Knowing how to set up and run an online fitness class is a valuable skill. Delivering workouts virtually or through a live stream enables you to reach a bigger audience and earn more income. Doing it as an online business can give you freedom over your time and allow you to travel instead of being tied to a gym.

In this article – learn how to run online fitness classes that are effective and engaging (from set-up to scaling).

We’re a specialist fitness marketing agency with 15+ years of industry experience, so we know first-hand what works (and what doesn’t!). We’ve helped gyms, fitness studios, and personal trainers to successfully promote their businesses, so our online strategies are tried and tested.

We’ll walk you through the essentials of teaching fitness online, whether you’re a personal trainer, group exercise instructor, or health coach. So if you’re just getting started or looking for ways to improve your existing online classes, this article has you covered.

How To Set Up An Online Fitness Class

Let’s start by looking at how to set up an online fitness class. The most important things are that people can join, see, and hear you clearly. So you will need to…

  1. Decide which platform you’ll use to stream your fitness class online (Zoom, Facebook Live, etc) and then create a joining link that you can share with participants in advance.
  2. Set up your recording equipment (phone, laptop, or camera) on a stable foundation (like a table or tripod).
  3. Ensure it is close enough that class participants will be able to see your movements clearly and you’ll be positioned in the middle of the screen when teaching.
  4. Connect your microphone to the recording equipment via bluetooth so that students can hear your cues and explanations clearly (this also minimises background noise).
  5. Do a test run where you get a friend or fellow fitness instructor to try the joining link, watch the class, and listen to the sound so that you know everything is working perfectly.

Following these steps when you set up your online fitness class will ensure it runs smoothly and participants have a great experience.

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How To Run Online Fitness Classes

Now you’ve sorted your setup, let’s dive into how to run an online fitness class. There will be many similarities with how you’d run one in person, so don’t be daunted by the fact it’s a virtual setting. But there are some adjustments you need to make to deliver an online class successfully…

You’ll need to structure your fitness class in a ways that engages people from the start (and then keeps them involved to the end). The thing with online sessions is that people can drop out or sneak off – something they generally aren’t brave enough to do in person!

Here’s an overview of how to run an online fitness class…

  • Intro – explain who the class is perfect for and what the benefits are. Why should someone keep watching? Why try your session out? What will they gain?
  • Warmup – spend a few minutes getting viewers warmed up while continuing to highlight the benefits of your class (so people continue watching until the main workout). 
  • Workout – for the main bulk of the workout it’s important to cover the following:
    • Explain the movement, benefits, and muscles or systems it targets
    • Cover coaching points, correct technique, and common mistakes
    • Show them each movement slowly from the front and the side before doing it at full speed
    • Cue in countdowns so they know how long is left to go and don’t give up too soon
    • Talk through progressions or alternatives e.g. if participants want to make it harder or easier, have different levels of mobility, or only have a limited amount of space 
  • Call to action & cooldown – when training online, people tend to switch off before the cooldown so it’s important to highlight the benefits of doing one. If you’re using the class to promote an online course or program, then be sure to share details of how people can sign up.

Structuring your online fitness class or workout video in this way will maximise the number of people who stay to the very end. With so many fitness bloggers and influencers around right now, it’s a crowded market. But delivering a well-paced, engaging class is something you can do to set yourself apart as a fitness professional.

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Tips For Delivering a Great Online Workout Experience

Here are some top tips and best practices for delivering a great online workout experience for clients and students…

Cater For Different Learning Styles

People learn in different ways – typically by watching, listening, doing, or a combination of these. So, it’s important to cater for all three learning styles in each of your online fitness classes or workout videos.

Demonstrate a movement from the front, side, and in slow motion. Talk through each movement in detail too. Don’t assume they will simply be able to follow by watching as not everyone’s brains are wired in that way.

Give people the chance to practice moves before jumping into the set too. This enables you to cater to the ‘doing’ learners.

Engage Fitness Class Participants

It’s important to engage your fitness class participants so that they stay to the very end! Ask them to like the video, comment on it, or subscribe to your channel. Ask them a specific question for to respond to in the comments section.

If you’re doing live videos, it can be helpful to have someone else reading out comments. This makes it easier for you to give shoutouts during classes. For fitness workouts on Zoom, call out individuals for things they’re doing well.

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Use polls and questions to help you pitch the workout at the right level. You can give people 3 options and ask which best apply to them (e.g. “I work out regularly, haven’t exercised for a while, or am brand new to fitness”). This helps you tailor the class to participant needs and also helps them feel reassured that others are just like them. 

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Crowd-source Fitness Class Ideas

A great way to ensure you’re delivering a great workout experience is simply to ask your audience what they want. You can use quick polls, online surveys, or just ask them to answer questions in the comments.

