Gym vs. Online: Can You Earn More Training Clients Virtually?

March 16, 2024

The age-old question for personal trainers: gym floor or digital realm? Both options offer unique advantages and challenges when it comes to building a clientele and maximizing your income. Let's delve into the world of gym-based versus online personal training to see where you can potentially cultivate a thriving pool of clients.

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The Allure of the Gym: Traditional Clientele and Networking

gym trainer
  1. Established Clientele and Lead Generation: Gyms often have a steady stream of potential clients who walk through the doors. You can leverage the gym's existing membership base to jumpstart your client acquisition. Gyms may also provide lead generation support, connecting you with members who express interest in personal training.
  2. Networking Opportunities: Gyms foster a sense of community, allowing you to network with other trainers, staff, and potential clients who might be interested in your services. You can build relationships with other trainers to learn from each other's experiences and potentially collaborate on group training programs.
  3. Hands-on Advantage: Providing in-person guidance and spotting clients during exercises can be a valuable selling point, especially for beginners who crave hands-on support. You can personalize workouts in real-time based on a client's form, technique, and progress.

However, gyms also come with limitations:

  1. Limited Reach: Your clientele is restricted to gym members within a specific geographic location. This can make it challenging to scale your business and reach a wider audience.
  2. Hourly Rates & Scheduling Constraints: Your income is capped by the hourly rate offered by the gym and restricted by gym operating hours. You may not have the flexibility to set your own rates or schedule client sessions outside of gym hours.
  3. Competition: You might face competition from other trainers at the gym, potentially limiting the number of clients you can work with. This can be especially challenging for new trainers trying to establish themselves.

The Virtual Boom: Flexibility, Wider Reach, and Scalability

virtual online trainer

The online fitness world offers exciting possibilities for personal trainers:

  1. Global Reach: The internet breaks down geographical barriers, allowing you to train clients across the world. You can tap into a much larger pool of potential clients compared to a traditional gym setting.
  2. Scalability: You're not limited by gym hours. You can structure your schedule to accommodate more clients and potentially increase your income. By utilizing online coaching platforms, you can streamline client communication, and appointment scheduling, and automate tasks, freeing up your time to focus on training.
  3. Flexibility: Design your own service packages, and pricing structure, and work from the comfort of your own home or a remote location. This allows you to create a work-life balance that suits your needs.

However, going virtual also presents challenges:

  1. Building Trust Virtually: Establishing rapport and trust with clients you can't physically interact with requires extra effort. You need to be creative in using video conferencing, communication tools, and progress tracking methods to build strong client relationships.
  2. Marketing Muscle: Attracting clients in the vast online space requires strategic marketing and a strong online presence. You need to invest time and resources in content creation, social media marketing, and potentially paid advertising to reach your target audience.
  3. Self-Discipline Required: Virtual training demands self-discipline from both you and your clients. You need to be adept at providing clear instructions, motivational coaching, and holding clients accountable even when they're training remotely.

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The Verdict: Earning Potential Depends on Strategy, Not Just Location

client paying for membership

So, can you earn more training clients virtually? The answer is: it depends.  Here are some key factors to consider:

  1. Your Skills & Experience: Specialization and proven success in a particular niche (e.g., weight loss coaching, pre/postnatal fitness) can command premium rates, regardless of platform.
  2. Marketing Savvy: Effective online marketing strategies like social media content marketing (blog posts, videos) and paid advertising are crucial for attracting clients in the virtual space.
  3. Client Focus: Deliver exceptional value, personalized attention, and ongoing support to retain clients, be it online or in-person. Utilize video conferencing, workout tracking apps, and other tools to provide a comprehensive coaching experience.

The Hybrid Hero: Merging the Best of Both Worlds

coach at gym taking online class

The good news? You don't have to choose! Consider a hybrid approach, leveraging the strengths of both gym-based and online training to create a sustainable and profitable personal training business:

  1. Offer in-person training at the gym for a limited number of clients. This allows you to provide hands-on guidance, build rapport with clients, and cater to those who prefer face-to-face interaction.
  2. Complement your gym sessions with online coaching, providing remote clients with personalized workout plans and virtual consultations. This expands your reach, caters to clients who cannot make it to the gym, and allows for more flexibility in scheduling. Utilize video conferencing tools for consultations and exercise demonstrations to maintain a strong connection with remote clients.
  3. Utilize social media and online content creation to showcase your expertise and attract a wider audience. Share workout tips, healthy recipes, and motivational content on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok. Create a website or blog to establish yourself as a thought leader in the fitness industry and convert followers into clients.

Here are some additional tips for maximizing your earning potential with a hybrid approach:

  1. Develop Premium Online Coaching Packages: Offer comprehensive online coaching packages that include features like customized workout plans, video exercise demonstrations, nutritional guidance, video check-ins, and progress tracking. This justifies higher fees compared to basic online coaching programs.
  2. Leverage Online Fitness Communities:  Build your online presence by engaging in fitness forums, Facebook groups, or online communities. Participate in discussions, answer questions, and offer valuable insights to establish yourself as an expert and attract potential clients.


Q: How important is social media for attracting online clients?

A: Social media is a powerful tool for personal trainers. Share valuable content, success stories (with client consent), and behind-the-scenes glimpses into your training style to connect with your target audience. Utilize relevant hashtags and engage with your followers to build a community around your brand.

Q:  The future of fitness seems to be moving online. Will gyms become obsolete?

A: Not necessarily. Gyms will likely adapt and offer hybrid training options, combining in-person classes with virtual components. However, online personal training offers undeniable convenience and flexibility, making it a strong contender in the fitness industry.

With the right pricing strategy, you can take your online coaching business to new heights of success.
Henceforth, try out Spur.Fit's pricing tool to accurately determine what you should charge your clients.
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