Should You Take Your Fitness or Nutrition Biz Online?
I've been in the fitness industry for over 15 years (crazy, right? Of course, I started working when I was 10, so....). For the past 10 years I've also been teaching up-and-coming trainers as an instructor for a college-level fitness program. I've taught hundreds of potential trainers over the years & I myself have worked in many different types of training facilities.
While I love this industry, I also know first hand how tough it can be. I've seen some excellent students graduate, get certified and enter the job market only to struggle to find stability, be taken serious ("when are you going to get a "real" job?") or make ends meet financially.
On the other hand, I've seen trainers encounter the opposite problem. They have a full schedule & are making money but quickly burn out because of crazy schedules, long days (5:00 am appointments?) and the emotional investment of working with so many clients.
I'll be honest, in my own career I've "quit" several times for these exact reasons. I've tried going back to school or switching careers but I always seem to find my way back to the world of teaching, training & coaching because it's what I'm passionate about and love doing.
For me, finding the world of online training has been a game-changer. It's not just that is has allowed me to do what I love while also creating more freedom & income, but it has also reignited my passion for this industry and created opportunities I would not have otherwise had.
Here's the thing, the fitness industry is still incredibly new in the grand scheme of things (I don't remember my grandparents ever talking about their gym memberships, personal trainers or diet plans from "back in the day"). It's got some growing up to do but the good news is that it's starting to make some great strides.
This is due, in part, to the emergence of online training & coaching. As you know, the world of technology and online platforms is exploding. What used to be taboo to do online is now the norm and, not only accepted, but expected (i.e. online shopping, dating, banking, courses...you get the point).
It's no different with online training or coaching. While in-person training is not going anywhere anytime soon (thank goodness), the world of online training/coaching is expanding quickly, and for good reason.
Online options allow dedicated trainers to earn more money, create more personal freedom and help more people.
That being said, I know it can feel scary, intimidating and overwhelming to get started. We're personal trainers & nutrition coaches after all! We know how to correct improper squat form or help people incorporate more veggies in their diet, not websites, sales funnels, email lists, social media strategies, webinars, online training platforms, video editing....the list goes on,
Perhaps you can relate and you've thought about taking your business online, fully or partially, but you aren't sure if it works, how it works or where to get started.
Below is a list of five reasons why you might consider taking all or part of your fitness training and/or nutrition coaching business online:
1. You are burnt out.
Here are some signs of trainer burn out:
- You've stopped learning. You have no desire to read/listen/watch anything health or fitness related. While balance is a good thing (& your job shouldn't be your entire life) ongoing learning is an important part of staying passionate about your career.
- You are frustrated with your clients. Why can't they just do what you ask already? Why do they keep emailing you with questions? You have lost your patience (and perhaps your compassion) for any and all excuses or extra time investments.
- You've stopped planning ahead. You don't have the time or energy to prepare for your clients ahead of time so you just show up and "wing it".
- You've stopped caring about your own workouts or nutrition. After hours of training & educating others all you want to do is sit on the couch, binge on Netflix and eat *all* the ice cream. The very things that originally drew you to this field now exhaust you.
The list could go on but if you can relate to any (or all) of these you are most likely experience trainer/coach burn out. How can moving your biz online help?
For one, it can free up some of your time so that you can reconnect to the things you love and can help you recharge. It also opens up new options for training, coaching, programs & courses. There are so many things to try and explore such as blogging, creating a website, marketing, graphic design, social media, online courses, brand development and more. While this might seem overwhelming at first, if you embrace it as a new adventure, you will have so many ways to grow, learn & share your passions.
2. You want to make more money.
Let's be honest, this is a big motivator for a lot of us! Especially when you work hard & feel like you are still struggling to make ends meet. I've seen many-a-trainer work two (or more) jobs to supplement income because they don't have enough clients or don't make enough money training. Trust me, I know how that goes first hand.
