How to build a website for your gym or personal training business

Before you even start building your website, which frankly is the easy part, you need to be thinking about the bigger picture. That is to say, how are you going to use your website to grow your business? How are you going sell your services?

We’ve already written an in depth tutorial on the practicalities of building a website, and this is the same for a gym website as it is for any other. In this article we are focusing on those special elements which will help separate your gym or personal training website from the competition. Let’s jump in…

Table of Contents:

How to Sell Fitness Coaching Services Online

You’ve established your personal training business, and things are going well. A steady base of clients relies on you for fitness coaching, health advice and lifestyle support. Now you’re ready to expand your expertise beyond the local area and bring in online clients.

When done correctly, online fitness coaching can be a lucrative branch of your business requiring less time than providing services locally. Follow these guidelines to get started, and you’ll be well on your way to connecting with a whole new audience.

Visualize Your Client Base

Begin with a detailed assessment of the kinds of clients you already service. What do they have in common? Make a list of defining characteristics, including:

  • Personal goals
  • Level of dedication
  • Rate of progress
  • Attitude toward training

This gives you a picture of the ideal client for the online aspect of your fitness coaching business. With this picture in mind, you have a basis for designing training programs, writing content and targeting advertisements.

Once you’ve defined your customer base, decide how far you want to reach with your online presence. Do you prefer to stay within the immediate area, expanding only into nearby states, or are you ready to work with clients around the country? Knowing what range you’re comfortable with and what you can reasonably handle will help when you start creating a marketing plan.

Determine How to Package Your Product

Your ideal client comes to you with a particular goal in mind. Whether it’s to lose weight, gain muscle, improve strength or simply feel healthier, each goal has a training method designed to provide the best results. Build template plans for the most common goals, and use these as the basis of your products. Consider how to package services together in logical ways to create the types of packages clients will want to buy.

Depending on the styles of training you provide, you have different options for pricing and delivering your online offerings. If your main product for local clients is personalized training and meal plans, you can recreate the experience with training videos, exercise schedules and a booklet of recipes with helpful nutrition advice. For a business involving progressive training, an online membership or subscription service may be a better format.

Set Payment Levels

Whether you plan to sell subscriptions or packages, you need to figure out the best delivery format and how to price programs at different levels. Most online payment services charge a percentage of the total cost of products as a transaction fee, so it’s important to keep this in mind as you work out your prices. You have to bring in enough money from each package to make it worth your time, but it’s also important to price services at a level attractive to potential clients.

When listing packages or subscription levels on your site, pick one as the “most popular” or “recommended starting point.” Include a combination of services you feel are the most useful to first-time clients, and price other packages in a way that makes this particular option seem reasonable. A proper pricing scale conveys the value of the services you’re delivering to clients.

Equip Your Website for Subscriptions

Selling packages and subscriptions means offering exclusive content to clients at different levels. In order to do this, you’ll need a tool to create a subscription service and provide a dashboard where you can manage content delivery. Many plugins with this functionality are available for sites built with WordPress, and most provide easy integration with your chosen payment gateway. Some allow you to accept payments through multiple services so that clients can choose the method they’re most comfortable with.

If your website hasn’t been updated in a while, take the opportunity to clean up the layout, remove distracting elements, streamline the navigation and update pertinent information. Make any other changes necessary to ensure smooth operation with your chosen subscription management tools.

Create Compelling Content

To build a dedicated Internet following, you need more than the training packages offered on your website. Potential online clients are looking for someone to help them reach their fitness goals, and it’s your job to demonstrate why your business is the best choice.

If you don’t already have a blog, start one now. Write articles to showcase of the kind of content clients can expect to receive when they sign up for your services. Offer something for free, such as a short themed workout series, to keep people coming back to your website and engaged with your social media channels.

Keep the quality consistent between both free and paid content. Free content is like a promise, and clients expect you to deliver when they subscribe or buy packages. Bringing them what they’re looking for builds trust and creates a strong foundation for lasting client relationships.

Market Like a Pro

Remember the ideal client picture you created when you started setting up your online fitness training business? You’ll need to go back to it to build compelling marketing campaigns. Your target audience spends time on specific websites, including social media channels, and that’s where you want your ads to appear. With a combination of search engine optimization, paid search ads and display ads, you can reach your clients where they are and show them why your services are the best way to meet their fitness goals.

