Resilience Strategies for Your Online Fitness Business

Resilience Strategies for Your Online Fitness Business
 By Susan Lee, PhD, CPTN-CPT

By Susan Lee, PhD, CPTN-CPT

(Part 3/5)

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 ebook, Online Personal Training: Taking Control of Your Personal Training & Fitness Business. Online Personal Training: Taking Control of Your Personal Training & Fitness Business   

In the following section we explore five online fitness opportunities: virtual one-on-one training, virtual small group training, ebooks, online courses and a marketplace.


Resilience Strategy #1: virtual one-on-one training

For business resilience strategy number one, we can focus on virtual one-on-one training to either engage your current clients in some remote sessions, build an online clientele, or blend the two options for a hybrid model. You want to prepare the client and yourself for this remote service. When you are transitioning a current client to a remote service, remember what the client’s needs and goals and then adapting your services.


To meet those needs, you’ll need to check the client’s access to technology, space and equipment.  Consider what exercise equipment they already have. Alternatively, if necessary, review household objects they can use such as water bottles, water jugs, towels. Think about the environment they will be working in. Will they have a private space or will they be sharing with others in the home. Decide with the client when would be the best time to exercise and to also practise the use of technology. Trainers use different video conferencing platforms. Currently, these may include Zoom, WhatsApp or FaceTime.  


Trainers offer different types of workouts, which have included different types of circuits, Pilates, or stretch and strength. Clients can be given homework so that they can actually complete some exercises on their own. For accountability, they can record their completed sessions, via Google docs or another file sharing option. Some older clients, may just be using the phone for support. One trainer tells me that she contacts her client and they walk together, but they’re in totally different places. They’re physically distanced, but they’re still on the phone. And this ensures that the client actually is doing a workout as well. 


Resilience Strategy #2: virtual small group training

Business resilience strategy number two is small group training, and we see it here in terms of people using body weight exercises for small group training. Other sessions could include portable equipment, Pilates, or stretch exercises.


If you are offering group classes, here are some general descriptions:

  • Hi/Lo or Low impact are designed to increase cardiorespiratory fitness through aerobic moves, which can be performed stationary or moving in different directions
  • High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is designed to increase cardiorespiratory fitness working at 80% maximal capacity intervals, such as high intensity for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds rest, and repeated
  • Boot Camp and Circuit Training are designed to increase muscle strength and endurance and cardiorespiratory fitness through, with stations set up with equipment such as dumbbells, tubing, bands, medicine balls, etc. Clients could do one exercise for 40 seconds, followed by 20 seconds rest, before moving to the next station.
  • Total muscle conditioning is designed to increase muscle strength and endurance. Usually 8 to 10 exercises are selected, with each exercise being performed for 10 to 20 repetitions for 2 to 3 sets per exercise.


And when those portable equipment are not available. Think about using different household items such as broom handles or jugs in lieu of weights. Dining chairs can be used for seated stretches, or provide stability for standing leg exercises or squats. Stairs can potentially be used for balance exercises or for cardio training. Railings and counter tops can also aid with balance.


Resilience for business #3: ebooks 

Have you ever thought of writing a book? Think about your strengths and how you can take that content and create a resource for others. There are plenty of exercise, nutrition and lifestyle books, but you may have found a new approach to guide clients to solutions to their problems. How can you do this succinctly and credibly?


For example, this book evolved from doing original research for the CPTN Personal Trainer Summit. To ensure that there was new material for the presentation, a survey and interviews were conducted on the topic of online personal training and fitness services. The presentation drew on this original data, which provided the data for the pie charts that were included in this book. The interviews provided the data for the case studies of the personal trainers, their quotes and the tips from trainers were collated and woven throughout this book. To substantiate the information, data was also drawn from multiple resources such as research articles, books, webinars and the internet on topics related to stress, coping, online services, and business, etc.


In thinking about your future book, what topics might you be interested in writing about? Who would your target audience be? What questions would your audience be interested in having answers to?


To begin your writing project, here are some tips for the ideation and implementation stages:

  • Start with some research whether it’s a Google search in the public sphere or a visit to your local library to find out what already exists in your topic of interest.
  • Identify gaps in the information and the special talents that you can provide to address these gaps.
  • Start writing down questions to eventually lead you to answers to fill the gaps.
  • Think about what your audience will learn from you, and write some learning outcomes such as After reading this book, you will be able to:…
  • Once you have written some learning outcomes, identify what information is going to be required to achieve those learning outcomes.
  • The key learning outcomes can then form the basis of your chapters.
  • By outlining your chapters, you can then start scheduling how you are going to complete each chapter and eventually your book will have a timeline that works for you. If you allocate time for research and time for writing, a rough draft of a chapter may take you one month or more depending on what other priorities or responsibilities you have in your life.
  • Commit to writing on a regular basis to keep your thoughts flowing and the energy ignited for a future publication.


Writing can start with planning with a book in mind, or it can begin in a small way. Think about a word that inspires you, a tweet that you sent or a blog that you wrote. Do they have ideas that can be built upon to form a theme? These themes can form the basis of a chapter. You can also draw inspirations from your clients by writing about their successes, the techniques used, their results and lessons learned. The compilation of lessons learned can also become themes for chapters in your future book.


Resilience for your business #4: online courses

Your online course can begin in the ideation stage, using the right side or creative side of your brain. Can you name a few topics from the fitness field that you are particularly knowledgeable about or have a keen interest in? From these 3 areas, begin a mind-mapping exercise by placing the topic in the centre and start jotting down ideas that are related to the topic. For example, take the topic of stress. If you were to mind-map it, your thoughts could lead to words that could answer the questions that start with who, where, what, why, when and how?


Following the ideation stage, you can then start organizing the themes into questions and learning outcomes. Continuing on the example of stress, the learning outcomes for the topic of stress may include: 


Learning outcomes:

  • Identify the different types of stress
  • Summarize the evidence-based strategies to reduce stress
  • Apply healthy habits to reduce stress for a particular client
  • Create a S.M.A.R.T. goal to reduce stress
  • Prepare a self-contract with accountability measures


After you create the learning outcomes, you can then start developing the content and learning activities for your online course. The content would be the material you are going to share and present to your audience. Learning activities could include the reading of a text, viewing of a video, discussing a question with a peer, creating an exercise, and/or self-reflection. Resources could be a reference to a chapter, Power Point, or link. Once you have completed the writing of your first module, you can then move on to the next one. Your online course can be an offering for your current or potential clients which you can promote on your website, social media platforms, or fitness related online marketplaces.


Resilience Strategies #5: Online store or marketplace

With your books written and online courses designed, you can also think about resilience business strategy number five: an online store or marketplace. Your store can sell your own resources, while adding affiliates to the list of items related to health and wellness. Your store may include health and wellness books, gear and equipment that you recommend. When you work with an affiliate you do not need to have storage space for inventory. Your online store or marketplace can then become another revenue stream for your business.


Best wishes for a resilient and successful year for your online fitness business.

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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