Fitness streaming is here to stay.

With thousands of gyms closing around the country, people are increasingly turning to digital channels to meet their fitness needs.

According to research from TD Ameritrade, 59 percent of Americans don’t plan on renewing their gym memberships once the pandemic ends, and the savviest practitioners have taken note.

Whether you’re an instructor, fitness influencer, or brick-and-mortar studio owner, the opportunity to meet this growing demand — and dramatically increase revenue— is immense.

To help you claim your piece of the pie, this article outlines seven ways to make money in the fitness industry online.

Online paid fitness app on desktop, phone, and tablet.

1. Move your fitness studio online.

Moving your fitness classes online is one of the best ways to make more money as a personal trainer.

With a virtual studio:

  • You’re no longer at the whim of client schedules
  • You can reach more clients than you could ever manage in person
  • You can create exclusive offerings for your most loyal clients

These benefits aren’t limited to trainers. Any fitness operation can scale its reach — and revenue — by building an online fitness studio to connect with a wider audience.

We used to get so many comments from people who wanted to try Y7 but couldn’t. Now we’re reaching people that we never would have been able to reach before. One of our most popular clients is in Japan. We’re reaching a lot more people from everywhere.

Lauren Roxborough, CMO, Y7 Studio

How to make money in fitness with an online studio

An online fitness studio is a gated hub for video content. To get past the gate, clients either purchase a subscription or make one-time payments. 

In exchange, they gain access to things like:

  • Follow-along workouts (live and on-demand)
  • Specialized courses and workshops (nutrition advice and motivational talks)
  • Complementary videos (subscriber or client stories)

If you’ve already built an online audience, monetization is a matter of choosing a streaming platform that enables you to sell subscriptions and one-off purchases. 

How can we make money in fitness without an audience?

Building an audience is the key to your business’ success. If you haven’t built an online audience (or, more likely, haven’t invested much into nurturing your audience), here is what you need to do.

  1. Leverage social media.
  2. Start a fitness blog.
  3. Build an email list.
  4. Guest post on popular fitness blogs.
  5. Advertise on social media channels.
  6. Offer free trial classes.

2. Leverage social media.

Your online fitness studio won’t reach maximum profitability with a “set it and forget it” approach.

Driving revenue and scaling your client base will also require promotion — especially if you’re just starting to build your online presence. Launching promotional videos on social media using Vimeo’s fitness video maker is a great place to start.

While anyone can bid on keywords and ad space, we’re willing to bet many brands will fare better with an organic approach in a competitive landscape like online fitness.

That’s where social media comes into play.

How to make money in fitness with social media

Promoting your fitness offerings on social can take many forms. For established brands, it might mean contracting an Instagram influencer or sharing user-generated content from their most dedicated clients. 

For others, social media is the perfect vehicle to drive awareness and create excitement about their online fitness classes.

That’s precisely how Y7 Studio uses Instagram. Every instructor who films a video series for their online fitness studio also hosts a class on Instagram live. 

In doing so, they not only promote the studio, they also allow potential clients to get acquainted with their brand through one of its instructors.

We’ve never seen social engagement like this before. We leave the live classes on IGTV for two weeks. Y7 clients and advocates send our content to their friends. Our follower growth is off the charts. People are engaging with and learning about the brand.

Lauren Roxborough, CMO, Y7 Studio

To turn your social media following into a lead-generating machine, try using the network’s native streaming feature as a way to meet new customers where they are.

3. Launch a fitness app.

Fitness apps make digital studios even more accessible to existing and potential clients. With a Netflix-style fitness app, potential clients can view your videos wherever it’s most convenient:

  • Smartphones
  • Tablets
  • TVs

Now we know what you’re probably thinking: Why can’t I just use YouTube? The answer is pretty simple — what YouTube offers, in terms of potential reach, doesn’t make up for its lack of transparency and control.

With a platform like YouTube, you’re subject to everchanging algorithms and monetization schemes that make it hard (and often slow going) to make money.

How to make money in fitness with your app

To monetize content with an app, you’ll need an end-to-end OTT platform that puts the potential to make money squarely in your hands. 

Whether your app will only include on-demand videos or a mix of on-demand and live content, here’s what to look for when choosing an OTT platform:

  • Handles all the tech: You won’t need to hire or manage a development team.
  • Includes payment systems: No secret algorithms — set your price and sell subscriptions.
  • Owns customer support: Outsource commonly asked questions and save time (and money) in the process.

By choosing an OTT platform that tackles the backend, you’re free to focus on what you do best: creating amazing fitness content.

Build your fitness app today.

With Vimeo’s OTT platform, developing and monetizing your fitness app is simple as reciting the alphabet.