In addition to advertising, stay active on social media. Answer questions, post interesting articles and share your own content to create ongoing conversations. Being personable and approachable is just as good a marketing tool as any ad.

Creating an online component of your fitness coaching business expands your reach and has the potential to significantly increase your profits. At the same time, you’ll be expanding your brand, building trust and helping more people achieve better fitness and health. Be persistent and offer the highest quality content to realize the full potential of online personal training.

Membership Plugins for Running Your Online Coaching Business

Offering members-only content to personal training clients can increase your revenue by encouraging people to sign up for exclusive packages. By allowing clients to access special informative content, custom programs or personalized meal plans from any device on their own time, you expand your reach and reduce the amount time spent sending information directly to individual customers.

Set up a membership program with one of these full-featured WordPress plugins to revolutionize the way clients experience your services.

Magic Members (Premium)

Integrations with multiple payment platforms and popular email applications make Magic Members a powerful choice for membership websites. A wide range of payment options ensures services are accessible by the largest number of clients possible, and the ability to set up autoresponders from an existing email account simplifies your marketing. Create unlimited subscription types, including pay-per-view options, and allow clients to purchase one or more subscriptions as they desire. You can even show or hide information within content items to be revealed only at specific subscription levels.

MemberPress (Premium)

A yearly payment grants you access to MemberPress and its tools for creating dynamic custom pricing pages. Start with a template or code your own CSS to match subscription detail displays to your website’s theme. “Content dripping” functionality creates the ability to deliver content on a specific time scale, such as emailing a week’s worth of workouts or meal plans at intervals over the course of a subscription. Users can easily manage their own memberships, and comprehensive reporting gives you a snapshot of which programs perform best.

OptimizeMember (Premium)

Highlight individual services or special packages with the custom landing pages, sales pages and marketing pages available from OptimizeMember. With over 30 templates and 40 special elements, the theme and plugin versions of this membership tool integrate seamlessly with your WordPress website for powerful membership management. Create secure portals for each membership level, and edit the appearance of the fully responsive pages using an intuitive live editing system. Offer clients even more of your expertise with the included options for designing online courses and webinars.

Restrict Content Pro (Premium)

The user-friendly nature of Restrict Content Pro makes it simple to manage all membership levels for your site. Unlimited subscription types and discount codes open up a wide range of possibilities, and the payment and email integrations simplify the marketing and follow-up processes. Use the detailed reports to monitor the performance of each package, and adjust your offerings accordingly. A selection of pro add-ons makes this plugin even more powerful with drip content, custom redirects, content expiration dates and more.

S2 Member (Free and Pro)

Just right for small businesses, the free version of S2 Member offers four membership levels and the ability to customize exactly what types of content you protect. Choose specific pages, posts, URLs, categories or tags to segment content for every membership type. Personalize elements such as emails and login pages for a seamless client experience. Going pro provides a tool for creating gift codes, integrations with Stripe and PayPal Pro and unrestricted creation of membership levels.

Using a membership plugin for your WordPress site simplifies content delivery and ensures controlled access to different plan levels. Create custom packages, personalize the experience and deploy personal training content with ease on schedules tailored to your specific client base.

How to put testimonials on your website

Displaying client testimonials on your personal training site provides social proof to back up your credentials. Potential clients see testimonials as personal recommendations for your services. Reading the positive experiences of others can be what prompts them to choose you over another trainer in the area. These WordPress plugins allow you to seamlessly integrate a prominent testimonial display into your website.

BNE Testimonials (Free and Pro)

Display testimonials as a list or in a slider on any page of your site with BNE Testimonials. Simple shortcodes make placement easy and flexible. A widget option is also available to include testimonials in a sidebar instead of the main part of a page. Content is added as individual posts with the option for a title, tagline, message and featured image. Create categories to display testimonials as unique groups. Upgrading to the pro plugin offers more themes and layouts with pagination options, as well as a form for clients to directly submit feedback.

Easy Testimonials (Free and Pro)

Using Easy Testimonials, you can include images and inbound site links in your testimonial display. Create your own collections of testimonials or choose to display them at random with a shortcode or widget. The pro version adds over 75 themes with customizable fonts to match the appearance of your site. A front-end collection form is also included to capture testimonials directly from satisfied clients.

