This guide is part of our detailed series: How to Become a Personal Trainer in the UK.

Back in 2019, no one could have predicted quite how popular (and sometimes outright essential) online personal training would become. Fast forward to 2022 and we’ve learned the hard way that gyms can close at a moment’s notice, close-contact with PT clients can be risky, and a personal trainer’s income can dry up astonishingly quickly.

Despite the difficulties the pandemic has brought to personal training, there’s never been a greater emphasis on getting – and staying – fit. The result? Online training has boomed.

Whether you fancy working your way towards picking up an MBE like Joe Wicks – or you just want to looking at the benefits of taking an existing personal training business online, there’s a lot to be said for understanding exactly what’s involved.

Let’s take a look at how to become an online personal trainer or launch an online personal training business – and answer a few frequently asked questions along the way.

How to become a virtual personal trainer – the first step

It's vital that you hold the correct qualifications to run an online personal training business

It’s vital that you hold the correct qualifications to run an online personal training business

Although the clue is in the title, a lot of people forget that you need to be qualified as a personal trainer before you can even take the first step towards becoming a successful online personal trainer.

There are a couple of important reasons that the right qualification should be your first step.

Reason 1. Without the correct qualifications you simply will not have knowledge and skills required to coach clients (online or in person). What’s more, paying clients simply are not looking for unqualified personal trainers.

Reason 2. You won’t be able to find personal trainer insurance – which could leave you in a very vulnerable position if someone has an accident or picks up an injury while training with you.

So, if working with online personal training clients is your goal, start by looking for a personal training course that meets the Level 3 standard set by the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF).

Can you be a personal trainer online?

A lot of people who start a level 3 course with us here at TRAINFITNESS want to know if it’s possible to deliver personal training online or launch an online training business.

The short answer is yes – there are lots of personal trainers out there running successful businesses.

Some of these PTs provide online training exclusively – where others offer online sessions for clients who can’t make it to the gym.

Either way, working with online clients is perfectly possible and actually adds an additional selling point to the service you offer.

How does online personal training work?

There are different personal training business models

There are different personal training business models

There are different approaches to online personal training – and the one you choose is really down to you and how you see your online business working.

Creating workout programmes

First is the creation of custom workout programmes for online training clients. This somewhat takes the ‘personal’ out of ‘personal training’ – but since clients often want absolute flexibility, that’s not always a bad thing.

You’ll put together a training programme then deliver it using online personal training software – then, the client will guide themselves through workouts with help from your videos and tutorials.

Review and give advice on health in general

A qualified PT is not just an exercise expert, but they should also be knowledgeable in many areas of health and wellbeing. A PT is also a nutritional advisor and can help clients make healthier dietary and lifestyle choices which will assist in their client’s goal.

They can also help clients review and analyse areas such as clients sleep patterns, stress levels and in general give a variety of healthy lifestyle advice.

Workout programmes with feedback

Another option is to create personalised sessions with video instructions on how to perform each exercise. The client will then film their workout for you to review and feedback – giving you the opportunity to assess their form and progress.

PTs can also analyse and assess the competency of any exercises that the client has recorded and can give detailed technique advice to ensure maximum efficiency and safety for their clients

One-to-one live sessions

The next option is essentially the traditional in-person training experience but held using a video calling service. Since you’re one-on-one with your clients, this gives you the opportunity to use the full range of skills you’ll develop as learn to become a PT.

This kind of live online coaching comes at a premium for clients, but offers the closest thing to an in-person session – including all the motivational help that comes with it.

What does an online personal trainer do?

An online personal training business can be as unique as you

An online personal training business can be as unique as you

As you can see from the range of services an online personal trainer business might offer, two online PTs could have very different jobs.

This is where you’ll benefit from thinking about your strengths and talents. If the personal interaction is something you enjoy or one of your strongpoints, you’ll perhaps decide to become an online trainer that offers live coaching sessions.

Then again, if there’s nothing you like more than sitting down and creating programmes and charting progression, then you might be more suited to becoming an online fitness coach that provides the theory but leaves the practice to your clients. Of course, when it comes to assessing form and feeding back on sessions, there’s always the option to have clients record their workouts.

Some online personal training industry FAQs

We answer your questions about working with personal training clients online

We answer your questions about working with personal training clients online

As a respected an experienced health and fitness industry training provider, we’re well placed to answer some frequently asked questions about becoming an online personal trainer.

Do you need qualifications to be an online personal trainer?

Yes. As we’ve mentioned above, getting the right qualification is an essential first step. Look for a Level 3 personal training course that meets the criteria set by the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF).

What is the best online personal trainer certification?

The RQF makes sure that the content on any regulated course meets their strict standards. That said, not all courses are the same, so there are a few things you can check to make sure you’re signing up with the best training provider for you.

Reviews: What do other people like you think of the qualification, the tutors, and the overall support?

Support: What happens if you run into problems or need help? Does the provider offer learner support?

Experience: Does the training provider have plenty experience training successful PTs and delivering Continued Professional Development (CPD) courses?

Flexibility: Does the provider offer a range of learning options? For instance, online learning, distance learning, and in-person courses.

These are essentials that you should look for to make sure you’re spending your money with an organisation you can trust to deliver an excellent standard of learning. Of course, there are some added value elements to consider too – like the TRAINFITNESS Career ConciergeTM programme. When you learn with us, you don’t just get everything listed above, you also get support from a dedicated team who’ll help with everything you need to get your career off the ground – from guaranteed interviews to help with marketing strategies and online services.

How much should an online personal trainer charge?

Again, this is a question with an answer that depends on the service you deliver. Putting together bespoke training programmes via an app or website might be something that you charge a modest monthly fee for – services like this often start from around £50 per month (although they often cost much more as they become more personalised).

Then again, if you’re delivering one-to-one live PT sessions, then clients will usually expect to pay a similar amount as in-person sessions. Depending on where you live, this could be anywhere between £30 per hour, right up to £150+ per hour – based on your level of experience and qualifications.

This is where some market research will be helpful. Look at the costs of other, similarly qualified, trainers and adjust your price based on what you think will attract customers and the value of the service you deliver.

How much can you make as an online personal trainer?

Unlike many professions, there’s no pay-scale that’s set in stone when you work as a fitness professional. This can seem daunting at first – but with effort, some smart marketing, and continued commitment to being great at what you do, there’s no reason to think you can’t achieve an impressive salary for providing personal training services.

The average annual wage for a personal trainer is around £30,000 – but it’s not at all uncommon to meet trainers who are making double this. In fact, it’s not uncommon to meet people who’ve launched a fitness business that turns over hundreds of thousands each year – if not millions.

The beauty of working as an online personal trainer is the fact that you’re in control of what you earn. If you’d like to increase your earning potential, you can take on additional clients, become more specialist, or get creative with marketing your business!

Do online personal trainers need insurance?

Yes. If you’re going to train clients – online or in-person – you need insurance to protect the client and yourself.

Finding insurance as a PT that delivers training online can be tricky. Insurance companies sometimes feel that unless you’re physically with a client, you don’t have full control over their form and you can’t carry out the kind of dynamic risk assessments that become second-nature of a PT. Also, there’s a chance that any training you offer could end up in the hands of someone other than the client – and it may not be suitable for them.

While these things can make it harder to find good online personal trainer insurance, they’re actually good reasons to make sure you find the best provider possible. There are little or no documented cases of online trainers or online fitness professionals facing legal action – but you definitely don’t want to be the first one and find yourself with no insurance.