How to Become an Online Personal Trainer

online personal trainer

If you’ve landed on this article, it's safe to assume that you want to know more about how to become an online personal trainer in Ireland.

Whether you’re already a qualified PT or you’re yet to complete your personal training qualifications, this article is the ultimate guide, explaining exactly how to start your own online personal training business in 3 simple stages:

Before we get stuck in, quickly download our FREE prospectus for information on OriGym’s extensive range of health and fitness qualifications.


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Stage 1: Lay The Foundations for Your Online Business

Before you can really get started with your online personal training business, there are a couple of basic steps that you need to take in order to lay the ‘foundations’ of your business.

Below is a short checklist of the things that you need to do before you can even think about starting an online personal training business. 

#1 Get Qualified as a Personal Trainer

If you want to become an online personal trainer, it is imperative that you have the right qualifications. 

You absolutely must have completed a Level Three Gym Instructing qualification and a Level 4 Personal Training course, both of which must be regulated by an Ofqual approved awarding body.

Why? Because without these qualifications, you will not have the necessary knowledge or expertise to coach clients. 

Plus, you will struggle to get insured as a personal trainer as any reputable insurance provider will require you to prove that you are at least Level 4 qualified in order to qualify for a policy. 

There are plenty of opportunities in the world of health and fitness, but it's still a pretty competitive industry. With so many qualified fitness professionals out there, who is going to take advice from  an unqualified online personal trainer? 

What’s more, who is going to trust them or pay for their services? Unqualified trainers are dangerous, and should be avoided at all costs.

If you want to succeed in this industry, you need to ensure that you are qualified to offer personal training services. Your qualifications should accurately reflect your abilities, the services that you offer, and to some extent, how much you charge your clients.

Choosing the right personal training course is a whole different subject, and something that we discuss in a lot more detail in our comprehensive guide to becoming a personal trainer

The key points to remember are to make sure your training provider is accredited by REPs (Register of Exercise Professionals), recognised by CIMSPA, and regulated by a national governing body, such as Focus Awards.

For example, all of OriGym’s personal training courses are dual-accredited by REPS and CIMSPA, and regulated by Ofqual, too.

Ensuring that your personal training qualifications meet at least these 3 criteria is key in order to make sure you don’t fall short later in your career. If you have any doubts, don’t hesitate to contact course providers directly and ask about their courses and accreditations.

#2 How to Start an Online Personal Training Business: Gain Relevant Experience 

Once you are fully qualified with your level 3 & 4 certificates, you should have no problem securing a fitness instructor or personal trainer role in a gym.

Whilst working for somebody else in a gym might be the last thing you want to do, gaining relevant work experience will be really beneficial when it comes to starting your online business.

If you’re committed to being successful in your career, then trust us, getting practical experience as a PT is the best way to create a good reputation, build a solid client base, and come into your own as a personal trainer. There really is no better way to develop your skills than to put them into practice!

If you’re already working as a personal trainer in a gym, great! However, if you’re recently qualified, we recommend that you get at least 6 months experience running face-to-face sessions before you even think about becoming an online personal trainer.

Taking this time to experience what it's like to train people in person will give you the opportunity to discover your strengths and weaknesses, develop your knowledge of creating and implementing effective training programmes, figure out the client demographic that you enjoy working with, and determine your USP.

Each of the points above enable you to identify your skill set and get a better idea of the best niche for your business - but more on that later.

#3 Research Your Earning Potential

Let’s be honest, although you got into this industry because of your passion for health and fitness and your desire to help others achieve their fitness goals, we all have one eye on the pay cheque at the end of the month.

So, what is the average online personal trainer salary?

The thing is, as you may well know, a personal trainer’s salary can seriously vary depending on their success, location, qualifications, and more.

Surprise, surprise – online personal training is no different!

Now, we can’t cover all of the ins and outs of personal trainer salaries within this article as there is enough content to cover a full blog post on just that one topic!

What we can do is cover some of the main pros and cons of online personal training and how they can impact your earnings:

How Can Online Personal Training Benefit Your Salary?

