Free PDF: Proven blueprint for a profitable online business that replaces your 9-5

How to Become a Successful Online Fitness Coach (8 Steps)

On this page

In today’s post, I’m going to show you exactly how to become an online fitness coach. 

Want to learn how to start a business that offers you freedom and flexibility while you get to help people improve their health and lives?

Then, read on! 

What is fitness coaching? 

As a fitness coach, you’ll help each of your clients reach their long-term health and fitness goals through meaningful lifestyle changes and workout programs. 

For example, you could coach clients in:

  • Weight loss
  • Nutrition
  • Bodybuilding
  • Corrective exercises
  • Exercise recovery
  • Getting healthy ahead of pregnancy
  • Online training for a triathlon or marathon

But what is the real impact of online fitness coaches? 

Here are just some of the benefits of working with a coach:

  • 99% of people who work with a coach are satisfied with the experience
  • Health coaching has been associated with significant weight loss among overweight and obese adults – in one study, participants lost 7.24% of their initial weight in one year and 6.77% after two years
  • Working with a fitness coach can improve quality of life and reduce hospital admissions for those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Health coaching has been found to help reduce depressive symptoms, stress levels, and physical, social, and emotional functioning

But…does online fitness coaching work just as well as in-person coaching? Yes! For example, The American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine has found that online services are just as effective as those offered face-to-face.

Get the Ultimate Guide

for building a
6-Figure Coaching Business so you can achieve more freedom!

At the same time, the fitness industry keeps growing. The online training business and wellness industry is expected to show a projected market volume of $25.22 billion by 2028

Now, if you’re ready to become an online fitness coach, keep reading! Here’s how to start online personal training. 

Can anyone become an online fitness coach? 

One of the most common questions I hear from people interested in coaching is whether they need a certification to get started.

So, can you be an online personal trainer without certification? 

In most cases, you don’t need one. 

Coaching is a mostly unregulated industry, which means that oftentimes, you don’t need to get a certification to be a coach.

At the end of the day, you just need to be able to prove you have experience and can get your clients the results they’re after.

That’s why I’m not a huge fan of certifications – I always tell my clients to forgo getting one unless they’re in a niche that requires it.

However, note that some health coaching and related niches do require a certification. For example, many states require registered nutritionists, nurse health coaches, and athletic trainers to obtain licenses or fulfill other educational requirements. 

Look at what’s required for the services you provide. But typically an online personal training certification isn’t needed. 

If you decide you do want to get an online fitness coach certification, take some time to find the program that’s tailored to you and your coaching goals.

I recommend finding courses that are ICF or NCCA-accredited. ICF is the closest thing to a governing body that coaching has, and NCCA is the gold standard of health and wellness.

Here are a few to consider.

Note: I haven’t taken these courses myself but I recommend them based on good reviews and excellent reputations. Research the courses you’re interested in to see if they are right for you before enrolling.

American Council on Exercise

NCCA accredited: Yes

The ACE has several fitness certifications available for online fitness professionals, including Health Coach, Personal Trainer, and Group Fitness Instructor. Each program is done online and includes step-by-step guidance in the form of interactive activities, quizzes, demonstrations, and more. 

Most students can finish in three to six months, but it is self-paced. 

Cost: $850 to $1,495.

National Academy of Sports Medicine

NCCA accredited: Yes

The National Academy of Sports Medicine has exactly the certification an online fitness coach needs: virtual coaching specialization. 

In this course, you’ll learn the skills and strategies needed to launch and operate a successful online personal training business, as well as marketing strategies, how to run a digital business, and more. Each section involves infographics, videos, and handouts.

A fitness or wellness credential and/or a bachelor’s degree is recommended but not required.

This online program is done at your own pace, but some students finish them as quickly as four to six weeks.

Cost: $998 for the course, $798 for the Online Fitness Business Bundle.

American Sport and Fitness Association

NCCA accredited: No

As I said, certifications can get expensive fast. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, ASFA might be your best bet.

There are dozens of certifications to choose from, such as Senior Coach, Personal Trainer, and Group Fitness, but we’re going to focus on the Health and Wellness certification. This self-paced online course will teach you the basics of wellness coach training, arm you with the ability to design a health coaching plan for various clients, and more.

