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How to Make Money Training Fitness Clients Online

By Sean Greeley

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I know it’s tough out there. It’s been a crazy and scary time for EVERYONE in the fitness industry. Lockdowns. Shelters in place. Fitness studios (and other businesses) shut down by government mandate.

The challenges everyone has had to navigate are enormous.

Of course it’s normal to be feeling scared and uncertain with how to navigate these challenges and the negative impact they can have on your business and career.

And it’s all too easy to get caught up in all the negativity instead of looking for the opportunities to step up and serve.

But one thing is clear from the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on all of our lives: Those who adapt quickly and effectively WILL succeed. 

Over the last few weeks, my team and I have taken more than 4,000 fitness business owners through the process of adapting their fitness businesses to succeed in the new world.

Here’s the 3-step plan you can follow to start making money training clients online, even during COVID-19:

  1. Get your head right to capitalize on the tremendous growth opportunities in front of you!
  2. Learn the systems and tools needed to deliver coaching services online.
  3. Learn how to continue to sign up new clients (even during COVID-19).

Let’s take the steps one at a time:

Step 1: Get your head right to capitalize on the tremendous growth opportunities in front of you!

This has been a wake up call for personal trainers and fitness studio owners.

If your business model relies 100% on seeing clients face-to-face, then you’re at tremendous risk: Gym closures, relocations (either you or clients moving out of town), and anytime you can’t physically be present with a client… means you can lose 100% of your income.

But challenges will breed innovation if we are willing to evolve and adapt.

By offering remote coaching services, you remove tremendous barriers and limitations on the traditional personal training business model. NOW is the time to strengthen your business model so it’s better prepared for anything that could go wrong, anytime.

By evolving to offer remote coaching and services, you can be anywhere, and your clients can be anywhere (including stuck in isolation!).

You want to live at the beach or travel around the world? You can. 

Good clients move out of state for work? You can now retain them. 

Clients traveling for work or family holidays? You can still coach them and keep them on track with their fitness goals.

Popular session times full? No more. You’ve now significantly increased your work capacity. No longer are you limited to just trading time for dollars!

So the big challenge here is to get your head out of negativity (do NOT binge watch the news) … instead, check your mindset.

Mindset is NOT fluff. Top performers spend tremendous energy making sure they are living from an empowered stance and addressing what needs addressing, and finding opportunities.  The chart shows the Growth Mindset you want (and the Fixed Mindset to avoid).

Step 2: Learn the systems and tools needed to deliver coaching services online

Too many coaches (incorrectly) think they can’t deliver value online to training clients.

They have “head trash” around competing with free workouts on Instagram and YouTube.

They forget what COACHING vs. WATCHING videos is all about.

Trust in the VALUE you deliver to clients. Understand client needs and focus on better serving them in a virtual environment. Remove barriers to receiving value.

Next, turn that value into an operational plan. The faster you’re able to respond or take quick action when required to pivot to virtual services, the better your business will seamlessly transition.

Design the right way to support and best lead your existing clients to their goals (and outcomes). This will depend on your model (group, semi-private, private training) and client avatar (clients that need lots of hand holding and value group engagement vs clients that just want programming).

After your programming, including in our plan:

  1. Design. How can you best support and best lead your existing clients to their goals?  This will depend on your model (group, semi-private, private training) and client avatar (clients that need hand holding vs clients that just want programming).
  2. Technology: We recommend Zoom for hosting sessions. It offers two-way feedback with video with plenty of other tools. You can record, mute, chat, link to documents, and share screens for nutrition, assessment, and accountability.
  3. Programming Management: Some effective ones are Trainerize, TrainerMetrics, ProTrainer, TrueCoach, and Wodify.
  4. Trainer Session Setup: Trainers should prepare their coaching area. It should be quiet, well-lit, no distractions or interruptions, and with plenty of space. Send programming in advance to clients. Bring positive energy and make it fun!
  5. Client Session Setup: Clients should also know to set up their sessions safely and effectively. For example, they should also be in a quiet, well-lit space (and at least 4-5 steps back from the camera, if using a phone in landscape mode).
  6. Session management: Get a routine to make everyone comfortable with the technology and virtual format. Explain how the session will run. Take attendance. Demonstrate the exercise or share a recorded video. Give cues based on the program. Provide technique reminders and coach. And give people normal breaks.

Finish these sessions with 3 powerful questions:

  • How was the intensity of the workout for you today?
  • How can we continue to improve the remote coaching experience for you? (Don’t stop until you are consistently delivering WOW!
  • Would you please take 2 min and send me a brief message saying what you most enjoyed about the remote session and why you’d recommend others engage this as well?

Key takeaways: Know what VALUE components are worth the most in helping clients solve their problems and achieving their goals. Then remove the barriers that are in the way of them receiving value in an online environment.

Step 3: Learn how to continue to sign up new clients (even during COVID-19)

Stay positive, get rid of head trash, and focus your mindset on growth.

Capitalize on opportunities in front of you. Deliver VALUE to clients (online or offline) by understanding their needs.

Focus on learning how to inspire prospective clients to commit to their goals. Then just be clear about who you’re looking for and how you can help them solve their problems and achieve their goals.

1. Define your ideal client: What are the:

  • Demographics-age, gender, other defining characteristics (stay-at-home moms, working moms, executives, business owners, seniors).
  • Geographics– where do they live or work? For offline, that’s probably within 7 miles. For online, you won’t target every country, continent, or language … focus on connecting with prospective clients within your sphere of influence.
  • Psychographics– what are their desires? Problems? How do they feel about the problems?

2. Craft a clear message. Use this template to speak directly to your ideal client avatar: “I help .”


  • “I help moms regain control of their bodies and build strength from the inside out.”
  • “I help men and women improve their nutrition and fitness so they can lead their best lives.”
  • “I help busy professionals get fit in 20 minutes, twice a week, guaranteed.

3. Master your sales system. We teach a 7½ step sales system called AUTO-CLOSER® that consistently inspires clients to commit to their health and fitness goals (and your programs). You want to:

½: Pre-qualify prospects.

  1. Build rapport.
  2. Probe for the real problem.
  3. Identify needs.
  4. Build the problem (show its effects on their life).
  5. Present the solution.
  6. Close the sale.
  7. Handle any objections.

4. Use simple lead-generation strategies. We like to keep it simple. It’s like fishing.

  • What fish are you trying to attract? That’s your client.
  • What bait are you using? That’s your offer (free trial, free consult, paid short-term programs, 12-week challenge).
  • What fishing rod and tackle are you using? That’s your strategy …
  • What pond are you fishing in? That’s your lead source.
    Note: Don’t overcomplicate things–try one or two strategies and stick with them.

Keep it simple. Go for easy wins for marketing.

Run engagement campaigns to most recently engaged clients.

Use reactivation campaigns for inactive clients.

Create a Referral/Bring-a-Friend campaigns with current clients who are LOVING your new programs.

And get ready for organic–you’re going to get more new business by word of mouth, just by the fact there is demand and everyone else is closed.

Key takeaway: Don’t overcomplicate things–try one or two strategies and stick with them.

Let’s review…

There has NEVER been a better time to get started offering fitness services online. Get excited (and get to work!) to capitalize on the tremendous opportunities in front of you right now.

Delivering VALUE to clients (online or offline) is all about understanding their needs and removing barriers to receiving value. Learning how to coach clients online will make you a better coach.

To find new clients, focus on learning how to inspire and lead commitment to goals. Be clear about who you’re looking for and how you can help them solve their problems and achieve their goals. Look for easy wins for marketing–and keep it simple.

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