No Gym Fees or Rent 

One way that becoming an online personal trainer can benefit your income is by removing any fees associated with renting a space in a gym. Starting your own online personal training business essentially removes the middle man (the gym), allowing a direct relationship between yourself and your clients. 

You Can Take On More Clients 

Another way that you can make more money by becoming an online personal trainer, is by taking on more clients. Having less contact time with clients and not having to personally deliver every session frees up a lot of your time, allowing you to increase your client list significantly.

Plus, because you can offer training plans and sessions remotely, rather than in person, your potential clients are no longer limited by your postcode! Instead, pretty much anybody with access to the internet has the potential to become a client. 

Unlimited Room for Expansion

One additional way in which your bank account will benefit from you researching how to become an online personal trainer, is through the endless opportunities for career progression that are available to online PTs.

Whilst there plenty of types of professional development for all personal trainers, becoming an online personal trainer offers a lot more freedom, allowing time to pursue further qualifications, for example, a Level 5 Diabetes Control & Weight Management course.

And because the pool of potential clients is so much greater for online personal trainers, there is no need to worry that there isn’t enough local demand for that specific service.

Can Online Personal Training Negatively Impact Salary?

Online Personal Training is Competitive

Although online personal trainers do have access to a lot more clients than PTs who only run face-to-face sessions, with that increase in clients comes increased competition. For that reason, it can be hard to really make it as an online personal trainer without an effective marketing strategy and a unique selling point (USP) that really makes your business stand out.

Starting an Online Personal Training Business isn’t Easy 

Far too many personal trainers think that if they become an online personal trainer, they will have a less-intense or less time consuming career. Pair that with an increase in salary, what’s not to love?

Whilst this is the case to a certain extent, running an online business is by no means an easy job. A lot of people actually question, ‘what does an online personal trainer do?’. Whilst it’s true that you will spend less time training clients in the gym, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll have tons more free time. 

Instead, you will spend more of your time on marketing strategies, and communicating with clients over email or via online platforms. With more clients comes the need to create more training plans, meaning that online personal training is still a pretty demanding career.  

Client Retention is Difficult

Compared to face-to-face interactions, fostering personal connections through online platforms can be really difficult. As a result of this, client retention can be tougher for online PTs, which can make their income pretty unpredictable.

It's much harder to form a genuine relationship with online clients, which means that loyalty almost completely goes out of the window. 


#4 How to Start a Personal Training Business Online: Set up a Website Domain

The final stage of laying the foundations for your online business, is to set up a website with your desired domain name.

We know that we said you should focus on getting qualified and gaining some experience in a gym first, but having a website (or at least a landing page) set up is a great place to start creating an online presence and grow your client list. 

Setting up a webpage doesn’t automatically mean you’re committing yourself to become a fully-fledged online personal trainer. For the time being, you could use it as a way to advertise your face-to-face programmes, share success stories, and offer a contact form for potential clients in your area to enquire about your services.

Setting up your own domain name is easy, too. All you have to do is select a name for your brand, head to a site like GoDaddy, purchase the domain, and you’re good to go.

Once you do start your online personal training business, it's important your business name and domain name are the same. So, choosing the right domain name is something that you give a lot of thought, rather than randomly selecting the first one available. 

Often the best course of action is your name or initials, followed by “personal training” or “PT”, but feel free to be a little more experimental as long as your name suits your business/brand. 

In their book, Strategic Brand Management, Richard Rosenbaum-Elliot, Larry Percy, and Simon Pervan explain:

“Consumers recognize a need or opportunity for a product when they perceive an important gap between their current state and their ideal or desired state. Opportunity recognition occurs when life changes or when advertising prompts an upward change in expectations.”

A great point from experts on marketing and brand management, there couldn't be a better way of explaining how important it is to construct a proper brand identity.

This is why it's so important that your branding and business name show that you're an online personal trainer - the less time it takes for your prospective clients to realise what you can provide them with, the more successful you'll be when it comes to advertising and converting leads!

