Developing Virtual Training Programs: Part Two

developing virtual training

Developing virtual training programs isn’t easy.

In Part One of our series, we covered the history and the basic characteristics of virtual personal training. We will now break down the onboarding, design and delivery, and offboarding of three types of virtual training programs.

Developing Virtual Training Programs: One-on-One

Virtual one-on-one training programs are when a client invests in a program that is individualized and includes regular communication with their certified personal trainer. Pricing should be set for a time-bound scenario — i.e. monthly, quarterly or semesterly — and be based on the total investment of energy and time from the trainer while keeping in mind the economic ability of your clients. Consider having a student rate, member rate and non-member rate.


Typically, the program will begin with a video call consultation. This consultation may include a discussion around the client’s exercise and health history, and the primary purpose of the client engaging in services. It’s important for the trainer to establish rapport with the client during this time. Client onboarding will continue with an overview of how the program will be delivered, any technology/platform training, client intake paperwork, and establishing and agreeing upon communication channels and guidelines. If appropriate, the trainer will assess the client on mobility and stability via movement screens observed through video. The trainer may also assign various other assessments for the client to complete and report back on.

Program Design and Delivery

On a weekly or bi-weekly basis, the trainer will design and deliver a program to the client. The program should be written so the client knows what to complete each day. The exercises should include written instructions and, ideally, video instructions pulled from an exercise library. The client should mark when the workout was completed and any comments or questions from that day. Regular written two-way communication and feedback should occur between the client and trainer via the established communication channel — i.e. text, Slack, Microsoft Teams, in-app messaging or email. Synchronous video communication should be included weekly, bi-weekly or as needed to discuss how the program is progressing, celebrating successes and discussing the next steps.

Developing Virtual Training Programs: Workouts

Virtual workout programs are turnkey programs that are developed by your certified personal trainers with a specific targeted goal — i.e. mobility, bodyweight, hypertrophy, strength, endurance, etc. — in mind and can be implemented across multiple clients. There is minimal to no two-way communication between the trainer and client. Simply put, this is ideal for individuals who can be accountable for themselves and just want an exercise program written by someone else: “Just tell me what to do and I’ll take it from here.” Pricing should be set so it’s the lowest cost compared to the other two options we are discussing in this article. Less investment from the trainer and less individualization for the client should yield a lower price point. Consider offering this program at a 30-day interval.


Onboarding should be completed quickly and, ideally, initiated automatically. Once the client registers for the program, they should complete any required paperwork such as a waiver — if not already done — and complete a tutorial of the platform the program is delivered on.

Program Design and Delivery

The program is developed in advance by the trainer and can be implemented at any time. The day the client initiates the program begins the first of the 30 days. The client should know what day to complete the exercises and in what order. The client should have access to the exercises with both written and video instructions. In this delivery method, the client will not be communicating with the trainer. The trainer should, however, include scheduled text, audio or video messages that encourage program adherence to the clients.

Developing Virtual Training Programs: Accountability Groups

Virtual accountability groups are a form of small group training. The client is investing in a program that has more individualized attention and design than a 30-day workout program but does not include the detailed individualized programming and communication that comes with a one-on-one training program. There is an increased amount of communication and accountability spread among all clients in the registered program. Consider offering these programs in six to eight-week segments with a targeted goal in mind. Pricing should be higher than the 30-day workout programs but less than the one-on-one programs.


Onboarding should be cohort-based. There should be an enrollment period where people can register for the program up until the official start date. Any necessary paperwork and delivery platform tutorials can be completed individually once the client registers. Consider scheduling a video call with all enrolled clients in the specific program to create a sense of community among the group. Pointed questions and icebreakers can be used to initiate discussion. This time should also be used to establish rapport with the trainer.

Program Design and Delivery

The program is typically designed in advance based on the program goal. There should be a clear progression in the program over the set six or eight-week period. The clients should know what exercises to complete on which day and in what order. Exercise instruction should be available in both written and video form. Clients should have an opportunity to comment and communicate not only to the trainer but also to the other clients completing the same program. This can be accomplished by creating private Facebook groups or in-app messaging if a virtual training platform is being used. Program adjustments can be made on an ongoing basis as needed.

Client Offboarding

Client offboarding should be somewhat similar regardless of the type of the program the client was enrolled in. The offboarding will begin once the client is no longer renewing their agreement and the program has been completed. A short satisfaction survey should be administered and include, at minimum, the net promoter score (NPS) of the trainer and the program. This is also a time to gather qualitative feedback from the client about what they gained from the program and eliciting client testimonials that could be used for marketing purposes. Consider ways to still keep the client engaged with your organization such as providing coupons for other or future services, personal invitations to events, VIP communication with early access to new programs or additional services, and/or a monthly e-newsletter on healthy behaviors, recipes or exercises.

If anything, the uncertainties of this past year have taught us we need to adapt to reach our clients, no matter where they are physically, mentally and emotionally. Like a river, their health and fitness journey will eb and flow over time. What’s important is we spend quality time now setting up strong program foundations and structures to meet them where they are or wherever they will go. Whether it’s riding the wave when they’re thriving, setting up a route leading them to success or throwing a lifesaver in when they need it most, be prepared for any situation or circumstance — virtual and in-person — and you’ll be able to help anyone and everyone along their health and well-being journey.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Steven Trotter, MS, is a consultant, continuing education provider, adjunct faculty member in health and fitness science, and principal for Globetrotter Wellness Solutions. He also serves as the associate director for wellness and fitness at East Carolina University. His expertise is rooted in university rec programs with a repertoire in leadership and organizational development, fitness facility design and management, behavior change, and program management. Steven is a 2017 IDEA Program Director of the Year finalist and presents at numerous conferences across North America each year. He is a subject matter expert and blogger for the American Council on Exercise and previously served a 3.5-year term on the industry advisory panel. Steven has a master of science in health in physical education from Virginia Tech and bachelor of science in exercise science from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Campus Rec Magazine