Online training is a fantastic tool for both fitness professionals and clients. Online training allows fitness professional to boost their revenue, free up their schedule, and impact more people in less time. Clients benefit as well because they can have access to a personal trainer when they otherwise normally wouldn’t due to either time or financial constraints. There are so many benefits to online training, but with any business, there will be challenges you face as well. The challenges are unique because of the virtual environment that you interact with your clients and potential clients in.
1. Rapport Building
Building rapport with your clients is the most important part of personal training. If your clients don’t enjoy working with you and trust you, then they’ll most likely lose interest and quit their program. So how do you build rapport when you aren’t face to face? It’s definitely trickier than with your in-person clientele. Start rapport building from the beginning with a very structured, professional plan to prove to them that you take their goals seriously. Schedule check in’s that include goal setting, explaining programming details so they understand the why to their program, and any feedback they have about what’s working in their program and what isn’t. To step it up even more, be sure that anything you send your clients is customized to your brand.
2. Managing Client Compliance
It’s easy to know if your clients are sticking to their program or not when you are training them in person because they actually show up and do the work in front of you. You can tell if they do their homework because you can see the changes right in front of you. This is obviously not the case with online training. How do you really know if they do their workouts, or if they give enough effort? One tip is to give clear instructions in every workout. Consider setting heart rate targets during cardio sessions and explain the RPE (ratings of perceived exertion) scale so they can continue to push themselves when you aren’t with them. You can also consider setting up a reward system if they finish their sessions or add in a few extra cardio sessions on their own. Everyone loves being able to check it off when they’ve completed their session and being congratulated for doing so.
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3. Progressing Clients Appropriately
If you are an in-person personal trainer, you probably watch your clients to ensure they are sticking to good form and to see how each exercise you prescribe for them is going. You can see their form start to waiver or their leg start to shake if an exercise is challenging. When you aren’t standing there in front of your client watching them workout, you can’t tell what is challenging to them and what needs progression, which is why progressing clients as an online trainer can be difficult. Be sure to constantly ask for feedback. How they are feeling (if they are not sleeping well, are they training too hard)? What exercises feel easy/too difficult? Any aches and pains? Where do they feel they are improving? You can also schedule fitness tests and flexibility/mobility assessments to gather data that is more objective than client feedback.
4. Business Growth
How do you get clients engaged and interested in your online training business when you can’t sell them what sets you apart in person? You can consider offering free consultations, virtual talks (something that will draw potential clients in, like “five simple changes you can make today to finally lose the last five pounds”), and free bootcamps or meet ups clients have a chance to get to know you before committing. Additionally, having a strong social media presence and offering useful information will help build trust before a person even becomes your client.
It’s a great thing when fitness and health is more widely accessible to the general public, and thanks to online training it now is. It also allows trainers to have a greater impact on more people, while also freeing up their schedule. However, you aren’t with these clients through the tough parts of a workout, or in the weeks that they are busy or unmotivated. The key is motivation and support, and with that these challenges of being a online trainer suddenly aren’t so daunting.