Jessica Armstrong is on the marketing team at TeamUp, fitness management software for studios, gyms, boxes, personal trainers, and their in-person and online classes and on-demand content. A California native, living in Sevilla, Spain, Jessica is passionate about travel, fitness, wellness, and helping the fitness community learn how to run the best versions of their businesses.
How to Write an Online Fitness Business Plan
13 min. read
Updated November 13, 2023
When starting an online fitness business, one of the first key elements you must prepare is a business plan. A useful tool for new owners acting as a roadmap for your new online venture and evidence that you are creating a legitimate business, a well-written plan can guide you through your development and future stages of business growth.
While many new business owners starting in the digital fitness sphere will often leave business planning as a latter step in an attempt to get things moving, creating your plan in the preliminary stages has enormous benefits. For starters, it can set your business up for success from the start rather than down the line.
Not to mention with an impressive business plan you can garner early support from influential players in the industry such as investors that can help you propel your business forward in an already saturated market. If you want your online fitness business to stand out amongst competitors and attract valuable clients, there are 10 must-haves your online fitness business plan needs to include.
How to write an online fitness business plan
While high-quality business plans typically include 10-20 pages, one to two per topic, the most important factor is the content. Investors and readers do not want to receive a repetitive document that does not give them tangible information they can use to make decisions about your business. Facts and research hold a lot of value when it comes to earning support for your new business.
If you can show your readers you have a clear vision and can bring your business to life with strategies that can be efficiently and effectively executed, you’ll get their attention. With that in mind, here are the 10 things your business plan for your online fitness business should include.
- Executive summary and mission statement
- Industry analysis
- Customer analysis
- Competitor analysis
- Online market analysis
- Products and services
- Marketing plan and analysis
- Financial plan
- Location and delivery
- Management team and staff
1. Executive summary
After a brief introduction of your business, the first topic to cover in your business plan is the executive summary. The executive summary is a synopsis of your entire business plan. A reader should be able to understand what they will learn and gain from your business plan in this first section. The executive summary should also include two to three sentences on each topic your business plan covers including your observations on how you plan to execute your strategies for each area of your business.
What’s your biggest business challenge right now?
Due to the nature and growing popularity of online fitness, you should also include how you will differentiate your business and specifically operate in the online space. It is possible that your readers will not be familiar with running a digital fitness business, so you should be prepared to answer questions they will have throughout your document.
In the executive summary you will share your mission statement, the reason your online fitness business will exist. Incorporating your core business values, who your target clientele is, and how you will serve them are important key pieces that make strong mission statements. Now, remember, your readers will have read and heard dozens of mission statements, and it’s not uncommon especially in the large fitness industry that many will be repetitive of each other.
For example, a repetitive and lackluster statement could be that your mission is ‘to help online fitness customers stay fit with at-home workouts. While that does indeed state what you will do and how you will offer your services, it’s missing the wow factor. Instead, you could say that your mission is to ‘disrupt the traditional exercise format by providing ambitious fitness customers with easy to access online workouts that they can enjoy on the go’.
The more specific you are the better, but also show why your business is unique. Consider what is needed in the industry and what online fitness customers will benefit from, and use your mission statement as an opportunity to state how and why you will provide those benefits to them.
2. Industry analysis
The industry analysis is the next section of your business plan. This is where you will share all of your knowledge about the fitness industry, and more specifically as it relates to online fitness. You can include a brief summary of what fitness is, what it means to the industry, and statistics that can show the trajectory of the industry over time. How it has evolved, popular trends, such as online workouts, exercises, and on-demand fitness content, and relate it back to how you will operate in this market. Include research you have gathered and begin to introduce why you want to run a business in this space.
3. Customer analysis
Now knowing the industry and what you want your business to achieve, you can share information on your ideal clients and who will benefit from your new services in the customer analysis section. Creating multiple customer profiles can give readers a closer picture of who your client will be, their demographics, likes, dislikes, disposable income, and where you will be able to target and market your services. Use this section to also show you have a great understanding of what people look for in online fitness and how you can deliver that.
These details will help your reader understand who is the best fit to obtain your services and take advantage of your offering. While you might already have clients interested in obtaining your services, don’t limit yourself to one market if you know there are others who can benefit from what your business has to offer. It’s always helpful to identify those so your reader can explore if there is potential to grow and be successful in those areas.
4. Competitor analysis
A support section for your industry analysis and customer analysis is the competitor analysis. Here you will provide a more in-depth look at the competitors already operating in the online fitness market. You can also draw comparisons on competitors in the in-person versus online spheres and how you will compete with businesses in your region, as well as global seeing as an online platform can scale well beyond your local area.
You should also research and comment on what competitors are typically offering in their businesses, for example, online workouts, memberships, on-demand, in-person, hybrid, and how your business can fill needs those businesses are not filling. Expand on why your business is different and how you will compete and attract clients to your business. Listing your strengths as well as weaknesses can help readers of your business plan make suggestions and present ideas once they have all the information.
5. Online business operations and security
The creation of online fitness has been very popular throughout the industry. With more opportunities to participate in the online market and earn a large income, every day more and more trainers and instructors are going the route of launching their own businesses rather than working in a traditional gym or studio setting. Not to mention managing a business online comes with incredible flexibility. However, because of the relative newness of online fitness, the rules and regulations of a typical fitness business fall into somewhat of a grey area.
