/ Fitness Business

Online coaching isn't passive income

Over the past year our team at StrengthPortal has listened to fitness professionals explain their goal of creating passive income as one of the main motivators to start coaching personal training clients online. Every time I hear this from a coach surprises me because it clearly shows that they do not fully understand what online coaching is. The assumption that online coaching is an opportunity to add a passive revenue stream to your business is not only incorrect, but I believe that it directly preventing thousands of personal trainers from getting their online coaching services scale to the point where it can be a sustainable and profitable branch of their business.

Let me know if this scenario sounds familiar. A personal trainer sees other fitness professionals marketing their online coaching services and decides to join the party. They build a website, create their pricing plans, and release this “passive income stream” out into the wild! Instead of having their inbox flooded with inquiries they are met with the sound of this protein-rich insect:


What went wrong? Well, the personal trainer thought that their special new training service was so awesome that it would just sell itself. It's only a matter of time until clients and profits materialize! Any online coach who has built a successful business will be quick to tell you that this simply isn't the case. As with any other service (service is the key word here) online coaching clients are an opportunity you have to earn by taking the time to build up your brand, marketing yourself through content, learning how to build trust to convert paying customers, and last of all you have to deliver a top-quality service month after month or your clients will leave. Eventually online coaching can be a strong revenue stream that will complement your in-person training. Online coaching even offers the opportunity to pursue coaching clients online full-time, but it will always, ALWAYS, require your time and energy.

Don’t let this discourage you. Considering how rare it was to create a living as a fitness professional 10-20 years ago you are lucky to have this as an option and opportunity to scale your business and help more people than ever before. I want every fitness professional who reads this article to have a crystal clear view of what profitable and sustainable online coaching should look like and what it will continue to look like for years to come:

Fitness consumers are looking for personal training coaches that:

  • are cost-effective.
  • are able to provide a personalized experience.
  • are flexible enough to match their schedules.
  • provide a community to engage that the consumer can engage with.

Fitness Professionals are looking for revenue streams that:

  • require low setup costs and offer a high return on investment.
  • are scaleable.
  • allow them to have more flexibility with their schedule.
  • can create long-term sustainable business relationships (low churn).

So what does profitable and sustainable online coaching businesses look like? The best online coaches I’ve met will:

  • take on only the amount of clients that still allow them to personally engage with each individual. Personal Note – I’ve been told that the maximum number of clients that can be personally coached by a full-time online coach is around 30-40. If you have that many clients you’re probably hitting your financial goals, so this seems reasonable to shoot for.
  • build personalized fitness, and sometimes nutrition if they are certified, plans to help clients reach their goals.
  • regularly produce meaningful, timely, and engaging content for clients.
  • interact with clients weekly, and sometimes even daily, to educate and encourage them to continue to put in the work necessary to make progress.
  • invest in software tools to deliver a quality training experience to their clientele.
  • continually work to earn their clients trust so that long-term business relationships can be built.

Fitness professionals shouldn’t think of coaching clients online any differently than when they train someone in-person. This personal touch is the single strongest asset you have as a coach. It’s what makes you irreplaceable and will continue to grow your business for years to come.

Good luck. We believe in you. - Matt, CEO of StrengthPortal

Matt McGunagle

Matt McGunagle

CEO & Founder of StrengthPortal. Working hard to help you in between deadlifts and jiu-jitsu!

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