You’ll also learn about things like self-care, lifestyle management, and fitness goal coaching.

Cost: $399 to $1,199, but you only pay if you pass the exam.

We’ve covered the basics of fitness coaching, so let’s talk about the exact steps you need to take to become one.

How do you become a virtual fitness coach? 8 steps

Reaching your goal of being an online fitness trainer is well within reach, and I’ll walk you through how to do it step-by-step.

1. Decide on your niche

Before you can build the rest of your online fitness coaching business model, you need to figure out precisely what you offer.

It’s not enough to say you’re a fitness coach – you need to get specific. Too many personal trainers don’t niche down, which means they don’t speak to anyone

Do you teach strength training to older clients? Help busy parents come up with nutritious meals for their children? Teach others how to lose that last ten pounds and keep it off? 

Whatever you choose, make sure it’s a profitable niche. Do some research into what your ideal customer is looking for.

Not sure where to start when coming up with your niche? I’ve created a list of 100+ profitable niches for you here.

I talk more about finding your niche here:

2. Conduct market research 

The second step you’ll need to take is conduct market research.

Essentially, it’s really just an easy way to get a better idea of who your potential clients are, what they’re working toward, and what challenges they’re facing.

So, what are you looking to get out of this kind of research?

Ideally, by the end, you’ll have a better understanding of what: 

  • Your clients are willing to pay
  • Kind of service they’re looking for
  • They do and don’t like about what’s already available

Then, get a few on the phone with a few for an interview to hear in their own words what their journey has been like.

You could interview people you already know or find ideal clients in online groups.

Learn more about conducting market research in this article.

3. Create your offer and set a price

Next, you’ll need to plan exactly what you’ll offer.

I always encourage my students to create an offer that lasts long enough to get results but not so long it scares new clients off.

That’s why a three-month commitment is the perfect amount of time. 

Within those three months, you should offer one or two monthly calls and another way to get in touch with you for any questions your clients might have. Social media, WhatsApp, and email are all good ways to do that.

Once you’ve figured out your offer, it’s time to price it.

Here’s more on how to create your offer:

Figuring out how to set your pricing is always tricky at first.

After all, a new coach needs to find a price that isn’t too low or too high – you don’t want to undervalue your services, but you don’t want to overcharge, either.

$1,500 is a great price point for a three-month package. 

If you think that’s too low, remember that your prices won’t stay the same throughout your career. Instead, consider it a jumping-off point that will allow you to get a few paying clients.

Check out this article if you want to learn more about creating a fitness coaching package and setting your price.

4. Market your fitness coaching services

So now that you’ve got your niche, offer, and package, it’s time to find a client.

But how do you market online fitness coaching?

I always recommend that my clients tap into their own network of family and friends first to see if anyone is interested in their services. If they’re not, ask them to refer you to anyone that might be!

Social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok are also great places to find potential clients. These are very visual platforms, so they’re great for fitness coaches – people love seeing a before and after.

Or use any of the client acquisition strategies I list in this article.

5. Hold powerful coaching sessions 

The truth is, you can’t just go into a coaching session and hope for the best.

Instead, you should set a goal for each coaching call that supports the client’s overall goal.

For example, if they want to lose 10 pounds, one session might focus on the actual meal plan while another focuses on limiting beliefs. 

You can break down the months like this:

  • Month #1: Adopting a weight loss plan 
  • Month #2: Building up their habits and overcoming their mindset blocks 
  • Month #3: Bring it all together with a healthy diet and exercise routine that supports weight loss

Having goals and subgoals that give each session a purpose is what’s going to create a lasting impact. And the focus of your program is on the results, which is what your clients ultimately care about. 

6. Get testimonials and referrals 

Beyond your pricing and offer, testimonials are one of the most effective ways to land more clients quickly. 


Because an amazing testimonial – proof that what you’re offering works – builds trust among your potential clients.

And people want to buy from businesses that they trust.

But remember, you should wait until you’ve worked with a few clients to start asking for testimonials. 

