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How to Become an Online Personal Trainer: Building Your Exercise Video Library

Table of Contents

A personal trainer films himself in a private studio for his online training videos.

The backbone of any online personal training business are the videos. It’s pretty tricky (and quite frankly boring) for a client to train with you without videos.

Online personal training videos take the place of in-person training, and they play a large role in personalizing your business. Clients have the chance to see your face and make a connection with you. It also allows you to control the way clients execute each workout.

Additionally, if you virtually train clients in real-time over video calls, having pre-recorded videos can be a game changer in how you manage your time. Life happens, and if you or a client suddenly can’t make your scheduled training time, you can easily set them up with some pre-recorded videos. It’s easier than scrambling to fit them in a new time slot and gives you the chance to schedule some well-deserved vacation time!

Let’s take a look at how to create an exercise library.

Before You Begin… Building an exercise video library takes time. Try designating a certain amount of time each week to make the process seem less overwhelming. And remember, you’ve got this! Your clients are paying for you.

A young woman waves to her camera from her private studio where she films an online personal training video.

Organize Your Exercises

In “Part Two: Scaling Your Personal Training Business” of our series How To Become An Online Personal Trainer, we go over the process of making client categories. Part of this process is to build custom workouts based on the types of clients you train. If you haven’t done this yet, we recommend doing that before you start filming. It helps you stay focused and organized.

Take a look at your workout plans and make a list of all the exercises you will need to demonstrate. You can then identify what type of equipment you will need and gauge how much time it will take to film everything.

We also recommend looking for ways to modify these exercises for those who need low-impact or higher intensity options. This also helps to save you from re-recording different variations in the future.

ProTip! Try breaking up your filming list into smaller categories. Not only will this help you organize your equipment and time, it will also help you switch up what your clients are viewing. You can change filming locations, what you’re wearing, or any background music to keep things interesting.

An online fitness trainer sits on a workout mat in her room as she records herself on her cell phone explaining the specifics of a workout.

Select A Video Format

There are many different types of online training videos. You have live sessions, short demonstrations, and full sessions. Your exercise video library should reflect the way you run your business.

Written plans with video demonstrations
This type of training looks like a downloaded PDF that walks a client through a training session. They can read the workout plan you have provided and watch a short demonstration video of you performing the exercise. These types of videos don’t typically have a lot of talking and allow for the most customization per client.

Fully recorded sessions
Some trainers prefer to record an entire session for their clients. This could be you recording a session from start to finish or full reps of each exercise. While this allows for less customization, a client has a better opportunity to connect with you and virtually train alongside you.

Live training sessions
If you virtually train clients on a live video call, you will constantly be in front of a camera. Creating a more permanent set up would be ideal for you. If you want to keep pre-recorded content on hand, you can choose whether short demonstrations or fully recorded sessions work better for you.

ProTip! In your videos, try providing tips that explain common mistakes with the exercises being performed and how the viewer can avoid or overcome them.

An online personal training is set up with weight and a a mat outside as he films himself demonstrating different workouts with a camera on a tripod.

Gather Your Equipment

To prepare for your videos, you need to have two sets of equipment. One contains the filming equipment and the other contains the exercise equipment.

Let’s start by going over the items you need for filming. This will depend on the type of device you are filming, so prepare accordingly. A professional camera, like a DSLR, or even a cell phone camera is nice enough to capture what you need.

Filming with an phone

  • Phone
  • Tripod
  • Wireless microphone

Filming with a camera

  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • SD card
  • Extra battery
  • Wireless microphone

Filming a live session

  • Phone or computer
  • Tripod (for phone)
  • Wireless microphone

You will also need to prepare any equipment you need to perform each exercise. This can include a workout mat, weights, and resistance bands. Be sure to make a list of these items so you can provide it to your clients. This helps them feel prepared for your training sessions.

ProTip! Try using a separate set of workout equipment just for filming. You want your gear to look nice and uniform on camera. Plus, if you damage or lose any personal equipment, you will still have a set for filming.

A woman films herself for an online personal training video.

Lights, Camera, Action

Once you have all of your prep work done, you can start setting up to film. Find an appropriate environment, like a private gym or an in-home workout studio, to film your videos. You can even try filming in a quiet outdoor space, but you will have to watch for weather conditions and can only film during the daytime.

Make sure your filming location has good lighting so clients can see everything you are doing, and remove any large distractions from the background. If you are using a tripod or a table to set up your camera, make sure it’s positioned in a place where you can get a full body shot and stable enough to keep from falling over. Now all that’s left to do is hit “record” and start filming!

