Gone are the days where personal trainers rely on a gym to make money with the booming opportunity of online personal trainer jobs. Technology and the growing appetite people have to do work and receive services remotely changes the landscape of a personal trainer job description. Instead of relying only on the minutes a personal trainer and client spend in the gym, an online personal trainer is more of a coach. This type of job provides more holistic oversight to fitness programs and includes nutrition and healthy lifestyle coaching. Here, we’ll explore this evolved fitness professional role, how to become an online trainer, and what you need to do to find online personal trainer jobs.

Gym Personal Trainer Vs. Online Personal Trainer

Regardless of whether you work in a gym or virtual, all personal trainers need either a degree in exercise science, a personal training certification, or both. This is interesting because the practice of an online trainer is much different than that of an in-person trainer. Most personal trainers who rely on a physical space to carry out client fitness programs. In fact, the time spent together in a personal training session are the only interactions they have together outside of scheduling sessions. In these instances, most trainers will use the entire time to take a client through a workout. However, other trainers might include functional nutrition coaching sessions in addition to the workouts. When this is the case, the majority of the session is still devoted to working out. Then about 20 - 30% of the time is for reviewing progress on the meal plan and planning for days where the client and trainer don’t workout together.


An online personal trainer has a more engaged job. This is because “out of sight, out of mind” is very real. This is especially the case because fitness professionals provide exercise motivation and accountability. When a client doesn’t see their trainer (ever), it’s easier for them to skip out on workouts or following a nutrition program. Therefore, personal training in a virtual environment requires regular engagement and communication. Additionally, hosting an online workout, although possible, isn’t practical. It’s not likely for a client to be on video conference in a fitness club. Not to mention, it’s terrible gym etiquette. So, if a personal trainer is going to take a client through a workout, it’s likely going to be in the client’s home where equipment is limited. 


A more likely scenario for an online trainer is to provide a workout program to the client, then receive feedback from the client after they go through the workout. Feedback can include subjective reports on how it went. Or, it can also include objective feedback like how much weight they were able to lift, where their heart rate was, time needed to rest, and more. Then the personal trainer modifies the upcoming workout and other exercise recommendations. But the job of an online personal trainer doesn’t stop there. Instead, these types of personal training providers offer any of these types of additional services:


  • Regular or on-demand communication
  • Nutrition coaching and feedback
  • Fitness challenges and competitions
  • Access to closed social media groups for support, encouragement, and motivation
  • Specific cardio fitness recommendations
  • Daily physical activity guidelines (like step counting, caloric burn, etc.)
  • Other health coaching oversight like sleep, hydration levels, stress management, and more

How To Become An Online Personal Trainer

The first step in becoming a personal trainer of any type is to get a personal training certification, degree in exercise science, or both. Most personal training certifications are developed according to a defined professional outcome or job description. This is great because it makes sure the education is focused for what the trainer really needs to know. However. This job description is based on the role of a personal trainer in the gym setting, not virtually. Therefore, although you’ll learn what you need for anatomy and physiology, biomechanics, and fitness program design, you’ll still be missing some things. A degree in exercise science, however, is more inclusive. You’ll learn about exercise psychology which is all about motivation and behavior change. You’ll also get exposure to fitness nutrition- this is incredibly important for remote weight loss clients. What’s great, is the exercise science degree programs at Lionel University provide you a personal training certification AND a degree. Therefore, you graduate with a greater ability to train clients in a virtual environment. 


So, the first step is to start with your education. The good news is, you can still train clients while you go through your degree program. Again, being a certified personal trainer certainly qualifies you to have client fitness program oversight. The second step is to start gaining practice as an online personal trainer. You’ll need to familiarize  yourself with technology. This includes video conferencing, personal training apps, and client account management. The third step will be coaching others to achieve their fitness goals. You can (and should) start with friends and family. This will help you get experience in online coaching in a low risk and low stakes environment. Then, you’ll be ready to conduct more inline personal training sessions.


How To Find Online Personal Trainer Jobs

The best thing about being an online personal trainer is that your potential clients aren’t limited to the gym membership base. Instead, potential clients include anyone. The next greatest benefit for an online personal trainer is that you get to run your own business. This is because the role of an online fitness coach is still relatively new. So, there aren’t larger corporations scooping up potential clients and then feeding them to personal trainers for 50% of what the actual revenue is. This means you get to be your own boss and work on the schedule that works best for you. Additionally, finding clients can even be easier than it is in a traditional gym setting. This is because you don’t have to ‘hard close’ a potential client. Instead you put information, content, and a taste of your services into the digital world. And, when potential clients are closer to taking action, they’ll reach out to you. Follow these steps to get more clients and online personal trainer jobs:


  1. Define your ideal client
  2. Develop a solution their problem
  3. Get a website
  4. Provide free content in blogs that prospective clients find valuable
  5. Start business social media accounts
  6. Invite friends and family to follow you
  7. Provide free, online fitness training services to attract more leads (fitness challenges, free consultations, or closed social media groups


As you can see, the sky's the limit for online personal trainer jobs. As your own boss, you can make this a side hustle as you finish your exercise degree programs. Or, you can make it a full time job and see your clientele base grow even faster. 


But, there’s more than personal training if you’re looking for exercise science jobs. In fact, you can be an athletic trainer, physical therapy tech, group fitness instructor, and massage therapist- just to name a few. Follow this guide to learn how to get exercise science jobs.


Check out the programs at Lionel including associates, bachelors, and masters degree exercise science programs.  The programs are 100% online so you can learn in a convenient and remote way. And, financial aid is available. All of this makes pursuing a dream as a fitness professional possible. Contact Lionel today with more questions.