Once you've decided on a business name and purchased your domain, it's time to build your website (if you don't already have one). This part is a little more difficult, so it might be a good idea to outsource this task to a freelancer or professional web developer.

A simple site with a contact form and optimised images of your client’s success stories won’t be much trouble for a good designer, and won’t cost you too much money. This investment can make all the difference in the long-term and will really transform your website, plus it will pay for itself once you bring in a couple of clients.

If you did want to try designing your own page, you could try a tool like Elementor, which runs through WordPress and makes the design process more intuitive, without the need for a knowledge of coding.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to commit to a full website at this stage but want to ensure that you have an online presence beyond social media, you could set up a landing page instead. 

A landing page is essentially a single webpage, where you can give an overview of your work and your clients’ success, and potential clients can enter enquiries and contact details. Landing pages are much easier to design thanks to sites such as Leadpages, and they can easily be linked to or advertised via platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Stage 2: How to Start An Online Personal Training Business

Once your qualifications are in the bag and you’ve got some experience working as a PT, the next stage in the process of starting an online personal training business is to prepare and implement your business strategy. 

This stage is really exciting because it’s the point at which you start to piece together all of your knowledge and experience.

All the way through the foundation stage of your career, you have been gathering pieces of a wider puzzle, getting to know the kind of clients you like working with, figuring out any specific areas of the industry that you particularly enjoy, and acquiring experience in general.

This stage is the point at which you organise everything you already have into a framework, allowing you to get a more accurate idea of the kind of online business that you want to start.

Just below, we’re going to explain how you can build on the above foundations to start your business and become a successful online personal trainer - let’s get stuck in!

#5 Discover Your Potential Clients

First things first, you need to decide who your potential online clients will be.

You may be thinking that you already know what kind of clients you want to train based on your experience in a gym, but there are two points to consider here:

a. Online Clients, despite having a lot of the same goals, are a completely different audience to clients in a gym setting. 

There’s a reason a person might look for an online personal trainer, over hiring a personal trainer in a gym setting. In your preliminary research, you need to find out about the kind of people looking for online personal trainers, and how best to advertise your services to this demographic.

Carrying out preliminary research prior to starting a new business is essential. Read all about how and why you should carry out preliminary market research as part of writing your personal trainer business plan.

b. The second difference between in-person and online clients, is that recruiting clients online will require you to tear up everything that you know about marketing.

You can no longer advertise your online business using posters in your local gym, share a bit of content on social media, and rely on gym members - at least not if you want to acquire clients on scale! 

Instead, you need to focus a lot more on your online presence, especially your website! You can even utilise the spaces in which your online clients are looking for a trainer to learn more about your potential clients. Those research spaces include: 

  • Online forums and discussion boards
  • Fitness blogs like and NerdFitness
  • Facebook groups
  • YouTube channels
  • Reviews for other online PT business’ 
  • Google keyword planner (to see popular search terms)

With the information that you acquire from this research, you need to start building a picture of what the target audience of your online personal training business might look like.

Think about their demographics, such as their age, gender, and level of affluence. You should also consider what kind of exercise goals your clients will have, and whether you want to target a specialised population.

#6 How to Start an Online Personal Training Business: Find a Niche 

The world of online health and fitness is really broad, with tons of areas of specialisation, and a whole range of potential clients from all walks of life. 

There’s absolutely no way you can cater for everybody, and that’s just something that you need to accept before you look any further into how to become an online PT. Instead, the key to success in this industry is to pick a speciality and get really good at it.

For example, if you want to know how to be an online personal trainer that offers meal plans and diet advice, this should be your core focus. You should research others online businesses that offer these services and think about studying an advanced nutrition course to improve your knowledge of the core principles of nutrition. 

If you want to steer clear of nutrition and focus on a specific demographic, such as strength-training, you should tailor your marketing strategy to target these clients specifically, perhaps even getting qualified as a strength and conditioning coach to really establish yourself as an expert in this area. 

The goal of this stage is to really condense your knowledge and your skillset into a niche that you can really capitalise on.

