How to start an online fitness business

It’s no surprise we’re seeing a shift in the fitness industry. People want to maintain their exercise routines, but options for in-person workouts are limited. The global pandemic has created an increased demand for online fitness solutions — everyone is trying to navigate gym restrictions — and people of all ages are discovering the benefits of at-home workouts.

If you work in the health and fitness industry, you have a huge opportunity to develop an online business. The internet removes geographical barriers and creates the possibility to connect with clients in many locations. Plus, it’s easier to scale your income by moving from a one-on-one business model to a group setting.

Where should you begin if you want to learn how to start an online fitness business? You’ve got the fitness experience — now it’s time to put that to use online. Consider these proven strategies to create an effective online fitness business.

Identify your target demographic

Careful branding is key to connecting with the right clients. The workouts you might offer for a Silver Sneakers class will be quite different than those you might create for triathletes or postpartum mothers.

First, identify your ideal customers and build a brand that speaks to them. For best results, choose one or two personas to target.

The more specific you are in identifying your target demographic, the easier it will be for potential clients to see you’re a good fit for their needs. This approach helps optimize your conversion rate by filtering out audiences that don’t match your business.

Look for ways to add something that your target demographic will especially value so you stand out from your competitors.

Finding your niche is crucial to bringing in the right customers, especially since you can adjust your workouts to match your clients’ needs. There’s a lot of competition for “online personal training,” but you can increase traffic to your business by narrowing your offerings to workouts that will appeal to your target clients. Here are a few examples:

  • HIIT workouts
  • Muscle building workouts
  • Yoga classes
  • Pregnancy fitness classes
  • Powerlifting classes
  • Training for long distance running
  • Triathlon training
  • Chronic illness recovery classes
  • Seniors workouts

Identify your unique selling proposition 

With so many competitors out there, what will make people choose your online fitness business over someone else’s? Determine what your unique selling proposition (USP) is. When you can articulate your USP, you’re better able to tell potential clients what makes your services more appealing than someone else’s.

Think about a specific benefit or quality that makes you stand out from the crowd. For example, can you help people achieve fitness results in a shorter amount of time? If so, integrate this USP into your marketing materials.

Other USP examples include offering modified workouts for specific age groups or demographics, fitness classes designed to achieve specific results, or anything else your target market might care about in their fitness programs.

Set up your fitness website

You don’t need to take a coding class to start an online fitness business. Instead, look for a trusted freelancer or website design company that can help you create your website and the content for it.

Your website needs to convey who you are, what you’re offering, and why people should choose you as their personal trainer. A well-designed website can promote your services and provide a platform for paying customers to access your content.

Remember that first impressions matter. Give people who visit your website a reason to stay and look around. Make it easy for them to navigate your site and learn about you, your services, and any special offers. Think about what kind of content you can provide to demonstrate your expertise. These essential pieces will create a website that will help your business grow.

Don’t forget to keep your website up to date. It speaks volumes about your business. There’s nothing worse than looking for a class schedule on a website and discovering that it hasn’t been updated in a while. Your goal is to show your clients and potential clients that you’re serious about providing the best fitness services.

Integrate forms into your website 

In addition to considering the initial interactions potential customers will have with your site, you need to build features that will make your website functional for your business.

Gyms and fitness centers use Jotform’s online forms to help streamline the registration process. When the fitness industry shifted online in response to the pandemic, many of these features became even more valuable for both in-person and online fitness companies.

Jotform’s templates make it easy to integrate registrations and payments. Jotform provides a wide range of fitness industry forms, including gym registration forms, gym health questionnaires, and gym cancellation forms.

The benefit of using digital forms when you start an online fitness business is that you can customize them to fit your company’s unique needs. Start with a fitness form theme or template, then build the specific fields and features to match your brand.

Build an email list

Having a list of current and potential clients is a great way to stay in contact with your market. You need a way to reach out to everyone when you have new services to offer.

While social media can help you share information, you don’t own the list from your social media account. A social media provider can make changes that could impact your business at a moment’s notice.

Focus on a way to communicate on your own terms. Be proactive about building an email marketing list.

To create an email list, you’ll need an email marketing service provider so you can manage and send newsletters. You can then add opt-in forms on your website and social media pages to gather email addresses from interested customers.

It’s also helpful to have a lead magnet that entices people to sign up for your emails. For example, you might offer a free fitness video or a downloadable e-book to anyone who joins your email list.

With a quality system like Jotform, you can also integrate email notifications with your digital forms. Consider these resources if you’d like to use these types of emails in your online marketing business.

Establish a social media presence

Having a website is an excellent place to start, but you won’t be able to connect to your target community without establishing a social media presence. Social media sites — such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter — give you a place to distribute your content.

Your social media efforts should focus on two objectives:

  • Connecting with potential clients. Share quality information that leads people from the social media platform to your website. Your social posts can give people a sample of what they’ll get when they work with your online fitness business.
  • Strengthening current relationships. Keep building your connections with existing customers by sharing tips and information on social media. This will help you maintain your relevance and keep people coming back when you have new products or services to offer.

You’re most likely to be successful with social media marketing if you post content regularly. And since it’s becoming more challenging to get organic traffic through social media, you might find it worthwhile to pay for ads that can drive traffic to your website.

Create quality fitness videos

Fitness videos offer a great way to create a quality experience, even when you can’t work with a person face to face.

Your goal is to showcase your fitness expertise and show people the benefits of using your services. For example, you might share small snippets of available workouts or a quick tip about how making good food choices can improve fitness results.

Providing fitness videos is a great way to deliver valuable content to your customers. Consider offering a combination of prerecorded workout videos and videoconferencing options for individual sessions or group classes. People like having the option to access on-demand fitness videos so they can work out at the time that works best for them.

It’s important to focus on making high-quality videos. If the image quality is grainy or it’s hard to hear your voice, your videos are likely going to turn people off. So recording a video with your smartphone isn’t going to cut it — invest in professional video recording and editing services if you want to project the most professional image for your business.

Focus on long-term efforts

While it’s fun to read about overnight success stories for online business startups, the truth is that it often takes months or years to reach your business goals. Learning how to start an online fitness business is just the first step of an exciting journey that can lead you to incredible opportunities in the future.

Just like training for a marathon, building a successful online fitness business requires commitment, dedication, and hard work. You’re probably going to hit the wall at times, but keep moving forward. If you focus on delivering quality services, you’re more likely to reach your goal of building a business that helps you and your clients thrive.

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