Important factors such as health and safety protocols to legalities to music licensing are still being created and updated as time goes on. Showing your readers that you have a thorough understanding of the best practices for running a safe, secure, and protected online business —both for the protection of your future customers and yourself—will reassure readers that you are aware of what you should be doing to run a professional and legitimate online business.
Highlight the ways you will protect and keep your customers’ information secure for example, using tools such as secure online booking and customer management software that will keep your data protected and your business safe.
6. Products and services
At the core of your business is the products and services you offer. In this section or your online fitness business plan, you will explain all of the different types of services, classes, and packages, for example, memberships, you will offer your clients. You can explain the various levels of packages you intend to have as well as how you will deliver these products and services to your customers. For example, you could offer:
- Unlimited group fitness packages with access to all online classes and on-demand content.
- One on one virtual personal training with downloadable guides and nutrition planning
- Access to an on-demand library with workout content that can be used on the go.
- Online consultations for new members to build their workout routine to best achieve their goals.
- Online class packs with a number of classes and content customers have access to in a given period of time.
As you will be delivering your core services, for example, online fitness classes, you will also need to include the systems and products such as equipment, tools, and online gym management and booking software you will need to do so. Informing your readers how you will deliver the best service and product to your customers will make it easier for them to understand how you will operate a professional and customer-friendly business.
7. Marketing strategy and analysis
One of the more creative areas of your business plan is the marketing strategy and analysis section. In this part of your plan, you will reveal what strategies you will implement to attract clients, earn sales, grow in your market, and further. A great way to prove you understand the market and demands of fitness customers today is by sharing successful strategies that you will implement to attract clients, generate sales, and grow in the digital fitness space. Use your customer analysis to show how you will market to the different types of customer profiles that will benefit most from your business.
Speak on popular trends and how you intend to capitalize on them. Discuss what other online fitness businesses are doing that has and has not worked, and what you will do differently. Dive deep into what marketing opportunities have not been utilized or have been utilized well to build success and how you will follow suit. For example, you can discuss how you will use social media and email marketing to target your audiences, what digital marketing platforms you will use to automate your marketing, how you plan to use your software to build retention and deliver a seamless customer experience.
You don’t have to be a marketing expert to write a great marketing analysis and plan. Simply share the most effective strategies online fitness business owners are leveraging to successfully market their businesses and how you will use, expand, build, and execute those strategies to achieve your goals.
8. Financial plan
The financial plan section of your fitness business plan should discuss everything relating to your revenue, income, and budget. It helps to have an accountant or financial planner help you build this section as you will need to share projections, define early costs and future costs, as well as determine what revenue you will need to earn in order to afford your business.
Start up costs for an online fitness business can really vary depending on the type of investments you want to make. They can be as low as almost free to as high as the 10s of thousands, especially when investing in high-tech equipment. But when starting out you can keep your expenses and costs light, you don’t need to spend all of your initial funds and investment on the most expensive equipment and technology.
Focus on the essential equipment you need such as a microphone, camera either built in or on its own, a laptop or recording device where you will host and record your sessions, basic equipment such as weights, mats, bands that customers can easily purchase on their own, and affordable online gym management software that will make it easy for you to manage your business and your customers to book your classes.
You can also discuss in this section what you hope to gain financially for yourself, how you plan to collect payments from customers, for example using software with reliable payment processing, and how you will allocate budget to marketing, operations, development, and expenses.
9. Facility and location
Starting a new business does not necessarily have to be expensive to be successful, however, start-up costs when it comes to renting a facility or location can be high. Although you are running your business online you still have to consider where you will run it from, whether that be your home, a rented facility, or a facility you purchase. Considering the location and taking into account how you will operate from the area you are in, be sure to identify the costs and what makes the most sense for your business.
Even if you plan to start your business from home and grow to a facility or physical space, later on, you will still need to register your business in a specific location and address. Be sure to choose an appropriate location to conduct your business and provide your services to your clients, as well as a place that will help boost more business and clients and have an opportunity to grow. It’s also important in this section to state how much budget you are considering putting towards the location of your business and what revenue you will need to generate to afford these costs.
10. Management team
While many online fitness business owners start out as sole traders, one of the main areas for potential growth is hiring staff or a team of other instructors and trainers. Even if you do not plan on having any staff or management in your employment at the start, if you plan to down the line, this section of your business plan is a great place to layout your future plan. You can include details such as the type of staff you would hire, where you will recruit from, salaries or payment, and where your staff will need to reside. For example, you could consider hiring:
- A marketing manager to assist you with your marketing and outreach efforts
- An accountant to manage your finances and business revenue
- Additional coaching and training staff to provide more classes and content
- Coaches in other time zones to augment the hours you are able to operate
An important note to consider when hiring for a remote and online position is ensuring you have the correct legal documentation to hire in a specific area. When you begin creating your hiring plans, consider hiring a lawyer to help you get all of the paperwork you need organised so that you don’t fall victim to any legal or hiring issues.
Start writing your online fitness business plan
Knowing all of the must-have items your online fitness business plan should include in order to be successful, now is the time to get writing. Don’t worry if your final draft isn’t perfect. What matters most is that you thoughtfully and clearly articulate what your business is, who it is for, and how people in your industry will benefit from the existence of your business.
Be sure to include each of the sections above, and it never hurts to have a member of your network give your business plan a read before beginning to share it with potential investors, banks, and partners. With a business plan in hand, you’ll be on track to launching a successful online fitness business.