7 Deadly Sins To Avoid When Becoming An Online Personal Trainer

online personal trainer article artwork

11 minute read

Written by Dan Harvey, Co-founder & Chief Revenue Officer 


Ready to become an online fitness trainer?


It’s exciting, right? The thought of taking your business online. You can earn passive income, scale your business, and work on your own schedule.

Anything worth doing in business, however, comes with some risks. Having worked with hundreds of fitpros now, we’ve seen fitness experts commit the same sins over and over again. So, to make your journey online as easy as possible we’ve cataloged the 7 Deadly Sins to avoid when becoming an online personal trainer.

This will help you skip right past the usual mistakes and traps and get your online fitness business up-and-running in no time.

Sin 1: Too Broad

When starting their online business, so many people enter the wrong market. They go too broad and try to make their product appeal to everyone. It makes sense, doesn’t it?
You want to sell to as many people as possible. This is what taking your business online is all about, right?

Not quite.

This is a killer sin because if you try to appeal to everyone…

You’ll appeal to no one!

You can do everything perfectly, work really hard, provide great customer service, build amazing products and commercials, but if you make this one mistake, you won’t make any money at the end of it all.

If you’re in the wrong market, all that hard work means nothing. You’ll do everything right and wonder why your business isn’t growing.

If your dream customer doesn’t feel like you are speaking directly to them, to their core desires and problems, they will not listen to what you have to say.

A couple years ago I joined a yoga class called “Yoga For Men”. I asked the instructor why he cut his target market in half, especially when yoga is more popular with women.

He said that after he started offering classes for men, he went from barely being able to fill one class a week, to having four fully booked classes. He even had to introduce a waiting list, as the classes started filling up weeks in advance.

By limiting his POTENTIAL customers, he increased his PAYING customers.

Why is that?

There were dozens of generic yoga classes in town, but only a handful of men-only classes. He went from competing with dozens of yoga studios, to essentially having no competition.

A picture of a man doing yoga

Solution: Niche Down

 When you create your online brand you need to find a niche within your market that has little competition. If you do that you’ll be the one of the only people in the world who can solve your customers’ problem.

I’ve helped hundreds of fitpros go online, and I can’t tell you how many initially want to target broad audiences like “young men” or “middle-aged women”.

I always tell them the same thing, that’s a good start, but we can’t stop there. We need to define multiple customer identifiers and narrow our target audience much further.

For example, successful brands I’ve worked with have targeted “New Mums” or “Retired Male Athletes”.

These kinds of specific target audiences reduce your direct competition and make marketing much more effective.

The most powerful niche is the niche that you are in yourself. Who’s better suited to help fitness clients than a trainer who used to be in the same position, right?

So to start, ask yourself what attracted you to fitness in the first place? What transformation did you go through? What specifically were you trying to achieve, and are there others that are looking to achieve the same thing? Start there, and work outwards.

Sin 2: No Defined Goals

Everyone wants to be successful. That’s the easy part, right? How we get there is the tricky part. If you only have a vague idea of what success means to you, it can be difficult to know what the next step is en-route to your goals.

You can picture yourself in a nice house with a fast car, but that dream gives you no actionable insights you can use when the journey becomes less clear.

There are inevitable speed bumps in life and business, and if our goals aren’t clear and concrete, they can derail us from reaching our dreams.

What’s the best way to overcome this?

Solution: Visualize Your Future

Visualizing your success isn’t just picturing yourself on a beach sipping a cocktail! You need to imagine what your fitness business will look like in a month, a year, and in 5-years time.

You need to critically analyze what success means to you. Is it training people one-on-one all day? Is it having an online brand that pays you while you sleep? Is it a mixture of both, with time to spare for your family?

Really sit down and reflect on what you want from your business.

Make a to-do-list, write down milestones and goals, create a vision board. These are great ways to keep yourself focused and motivated. This will be crucial to come back to throughout the process, especially when the business journey gets tough.

How many clients do you want? What kind of client would be enjoyable to work with? How much money will you be making? Where will you be living? Will you have employees? How many?

The answer to each of these questions will define the actions you need to be taking throughout the process. When your attention starts getting divided in multiple directions, these will help you choose where to focus. What to prioritise.

If you don’t answer these questions, you are leaving the success of your business up to chance, and you may not be happy with where that takes you.

Sin 3: Not Building A Movement

If you build it they will come!

Well, maybe…

It’s not enough to make a great fitness product and hope people will buy it. Lots of fitpros fall into this trap. They build an amazing program and product, but they fail to build a passionate community to support it. If people don’t believe in the solution you’re providing they won’t buy from you.

It’s better to have 100 fans than 100,000 followers. Creating a movement of real fans, who love your brand, share your posts, and buy every product you release, is far more powerful than a large social media following of passive subscribers who won’t buy.

As business guru Pat Flynn wrote in his book Superfans

“When you focus on creating superfans, as a byproduct you’ll get more traffic, more followers, more views and more subscribers. You’ll build a stronger, more targeted tribe who will go out of their way to support you and what you do. They’ll be more engaged, more excited, and more likely to take action. And they’ll be more likely to buy from you too!”

So, how does an online personal trainer build a community instead of followers?