Adding an online component to your business can be a great way to supplement your income while continuing to do what you love. It can also be a great way to add in a passive income stream, meaning that you do the work upfront and then continue to make money without being as actively involved (i.e., e-books, online courses & affiliate payouts).
I don't want to give the impression that it's a "get-rich-quick" kind of deal; it does take work. However, if you are willing to put in some effort on the front end you can start to snowball both your income and the number of people you are able to help through online formats.
3. You want to stay ahead of the curve.
The online training/coaching movement isn't going anywhere, it will only grow stronger. That's because online everything will continue to grow and become more and more of the norm. New programs, software & forums are making online training not just possible but, in some cases, preferable.
As mentioned previously, in-person training/coaching isn't going anywhere either. It will always hold an important place within the health/fitness industry. However, the online world is exploding and we are really just on the precipitous of this movement. If you want to stay up-to-date and ahead of the curve, dipping your toe in the online training/coaching world will be crucial to doing that.
4. You want to reignite your passion for this industry.
This goes along with #1 but it's important to re-emphasize. You most likely picked this industry because you are passionate about health, fitness and nutrition. If that initial fire is burning out it could be because you are stagnant in your current position.
There often aren't a lot of "climb the ladder" options for trainers. If you don't want to become a manager or open your own brick-and-mortar gym/studio/office then the options can feel limited.
For me, online training/coaching has opened up new avenues of growth, learning and interests that I didn't even know I had. Two years ago the thought of designing my own website felt about the same as building a rocket ship. Now, I'm kind of obsessed with it. And the great thing is I can continue to grow and learn in that aspect of my business.
Perhaps for you it will be blogging or marketing or social media. When you find a new way to communicate your message it can remind you what you loved about it in the first place and reignite your passion for this industry.
5. You want to connect to other professionals who take this career seriously.
Depending on where you live and work, it can be hard to find other trainers who take this career seriously and want to be seen as a professional. I've been lucky to know & work with many amazing, smart and professional trainers over the years but I was so inspired to find trainers & coaches in the online space who are not only passionate about this industry but who are also creating crazy successful businesses, helping tons of people and living incredible lives.
Online entrepreneurs such as Jon Goodman, Lori Kennedy & the folks at Precision Nutrition are leading the way and showing what is possible for online training & coaching, They've also created communities through social media that allow you to connect with trainers from around the world who are creating online business and willing to share what they've learned along the way. The world needs good trainers now more than ever and it turns out there are lots of them out there!
So, now that you know some things to consider about taking your training/coaching biz online, it's possible that you are feeling equally intrigued and overwhelmed. I know that's how I felt when I got started. But, I can promise you that you don't need a background in webdesign, coding or graphic design to get started. Just be willing to start the journey & take it one step at a time.
Here's what you DON'T need to start an online business:
1. In-depth knowledge of websites, training platforms, email funnels, social media strategies, etc.
You might not feel like you are tech savvy enough to take your business online. Like me, designing a website might feel the same as building a rocket ship. Trust me, you don't have to figure it all out overnight! There are so many helpful (free) resources out there to help you learn as you go. If you are willing to invest a bit of time you will find it's easy to learn what you need to as you need it. Enjoy the process and realize that all the time you invest learning will pay off!
2. A lot of money or fancy equipment.
I promise, you already have everything you need to get started, sometimes you just have to shift your view a bit to realize it. I started with nothing but an old laptop & old iPhone. You'll figure out what you need as you go and you might be surprised how little you actually do need to make this work. There are so many free or inexpensive tools and programs and almost any phone can take "good enough" pictures. As you start to make more money you can add in some of the more pricey programs or items if they will be beneficial. Don't let not having a lot stop you from getting started!
3. A long-term plan.
You only need to know the first step. And then the next step. And then the next. Sometimes you won't know the next step until you've taken the first. That's part of the adventure. If you stay committed, the path will become clearer and clearer as you go. Keep looking ahead, keep learning & make sure to have fun along the way!
You got this.