Online Personal Training: Taking Control of Your Personal Training & Fitness Business

By Susan Lee, PhD, CPTN-CPT

By Susan Lee, PhD, CPTN-CPT

President, CPTN Inc.

Part 1 of a 5-part series for FitBizWeekly Readers, with excerpts from Online Personal Training

Personal trainers and fitness professionals need to innovate and diversify their businesses to thrive. Learn the G.R.I.T. framework for success: Growth mindset, Resilience strategies, Inspired possibilities, and Taking actions. You can steer your personal training and fitness business to reach more clients by applying these results-oriented strategies.


This 5-part series will focus on 1) Resilience for self-care, 2) Resilience for personal development, 3) Resilience strategies for your online fitness business, 4) Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) in Your Personal Development, and 5) DEIB for Your Business.


These excerpts are from the new book and ebook, Online Personal Training: Taking Control of Your Personal Training & Fitness Business. The virtual book launch will be on Thurs. Jan. 27th at 5pm (EST).

Resilience for self-care


We need to be extra diligent in terms of healthy eating as well as exercise. All that we tell our clients, we want to put into practice for ourselves. Ensure that we have set aside time for regular exercise to include all the fitness components: cardiorespiratory, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, core and balance. We also want to maintain our nutritional health as we take in the macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates, proteins) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) to meet our daily and performance needs.


Here are some tips on self-care from trainers based on the Interviews on Online Services

  1. Maintain your daily routines
    • Set aside time for regular physical activity and workouts; include outdoor activity when possible
    • Keep mealtimes consistent and eat healthy everyday
    • Get up and go to bed at the same times every day.
    • Go through your usual morning routine including getting dressed. Put on your work clothes, or even your study-at-home clothes – but not your day off clothes.
    • Create a “start time” and “end time” for your work and study day. The start time could be when you pull up to your desk to work. The end time could be tidying your desk before making dinner, or closing your laptop an hour before bed and listening to music.
  1. Create structure in your day and week.
    • Have set work times such as 2-hour blocks of dedicated desk time.
    • Book planned down time to enjoy a hobby or a rejuvenating activity.
    • Plan to socialize Choose your online video option or make a call.
    • Give the week shape. For example, do something special on Saturdays or Sundays to mark the weekend and turn your attention toward something you enjoy.
  1. Practise Shinrin-yoku or Forest Bathing


Many people gained an appreciation for the outdoors during the pandemic. Outdoor workouts were seen in parks and playgrounds. Cycling paths were added, although some were temporary installations. Even walking became more popular. This greater interest for the outdoors can be beneficial for overall health. Additionally, with an increase in urbanization around the world, stressors come from pollutants, noise, cars, crowds, long work hours, and technology.


The word “technostress” as reported by author Li in Forest Bathing: The Japanese Art and Science of Shinrin-Yoku was coined specifically to describe the unhealthy habits of individuals using technology, including the constant checking of electronic devices that results in increased screen time. As a result of these behaviours, symptoms may arise, including anxiety, headaches, eye and neck strain, insomnia, and loneliness. To find ways to de-stress and optimize wellness, the Japanese have researched and developed the practice of Shinrin-yoku or forest bathing within the Akasawa National Recreation Forest in the Nagano prefecture since 1982. The scientifically proven benefits of Shinrin-yoku, as highlighted by Li and Miyazaki, include:

  • Boosted immune system functioning, with an increase in the count of the body’s Natural Killer (NK) cells which is a type of white blood cells
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Lowered the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline stress
  • Suppressed the sympathetic or “fight or flight” system
  • Enhanced the parasympathetic or “rest and recover” system
  • Improved mood with a decrease in anxiety, depression and anger
  • Increased energy level
  • Increased duration of sleep time as well as quality of sleep


Walking anywhere can reduce anxiety, depression and anger, but it is only walking in the forest environment that has a positive effect on vigour and fatigue. The difference is found in the phytoncides that are released from trees and can offer natural aromatherapy to boost the immune system. Evergreens such as pine trees, cedars, spruces and conifers are the largest producers of phytoncides. Additionally, a harmless bacteria called mycobacterium vaccae that is found in soil can enhance positive energy and cognitive abilities. Many of the benefits are derived from a two-hour shinrin. There are some benefits with a 20-minute session. Longer sessions, over three days may result in benefits lasting up to 30 days; benefits may vary amongst different individuals. The focus of shinrin-yoku is to be present in the forest environment by using all your senses, and in a two-hour period you may only travel one to two km. In contrast, hiking focuses on travelling a certain distance towards a destination.