Strong Testimonials (Free)

Easy enough for beginners with features fit for advanced users, Strong Testimonials uses a straightforward editor based on “views.” Each view has its own related shortcode to simplify the process of customization and display. Choose a template, edit the appearance to complement your site and use the flexible sorting options to set up a slideshow display. The included input form can be set to notify one or more site administrators when new testimonials are submitted. Made with small businesses in mind, this plugin is just right for a solo personal training operation.

Testimonial Basics (Free)

As the name suggests, Testimonial Basics is a simple testimonial plugin made for the express purpose of collecting and displaying testimonials. The input form comes with several standard and two customizable input fields for gathering client information to post with feedback. All new testimonials are managed through the WordPress administrator dashboard, making it easy to weed out bogus reviews before they go live. Display includes star ratings and excerpts laid out on a slider or as a list on its own page. Widget support is also included.

Testimonials (Premium)

For a one-time fee, the Testimonials plugin gives you the power to create a fully responsive custom view in one of four layouts:

  • Thumbnail
  • Carousel
  • Grid
  • List

Group feedback by category, apply a custom style and choose an appropriate image size before placing the shortcode in a prominent location. You can choose whether or not to employ a star rating along with client pictures, company names and company website links. Testimonials show as pending in the WordPress dashboard until you approve them for display.

A solid collection of positive testimonials boosts the confidence of potential clients and increases the likelihood they’ll sign up for your services. Posting this feedback on your site with a WordPress plugin gives your personal training business more credibility and can put you a step ahead of the competition.

Best Appointment Booking Plugins for Personal Trainers

The success of your personal training business hinges on having a steady stream of clients. In today’s highly connected mobile world, you need an online booking calendar optimized to reach clients where and when they’re looking for the services you offer. These premium WordPress plugins combine the user-friendly front end design clients want with powerful back end tools for you to manage all of your bookings.

BirchPress

With customizable forms and a responsive layout, BirchPress looks attractive on any platform. Once you have the calendar set up, a simple shortcode is all you need to embed it wherever you like in your website. Available appointments may be viewed by the day, week or month. Bookings sync with other calendar apps, including Google and Outlook, making it easy for you and your clients to keep track of dates and times. Clients will receive automatic notifications to remind them of appointments. Set up time slots with custom durations to match your availability, and use the option to connect with PayPal for easy online payment collection.

WP Booking Calendar

WP Booking Calendar is a tried and true WordPress plugin with a wide range of uses. To schedule clients, simply create a calendar, use CSS coding to customize it to match your brand image and embed the final design using a shortcode. The plugin allows for unlimited calendars, all managed directly from the WordPress dashboard.

Flexibility in time slot creation, seasonal availability and whether or not to allow multiple bookings in one block of time makes this plugin useful whether you run your business solo or oversee a team of trainers. Personalize the experience for clients by directing them to custom pages after booking.

Team Booking

If you’re looking for a feature-rich, user-friendly appointment plugin, try Team Booking. With this powerful WordPress tool, you can:

• Sync appointments and manage availability with Google Calendar
• Add a Google Map with your training location(s)
• Set up appointments for different types of services, such as classes or one-on-one sessions
• Accept payments via Stripe or PayPal
• Create customized reservation forms, notification messages and confirmation emails
• Export appointment records any time

These convenient options simplify the booking process for clients and save you time by collecting your most important business tools in one easily managed plugin.

Appointments+

Mobile clients are looking for the quickest way to locate and book the services they want. Appointments+ lets them log in using Facebook, Twitter or Google+ so that they don’t have to create a new account to set up a training session. You specify working days and hours, customize the style of every page and add bios for yourself and any other trainers working for you. Clients choose a trainer and a time slot before paying online using PayPal.

Expand the functionality of Appointments+ with over 20 powerful add-ons, including time slot adjustment to minimize “dead time” between clients. Calendars can be placed using a widget or shortcode, and all information syncs easily with Google Calendar.

Choose a WordPress booking plugin based on your needs and what you know about the online habits of your target audience to fill your calendar with more appointments. The right booking plugin offers flexibility for clients and freedom for you to grow your personal training business and consistently increase your customer base.

