Do you want to start an online fitness coaching business? If YES, here’s a complete guide to starting an online fitness coaching business with NO money and no experience. Online fitness coaches are trainers that work online with clients to help them develop custom exercise and nutrition plans.
The benefit that comes with offering your services online as compared to offline is that while offline trainers often have to accompany their clients during their workouts thereby limiting how many clients they can attend to; an online fitness coach can achieve more as they can attend to a larger number of clients in the same time span thereby allowing them to scale the company to a size that cannot be attained by an offline trainer.
In order to run your online fitness coaching business successfully, it is important that you complete an accredited fitness certification program by either attending a University to get a degree or attending one of the numerous trade schools that are in existence.
There are also independent organizations such as the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) that offer necessary skills for those looking to take this kind of business seriously. While a huge number of your clients may not ask for your certification, it is to your advantage to acquire it.
Just like any other business, it is important that you conduct a thorough research about the business before venturing into it because while it is easy to project how successful you will become due to your unique ideas, it becomes more easily attained if you have conducted a thorough research and know what you are likely going to face and how you can make it to become a success.
You can study people who are in the same business with you so that it can guide you on how to run your business, and you should know that no matter how successful an online fitness coach might be, there is always a weakness that can be exploited.
One thing that you should have in mind when looking to start your online fitness coaching business is that you should create content that will be beneficial to your audience. This does not however mean that you cannot seek mentorship with those that have made it in the industry as they can give tips and hints that will be helpful to your business.
However, ensure that the person is willing to share; you can meet as many people as possible and then use the suggestions given for the benefit of your own business. Write down what you intend to achieve with the business because this is what will help to keep you focused and guide whatever programs you might draw up as well as who your target audience should be.
19 Steps to Starting an Online Fitness Coaching Business
Table of Content
- 2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- 3. Decide What Niche to Concentrate On
- 4. Know the Major Competitors in the Industry
- 5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
- 9. Discuss With an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
- 10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
- 11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
- 12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- 13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
- 14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
- 15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
- 16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed With ideas & Strategies
- 17. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
- 18. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
- 19. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
1. Understand the Industry
The fitness industry kicked off after the World War 2 in the 1950s as food became easier to access and employment picked up which made people want to stay fit and lose weight. This resulted to more health gyms opening up and more people buying exercise equipment in order to increase on their strength and endurance.
The fitness and exercise industry is worth $100 billion on a global scale as health clubs, gyms and fitness centers alone generate about $84 billion with the rest of the amount being from sale of athletic and exercise equipment.
It was reported in 2010 that nearly 78 million adults and more than 12 million children in the United States were obese and with the statistics increasing, it is estimated that half of all the adults in the United States (about 115 million) will be obese due to easy access to processed food that have increased sodium and sugar.
This will only bring more growth for the fitness industry as more people look to keep fit or battle their weight issues. More than 54 million Americans paid for gym membership in 2014 and actual visits to the gym in 2015 exceeded 5 billion, which means that the average member visited a gym or their fitness club more than 100 times. Between 2008 and 2014, membership grew by more than 18 percent.
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs within the fitness and exercise industry is bound to increase by more than 23 percent in a decade. This is due to the fact that businesses are offering their employees’ health club memberships as incentives and also baby boomers are being encouraged to exercise regularly in order to become healthier and fight the aging process.
According to the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), there has been a significant increase in the number of fitness centers and gyms in the United States. On a global level, there are more than 180,000 fitness clubs generating more than $84 billion from 145 million members.
The number of personal trainers has also risen in the fitness industry and as at 2011, according to the Labor Department, there were more than 231,000 personal trainers in the United States of America, showing a 44 percent increase for what was obtainable a decade before that. It is expected that the number of personal trainers will increase by more than 31 percent by the year 2021.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of those that require the services of an online fitness coach are those that are looking to lose weight, keep fit for either work or personal reasons, raise their confidence levels, fitness trainers or those that want to become online fitness coaches themselves.
Due to the fact that a large number of people are now conscious of how they look, staying fit is no longer for those perceived to be wealthy as people from all classes can strive to be fit.
