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4 Things About Coaching Fitness Online You Probably Didn’t Know (But Really Should)

Online fitness and personal training have seen a massive uptake in the past year, with 74% of trainers in the UK moving their business to an online platform via live-streamed sessions. This trend isn’t slowing down any time soon, with 1 in 4 coaches saying they will now be training more clients online than in-person.

This is, however, still relatively new territory for many new and experienced coaches, with many offering online services for the first time without prior knowledge of the more detailed aspects:

If I were to ask you what kind of music licence you need for online coaching, would you know?

What if I then asked how this differs compared to live-recorded sessions?

And how should those live recorded sessions be stored to not come under fire from GDPR restrictions?

To help you better understand what coaching fitness online really includes, we have created this handy list of 4 key things often overlooked by trainers when taking their business online for the first time.

This blog includes:

Woman watching a fitness class online

What Music Licensing Do I Need?

Just as in face-to-face training, you will need a licence to play the music you don’t own the rights to.

Where online differs, you will need an additional licence to your Exercise to music tariff from PPL called a PRS Limited Online Music License (or LOML for short).

This is an annual license, covering “communication to the public” (when the music is broadcasted or made accessible to stream or download) and can be used to cover live sessions such as over a streaming service.

There are a few exemptions to this that you should be aware of:

  • Pre-recorded sessions for more “on-demand” services need permission from the rights holders to have this music. This can be searched for via the PPL site here.
  • The PPL and PRS licence will not cover you if you want to upload your workout to social media such as YouTube. These platforms tend to have agreements with music rights, so you will have to make sure that you’re covered.

TOP TIP – there are many license-free options available that you can use if you are ever unsure about your level of cover. These can be accessed via sites such as workout music and powermusic.

woman doing a fitness class on her computer

What Happens if I Want to Record Sessions?

Recording your sessions is a great way to offer a more “on-demand” service for clients and share your work on social media. However, there are a few legal matters you need to be aware of to make sure you’re complying with GDPR:

  • If you are doing live sessions, you should avoid recording other people. If you need to include anyone else in your recordings, you will need to get their consent in writing that they are happy to be filmed.
  • If you are doing on-demand sessions or on an open social media platform where videos are recorded, you should store the recording in a secure platform that is ideally password protected.
  • For all recordings, the file can be stored for three years.

TOP TIP - Recorded sessions are a good idea for evidence of good practice in the unlikely case of any legal action. You MUST make sure all participants are aware they are being recorded, and their consent is given in writing.

man doing fitness on the lapton

Why Do I Need a Disclaimer from Clients?

When dealing with large groups online, you may not be able to do pre-screening documents. Equally, you cannot guarantee that someone in one of your session won’t record your training and try and pass it off as their own.

This is where a disclaimer comes into its own!

There are a few different types of disclaimers you can use:

  • Written disclaimers – this is essential for any online fitness class or personal training session. Clients should have the full document weeks before their first sessions to fully understand what is expected and include a contact number in case they need to cancel for any reason (medical emergencies, illnesses, etc.) This should be kept on a secure record file.
  • Verbal disclaimers – a verbal disclaimer should highlight to clients the nature of the workouts. It should include recommendations and suggestions of what the client should do if they are injured or unwell and encourage them to stay hydrated. This should also be used to remind the written agreement and to confirm they have read and understood the conditions.

TOP TIP - Disclaimers are also essential for insurance purposes to set damages, liability, and safety expectations. You must speak to your insurer and find out what is the best clauses to include in a disclaimer to keep yourself and your clients safe.

Maintaining Safety Virtually

To make sure the client is staying safe throughout the session to avoid injury, check for the following things:

  • They are participating in a safe and controlled environment free of impediments (furniture, pets, slippery surfaces).
  • They are aware of how to use the equipment safely
  • All instructions are clear and demonstrated so the client can easily copy them at home
  • The whole workout journey is covered – from setting expectations and warming up correctly to having an appropriate cooldown and stretching time to avoid injury.
  • You should include rehydration and intervals of rest.

Participants should be completely aware of what the activities will be. You should be aware of any impediments that would hinder the clients from completing them.

TOP TIP - It may seem obvious, but only perform activities and demonstrations that you are fully qualified in and legally allowed to deliver. For example, if you have yet to complete your Level 4 Obesity and Diabetes Management course, don’t advise on exercises to help manage insulin levels.

To Conclude

If you are a fitness professional or looking to become one, offering your clients the flexibility to train online is an essential service and allows you to widen your training community like never before to anyone with an internet connection. Understanding what is needed to cover yourself legally and ensure you’re providing a safe and enjoyable experience for your clients is vital and something many don’t consider when taking their business online.

Want to know more about how you can upskill your training and gain the confidence and skills to coach fitness online? Purchase our Coaching Fitness Online course here.