Make your site as fast and fit as you are

As a content management system for websites ranging from blogs to businesses, WordPress is hard to beat. It’s fast to install, easy to use, very secure and under constant development. One thing WordPress isn’t, though, is fast — at least not on some shared hosting platforms. Companies that sell shared hosting often put as many customers as possible on the same servers to maximize their profits. For customers, though, overselling of shared hosting services often leads to websites that are slow to respond to database queries or exhibit poor performance during periods of heavy traffic. Does your website give users a poor experience because of slow speeds? No problem. The active WordPress development community has created a large selection of WordPress plugins that can resolve your website’s speed issues. These are our favorites.

W3 Total Cache

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W3 Total Cache is a plugin that saves all of your website’s posts and pages as static HTML files. Why is that important? When a user requests a post or page from your website, WordPress renders the content dynamically by pulling information from an SQL database on your server. To render a single page, WordPress may need to perform several database queries. A caching plugin such as W3 Total Cache performs the database queries once and saves the results as an HTML file. The next time a user views the same page, WordPress sends the HTML file rather than querying the database. It saves time and reduces server load. Periodically, W3 Total Cache removes old HTML files from the cache and creates new ones to ensure that any changes you make are reflected in the content that your users see.

W3 Total Cache is the most popular and most configurable caching plugin for WordPress. It has some options, though, that could potentially hurt your website’s performance with some hosting companies. If you’d like to use W3 Total Cache, check your hosting provider’s help files for a recommended configuration.

WP Super Cache

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W3 Total Cache is arguably the most powerful and flexible caching solution for WordPress, but it isn’t the easiest plugin to configure. If your hosting company doesn’t provide configuration advice for W3 Total Cache — and you’re afraid of doing something that might break your website — consider WP Super Cache instead. You’ll still enjoy a speed increase, but you’ll also get a “Simple” mode that handles all of the configuration for you.

WP Super Minify

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Each time a user loads a page from your website, he or she needs to download a significant amount of raw code. HTML code contains the structure and content of your page. CSS code determines your website’s overall design. Your website may also use JavaScript code to enable advanced functionality such as drop-down menus, featured sliders and contact forms. WP Super Minify compresses all of that code so your users can download it more quickly. The two caching plugins recommended above can also minify your website’s code. If you aren’t comfortable using a caching plugin, though, WP Super Minify is a great alternative.

WP Smush

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Unless your website hosts video or audio files, images are likely the largest individual files that your users will download. If you don’t use an image manipulation utility to compress your images before uploading them, your users probably spend too much time downloading images. Downloading the images from your website, compressing them and uploading them again is too much work — that’s why you should use WP Smush. In a single automatic batch operation, WP Smush can compress all of your website’s images for a massive reduction in download times. You can choose the level of compression; if you like, you can use light compression that doesn’t reduce image quality. You can even have WP Smush automatically reduce the dimensions of unnecessarily large images.

BJ Lazy Load

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Does your website have long posts with several images? A post with many images may have an extremely long download time — and time spent downloading images that aren’t in the viewable area of a page doesn’t benefit the user. Enabling lazy loading reduces download times by deferring image downloads until the user scrolls down to the areas in which the images should be. Since BJ Lazy Load uses placeholders for deferred images, it doesn’t alter your website’s layout. The placeholders also let users know that images will appear shortly. BJ Lazy Load uses the JQuery JavaScript library to power its functions. If your website already uses JQuery — as many WordPress websites do — BJ Lazy Load should not increase page download times on your website.

Heartbeat Control

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Do you leave the WordPress administrative interface open on your computer most of the time — even when you aren’t actively writing? Does your website have multiple users who may write and edit content simultaneously? If either of those scenarios apply to your website, Heartbeat Control can reduce the load that you and other users place on your server. By default, your browser connects to WordPress every 15 seconds to save your work, display messages from plugins and let you know when users are editing posts. If you have many users connecting to your server four times every minute, though, the combined load can become significant. Heartbeat control allows you to reduce the number of times per minute that users’ browsers connect to WordPress.

Of course, it isn’t lost on us that using too many plugins can itself cause performance issues. For this reason you should also consider code optimizations, hosting and other factors that impact site speed.

Do you have any other tips or advice on speeding up WordPress? Do you have any questions about your site performance specifically? Hit us up in the comments.

Charles has been building and promoting websites and services in New Zealand, Australia, the United States and China for nearly 20 years.

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