4. Create downloadable assets.

Turning your expertise into downloadable products (e.g. workout plans, fitness journals, etc.) is one of the most effective ways to make money in fitness.

With minimal maintenance needed, meaningful downloadable content will continue to generate passive income for years to come. We recommend PDFs in particular because they’re relatively easy to produce and even easier to maintain.

Updating the information won’t require hours of editing, and you’re likely to attract self-motivated people who may prefer reading before subscribing.

How to make money in fitness with digital products

The key to selling digital products is making them highly targeted to specific audiences or unique fitness challenges. You should treat them like workshops in terms of specificity.

For instance, if you have a track record of helping new mothers get their bodies back in shape post-baby, you can package that training plan into a downloadable PDF.

If you’ve helped clients with limited mobility — such as people recovering from an injury, dealing with a chronic illness, or just getting older — you can successfully market those training plans to each of these segments by speaking to their specific pain points.

Your PDFs can include training or workout plans, nutritional plans and recipes, and anything else that might be useful and appealing to your target audience. 

5. Go live on a schedule.

Balancing on-demand training with live stream workouts is an excellent way for fitness professionals to market their services and generate revenue.

By adding live content to your mix, your studio can:

  • Differentiate your brand from other digital studios: Survey your competitors. How many of them go live and what is the experience like?
  • Give potential clients a taste of what you have to offer: Non-subscribers who watch your live streams will be better positioned to become paying customers.
  • Iterate on future live streams: With video performance metrics, you can continually refine the live experience to maximize engagement and attendance.
  • Produce more content: On-demand content usually requires a ton of editing, which limits your output. With live classes, you can hire more instructors and fill content gaps.

How to make money in fitness with live streaming

There are two main things to keep in mind when using live streaming to make money in fitness online:

Free live classes = good marketing tool

Many fitness studios archive their live streams after the fact, but there’s ample reason not to. If you allow your live classes to remain available for non-subscribers, you’ll reach more people and better the odds of earning their business in the future.

Consistency matters

Letting people test things out ahead of time works best when you’re consistent. By setting a live stream schedule — and sticking to it — you can create the consistency your potential clients are likely to look for when weighing their online fitness options.

When we moved to a consistent live schedule, engagement went up. Our community knows that they can count on us, and the views and the interaction have been far greater.

Darcey Wion, Digital Studio Director, System of Strength

Screenshot of fitness app with 7 day free trial

6. Experiment with free trials.

Sometimes attracting new customers comes down to giving them a free sample — or, in this case, a free trial.

Much like ungated live streams, free trials entice new customers to give your studio or subscription app a try. In our experience, around two-thirds of Vimeo OTT subscribers who sign up for a free trial convert into paying customers.

For fitness brands specifically:

  • 7 or 14-day trials work best
  • $9.99 to $14.99 is the sweet spot for OTT pricing

That said, your best price will depend on several factors, including the uniqueness of your training program and how often you post new content.

We use free trials and run extensive experiments around price and offers. What works well is very clear and consistent messaging across our customer journeys, and getting a good mix of customers on our different subscription lengths. Longer length subscriptions are better for retention, but at lower revenue per month. You have to find the sweet spot.

Piers Tufnell, Technical Program Manager, Les Mills

7. Sell physical products.

Some fitness brands rely on affiliate marketing as a way to make more money online.

By endorsing the products they already use, these fitness pros earn a commission whenever one of their recommendations nets a sale.

It’s an effective model that works for many, but becoming an affiliate isn’t for everyone. For some brands, selling products comes second—and providing clients with an authentic experience comes first.

How to make money in fitness by selling products

With affiliate marketing off the table,  you’ll need to get creative about your approach to making money online. For instance, is your studio full of extra yoga blocks or other items that no one’s using? With the right messaging, you can sell these items to customers who crave the in-person experience.

The opportunity to drive revenue is easier if you already have branded merchandise. For example, you can bridge the gap between the in-person and online experience with product bundles that help customers feel like they’re back in the studio.

I was concerned about translating the Y7 experience online. So, aside from working with the trainers they know and love, we’re also selling the Y7 candle, the signature scent when you enter a studio. We packaged things together for an at-home kit, and things have been selling so well.

Lauren Roxborough, CMO, Y7 Studio

Fitness statistic stating, "Of the top 25 fitness clients, between 3/2 and 8/10, we saw an average of 3489.74% in growth.

The road to fitness riches

We won’t lie — building a fitness empire online isn’t easy. Once you know what to look for, the technology is the easy part. But creating world-class content that differentiates your brand from competitors and delivers results to customers? That’s where things can get tricky.

Download the essential guide to online fitness learn more