A group of people doing exercise

Solution: You Create A Brand Identity

A brand identity is a common bond between customers that brings them closer to your brand. They adopt an identity, rather than just your product. Finimizers, Beliebers, Amazonians & PassionFighters are all examples of brand identities.

You want people to buy into your brand identity. It breeds loyalty and turns people who buy your product into ambassadors for it.

You can kickstart your brand identity by creating a motto that resonates with your customer. Push the motto through your marketing channels and watch as your users become part of your brand.

One of the influencers I have worked a lot with starts her program with a pledge. Her online clients fill in this sheet, assume the identity, and promise to live the values. It’s crazy just how effective this has been at getting her clients to commit to her program.

An example of how you can give your customers a persona

When clients commit to the program in this way, they’ll see results. When they see results, they’ll love your brand. When they love your brand, they’ll buy product after product. It’s that simple!

Sin 4: A Weak Offer

No matter what you’re selling: whether it’s online programs or gym equipment, you need to make sure what you’re offering is exciting and provides value.

It’s difficult to sell a product to someone when they don’t believe they’re getting good value for money. On the other hand, if someone believes they’re getting a bargain they’ll be dying to sign up.

So, how do you make an offer your customer can’t refuse?

Solution: You Build A Mouth-Watering Offer

When someone hears your offer they’ll do one of two things. They’ll either give you their money, or they’ll give up on the opportunity to buy your offer. Your job is to make it more painful for someone to walk away from your offer than to buy it.

You do that by creating a value stack. This is where you add bonus material to your core offer to make the value of your product greater than your asking price. When people can see they’re getting a great deal it’s difficult for them to walk away from it.

Think of every objection or hesitation that your dream client could have, and write them out, then address each one as a bonus or a feature.

Then, when you reveal the final price, which is significantly less than the total value of your stack, your clients will be desperate to buy what you are offering.

Sin 5: Building A Product Before Selling

This sin is a head scratcher!

Surely you have to build your product before you sell it. How can you sell something you haven’t released? You can’t ask people to purchase something before its finished can you?

Well, look at it this way.

You could spend years developing a product. You could pour hours into perfecting your idea of the perfect fitness program. Only to find out…

No one wants it. There’s no interest in your product. You’ve wasted years building something that has no market demand. I’ve seen fitpros do this time and time again.

Your product needs to solve a burning problem that your potential clients have. If you don’t intimately know that problem, how can you sell the solution?

So, how can you avoid wasting years developing a product no one wants?

An image of a phone and keyboard

Solution: Success is Backwards, Sell First!

Sell your fitness program to a small focus group of users before building it. Use these people to conduct market research. Find out what they want from your program and build it to their specifications. Feedback from these users will help you build a product your ideal customer will be desperate to buy, when you expand it out to the wider market.

Let people know that not only will they get a discount for being an early-bird user, they will also be able to have their specific problems fixed and put into the program to help others.

Work closely with these early users, and they will be incredibly grateful and thankful for you, and will be your best clients. Take their feedback and create something bigger and better to sell to everyone else.

Sin 6: Not following Up With Leads


If you’ve never done it before: sales can be tough! You don’t want to bother people and you’re afraid of rejection. It’s a scary prospect: getting on a video call and asking someone for their money.

However, without this part of business, nothing else would be possible. It can be easy to call someone once, get an answerphone message, tell yourself you tried, then never call them again.

An approach like this won’t get your business very far. So how do you overcome this challenge?

Solution: Persistence Is Key

There’s no easy fix for this sin. You’ve got to be persistent. If you call a lead once and they don’t answer, put a note in your diary to try them again. Send multiple emails to people you want to talk to. You’ll be surprised by how many people miss the first email you send. Make sure you schedule follow up calls with leads you’re talking to and set up calendar reminders for them to hold them accountable to your meetings.

You may feel like you’re bothering people but most people don’t mind. Just think about the number of emails you get a day. Everyone gets sent sales emails. Your job is to stand out from the crowd and meaningfully connect with your leads.

Experienced salespeople know that it can take up to 7 interactions with a lead to make a sale. Most new business owners reach out to potential clients, and then maybe follow up later. That is one or two interactions. If you can add value with each interaction you have with a potential clients, you’ll find closing them much easier.

Sin 7: Not Charging Your Worth

Increasing the hourly rate for your services can be difficult. People feel guilty when they up their prices. This leads to fitpros undervaluing their own time and charging less than they’re worth.

If you don’t believe your own time is worth money then it can be challenging to get others to pay for it.

So how do you break this cycle of negative thought?

Solution: Know Your True Value

Whatever you’re charging your clients at the moment: you could add $100 to that. Know that your time is finite and precious. Look at the skills and knowledge you possess and ask yourself if you’re giving yourself good value for money.

All of my clients initially have this problem, but after they start using my system to make sales, they’re shocked to see that they can close 100% of new clients. Obviously this is super exciting for them, but I always tell them the same thing. If you’re closing all of your leads, you’re not charging enough. It’s much better to charge double and close 80% of leads.
If you understand the burning desire that your ideal client has, and you know how to help them get there, think how much they would be willing to pay to achieve that dream.

If someone has been overweight or injured for years, they have tried everything they can to overcome it but failed time after time, how much do you think they would pay for you to finally help them overcome it?

How much would YOU be willing to pay to achieve a lifelong dream?

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