Here’s some of our top tips you can try as you make an exercise video:

  • Show how to incorporate weights or equipment into a workout
  • Demonstrate the technique slowly the first time and then at a normal pace
  • If using a phone, be sure to switch into “Airplane Mode” or “Do Not Disturb” before filming to reduce distractions and increase battery life
  • Make eye contact with the camera consistently so it looks more natural for the viewer
  • Remember to smile, encourage your clients, and be yourself

Filming yourself may feel a little odd or overwhelming at first, so try recording a few practice shots until you feel more comfortable and find a rhythm. You can also ask someone you know to stand in as a “client” as you walk them through an exercise. Do whatever feels most natural to you and your training style.

ProTip! Record multiple exercises in one continuous rolling shot and cut them apart in your editing software to save even more time.

A virtual trainer holds a clipboards and talks to his camera as he goes over some fitness plans for a virtual client.

Post-Production Editing

After you’ve wrapped up filming, you can start importing and editing. This can be the longest part of creating online personal training videos, so make sure you set aside a couple of hours at a time to import your footage and edit.

Depending on your method of filming, you will need to get your videos from the recording device to your computer. Check out some of the guides below to help you through this process.

With your videos now on a computer, you can import everything into your choice of editing software. There’s a lot of different editing software you can use, so PT Distinction created a guide of the 9 best software for personal trainers to help you choose what’s best for you.

Start trimming your videos to your desired length. If you filmed multiple exercises in one shot, you can potentially trim dozens of video clips from the original. This helps to save you time both during filming and editing. If you really want to customize your videos, you can then add music, captions, or voiceovers.

For longer videos, such as a full training session, you can stitch together different exercise clips, add warm-ups and cool-downs, put in breaks for resting, insert a low-impact version of an exercise, overlay text, and include any pre- or post-workout talking segments.

Sometimes simplicity is best, so only do what you feel comfortable with in your skillset. You can always ask for help, hire someone to help you with editing, or seek out online tutorials and guides.

ProTip! If you are speaking in your videos, add captions for those who want to listen on mute or are hard of hearing. If someone is listening to music while they workout, this helps eliminate the need to constantly pause it to watch a video—minimizing client frustrations and improving their overall experience.

A laptop with a virtual personal training video is plugged into a desktop monitor so edited videos can be transferred for uploading and storing.

Upload And Organize Your Exercise Video Library

Now that you have your polished and edited videos, it’s time to start uploading them. But before you do anything else, it’s a good idea to download all your videos into a file on your computer. This can serve as a backup in case another platform, like iCloud or Google Drive, fails. You can also store your videos on a USB flash drive for safekeeping.

However you choose to present your videos to your clients, find a method and location for uploading your videos.

Google Drive
One of the easiest and simplest ways to create an exercise library is through Google Drive. You can upload videos directly to your drive and organize them into folders. You can also keep a spreadsheet with links to your videos stored on sites like YouTube or Vimeo for easy referencing.

You can also embed your videos directly into a Google Doc if you are offering a typed up fitness plan. These docs can then be shared with clients through a link, or saved as a PDF and sent to clients.

YouTube and Vimeo
If you already use Google frequently, YouTube may be a good option for you. You can set up a channel using your Google account and then import your videos into private playlists. We recommend marking your videos as “unlisted” so they are not accessible to the general public. Only clients who pay for your services can watch with them with a special link.

Vimeo is another popular online video library. Like YouTube, you can import your videos from your computer into private folders and choose who has access to them. This can help prevent other trainers from stealing your work without permission and give your clients access to exclusive content.

Personal Website
If you have your own website, you can see what video software your platform includes or is compatible with. Sometimes you can embed a video directly on your website, or embed a video already stored on YouTube or Vimeo. This is great if you want to create a subscription where your workout programs are only accessible to clients who have a profile set-up on your site.

You can also offer downloads to paying clients. Once they sign up or purchase a workout program from you, they can download a file to watch full training sessions or follow written workout plans.

We will go over more details on how to build you online packages with your videos in “Part Four: Creating Online Personal Training Packages.

ProTip! Did you know liability insurance can protect your equipment and gear? Insurance Canopy’s personal trainer insurance offers Tools and Equipment coverage, also known as Inland Marine insurance. If your workout gear or filming and editing equipment is damaged or stolen, we may be able to help you repair or replace it.

Starting at $12.50 a month, you can get our base policy with Tools and Equipment coverage added on. Get your free personal trainer insurance quote today!

Someone sits on a light blue workout mat on the floor of their home as they watch a livestream fitness class on their computer with other virtual clients.

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