3. Decide What Niche to Concentrate On
Even though the goal of an online fitness coach is to ensure that clients are able to achieve their fitness goals, there are many that have started offering niche services that are intended to make them stand out from others in the same industry.
If you intend to offer niche services, ensure that you have conducted a thorough survey on the niches available and the likely target market for it so that you do not end up wasting your time and energy on niches that will not be profitable for you.
Some of the niche ideas within this particular business that one can specialize in are;
- Cardio Fitness
- Custom Programs
- Kickboxing and Martial Arts
- Rodeo Fitness
The Level of Competition in the Industry
While starting an online fitness coaching business is easy, the industry is stiff with competition and so to stand out, you have to ensure that your fitness coaching makes you unique from others.
The fact that more people are able to access the internet means that distance is not regarded as a barrier especially when it comes to the international audience. What most clients are on the lookout for are online fitness coaches that they can easily identify with when it comes to achieving their weight and fitness ambitions.
There are various online fitness coaching businesses in the United States and also scattered all over the cyber space and so if you are looking to start your own online fitness coaching in the United States of America, you should know that you will meet with stiff competition.
4. Know the Major Competitors in the Industry
The internet has allowed a whole lot of businesses to not only crop up but to gain popularity and the fitness industry is not different. Several online fitness coaches have become popular due to how they have remained consistent, their social media followership and their training regimes.
Below is a list of well-known online fitness coaches not only in the United States but also all over the world;
- Max Philisaire
- Michael Morelli
- Sally Matterson
- Ryan Spiteri
- Katie Crewe
Online fitness coaching varies depending on the trainer and what they are looking to help their clients achieve. This has now become a popular form of training because it is very convenient as clients that are always on the go can achieve their training programs in the comfort of wherever they might be; gyms, homes, hotel rooms etc. without needing a personal trainer.
Digitization of online fitness coaching has made it easy for operators in this industry to track their clients’ lifestyle and progress through smart monitors, and wearables have become a perfect extension for those in the online fitness coaching business.
Online fitness training is having a huge impact on traditional personal trainers and gym centers because gyms now have to adapt in order to remain competitive and keep their clients still interested in attending the gyms, and personal trainers will have to adapt their single training schedules to fit groups and those that want a semi-private training session.
Traditional personal training will however still be in existence as this is the best way clients can be motivated and results are easily achieved unlike the online world where the clients are more diversified.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
One decision that an entrepreneur has to make when looking to start their business is whether to start the business from scratch or to buy a franchise. While each option does not guarantee the entrepreneur success, weighing the pros and cons might have an impact on which option will best suit the business.
Online fitness coaching franchises are becoming very popular and entrepreneurs who want to hit the ground running usually purchase a franchise. When looking to purchase a franchise, it is important that you make a thorough research regarding the different franchises available and their costs.
Starting one’s business from scratch usually comes with its own challenges and you must be ready to handle several aspects of the business such as management, marketing, customer service and finance and while this might be overwhelming for a new entrepreneur in a competitive industry, having a business plan will help a lot as this will act as a guiding document for certain decisions that the entrepreneur will be making regarding the business.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
Every business is bound to face threats and challenges and any serious and committed entrepreneur should be prepared for them. Challenges could come from anywhere and while some can be easily handled, not all will be and when this occurs, the best that the entrepreneur can do is remain focused on why the business was established in the first place.
Some of the threats and challenges that you are therefore likely to face when looking to start your online fitness coaching business are; economic downturn that will affect how people spend on discretionary matters, arrival of major competitors, and change in industry trends as regards fitness.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
When looking to start any business, the legal entity you choose will have a lot of impact on your business as it can affect how your business can grow regionally, nationally or even internationally and this is because some legal entities can severely limit the growth of a business, which is why it is imperative that the entrepreneur conducts a thorough research about the business he or she intends to start up so that they do not end up choosing what will not enable them attain their goals and objectives.
Generally as an entrepreneur, you have the option of starting your business as a sole proprietor, in partnership with one or more people or incorporated into a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a Corporation. The guiding attributes for these legal entities for an entrepreneur are; ease of setup, ownership and control, flexibility, liability and taxation structure.