How to start:
  1. Leave behind your phone, camera, music and any distractions.
  2. Choose a location (i.e. a rural forest or an urban park) which is free from pollutants, offers a variety of evergreens and plants, has a water source, and is at least 5km in length.
  3. Use your senses to notice the surroundings – look at the shapes of the trees, listen to the local birds, touch the soil, inhale the air filled with phytoncides, and taste the coolness of fresh spring water. Using your sixth sense, notice how you are feeling about nature.
  4. Walk slowly.
  5. Find a spot to sit – on the grass, beside a tree or on a park bench. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Exhale slowly. Be mindful. Be present.


  1. Practise Progressive Muscle Relaxation


Exercise, eating well, breathing, positive thinking and Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) can all aid in calming the brain and to reduce the blood flow to the amygdala,  which results in an increase in blood flow to the prefrontal cortex. Greater blood flow to the pre-frontal cortex can better facilitate rational thought.


Calming activities are a first step to clear the path to ensure that we are ready for more. In addition to practising calming breaths, positive thoughts, being grateful and range of motion exercises, you can also practise progressive muscle relaxation (PMR). PMR is a really good one to think about if you’re lying down or sitting. Think about how you can relax the different muscle groups, from the top to the bottom, from your head to your  toes. Adding breathing to this process will enhance the calming effect. You can take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. PMR can elicit the parasympathetic nervous system to provide you with a calming effect for the entire body.


During chaotic times, the body goes into a fight-or-flight mode as it reacts to a threat, whether it’s real or perceived. The sympathetic nervous system is activated, and the body reacts – the pupils dilate, the heart beats faster, the lungs work harder, while the digestive system slows down. The part of the brain that is responsible for emotions (amygdala) is stimulated and a person can become anxious, while blood flow is drained from the thought centre (prefrontal cortex) and cognitive thinking can be impaired. However, the brain cannot be anxious and calm at the same time. By calming the body and the brain, the thought centre of the brain will be able to function better for decision-making, planning, focusing and impulse control. Psychologist Steve Joordens advises ways to counter the consumption of negative news, which can cause anxiety in many people these days. He calls these activities “palette cleansers.”21 After your news consumption, participate in some physical activity, singing, playing a musical instrument, dancing, or some Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) that is outlined below. Also avoid watching news at least 2 hours before bedtime. Remember to think positive thoughts by identifying what you are grateful for before you go to sleep.


Progressive Muscle Relaxation can lower your overall tension and stress levels, and help you relax when you are feeling anxious. It can also reduce physical problems such as stomach aches and headaches that are often caused by a release of stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol), as well as improve your sleep. Begin in a seated or lying down position, while wearing comfortable clothes. Begin with a few deep breathes. Inhale slowly and exhale slowly. Repeat a few times. During PMR, you will be working with almost all the major muscle groups in your body. To make it easier to remember, start with your feet and systematically move up (or if you prefer, you can do it in the reverse order, from your forehead down to your feet).


For example:

  • Foot (curl your toes downward)
  • Lower leg and foot (tighten your calf muscle by pulling toes towards you)
  • Entire leg (squeeze thigh muscles while doing above (Repeat on other side of body)
  • Hand (clench your fist)
  • Entire right arm (tighten your biceps by drawing your forearm up towards your shoulder and “make a muscle”, while clenching fist (Repeat on other side of body)
  • Buttocks (tighten by pulling your buttocks together)
  • Stomach (suck your stomach in)
  • Chest (tighten by taking a deep breath)
  • Neck and shoulders (raise your shoulders up to touch your ears
  • Mouth (open your mouth wide enough to stretch the hinges of your jaw)
  • Eyes (clench your eyelids tightly shut)
  • Forehead (raise your eyebrows as far as you can)


Take a break and enjoy a short PMR session. Remember to take care of yourself as you continue to build your personal training and fitness business.

Front Cover 2022-01-14 at 10.06.54 PM

SUSAN LEE, PhD, CPTN-CPT is the president of the Certified Professional Trainers Network (CPTN) Inc. and Synergetics Wellness. She recently launched her new book and ebook Online Personal Training: Taking Control of Your Personal Training & Fitness Business and an initiative for individuals 50+ who are interested in wellness, inclusion, creativity and connections, Wisdom Circle 50+, to support the UN’s Declaration for the Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021-2030). She lectures at the college and university levels on leadership, business and social justice; presents at international conferences; and publishes in peer-reviewed journals and educational platforms to share her research, practices and passions.

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Part 1 of a 5-part series for FitBizWeekly Readers


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