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How to Start an Online Fitness Business in 9 Steps

Jenny20Weller
Jenny Weller
12 March 21
12 min read
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There is a huge opportunity in the fitness industry to expand into digital and online fitness. The coronavirus pandemic has catapulted digital fitness into mainstream view. In the last few years, online fitness has been growing steadily in popularity. The closures of gyms and fitness studios mean that many people are finding new ways to stay fit through digital services. 

Competition is always high in the fitness industry but with online services, you have the potential to reach a massive audience that is no longer dependent on location. As an entrepreneur, you can delve into several businesses from an online personal trainer to a virtual yoga teacher. In this article, we discuss how to start an online fitness business so that you can help more people, and ultimately generate revenue. 

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Online Fitness Trends in 2021 

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many parts of our lives online, including fitness. Now, there is a huge opportunity for fitness professionals to launch an online business. During the first wave of lockdown, many business owners quickly pivoted to a digital way of working so that they could continue to provide services to their customers and members. In the early days of COVID-19, these online services consisted of Facebook streaming and quickly-established digital platforms. 

Fast forward a year, online fitness businesses in 2021 are polished and streamlined. The digital fitness space is competitive and the brands that are proving to be successful have put a ton of thought into the online experience. It’s about creating a digital experience that is just as good as your in-person class. Whether you’re offering personal training sessions online or running an online group health coaching program, the experience is everything. 

As we continue into 2021, online fitness trends will continue to grow and evolve. With bigger virtual fitness challenges, better online classes and flexible fitness, digital fitness is here to stay. As online fitness continues to get smarter, there will be apps, plans, and online fitness programs that deliver just as good if not better results than your favorite spin class. 

Lockdowns have emphasized the need to be around people and really show how isolation can have damaging effects on both physical and mental health. For a lot of people that are missing group fitness classes, AI and virtual reality are offering a way to join classes on a global scale. As technology continues to evolve, you can transform your living room into a HIIT class and join from around the world. 

3 Online Fitness Business Ideas 

The global online fitness market is expected to reach $59 million by 2027. This includes everything from streaming, fitness devices, and online training. COVID-19 has led to the rapid adoption of virtual fitness in the home. What’s more, is online fitness is seen as a flexible and effective way to work out and achieve results. Here are three online fitness business ideas to take advantage of. 

Online Personal Training Business 

With a big shift towards home fitness and online training, virtual personal training is a fast-growing sector in the fitness industry. Online coaching businesses are booming. With great qualifications and a unique USP, you can start training both solo and groups from around the world. By utilizing technology, you have the potential to expand your reach further than you ever could with an in-person fitness business. 

Fitness Training Courses and Workshops 

Another way to leverage the popularity of online fitness is through fitness training courses and wellness workshops. These would be courses that are pre-made into an online program. The benefit of this is that a limitless number of people can access pre-recorded content at the same time. You also have the option to live stream alongside courses and workshops as well as deliver additional resources like tutorials, webinars, recipe cards, a healthy eating shopping list, and even one-on-one advice and training. 

Virtual Yoga Teacher and Fitness Instructor 

If you’re a fitness instructor or yoga teacher, you can lead virtual classes all over the world. Members can join you for live streams or access pre-recorded content on-demand through a digital fitness streaming platform and app. You may want to approach virtual teaching as a hybrid business where you deliver a combination of both digital and in-person classes. This way, you attract different audiences and can make the most out of every opportunity. 

3 Key Elements of Building an Online Fitness Business 

When building an online fitness business, there are certain factors that come into play to create a compelling offer that attracts customers and gets results. Here are three key parts of an online fitness business to consider when building your digital empire. 

Marketing Strategy 

Your marketing strategy is how you will make people aware of your online offering. Attracting, engaging, and building your online community will raise brand awareness so that you can start bringing on new clients. From organic social media to content marketing and paid ads, there are several ways you can use digital marketing techniques to build an effective strategy for an online business. 

Sales 

You need to think about how you will convert your target audience into paying clients. How will you take strangers along the sales journey so that they make a financial investment and commit to your business? With online personal training clients, in particular, often you’re looking for high-paying clients who not only see the value in your services but who are a great fit for you. You need to generate leads through your marketing and then implement a sales system where you can convert customers. 

Service Delivery 

Finally, a major component of an online fitness business is service delivery. How will you train clients online? Not only do you want to create a fantastic digital experience, but you want to streamline the process so that it doesn’t take up too much of your time. It should be easy for members to access your resources, make payments, join a live stream, and communicate with you. You will need both hardware and software to deliver your services. So, for virtual training, you will need a camera and sound equipment. But you will also need to set up your online training space and choose the best software that works for you and your business. 

The Fitness Founders podcast has a great episode on how to make your virtual platform a success. Will Brereton, the co-founder of Ministry of Fit, talks about how you can make an incredible online offering and the five steps you need to take to bring your brand to life online. 