#7 Prepare Your Content, Products, & Services

For your website (and as a result, your business) to be successful, you need to provide a valuable, unique product that provides your clients with something that they can't get from your competitors.

Carrying out competitor research is essential, so check out their websites and services, look out for what they do well, and have a think about what you could do better. 

When it comes to building an online platform it's true that a good website is an absolute must, and unless you have a generous friend or family member who happens to be a web developer, you’re going to have to spend some money at this early stage.

But a clear website, with calls to action, client success stories, social media links, details of your offered services, and enquiry forms – at the very least – are going to help you stand out.

Once you’ve decided on your niche and the kind of clients that you want to target, you also need to start thinking about content, the services that you will advertise, and your pricing structure.

After establishing your niche, creating content shouldn’t be too much of a difficult process. Say you’ve decided to become an online personal trainer for people wanting to build muscle, your next step will be to create content for this demographic. That could include a few foundational muscle-building programmes for people of different ages or abilities. 

You’ll also need to create a pricing strategy to pair with each of your programmes. 

The hardest part of creating this type of content for your online personal training business is optimising the content for an online audience and deciding how you want to deliver your services. 

Some popular forms of online personal training include:

  • Nutrition plans
  • Strength & conditioning programmes
  • Cardio
  • Programmes
  • Interactive online coaching
  • E-books
  • Membership access to premium content 

#8 Choose Software and Payment Services

This next part might sound scary, but it’s really nothing to worry about. Besides, if you’ve come this far, you’ve done all the hard preparation. This bit is just the practical side of running a business.

We’ll start with choosing software.

Deciding on a software is not something that we can offer you, personally, much specific advice on. While that may not sound particularly helpful, our coyness is for good reason.

Different online personal trainers with different skills, clients, and targeted audiences, are going to need different software packages. The best thing you can do is research what it is that you need – whether that’s a database of clients and payments, or an interactive interface for programmes and diet plans. Once you have found a couple of different softwares that suit your requirements, utilise free trials and test them out.

Two of the most popular personal training software packages are PT Distinction and Total Coaching, and it is true that these pieces of software are fairly comprehensive in the range of tasks that they cover. But again, don’t worry if neither of these work for you.

While your software should provide you with the general systems and framework that you need to run your business, you might still need to find a way to take secure payments.There are many payment services operating in Ireland and abroad, but keep in mind that new customers want to see something they know and trust when they visit your website.

Nobody is going to willingly hand over their bank details to a service that they don’t trust, and so choosing the wrong payment service could actually lose you customers.

We recommend opting for either PayPal or GoCardless. These are both international businesses, and although you will have to pay a small licence fee, choosing either of these companies will make your business look more trustworthy. 

#9 Plan Your Marketing Strategy

At this stage, you should have:

  • Level 3 & 4 personal trainer qualifications
  • Experience in a gym
  • A niche for your business
  • Content to offer clients
  • A website in progress
  • Chose a software & payment service

The next step? It’s time to take the plunge and go live!

Having a well-designed website is one thing, but getting your website in front of potential clients is a whole different story. 

There’s no use having an aesthetically pleasing and functional site if nobody is going to see it. To ensure that people do find your website, here are our top tips for marketing your new website:

PPC Ads – Facebook and Google 

It is perhaps the worst protected secret in marketing that Facebook Ads and Google Ads should be your first port of call when you want people to see your website and product.

There’s no secret formula here, either…

If you target the right keywords, budget correctly, and research your audience in detail, these avenues can massively boost the number of potential clients visiting your site.

There are also some great resources for learning how to write effective Facebook and Google Ads. To start, we suggest taking some courses using Facebook Blueprint and Google Garage. 

Social Media Channels 

Chances are, you’re already sharing posts on Facebook and Instagram for your gym training business. These platforms are a brilliant way to maximise the reach of your marketing efforts and to make your brand more visible, but how can you get the most out of these platforms?

One of the best but lesser known ways of marketing yourself on social media is to engage in active fitness communities, such as Facebook groups. 

