2020 CPTN Survey on Online Services Sparks New Technology

CPTN online training
By Susan Lee, PhD, CPTN-CPT

By Susan Lee, PhD, CPTN-CPT

Sponsored Article

Amid the stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus pandemic, personal trainers tried to figure out how to service their clients. As an organization, the Certified Professional Trainers Network (CPTN) wanted to learn about how its trainers were managing their businesses under the dark cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic that forced most personal training businesses to come to a standstill, at least initially.


Curiosity and concern led CPTN to develop and conduct the 2020 CPTN Survey on Online Services in April 2020. The survey consisted of eight multiple-choice questions. Respondents then received a follow-up email personally inviting them to participate in an oral interview for further insights. The questions for the survey were as follows:


  1. Who is your target market?
  2. Have you moved your services online?
  3. If you are not planning to move your services online, what are the current challenges?
  4. If you do offer services online, what do you offer remotely/online?
  5. Which technology platforms do you currently use for your online services?
  6. What marketing methods do you use to market your services?
  7. How much do you charge for your online services?
  8. Is your online session rate the same as your in-person session?


The results of the 5-min confidential survey provided insights on the current remote or online practices of CPTN Personal Trainers. Respondents had the opportunity to receive a copy of the results as soon as it was available to encourage them to complete the survey. The results were also shared at the 2020 CPTN Personal Trainer Online Summit 


Based on the responses of 63 CPTN personal trainers who completed the survey, the highlights showed that:


  • 51% of trainers had moved their services online during April 2020 due to COVID-19
  • Challenges to starting online services included clients’ interest (32%) and technology (19%)
  • Online services included individual (25%) and small group (16%) training, exercise program designs (18%), lifestyle/wellness coaching (11%), nutrition coaching (10%)
  • Most popular technology platforms included Zoom (31%), Facetime (15%), Facebook/Instagram Live (9%), Skype (9%)
  • Marketing methods included word of mouth (38%), website (17%), and Facebook/Instagram ads (17%)
  • Online fees were: less than $65/hour (39%), $70-$80/hour (19%), and $100+/hour (8%)
  • Rates for online sessions were the same as in-person sessions (30%)
  • Online sessions were less than in-person sessions (36%)
  • Trainers planned to continue online services after the stay-at-home orders were lifted (65%)
  • Trainers planned to start offering online services in the future (6%)
  • Potential of 71% of trainers conducting services online in the future

Who is your target market?

CPTN pie chart
2020 CPTN Survey on Online Services

If you are not planning to go online, what are the current challenges?

CPTN pie chart
2020 CPTN Survey on Online Services

Trainers cobbled together what they were familiar with concerning technology, and at times, quickly adapted to the unfamiliar to provide virtual fitness services to their clients in the online environment. One of the barriers to going online was technology (19%). In response to this need to find and develop suitable technology, the idea of a professional, one-stop web platform – Online PTN – became a reality. Personal trainers, fitness/yoga/movement instructors, and educators will have the opportunity to merge their fitness interests with web-based technology to serve their current clients and expand their online business.


Online PTN will build a community of fitness and health entrepreneurs to use technology to engage more people in active, healthy living. A unique, online 8-module  course will teach fitness and health professionals the knowledge and skills to leverage customizable technology to service clients and to build their online business in 4 weeks.


Personal trainers and fitness businesses yearn to be able to offer in-person services as soon as possible in different regions while heeding the requirements and modifications outlined by health officials, but the reality is that we all need to reflect and act on what the new standard of normal will look like through the clients’ perspectives. Physical distancing, fear of infection, use of masks, pre-planned appointments and health warnings may mean that the new normal may still require the use of technology for fitness professionals and facilities to offer a hybrid model of in-person and online services to return clients to their workout spaces slowly.

SUSAN LEE, PhD, CPTN-CPT, is the president of the Certified Professional Trainers Network (CPTN). As a CPTN-CPT, certified Pilates instructor, and Thai bodywork practitioner, she specializes in post-rehabilitation training, sport-specific conditioning, and active aging. She is the co-author of Business Strategies for Personal Training and Start Your Fitness Business (book and online course). She lectures at the college and university levels on leadership, business and equity studies, presents at international conferences and publishes in peer-reviewed journals and educational platforms to share her research, practices and passions.


For a copy of the free 2020 CPTN Report on Online Services and to learn more about OnlinePTN, visit OnlinePTN.com. A future article will highlight the interviews on online services from CPTN personal trainers’ insights and experiences.

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