This post was updated on December 8, 2022.
Trainers and their clients were tapping into online fitness programs long before COVID-19 shut down gyms and fitness studios across the globe. Now, it’s one of the biggest movements in fitness.
Online training was the number-one fitness trend of 2021, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). To put that in perspective, online training ranked 25th in previous years.
So, chances are you’re familiar with the kind of online fitness programs you can build with Wix Fit. But if you’re not sure how to make this virtual fitness solution work for your particular fitness business, read on for some expert tips.
What’s an online fitness program, exactly?
In many ways, online fitness programs are very much like the programs you design for your in-person clients. Exactly how you’d like to manage an online program is up to you, but it’s typically either a scheduled series of workouts (like a 7-day core challenge) or a self-paced one (like a 30-day beginner’s strength training program with three sessions a week). You can include videos that clients follow along with, or write out steps and include images that demonstrate proper form. (Related: How to shoot workout videos like a pro)
Either way, online fitness programs are a progressive, intentional series of workouts that help clients work towards specific goals, as opposed to doing a string of random sessions. (Find the Online Programs app in the Wix App Market.)
A brief history of early online programs: Australian trainer and Instagram sensation Kayla Itsines first started selling her program, then known as the Bikini Body Guide or BBG, as an e-book for a flat fee back in 2014. Trainers Katrina Scott and Karena Dawn founded Tone It Up, another brand known for online programs, in 2009. (More: How to be an online personal trainer)
There’s a lot of freedom to create a program that works for you and your clients. Ahead, we’ll review:
Check out Wix Learn for more on building online programs.
How to create an online fitness program
Building an online fitness program is a lot like building an in-person fitness program. You need to find your niche and deliver quality workouts. But here are a few online-specific best practices to keep in mind.
Of course, any online fitness program you create for a large number of customers won’t have the same level of personalization as a plan you create for a one-on-one client. Since customers will be following the program on their own, you’ll also need to account for the fact that you won't be able to monitor form or provide cues as needed along the way.
With that in mind, make sure the difficulty is appropriate for your intended customer and clearly spell out who each program is designed for (beginner weightlifters, advanced runners and so on).
Also important in the age of at-home workouts: Make sure you’re clear about the equipment people will need in order to complete the program; list required and optional items right in the description before people sign up (you can do this with the Wix Online Programs app).
Even still, you’ll want to incorporate equipment as efficiently as possible. For example, if most of your movements use dumbbells, program dumbbell swings and goblet squats instead of throwing kettlebells into the mix, too.
From there, provide detailed instructions for each exercise and workout, and include visual elements and key form tips whenever possible. The goal is for your clients to be able to confidently execute whatever you program, so, when in doubt, keep it simple.
Deliver what you advertise
It’s important to consider what performs well in Google search and on social media, but make sure you deliver what you promise. Some people will stuff keywords into a workout program for SEO purposes, but is your program really delivering on the keywords you’re using?
“Your program name, description, and focus must live up to expectations so that clients are satisfied,” says Kehinde Anjorin, CFSC, NCSF, founder of Power In Movement. “If you say it’s a HIIT program, it should truly be a HIIT program.”
Determine the length of your program
Offer a few different programs of different lengths that serve different purposes. For example, quick challenges (think: 7 days) can be a fun way to invite new customers to test the waters or re-engage existing clients. But longer programs (anywhere from 30 days to three months) will often be the meat and potatoes of your business. You can price these programs at higher rates and give clients the opportunity to see significant results.
Now, how will you keep customers engaged and accountable over the course of your program? Consider daily reminders for short programs or a weekly fitness newsletter for longer ones.
Focus on value
“It’s easy to find fitness content that appeals to the fears and insecurities of consumers—think deceptive marketing about losing belly fat in 10 days or slimming your inner thighs,” says Anjorin. “But providing sound training principles, sustainable programming and long-term tools that support their journeys leads to lasting value and change for clients, rather than preying on their emotions.” Let your online program be an empowering voice in the industry.
Build your program
You’ll need to build a fitness website to host your online fitness program, and many of Wix’s fitness website templates already include an online programs app. If not, simply download Wix Online Programs from the App Market. FYI: Clients will also be able to follow your programs from the Fit By Wix or Branded app. You can update your programs from the Wix Owner app.
As you hone your online fitness programs, consider customer feedback your greatest asset. “I make different types of content available and then assess how each type of content is received by my clients,” says Renché Seyffert, founder of New Zealand-based FIT BEST training, who uses Wix Fit to build online fitness programs. “I create more of what gets the best feedback and make tweaks to ‘misses’ to make them more appealing and successful.” Note: If you build your online program with Wix, clients will be able to submit feedback after each step.
Keep your content fresh
Make new programs regularly so clients keep engaging with your services. Think about the client journey: Someone who just finished a beginner program may be ready for a more challenging version next. Of course, you’ll want to communicate updates with your clients so they always know their options.
