.

Understand the Market

Conduct market research to understand the needs of your potential clients. Remember, your services should solve a problem. Are your clients looking to lose weight, improve their mental health, or calm anxiety? Determine your audience demographics. Figure out their age, fitness level, interests, and gender.

To find your ideal audience, research other fitness coaches who are offering similar services to you. Check out their comment sections and make detailed profiles of the type of people who are following and engaging. For example, Kayla Itsines’ audience is mostly made up of women.

Define Your Unique Selling Point

To become a successful online coach, you need to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Figure out what makes you unique, whether it’s the services you offer or who you offer it to. This will help you design unique programs to set you apart from the vast pool of fitness coaches and personal trainers.

2. Obtain an Online Fitness Coach Certification

Find out which certifications are right for you. They should not only be well-respected and trusted, but they should also align with the services you offer.

Enroll in Training Programs

In addition to taking courses that align with your services, consider taking other courses to broaden your expertise, which will help you attract more clients. Consider courses in nutrition, wellness, business management, and even marketing. 

Stay Updated

It’s not enough to complete one course and call it a day. The most successful training coaches stay up to date with industry developments. Make sure you’re aware of new research, as this will help you adapt your methods and offer your clients the best service possible.

3. Set Up Your Business Structure

Legal Requirements

Before you start coaching, you need to register your business. Even though you’re operating online, it’s important to look into taxes and insurance, ensuring you have everything you need to get set up.

Online Fitness Coach Business Plan

Developing a detailed and coherent business plan is also key to success in the long term. Highlight which services you plan to offer (or products, such as eBooks, courses, or even apparel), your pricing structure, your marketing strategy, and financial projections.

Choose a Business Model

To grow a successful online fitness coach program, you need to work out how your business is going to make a profit. Decide whether you plan to:

  • Charge clients per session
  • Offer subscription packages
  • Offer tiered membership levels

You may even choose to offer more than one. For example, you may charge clients per session but also offer subscription packages where they can save money, enticing them to commit long-term.

A person using Instagram on their cellphone.

4. Build an Online Presence

Create a Professional Website

You need a professional-looking website that highlights your services, testimonials, credentials, and contact information. You can also include links to social media, a blog, and your own personal story to help potential clients get to know you. This will help to build trust and convince clients to choose you over your competitors.

Develop Active Social Media Profiles

Create a social media presence that showcases you as a person. With social media, you’re not just looking to advertise your business; you should also be building a brand, especially if you’re working with clients one-on-one. Focus on building a thriving Instagram or Twitter community, as this will help you form connections with potential clients.

Content Strategy

Plan your content in advance. Schedule regular posts, blog posts and articles, videos, promotional offers, and more. This will help you optimize your workflow, adjust your content strategy going forward, and free up your time. With everything scheduled and ready to go, you can focus on providing the best service possible for your clients.

5. Create Engaging Content and Effective Workout Programs

To be a successful online fitness coach, you need to be able to entice potential clients with engaging content and programs. Any information you share with your audience should be easy to understand, accurate, and up-to-date. 

Here are a few examples you could try:

  • Video workouts – Film, edit, and upload videos that provide tips for workouts, quick exercises, or even nutrition advice.
  • Written guides and eBooks – Downloadable resources (such as nutrition guides, workout calendars and fitness and sleep trackers) are a great way to provide value and showcase what your audience can expect from your programs.
  • Online courses – From yoga and meditation to strength training, you can offer a plethora of online courses that will give your audience the flexibility to achieve their goals.
  • Personalized workout programs – Offer to meet clients through video chat and provide tailored plans that meet their needs.

6. Market Your Services

It’s not enough to have created a range of expert services. You need to learn how to market them properly. Here’s how:

  • SEO strategies – Implement effective SEO on your website or blog to help enhance your visibility on search engines.
  • Email marketing – This is an active group of people you can send newsletters, fitness tips, testimonials, and special offers to.
  • Partnerships and brand deals – Collaborate with other people in your niche, such as bloggers, influencers, or even local businesses.
  • Targeted ads – Social media such as Facebook and Instagram offer paid ads as a way to get more eyes on your brand and services.

7. Establish an Online Community for Your Clients

According to a Forrester report, 60% of businesses own a branded online community, and with 30% of their revenue being influenced by online communities, it’s not hard to see why.

This becomes even more important when offering fitness or self-improvement services, as a community will help your clients stay motivated and feel like they’re part of something bigger.

Community Building Platforms

A range of free community platforms, such as Facebook Groups and Discord, are available for you to build your own community. However, if you’re serious about building a successful online fitness coaching business, paid, professional platforms are the way to go.

Platforms such as Teach.io provide the perfect space for this type of community, as they are built specifically for group coaching. You can use their course builder to create courses and their event manager to schedule meetings. You can also schedule live events and message clients one-on-one within the app. Try Teach’s 14-day free trial today to get started.

Engagement Activities

Keep your community engaged with community-building activities, such as icebreaker activities, Q&As, games, live sessions, and group discussions. This will help bring your community together and create a lively space.

Feedback and Support

Create a space within your community where clients and community members can share feedback and thoughts, ask for advice, and provide support to each other. This use of this community flywheel framework will create a welcoming environment built to motivate each other and inspire retention. 

8. Maintain Client Relationships and Manage Your Online Business

Setting up is only part of becoming an online fitness coach. Once your clients have started to pour in, it’s important to nurture client relationships. This will improve retention rates, make clients feel valued, and inspire positive testimonials and reviews. Here’s how:

  • Use online fitness coach software – Apps like Trainerize and TrueCoach can help you manage clients and maintain communication. Alternatively, choose an app like Teach, and you can do this all in one place without the need to app-switch.
  • Check-in regularly – Scheduling weekly or fortnightly client check-ins will allow you to discuss progress, adjust workouts if necessary, and keep them motivated.
  • Referral programs – This is a great way to grow your client base through word of mouth. Offer discounts and special offers for those who refer their friends and family.

9. Evaluate and Adapt

Optimizing your fitness coaching business will help you achieve success quickly and easily. Here are a few tips to try:

  • Track your performance – Review how effective your marketing strategies or business models are. 
  • Monitor client satisfaction – Provide a way for clients to give feedback on what they love and what they’d like you to improve.
  • Research the market – Monitor your competitors to see how they’re navigating the market and what changes they might be making. Implement ideas you believe will work for your business.

Adapt your business strategies based on the feedback you receive directly from clients or the data you get back from tracking your performance. If one strategy isn’t working, shelve it and try something new. If something is working, consider how to optimize it. This will help you improve your fitness coaching brand over time, creating a business you and your clients can be proud of.


With such a vast and saturated market, becoming an online fitness coach might be daunting. However, with the steps we’ve outlined above, you can take this dream and turn it into a reality. Just like the clients you want to attract, you have to be motivated, dedicated, and willing to adapt.
Community platforms such as Teach.io can help you create a thriving online coaching business. Start their 14-day free trial.

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