Most online fitness coaches start up as sole proprietors and then once their business has expanded; change the entity in order to be able to accommodate the growing needs of their business.
While it is easy to choose a higher legal entity, it is not so easy to scale down and so this therefore goes to show that each legal entity has its advantages and disadvantages and that you should weigh your options carefully before making any decision for your business.
The sole proprietorship kind of legal entity is often picked because it is easy to form and operate. Also, all the profits generated by the business goes to the entrepreneur easily without any hassles. However, should the business incur any liabilities, the personal assets of the entrepreneur aren’t protected.
Most entrepreneurs starting their business in the United States of America prefer choosing an LLC for several reasons such as future growth of the business and protecting their personal assets from any liability that might be incurred by the business.
In an LLC, the business is seen as being separate from the owners, also taxation is not too stringent as that of a corporation and so entrepreneurs often prefer this as it is also flexible when compared to a corporation.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name from the ideas Below
Once you have decided to start your business, there are certain things that must be in place before you can file for a business license with the constituted authorities and one of them is the name of your business.
When it comes to choosing a name for your business, being creative is very important because the name you choose for your business goes a long way in determining how your business will be perceived by your intended target market, competitors and stakeholders within and outside the industry.
If you are therefore considering starting your online fitness coaching business, here are some names that you can choose from;
- Jimmy’s Fitness Squad
- Welco Fitness
- Quick Tap Fitness
- Endurance Program Inc
- Swing Fitness Club
9. Discuss With an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
Whatever business you are looking to run in the United States of America, it is important that you get insurance coverage as every endeavor comes with risks and acquiring coverage means that you are passing these risks off to someone else.
There are various calamities that could occur to your business – either natural or manmade – and as one who is serious about their business, it is important that you engage the services of an insurance agent or broker to help you in choosing the appropriate insurance policies for your business.
Below are some of the insurance policies that you will need to purchase when looking to start your online fitness coaching business;
- General Liability Insurance
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance
- Hazard Insurance
- Miscellaneous Trainer Coverage
- Personal Injury Liability Insurance
- Errors and Omissions Insurance
- Payment Protection Insurance
- Cyber Liability Insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
The fitness coaching business doesn’t involve new techniques or moves as most moves are usually adapted from existing moves to suit a regime or the client’s preferences and so acquiring intellectual property protection cannot be seen as an ideal move for an entrepreneur looking to start this business.
However, if you have become successful in your craft, then you can choose to protect your business name, logo and any other concept that you feel is worthy of being protected.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
The fitness business might look like an easy enough business to start up with low barriers to entry especially as most fitness coaches online are not professionally certified.
However, the business is risky because your techniques might become harmful to a client and so to be on the safe side, it is best that you acquire professional certification relating to fitness from different accredited fitness organizations in the United States.
While some clients might not care about what professional certification you possess, having one makes you stand out from the rest in the industry and gives your customers the confidence in trusting what techniques and tips that you might give.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
Whatever business you intend starting in the United States of America, you should know that you will require legal documents if you do not want to run into trouble of any sorts with constituted authorities.
If you do not know what documents you might require, it is best that you ask advice from those who are already in the business, or engage the services of a business consultant to help you in getting the necessary documents.
Therefore, the list of legal documents that you will need in order to run your online fitness coaching business includes;
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Operating Agreement for LLCs
- Business License
- Sales Tax Permit
- Business Plan
- Insurance Policy
- Employment Agreement
- Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- Federal Tax Identification Number (TIN)
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Regardless of how fantastic your business idea might be, if you do not have your startup capital ready; then your business idea will never become a reality.
Even though the online fitness coaching business doesn’t require lots of start-up capital, you will still need money to handle the overhead and running expenses that the business will incur till you are able to generate money from the business to start taking care of these expenses.
If you are going to be running a business that will need you to approach investors for funds, then you will need to have a business plan at hand because this is what will show the investor that you are serious about the business which you intend to start up.
Some of the financing options that are available for you when looking to start your online fitness coaching business include;
- Raising startup capital from personal savings and sale of property
- Sourcing for soft loan from family members and friends
- Getting a business partner and splitting the startup capital with them
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
The area where a business is located is important to the growth and success of the business, which is why location is considered as one of the most serious aspects that must be handled properly when looking to start a business.