How to sell an online fitness program
You can sell your online fitness programs as a one-time purchase or as part of a subscription or membership. You can offer both with the Wix Pricing Plans app, as well as free trials to engage new clients.
“Subscription models tend to be the better call for coaches who want something sustainable that has higher levels of retention, while one-off programs can be nice for sales and specific launches,” says Jake Boly, MS, CSCS, founder of That Fit Friend. But one-off purchases are a great way to target new clients who want to start with less financial commitment. You can consider these programs one of your marketing strategies. “One-off purchases set clients up to make future purchases when they are able,” says Seyffert.
Of course, if you only offer one-off purchases, you’ll need a plan for how you’ll retain customers, Boly says. “Create a funnel or framework for what comes next,” he suggests. “For example, if you sell someone a powerlifting beginner program, create a funnel that suggests a follow-up program when they have one or two weeks left.”
No matter which plan you choose, do not (we repeat, do not) sell yourself short when it comes to pricing. “I made the mistake of pricing way too low and learned the hard way that it's better to have less volume with price points that make sense than to spread yourself too thin by creating many products that are priced way too low,” says Seyffert. “Don’t undersell how much work it takes.”
If you’re not sure where to start with pricing, Boly and Seyffert both recommend checking out how trainers or competitors price their offerings. “Make sure your prices are in line with the average prices of others in your field,” suggests Seyffert.
Some quick references for inspiration:
The SWEAT fitness app runs off a subscription model in which members pay $19.99 per month for access to a suite of training programs.
The Tone It Up app works similarly but also offers discounted pricing for those willing to pay for longer-duration memberships upfront. (Members pay $14.99 for month-to-month access, $12.66 per month if they pay per quarter and $8.33 per month if they pay for the full year at once.)
One-off workout programs and challenges may be more varied in pricing depending on their length or duration. Instagram sensation Katie Crewe offers a variety of different programs. Her 9-week The Building Blocks introductory strength-training program costs $69. Her “Mom Crewe” prenatal strength-training program offers 36 weeks of workouts, plus bonus content (like recipes and breathing exercises) for $99.
How to market an online fitness program
The best online fitness content in the world can’t reach its full potential without marketing. As you build out your online programs and other offerings, make sure you’re also building out a plan for getting your brand in front of potential customers and converting them. Use the broad range of marketing tools provided by Wix to create social templates, promo videos and targeted campaigns.
A few best practices to keep in mind:
Show up often
“Your post or email is only a second of someone’s incredibly detailed day,” Boly says. “You absolutely cannot post once and expect everyone to sign up. You need a strategy to create frequent exposure that delivers value.” Basically, be prepared to show up on social media, in emails and through whatever other channels you plan to use consistently. Yes, that means finding a slew of new ways to talk up the same program. Be creative.
“You absolutely cannot post once and expect everyone to sign up. You need a strategy to create frequent exposure that delivers value.”
Show up thoughtfully
Of course, the quality of your marketing—especially your social media posts—is just as important as its frequency. “Before you post, always ask yourself if you’re providing value to your audience,” says Anjorin. “Your current followers are all potential buyers.” Are your posts giving followers something they can actually use, in addition to advertising your product? For example, instead of simply promoting your beginner’s strength-training program in a post, share a proper form breakdown for an exercise they’ll often encounter in the workouts.
From there, “thoughtfully engaging with others is an easy way to boost engagement,” Boly says. Your DMs and comments are a great place to answer questions about your offering, provide more details about the program content and help followers get a sense of whether it’d be a good fit for them. A little bit of genuine interaction goes a long way.
Make your efforts work double-time
Once you’ve identified where you want to spend your marketing energy, look into how you can maximize its reach and impact. The more sales you can score per YouTube video, Instagram Story or Facebook post, the better. Check out the video above to see how Wix's AI algorithm can optimize your Facebook and Instagram campaigns for you.
Anjorin also recommends seeking out opportunities to collaborate with fitness brands. “This has helped me get so much exposure,” she says. “Brands are always looking for great trainers and content so don’t be afraid to reach out.” Whenever possible, time partnerships around new content launches and utilize your partners’ platforms to highlight your programs to potential new clients.
The bottom line on online fitness programs
The world of online training might seem like a busy place, but don’t let the saturation discourage you.
“You don't need a huge following to be successful and a lot of great coaches will fare way better building an intimate community,” Boly says. “A community of 50 to 100 people is more than enough for most coaches to make a living and scale.”
Now that you’ve brushed off the notion that you need to be an internet star to find success in selling online fitness programs, “start small, find your niche and focus your efforts on your strengths,” Seyffert says. “Define success on those you’re personally helping and you’ll create more intimate relationships and build a more tight-knit community, which others notice and want to to be a part of.”
Read more about how you can build your online fitness business with Wix Fit.