There are two things to remember when asking for testimonials…

First, wait until you’ve earned your client a win or come to the end of your time together.

Second, make it easy for them to give you the testimonial.

Get the Ultimate Guide

for building a
6-Figure Coaching Business so you can achieve more freedom!

I like to ask for testimonials by sending clients a list of questions and telling them that I’ll put their answers into a paragraph or case study form for their approval.

If you’re not sure what to ask, I’d start with questions like these:

  • What was it like working with me? Are you happy and satisfied?”
  • What kind of results have you seen? Can you be specific?”
  • If you knew someone was thinking about hiring me, would you recommend they do so?”

Check out my guide to asking for and getting the kind of powerful testimonials that will help your business grow.

7. Grow with group coaching

Group coaching is the first step to scaling your business.

What do I mean by group coaching?

I mean coaching a group of people with similar interests and goals. They all take part in the same coaching calls and participate in an online group where they can meet between sessions.

There’s no one-size-fits-all for group coaching. I’ve worked with groups made up of 300 or 400 people, but I’ve also worked in more intimate settings with just 20 or 25 or even just a few people. 

It all depends on what you’re offering.

The best part about group coaching is that you can start early in your coaching career. 

I think it’s best to wait until you’ve landed three or more one-on-one clients, as that experience will help you better anticipate any obstacles your clients might face or questions they need to ask you. 

Of course, pricing is a bit different than your one-on-one package, but just as straightforward. For new coaches, $1,500 is a good price range, but with more experience, you can charge up to $5,000.

Learn more about how to start your group coaching program in this guide.

8. Scale your online fitness coaching business with online courses 

Once you’ve maxed out both your private and group coaching, you might be wondering what to do next.

Online courses.

The truth is, you’ll help far more people with self-study courses than one-on-one or group coaching because they’re more accessible. 

Not to mention, online fitness courses are a great way to generate passive income. 

Plus, you can build on them to make a little bit more money by offering add-ons like group training, fitness classes, online training programs, recipe books, or even sponsorships.

To help you get started, I’ve created a guide to creating and selling your own online course.

Now that we’ve covered the steps you need to take to become an online fitness coach, let’s talk about how much you’ll make.

How much can you charge as an online fitness coach? 

You might be wondering what you can expect your online fitness coach salary to be.

The truth is, it really depends on you and what you charge your clients.

There are a few things that will help you figure out a profitable pricing strategy:

  • Market rates
  • Your expertise and background
  • The value of your services

With those in mind, you’ll need to figure out your pricing structure. Are you going to charge per session, per month, or offer specific packages?

I always suggest working with packages, especially when you’re just starting out. They’ll allow you to make a good income while still gaining experience.

Plus, charging per hour or month means you’ll focus on the time you’re spending with your clients instead of the results you’re helping them get. 

Whatever you do, don’t overthink your online fitness coach prices. For right now, focus on getting clients and helping them see results. Then, with testimonials in hand, you can increase your rates.

Learn more in this video: 

Next steps

Well, there you have it! Now you know what it takes to become an online fitness coach. 

With your help, your clients will reach their fitness goals and change their lives. At the same time, you can create a life of freedom and fulfillment for yourself. 

So, if you’re ready to take the first step to becoming a successful online personal trainer, download my blueprint for building a coaching business right now. 

In it, you’ll learn the exact steps to take without having to hustle every minute of every day.

Want to Build a 6-Figure Coaching Business So You Can Achieve More Freedom?

Get Instant Access To My FREE Ultimate Guide Below!

When you sign up, you’ll also receive regular updates on building a successful online business.

Read more: 

The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Weight Loss Coach 

How to Become a Nutrition Coach 

How to Become a Wellness Coach

About Luisa Zhou

Luisa Zhou has helped thousands of students build and scale their own profitable online Freedom Business. Fun Fact: She used to work as an engineer for the Space Station and holds a B.S.E. from Princeton. Click here to learn more about Luisa.

Hope you enjoy this blog post.

Want to know how to build a profitable, meaningful business to replace your 9-5?

The proven blueprint for building your own online business - that frees you from the 9-to-5

When you sign up, you’ll also receive regular updates on building a successful online business.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This website uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies