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How to Become an Online Personal Trainer

Don't Work Another Day is reader-supported. We may receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own.
  By Forrest McCall | Last Updated:  January 29, 2020

If you have a passion for health and fitness and want to earn some extra money, becoming a personal trainer might be right for you. In this post, we’ll explain how to become a personal trainer, how to get clients, and how to become a successful online personal trainer.

A personal trainer is defined as “an individual certified to have a varying degree of knowledge of general fitness involved in exercise prescription and instruction”. You must be able to motivate clients and help them transform their bodies to achieve their goals.

Becoming a personal trainer can be both extremely challenging and extremely rewarding. Seeing your clients transform their bodies and helping them to live a healthy lifestyle can bring your joy. On the flip side, dealing with unmotivated clients can be a test for your patience and composure. You’ll need to adjust their program accordingly to keep them motivated and working hard.

Perks of Becoming a Personal Trainer

Being a personal trainer comes with many different perks. You’ll have an almost unlimited earning potential, a flexible schedule, and you’ll get to work in a relaxed environment. This is one career path where is it acceptable to wear sweatpants at work! You’ll get to work with clients to arrange your schedule however you’d like, which can be an awesome perk for those who have an additional job or who have other commitments. The perks of becoming a personal trainer can be very rewarding, especially for those who have a passion for health and fitness.

Related: Best Fitness Side Hustles for Personal Trainers

Start Learning Fitness & the Human Body

The first step in becoming a personal trainer starts with understanding the human body. You will need to understand the biomechanics and physiology of the body in order to properly prescribe a training and nutrition regimen for your clients.

There are many different components that makeup fitness and the human body and it starts with anatomy and physiology – the structure of the body and how it functions together. You should learn the major bone and muscle groups so that you can identify each of them if a client has any questions. There are many online resources to help you learn human anatomy and physiology but many certification courses will also have their own resources.

After learning the anatomy of the human body, you’ll need to use that knowledge to learn the biomechanics of the body – or how the body moves. This will help you to understand what movements will trigger specific muscle groups to work, allowing you to properly prescribe a training program based on your client’s needs.

Start Learning Nutrition

You’ve probably heard the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen” and that’s 100% correct. Learning about nutrition will be key to your success as a personal trainer.

You’ll need to learn the basics of metabolism – the chemical reactions that convert food to energy. This will help you to aid clients in determining the right nutrition program for their body and lifestyle.

Beyond metabolism, you’ll need to know the basics of micro and macronutrients and how you can manipulate them in order to help clients achieve their goals. Micronutrients are most commonly known as vitamins and minerals. You’ll need to have a foundation of knowledge about these nutrients in order to explain the common benefits of each.

Macronutrients are more well known to the public, especially with the rise of Keto diets. The three main macronutrients are fat, carbohydrates, and protein. You should be able to describe how each of these is used in your body and the daily amounts you should consume of each to make up a proper diet.

Some trainers will choose to also get certified as a nutritionist, but this is not required to become a successful trainer.

Learn How to Motivate

It’s impossible to be a great personal trainer without being able to motivate your clients. You’ll need to be encouraging while challenging them to push themselves beyond what they thought was possible. Here are some ways to become a better motivator.

Remind Them Where They Started

As time goes on, your clients will gain strength, confidence, and power. Remind them of the first day they came to you. How they looked, how they acted, what they thought they couldn’t do. You could show them pictures of when they started or how much they were able to lift on their first day. Showing progress is one of the best ways to motivate people.

Know Each Client

Some clients will take challenges differently than others. You should know when to push the gas and when to back off of each client. You should gauge their reactions every time you ask for more. This should help to guide you on when it’s time to back off or ask them for more.

Remind Them of Their Goals

Each of your clients initially came to you with a goal. Maybe it’s to lose fat, gain muscle, or conquer an athletic event such as a marathon. Remind them of their goals and how the work they put in every day gets them one step closer to reaching their goals.