However, since the online fitness coaching business does not require that the entrepreneur physically meets with the clients as the goal can be achieved over the internet, then the business can be located anywhere.
Running an online business is of two folds, you either run the business entirely from the internet or you run the business with administrative support from a traditional brick and mortar facility.
If the latter is what you are aiming for, then you should carefully look for an appropriate area to lease your facility. You can even engage the services of a real estate agent or broker to help you out in this regard.
However, if you are going to be running the business entirely from the internet, then you wouldn’t need to worry about leasing a facility as you can handle the administrative part of your business from home.
All you will need to worry about is getting a channel on video sharing platforms as well as creating a website that your clients can visit to make further enquiries or pay for any of the packages that you might be offering.
Whether you are going to lease a facility or you are going to be running an online business, what you should strive to achieve for your business is visibility and so it is vital for you to ensure that efforts should be taken to ensure that where your business is located is within the hub of your target market and would not require intense promotion before you can be noticed by your target market.
Whatever you are looking to achieve regarding the location of your business, you should keep these factors in mind; visibility, affordability, and accessibility for your target market and stakeholders.
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
The online fitness business does not require huge capital to start, and an entrepreneur who is passionate about the business can kick start one in no time.
However, the fact that the business requires little capital does not mean that it will succeed on limited capital as money is required to buy certain equipment, run overhead and other expenses that will be needed to ensure that the business achieves its goals and objectives.
Since the business will be run on the internet, more money will need to be spent in ensuring that the internet connection is fast and secure so that uploading or streaming does not become a problem.
Also, money will be needed to promote the website or video channel in order to make it visible to the large number of people that surf the internet on a daily basis. This therefore means that advertisement is very important in ensuring that the business is able to attain its goals and objectives.
Whether you decide to lease a facility to run your business from or to run your business entirely from the internet will depend on the scale of your business. Most online fitness coaching businesses usually combine offline fitness coaching with an online one in order to keep their bottom line healthy.
You can however start your business only from the internet, which means running the business from home or a convenient space and slowly grow it from there.
Regardless of where you intend to run the business, you will require equipment and they can be fairly used or brand new depending on your budget. Some of the equipment that you will need include; dumbbells, exercise mats, resistance bands etc.
If you are looking to run the business on a small scale, then you will need to run the business alone. As the business however starts to expand, you will need to recruit capable and competent individuals to help you run the business and attain your goals and objectives.
Some of those that you need to hire include; Chief Executive Officer (owner), customer service representative, office manager, personal trainer assistants, camera man, production assistants, marketing executives and accountant.
From the above analysis regarding your business structure, you will require at least 9 key individuals to help achieve your aim of running a successful online fitness coaching business.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
The online fitness coaching business is service oriented and involves a fitness trainer using the internet as a medium to train a number of interested individuals looking to attain their weight and fitness goals.
The process involved in the online fitness coaching kind of business starts with planning different fitness regimes depending on various variables that the clients might possess, designing the fitness programs into different packages and then ensuring that the program is duly implemented.
Once the fitness coach has ensured that the audience implements its program, a follow up is usually done for participating clients in order that the clients’ weight and fitness achievements are being duly maintained.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed With ideas & Strategies
Marketing is part and parcel of every business – profit or nonprofit – and it is therefore not what can be ignored regardless of the scale of the business. The main avenue through which a business generates its revenue is through the marketing efforts expended by the business either in attracting new customers or rekindling the interests of already existing customers.
Due to how important marketing is, the strategies used must be well thought out so that the entrepreneur does not end up wasting money and time.
Marketing requires that you put your business out there so that you can penetrate your intended target market and get a fair share of the market for yourself. Also, marketing will afford you the opportunity to compete favorably with your various competitors and stand out from them.
Before you can however create marketing strategies that will be effective, it is essential to craft a marketing plan as this will act as a guide to whatever strategies that you are looking to create.
A marketing plan is more holistic in nature because it takes into account other aspects of your business and ensures that the plan aligns with your overall goals and objectives and not against it.