How to Start an Online Fitness Business in 9 Steps

To start an online fitness business, you need to find the right combination of technology, marketing, and experience. Most importantly, you need to make sure you have the ability to drive results for your clients and streamline your business to make the most out of your time. 

1. Find Your Niche 

The first step in creating an online fitness business is to find your niche. There are several segments within the fitness industry, all with their own submarkets. By finding your niche, it helps you to determine what makes you unique and special. When choosing your niche, it’s not just about personal qualifications, but your experience and your personality. Although getting the right qualifications is a key part of starting an online fitness business, it’s not the only thing you need to think about. 

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While it’s easy to think choosing a niche may narrow down your list of potential new customers. Those who do fit your niche will see you as the obvious and only choice. So, they will be willing to pay for your solution because it has value and solves their problems. 

2. Define Your Concept 

After finding your niche, it’s time to define your concept further. You can start to delve into different business models and determine your offering and pricing. You have the option to choose group programs, one-on-one training, pre-recorded video content, streaming, fitness coaching, and more. As you create your online business, defining your business model and offering should help you to figure out your unique selling point (USP). 

Think about what makes your business unique, what you want to do, and how you’re going to achieve that. As you solidify your concept, you will validate your idea with market research, develop your services, and really flesh out your brand. 

3. Determine Your Ideal Client 

During the early stages of your business planning, you need to do a ton of market research so that you can figure out who your ideal client is. You may have multiple target audience personas or have a more narrow target market. Either way, determine who your ideal client is so that you can craft the most effective marketing and sales strategy. 

When you know who your dream client is, you can start to find out their hopes, dreams, fears, and challenges. The more you know about your target audience, the more you can create an irresistible offer that solves a problem in your customer’s life. When you have an offer that is too good to say no to, you’re on the right path for success. 

4. Write a Business Plan

With any business, digital or in-person, you need a thorough business plan. The more detail and research in your business plan, the better the foundation for a successful business. Your business plan is the guide for so many decisions down the line and will also help you to gather funding if needed. 

Your plan for your online business should include the following:

  • Goals and objectives
  • Market analysis 
  • Value proposition 
  • Marketing and sales
  • Operations and staffing 
  • Financial projections 
  • Potential risks and challenges 

5. Craft Your Marketing Strategy 

Off the back of writing your business plan and determining who your ideal client is, you can start to craft your marketing strategy. By developing your online fitness business brand, you can begin to create your marketing messaging and communication tactics. When you understand your target audience, you can create a more effective marketing strategy. 

Your audience and market research are at the core of your marketing plan. Once you nail this down you can think about social media marketing, paid ads, writing blogs, building your website, and generating real leads that will be a good fit for your business. 

6. Solidify Your Sales System 

Once you’re marketing your business effectively, you can think about how you move those people through the sales funnel. What steps do you take to go from introducing your brand for the first time to paying for a virtual yoga class or HIIT session? You need to create a sales process that guides potential customers to add to cart or schedule a virtual personal training session. 

Your sales system depends on the type of online business you’re running. If you’re selling a high-priced program to fewer people, you will use a slightly different technique to a digital fitness business targeting a much larger audience. It’s important that you find a method that works for you and your ideal customer. 

7. Decide on Service Delivery 

The way you deliver your service could make or break your business. You can do all the research and planning in the world. But, if your technology lets you down and delivers an inferior experience, you will end up with poor reviews and a diminishing customer base. Think about what technology you can use to deliver your fitness training programs. How will your customers access your program and resources?

On top of the way you deliver your services, it’s useful to consider how you will communicate with customers to keep them motivated. All of these factors combine to determine how you will get your customer’s results. You may want to use a combination of apps, member portals, and video streaming to deliver your services. In addition, you may need a video chat platform to run one-on-one sessions. 

8. Online Client Management 

Online client management is a key part of running an online business. You need to keep track of your clients, your diary, process payments, manage memberships, and more. If you are running group and solo programs, you can set class reminders for members to join. 

Client management software or personal training software is a no-brainer when it comes to running an online fitness business. When you streamline the tasks you need to perform on a daily basis, you can regain a ton of time and focus on the things that will generate revenue.  

9. Build Relationships and Community 

Building relationships and nurturing a thriving online community is a major part of developing a welcoming and inclusive online brand. Community is a big factor when it comes to a purchasing decision, especially in fitness. 

Often, when you start a new fitness regime, it can feel a little lonely and make it harder to accomplish your fitness goals. By focusing on building genuine relationships and creating a community that supports one another, you can help people feel more connected. 

In Summary 

Building an online fitness business presents a huge opportunity to take a piece of the big fitness pie. Digital fitness and virtual training have skyrocketed in popularity. More and more people are looking to find ways to improve their fitness or overcome weight loss obstacles in a flexible yet effective way. Online fitness has a huge role to play in overall health in the coming years. By finding your niche, you can start to build your offering and showcase your value so that you can convert your target audience into paying clients. 

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