Praise Them Consistently

You should praise your clients for doing great work. Everyone likes to be told they’re doing a good job and it doesn’t stop in the gym. Be encouraging when you ask them to work harder and praise them regularly to keep them motivated.

Get Certified

Once you’ve learned everything you can about fitness and nutrition, you should aim to get certified. While this step is not technically required, it can help you stand out in a crowded space. There are a few main certifications that you can consider:

These courses can cost anywhere from $600 to $2,000 depending on the course and offer very similar resources. You can expect to spend between 3-6 months working on your certification with some being quicker than others. Most certifications will require that you learn CPR in the case of a medical emergency. The Red Cross offers CPR certifications nationwide. You can check out their classes here.

Get Insured

If you plan to work as a personal trainer at a fitness center, they’ll probably require you to have insurance in case of any mishaps that could occur while training clients. Insurance for personal trainers will usually cost a few hundred dollars per year but varies based on several factors. Different gyms might require different types of insurance, so it’s always a good idea to know exactly what you need before purchasing. You can read more about personal training insurance here.

Promote Yourself

Did you pass your certification exam? Congrats! Now it’s time to start getting your name out there. Some trainers might want to work at a gym while others will opt to train clients on their own. Either way, you’ll need to promote yourself in order to gain clients and become a successful personal trainer.

Create a Website

By creating a website you can promote yourself 24/7. Your website should include information regarding your availability, pricing, location, and your contact information. In addition, you should consider adding any client testimonials, information about yourself, and social media links. You should display any certifications or education around your services. The goal of your website should be about trust. You want potential clients to view you as a proven and trustworthy trainer.

There are many different website builders you could consider if you do not want to shell out the money for a professional website. Both GoDaddy and Ionos offer website builders that are relatively affordable for new trainers looking for a basic website.

Post on Social Media

One of the most popular ways many trainers gain clients is through social media. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter should be your go-to platforms to expand your reach to potential clients. You should post about your services and direct potential clients to your website or phone to get in touch.


Word of mouth is one of the most efficient ways to pick up new clients. Ask your current clients to promote your services and consider offering a free training session for any new clients they bring you.


Another option you can consider to promote your services is flyers. You can have your flyers designed professionally or use a template found online to create them. Be sure to mention your services, pricing, and most importantly, contact information on your flyers to attract potential clients and get the phone ringing.

Becoming an Online Personal Trainer

As technology has advanced, personal training has moved from being an in-person service to an online service. People are willing to pay for workout programs and nutrition advice online offering you the opportunity to cash in.

In order to shift your services online, you’ll need to know how your services will be offered, how you will collect payment, and how to market your services.

Selling Nutrition and Workout Plans Online

Some trainers will choose to sell nutrition and workout programs online. Typically these programs are designed so that they suit many different people but some will make each program tailored specifically for that client by asking them to complete a questionnaire upfront. Some questions you should ask yourself before selling workout and nutrition programs online:

  • How will I create the program? Do I need any assets (pictures)?
  • Will each program be unique to the client’s body and goals?
  • How will I charge clients?
  • How will I deliver the program to my client?


Becoming a personal trainer can be a great career or side gig for anyone passionate about health and fitness. You’ll need to understand the basics of the human body and how it moves to properly prescribe a training and nutrition regimen to help your client achieve their goals. Next, you’ll need to get certified and insured before you can start promoting your services. After passing your certification exam, it’s time to start getting your name out there. From websites to social media, the methods of promotion are endless and can help you to grow your client base.

Moving your business online poses a few different challenges but can also bring you another stream of income. You will need to create a plan and arrange how you will create, distribute, and charge clients for online programs as well as how you will promote your online business.

Seeing your clients transform their body and lifestyle can be extremely rewarding, not to mention to the ability to wear sweatpants at work!

Forrest is a personal finance, entrepreneurship, and investing expert dedicated to helping others obtain life long wealth. He has a Bachelor's degree in business and has been featured in many popular publications including Forbes, Business Insider, Bankrate, CNET Money, and many others. To learn more about Forrest, visit the About Us Page for more info.
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