  • Ask them about what they enjoy about your current classes – then do more of this.
  • Enquire if there’s anything they find tough or confusing – improve on this.
  • Ask about their biggest health and fitness challenges right now – create videos or entire programs to address this.

This is also an effective approach for generating new and profitable fitness class ideas for your business.

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Innovating & Improving

If you’re going to be running online fitness classes on a regular basis, then you’ll need to continually improve and innovate. Doing the same thing over and over will become repetitive for both you and your class participants. So make a proactive effort to switch up your format and try new ideas…

Find Your Unique

The most successful online fitness instructors have something unique about them. This is what sets them apart in a crowded market and helps to make them more memorable or relatable.

You don’t need a big budget or fancy studio to be unique. But it is worth thinking about what makes you different from other online fitness trainers. Here are some ideas to consider…

  • Your outfit or personal style – colours, patterns, etc
  • Backdrop or location – outdoors beach park bench
  • Something memorable, different or random e.g. yoga instructor Adriene‘s dog Benji
  • Equipment – use equipment or props that no-one else is
  • Movements – create your own movements or training style
  • Blend two fitness areas e.g. surf yoga

Batch Your Video Recording Sessions

If you want to grow an online fitness class business, then you’ll need to deliver consistently. Stick to a regular class timetable, just like you would in a real health club setting.

By delivering online sessions consistently, you’ll establish yourself as a reliable fitness instructor. It’ll also help participants to develop a fitness habit that’s part of their routine.

One trick to staying consistent is recording workouts in batches. This can be a more time-efficient way of creating workout videos and virtual classes. Try creating 3-5 videos at a time and then releasing one every week.

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Keep Innovating

Do anything for long enough and it becomes routine. When you teach online fitness classes for long enough, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Developing a habit is great but there is a risk of becoming stale, predictable, and even boring.

Make a conscious effort to switch up your workout classes by changing the format, structure, and movements. Introduce exciting new elements that make online workouts more exciting for participants.

For exampleJoe Wicks used a ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and rolled giant fluffy dice to decide which exercise to do next during his online PE classes.

How To Set Up Online Fitness Classes

Leverage Analytics

Reviewing your analytics might sound dull but it’s actually a great way to find practical insights. Where do people drop off during your workout videos or classes? At what point do they stop watching or give up on an exercise? Your analytics can answer these questions and help you improve.

Re-watch your content to match the drop-off points with what’s happening in the video. Identify what the cause might be and how you can address it.

Do you need to provide more encouragement for them to keep going or let them know the end is in sight? Adding more cues and countdowns (e.g. “just three more exercises to go”) can help massively.

Partner With Others

Partnering with others can be a great way to get new online fitness clients. Try delivering guest sessions or masterclasses in other people’s health and wellness programs.

This enables you to get in front of new audiences, build awareness, and demonstrate your expertise. A number of that audience are likely to sign up for your program or classes as a result.

Look Outside Your Industry

If you want to keep innovating it can be helpful to look outside of the fitness industry. Learn from experts and practitioners in other sectors such as:

  • Teachers
  • Facebook Live specialists
  • YouTubers
  • Habit formation coaches
  • Motivational speakers
  • Online course blogs from Teachable and Udemy
  • Meetups and Facebook groups
  • Online teaching masterclasses

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Participate In Other Classes for Inspiration

It’s easy to get trapped in your own bubble (especially when working for yourself or from home). A good way to get out of this is to participate in other fitness classes for inspiration.

Take other instructors’ classes to get different ideas and keep your own sessions fresh. Try workouts that are in a completely different niche to your own.

For example, try martial arts if you teach yoga or meditation if you’re a circuit instructor. Write down three things you enjoyed after every session and then incorporate these ideas into your own classes.

Invest In Your Own Development

Keep your classes fresh and engaging by investing in your own development. It’s often overlooked by self-employed fitness professionals but crucial to continuously improving.

Check out online courses, webinars, and books on the latest training techniques. Consider what interests you, what would benefit your online clients, and wider fitness trends. This will help you choose a training topic that generates a strong return on investment both professionally and personally.

Now you know exactly how to teach fitness classes online. These proven strategies will help you deliver effective, innovative, and engaging workouts virtually. So, whether you’re teaching on Zoom, YouTube, or Facebook Live, these tips will help you become a successful online trainer.

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The Fitness Marketing & Lead Generation Roadmap is a comprehensive resource designed for gyms, personal trainers, and online fitness businesses. It’s packed with video workshops, marketing templates, step-by-step guides, cheat sheets, and more. We cover:

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Caroline @ Wellness Creative Co

Qualified personal trainer (BSc Sports Science) & nutritionist (MSc Human Nutrition) with 15+ years of fitness & wellness marketing experience working with global brands.