March 23, 2020

For personal trainers – how to take things online

As trainers, we value community health, right? So now is the time to act in line with our values and help reduce transmission of covid-19, by limiting non essential contact.

Yes, physical activity is important for our physical and mental health, but we can still support people to be active, and support ourselves, without putting each other at risk.

I’m no expert, but I’ve moved all my sessions online and want to share how I’ve done this in the hopes that it will encourage you to do so as well.

I’m using the zoom platform ( For sessions that are less than 40 minutes a free membership will do, but for more than 40 minutes you’ll need to buy a subscription. It’s about $20 per month, but you can cancel any time.

I’ve found it helpful to set up my tablet at about head height (honestly I have put a box on top of a clothes horse and sat my tablet on top of that) so that I’m not looking down on or up at anyone. I have a webcam too, so I’ve set this up on a makeshift tripod, aimed at my back wall. Zoom allows you to switch between cameras, so this means I can use my tablet camera for talking and switch to my webcam for demos.

This is a time to be creative – think of all the body weight exercises you know. Think of all the ways you know to scale them up and down (single limb, time under tension, incline/decline, rep ranges etc). Think of what sort of things people might have in their houses that can be used as weights (cans, potting mix, bricks, bags of cat litter, children)

Think of this as a chance to hone your coaching cues without touch and with possibly limited visuals. Remember that even if technique isn’t perfect, the main thing is for it to be safe.

Remember that a lot of people just want to keep their fitness up at this time and will be patient with you. No one is expecting top level video coaching (although it’s nice to aim for!). We are all just doing our best under the new set of circumstances we find ourselves in.

Chances are some of your clients work in IT or have used zoom before – let them make helpful suggestions. I’ve learned a lot from my clients! Zoom is also very user friendly – far more than I expected going in.

Do a test run with a friend and check that they can hear and see you ok.

Zoom works for group classes as well. It’s also nice for everyone in the class to keep the normalcy of seeing each other – and a great chance to introduce our pets to each other.

Once you’re in zoom you can “create a meeting” and it will assign your meeting a number. This is the number you pass on to your clients, so they can meet you in the same virtual chatroom. You can even have a waiting room, so you can get yourself set up and then let everyone in when the class begins.

I’m not particularly tech savvy, In fact, I don’t know how to attach a document for you to download here, but I’m going to share the email I sent to my clients before the first group class, and you are welcome to copy or edit it as required. It is pasted below. Please reach out to me on facebook or email if I can help you get set up. Moving online is a small action we can all take to do our part to reduce transmission and keep our communities healthy. Thanks for reading.

I’m so glad you’re coming with me on this adventure into technology and that we can still find ways of moving together in these strange times!

Please be patient with me as I’m still learning how best to use these resources for a group, but we’ll learn together and it will get better and better.

You’ll need to download a copy of Zoom ( – it’s free) and you can either set your phone or laptop up somewhere where your whole body can be seen on the screen while exercising*, or you can use a webcam if you have one. Once you’re on zoom you can select “join a meeting” and enter our meeting ID which is _________.

I’d recommend getting online 15 minutes before the class to check your video and sound settings – ideally try to have more light in front of you than behind you so that you’re not a silhouette. If you have wireless headphones with a microphone that’s even better but I don’t, so don’t stress, we’ll just make the best of what we have.

*Please be aware that you will be able to see yourself on your screen – if that’s something that’s uncomfortable for you, you can set it to make me “whole screen” so that I’ll see you but you will only see me. If you’d prefer not to have yourself on screen at all, that’s fine too. I’ll do my best to explain the exercises clearly enough so that you can check your own technique.

During the movement parts I might mute everyone (as only one person can talk at a time and the screen automatically switches to the person talking, so it might be a bit jumpy) but on the rests we can all chat 🙂

No equipment needed for tomorrow, but there will likely be some getting on the ground, so if you have a mat or something to make that more comfortable, please have it ready.

I think that’s everything! Please let me know if you have any questions at all! I’m quite excited and looking forward to seeing you all!

Kind regards

Shelley Lask