By regularly engaging in such communities, and slowly making it known that you are an expert with a product to sell (all the time avoiding aggressive sales tactics), you can recruit some loyal clients and improve the visibility of your business. 

SEO Optimisation 

There’s no doubt that the best way to increase traffic and views on your website is by targeting Google searchers, and the only way to rank high in Google, is to work on SEO optimisation.

There are a number of ways to optimise your website for SEO purposes, but in truth you might have to hire a freelancer (or ask your web developer to do it for you), in order to see results.

In short, SEO is all about getting people to click on your site, and getting them to interact with your content once they are there. As such you need to write in an engaging manner, and have plenty of calls to action (such as enquiry forms and email boxes) on your webpages.

For an excellent beginner’s guide to SEO, check out this article on Moz.

Content Marketing

Now that you’ve got people coming to your website, you need to have something to keep them there, and to keep them coming back.

Content is therefore absolutely essential when it comes to generating new client leads, and to maintain a loyal customer base.

The kind of content marketing you create should really depend on your individual strengths. If you are a good public speaker, try YouTube content or start a podcast. If you’re a good writer, it’s a lot simpler. Simply set up a blog on your site and use it to funnel traffic to your sales pages.


Become An Online Personal Trainer With OriGym's Bespoke Courses

Enrol today to start your journey into the fitness industry

Stage 3: How to Expand Your Online Personal Training Business

By now, you should have an idea of how to start an online personal training business. You should have a clear target market in mind, a niche, pre-prepared content programmes, a clear marketing strategy, and plans in place to run your business and take payments.

Once you have put the time and effort into successfully implementing a full business strategy, you will soon start to see the rewards of your efforts. But what’s next?

If you’re keen to really make something out of your online business and you want to reach the higher end of the online personal trainer salary, then you’ll definitely want to stick around for this final stage.

These final few steps will take you through all the best ways to grow your online business to and sustain a consistent level of success and growth.

#10 Execute Your Marketing Strategy

What you absolutely must remember is that marketing isn’t something that you can do at the start of your business set-up and forget about, you need to be consistent. 

There’s a reason seasoned personal trainers will look at their computers with a certain amount of disdain. That reason? Because they spend a lot of their time there. 

In fact, as an online personal trainer, the majority of your time will be spent at your desk working on your laptop.

There are, however, a few things you can do here to soften the workload for yourself.

The most obvious answer to this is to hire a freelancer from a site like People per Hour. You could hire a marketing executive to cover the technical side like ads and SEO work, leaving you with more time to do creative tasks.

This would allow you to take care of the more personal side of marketing, social media posting, first-hand engagement with clients, and creating content that reflects your brand and persona.

Hiring a freelancer shouldn’t be viewed as a cop-out, either. In fact, delegating tasks allows you to spend more time engaging with your prospective and current clients, which in itself is a method of lead generation.

If you don’t want to outsource these tasks, the next best thing is to make a clear and detailed plan. A good marketing plan removes all of the guesswork, allowing you to make informed and effective decisions when trying to acquire new clients.

#11 How to Become an Online Personal Trainer: Develop Your Brand

Just like your business and website, your brand is something that you need to take care of and nurture in order for your online personal trainer business to grow.

It’s so easy to notice someone who has let their brand stagnate by not updating their website and social media with new and engaging content, or somebody who doesn't effectively communicate their niche through their brand image. 

Think back to all of the times you’ve stumbled across a website with outdated content, did you ever make an action, whether that be an enquiry or purchase, on that site? We’re going to assume that your answer is a resounding no.

To avoid this, you should make a conscious effort to ensure that you consistently share valuable and interesting content both on your website and via social media. Here are two great ways to approach that….

1. Cornerstone content (leading to email marketing)

Cornerstone content acts as the core of your website, and includes any content that you want to rank at the top of search engine results pages in order to bring relevant, targeted traffic to your website. For an online personal trainer, this could include anything from fitness-related blog posts, video tutorials, free exercise guides, or anything else that you believe would provide value to your target demographic. 