When creating your marketing strategies, it is essential that you conduct a thorough market survey so that you can identify who your target market is, what their tastes and preferences are and what they are expecting from you and then fashion your strategies accordingly.
One good thing about creating strategies is that you can modify or change them should they no longer be deemed effective.
Below are some of the marketing ideas and strategies that you will require in order to run your online fitness coaching business;
- Take advantage of your social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube in order to market your services
- Ensure that your business is listed in reputable online directories
- Create a website and use this to promote your business. Ensure that the website is created by a professional and deploy Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in order that your website might rank tops in search engines
- Distribute handbills and business cards regarding your business in places where your target market is likely to gather
- Advertise your online fitness coaching business in fitness and other related magazines
- Network with other professionals and attend events in your industry in order to promote your business
17. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win
Whether one likes to admit it or not, having competition keeps entrepreneurs on their toes and enables a business to strive to remain relevant. Therefore as an entrepreneur, you have to be prepared to not only keep your bottom line healthy but also strive to win over your competitors.
First competitive strategies that you can use to win over your competitors include designing different packages in such a way as to attract a variety of customers for your business.
You can also seek to offer services that your competitors aren’t offering like offering nutrition advice to your audience and helping loyal customers plan their meals in order to help them achieve their weight goals.
Always ensure that your audience is carried along during your sessions and encourage them to always contact you should they ever need to do so, this will make your customers feel invaluable and stick to your brand, thereby allowing you to win over your competitors.
18. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
Customers help a business achieve its intended objectives and every brand spends money in order to be able to attract customers to their business. However, no business wants to spend money attracting customers only to lose them and have to repeat the cycle continuously.
Therefore, while attracting customers for a business is necessary, ensuring that a high number of these customers are retained is vital to ensuring that the business is able to achieve its goals and objectives. According to research, companies that created strategies that will enable them increase their customer retention ended up spending less than customers that kept losing customers and having to attract them all the time.
The reason is that companies with a high retention of customers have their customers consciously and unconsciously spreading the word about the business to others. There are several reasons why customers leave a brand for another and one of them is lack of innovativeness.
As an online fitness coach, you will be up against many other online coaches and so you will need to reinvent yourself always so that your audience can always have something new and not become bored. Another reason why customers leave a brand for another is poor customer service relationship as customers want to feel valued by the company whose services they are patronizing.
It is therefore essential that you are prompt in attending to the inquiries of your customers, their feedbacks and also promptly resolving any complaints that they might have.
19. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
Whatever business you are looking to start in the United States of America, you should be ready to promote the business in order that you might be able to attain your goals and objectives.
The benefit that comes with promoting one’s business is that one is able to create awareness for the business and also able to convert the awareness generated into revenue for the business.
This is why all companies take publicity campaigns very seriously and do not mind setting aside a certain amount of money to boost awareness for their brand and create a corporate identity.
The fitness industry is a multi-billion dollar industry especially as there are many instructors online looking to become recognized by their intended target market, so it is crucial that you do not take your publicity campaign lightly.
However to get the right strategies that will help boost awareness for your brand, it is important that you have a plan or milestone that you intend to achieve as this will determine what strategies you will craft. Due to the competitiveness in the industry, you might engage the services of a brand consultant to help create the right strategies that can be used in promoting your brand.
If you are strained of cash, you can decide to create these strategies yourself as the good thing with publicity is that it is not all activities that will require money to be spent before your brand can be promoted.
One good thing with promoting one’s brand these days is that you can use a combination of media to achieve your aim, from offline methods like sponsoring an activity in your community to online methods like promoting your brand through social media platforms.
Below are some of the strategies that you need in order to boost awareness for your brand and create a corporate identity for your business;
- Promote your online fitness coaching business through social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
- Throw routine challenges to your audience and give a prize to winners every month on your social media platform
- Open a blog or website and give out fitness and even nutrition advise and tips to your followers and audience
- Encourage your loyal audience members to help spread the word about your business
- Advertise your online fitness coaching business on popular blogs and forums
- Advertise your online fitness coaching business in fitness magazines
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