How to Grow an Online Fitness Coaching Business

So you feel like you have the technical coaching skills to start building a remote coaching business, and create a lifestyle for yourself that will provide you with all the freedom in the world to set your own schedule and work from anywhere. 

It sounds like the dream for many current and aspiring coaches, but executing the plan is often more challenging than it seems.

Step 1: Systems, systems, systems

Successful remote coaches—individual design coaches with 100-plus remote clients—agree that this success wouldn’t have happened without robust systems and a streamlined platform in place. And the larger you grow, the more that having effective, efficient systems becomes pertinent. 

How come?

Well, imagine for a moment that some clients communicate with you via email, while others prefer to text, others use WhatsApp to communicate, and others still want a phone call or video chat. With 100 clients to manage, having all these communication options is a recipe for disaster for you as the coach.

Similarly, imagine if you use Google Sheets to send some clients their programs, while others prefer one app or another, and others just want their weekly program emailed to them on Sunday night. Again, being pulled in all kinds of different directions with all kinds of different logins or processes happening all at once makes it impossible to be organized and efficient. 

Michael Bann, a 13-year coach with a book of 120 remote clients reiterated the importance of relying on consistent and structured systems, not just for the coach, but for the client. 

“Relationship building is the foundation of all coaching…It’s a human job…And if you don’t have this kind of streamlined, organized thing is you’ll be left to chaos and you’re going to be left working horrible hours….you’re just not going to survive the industry,” Bann said, adding that without systems you’ll never be efficient enough to be able to scale large enough to be able to work with as many clients as you need to make a living.

As for the client, having systems in place allows the coach to provide a better service with consistent, effective communication. 

“The end goal is to make your systems so good that clients will literally go, ‘Man, I feel like I’m the only dude he coaches,’” Bann added.

This is where CoachRx comes in: It allows coaches to track data and hold that data in one place, rather than jumping from platform to platform. This goes a long way in improving coach efficiency, as the app keeps all the information in one place: from the intake process and consultation data, to body, move and work assessment data, to lifestyle consult and program design data, all concepts taught in the OPEX Coaching Certificate Program (CCP).

  • CoachRx further improves coach efficiency in that it makes recommendations and creates a roadmap about how to proceed to produce results. For example, if a client fails a squat test, CoachRx offers a dropdown menu that provides common squat faults. The coach can then go through the process on the app to determine exactly what they should prioritize with this client, saving them time when building the client’s program.

  • Further, the CoachRx app provides guidance on monthly consultations, by helping guide the coach about what questions to ask about sleep, training, energy levels, all the while giving the coach free range to ask their own questions, as well. “If a coach has been working with a client for three years, it will hold all of those consultations on the client’s dashboard so you can really monitor their progress,” explained OPEX CEO Carl Hardwick. 

Bonus Tip from OPEX Coach Michael Bann

For long-term success, your schedule should be structured and organized as your systems, said Bann, who uses CoachRx with his 120 clients. 

While this might look different for all coaches, for Bann it means dedicating Tuesdays to a programming day, where he writes as many as 90 programs—something he wouldn’t be able to do without having systems in place thanks to CoachRx—while Wednesdays are a blend of programming and lifestyle consults, and Mondays and Thursdays are largely devoted to lifestyle consults. And on Fridays, he works until 11 a.m. before taking the weekend off. 

Having this kind of consistency and structure allows him to avoid burnout and be efficient with his time, two keys to being a remote coach, he explained. 

“It's important to know how to set boundaries. I struggled with it until 2018, and then one day I finally took a vacation and realized I needed to take time off. You’re no good to anyone if you're burnt out and tired," Bann said.

Step 2: Create a Referral Culture

As is the case for in-person coaching, creating a referral culture largely comes down to providing your clients results.

Have you ever had a client get their first pull-up, or lose 50 pounds, and quit the next day? 

The point is, when a person sees results or reaches a goal, they’re likely to talk about it. Sometimes it’s all they can talk about. And this excitement is the most organic, genuine way to develop a referral culture.

Four Tips to Delivering Real Results 

1. Robust Assessment Process

Having a robust assessment process, be it in-person or when working with a client remotely, is crucial in setting a person up for success, as this provides insights as to where the person is physically—a requirement for developing an effective training program.

2. Finding out Intention and Purpose

As a coach, it’s tempting to look at an individual and decide what you think they need, but it’s more important to take the time to truly get to know the person to gain a thorough understanding of why they’re hiring you, of their priorities, and of what THEY want to achieve.

Ronel Velasquez, a Columbia-based remote coach, put it this way: “I think the key is to have a great upfront conversation with the client—an initial consult—that gives you the opportunity to have a better understanding of who the person is,” he said. “Because not everyone is goal or outcome-oriented necessarily. Some people just want to be healthy and enjoy the process and that is a priority for them.”

3. Individualization

Because everyone’s goals, priorities, schedules, training history, injury in story, wants, needs and goals are different, it goes without saying, the most effective programs will be unique to the individual.

Individual design is, of course, at the heart of the OPEX CCP, and something the CoachRx app makes easy to do.  

4. Follow-up

It’s one thing to deliver a great program, but without follow-up, results are less likely, especially long-term. 

One of the main roles of a coach, both in-person or remote, is to help clients track results through constant follow-ups via monthly consults, which also becomes an opportunity to retest and revise to ensure the client is on the right path. 

“Especially in a remote setting, it’s really important to keep the communication rate through the process, and explain to the client why we are doing all this stuff and make sure that they’re on the same page, that they understand and feel comfortable,” Velasquez said. 

Step 3: Other Marketing Strategies

Though creating a referral culture is your best marketing strategy, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also be building your brand and marketing yourself to attract other potential prospects. 

Four Marketing Tips

1. Find a Niche and Speak Directly to Them 

In short, “know who you are speaking to,” Hardwick said. 

The temptation might be to post pictures of the most fit-looking people, but if your goal is to attract women in their 40s and 50s, then you might scare them away rather than daw them in. 

Instead, find your niche and then speak to the problems, or pain points, that niche wants to overcome, and then explain how you can solve these problems.

This can even be done in the form of testimonials, explained long-time OPEX coach Henry Torano. 

“Tell a story: Talk to the world about the problem your client was having, what you did to address it, and then showcase the improvement,” Torano said.

2. Be Vulnerable

While you don’t want to be overly you focused, sometimes a relatable anecdote about your life, where you show your vulnerable side, goes a long way in helping people relate to you. But when you do this, actually challenge yourself to be vulnerable: Fake vulnerability is easily sniffed out.

Or as Torano put it: “Be a real person.” 

3. Add value

Everything you put out there should have an intention, or a purpose, Bann explained. 

“Everything you put out, it has to be entertaining, or it has to be educational, or it has to invoke emotional response,” he said.

4. Leave the remote world

Although you’re trying to be a remote coach, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still get out in the world and meet new people. The physical world will always be full of opportunities if you put yourself out there. 

To reiterate, successful remote coaches agree that they couldn’t coach 100+ clients effectively without robust systems and a streamlined platform in place. CoachRx is designed to help online coaches offer great results to every one of their clients, and to do so as efficiently as possible.

Start using CoachRx for FREE today and experience the best way to deliver online fitness coaching.