Whilst this content may not be directly related to your business, it will benefit you through increased website traffic, which can make your website stronger, and in turn, improve your ranking for sales-related search terms.

For example, if you write a comprehensive guide to home workouts and it gets tons of social shares and ranks really when on Google, this will massively increase your brand visibility and attract people who are genuinely interested in fitness to your website. 

2. Recruit high-profile clients (influencers!) 

Whilst cornerstone content will do wonders for your website, recruiting high-profile clients (essentially, influencer marketing) will benefit your social media reach and help to keep your content fresh, engaging, and looking authentic.

By giving a high-profile influencer access to your content for ‘free’, and asking them to share their experience and post about your online personal training business, you can ‘organically’ reach a huge pool of people outside your own social media following.

Provided that you choose an influencer with a following that matches your target client, this strategy is used to see you receive plenty of enquiries. 

Getting enquiries is one thing, but turning those leads into actual clients is what really matters. 

#12 How to Do Online Personal Training: Make Time for Online Clients

One of the most common mistakes personal trainers make in the process of becoming an online personal trainer, is setting up a successful online personal training business, only to continue spending long hours in the gym and expecting the business to take care of itself.

It is understandable, afterall, having built up a reputation in a gym setting, it can be difficult to let that reputation go in order to make room for online clients.

However, this is something you must do.

If you're serious about becoming an online personal trainer, getting it right with your early clients is really important. Be sure to allocate enough time to provide personalised advice, and go out of your way to ensure that their experience of your services is the best that it possibly can be.

Remember, behind those email addresses and avatar profiles, there are real people. You need to treat them as such, ensuring that each of your new online clients receives the same kind of treatment than your gym clients.

If you need to reduce your gym hours in order to do this, that is a decision that you need to be prepared to make. 

#13 Personal Development

The fitness industry is fast moving and unpredictable. Who could have predicted, for example, that all gyms would close and the amount of people searching for home workouts, buying dumbbells, and enquires with online PTs would skyrocket so significantly in 2020!

As a lot of fitness professionals have learned over the last year especially, being able to adapt, keep up with trends, and stay ahead of the competition is the key to success in this industry.

If you want to stay on top of your game you need to invest in your personal development, continuously updating your knowledge of fitness and personal training through further qualifications, Continuous Professional Development (CPD) courses, and attending events such as fitness conventions

Luckily, there are tons of CPD courses available to fitness professionals, such as:

Not only will these courses help you to improve your knowledge of fitness and personal training, but they can also be used to help you to establish yourself as an expert for your chosen niche. For example, completing a boxing & padwork CPD would be a great idea if you wanted to target amateur boxing clients.  

Remember, as your online personal training business grows, your clients will look to your services for a wider range of advice. CPD courses and further qualifications can benefit you in this sense, too, by allowing you to expand the services that you offer and ultimately, grow your business. 

For example, if you find that your clients want more nutritional support, it would be a good idea to study an advanced nutrition for sports course and become a qualified nutrition coach

Before You Go…

And there we have it, our complete guide explaining how to become an online personal trainer!

What are you waiting for? If you aren’t already qualified, enquire about a REPs endorsed Personal Training Diploma now

If you’re already qualified, why not look into studying an advanced qualification such as Level 5 obesity and weight management course or a Level 5 lower back pain management qualification

For more information on the range of courses that you can study with us here at OriGym, click here to download a free course prospectus


Become An Online Personal Trainer With OriGym's Bespoke Courses

Enrol today to start your journey into the fitness industry


  1. Simon Kingsnorth (2019). Digital Marketing Strategy: An Integrated Approach to Online Marketing'. 2nd ed. Great Britain: Kogan Page Limited . p8-9.
  2. Richard Rosenbaum-Elliot, Larry Percy, and Simon Pervan (2015). Strategic Brand Management . 3rd ed. Oxford, United Kingdom : Oxford University Press . p8.

Written by Chloe Twist

Fitness Professional & Blogger

Chloe is a nerd turned fitness addict with a passion for blogging, gaming, and playing guitar. She can be found in her room either swinging kettlebells or binging on Netflix.