So what are the best personal training apps? From Truecoach, to MyFitnessPal, to good old fashioned PDF’s, in this article we’re going to run through the most popular apps and software for personal trainers to deliver their coaching, and tell you our picks for the best for a few different situations. Before we get into that there are a couple of things we need to establish about using apps as an online PT.
Not which, but why?
Bit of a smug sub-heading, but before you go searching for the best app for your coaching delivery it’s vital to consider why you actually need an app?
If the reason is ‘well it’s the modern age and apps are very important’ then – like a person who starts a relationship because they saw their ex moved onto someone new – you might be in it for the wrong reasons.
Here is the list of reasons why you might want to add an app to your personal training offering:
- It will make it easier for your clients to achieve their desired result
Yup that’s the list. That is the only reason you should ever add a piece of software to your coaching package. Everything else is keeping up with the Joneses/fear of not being the best grandstanding and you can waste a ton of time, effort, and money integrating complex systems into your business that you simply do not need.
How does it actually help your clients?
This is question number 2 that comes after establishing that you are adding in a piece of software for the right reason, and that is why does it improve your service?
There are a few ways apps can do this:
- Make it easier for your clients to track the things they need to – e.g Calorie counter/workouts tracking
- Make it easier for you to hold them accountable – Messenger
- Make it easier for them to access your coaching expertise – Members area that gives them 24/hr access
- Make it easier for you and your clients to manage payments – Payment Processor
- Save you time on other tasks so you can focus on creating a great product – Email automations
The All-in-one Solution/Illusion
There are many apps out there who purport to be the one-stop-shop for any personal trainer. Some of them are really good, and provide viable combinations of all 5 or most of the functions I just listed. The best ones we have found are TrueCoach, Trainerize and PT Distinction.
Frankly, we aren’t beholden to any of the 3 in particular. They all have similar features and great reviews from their users. Yes, they cost money and in a way they are taking a piece of your hard-earned pie. However, the cost is negligible at scale and they deserve some money for making things smoother for your business. If you are looking to simplify things as much as possible then having a play around with each of them to figure out which is most intuitive for you is probably your best best. This being said, we advise in general against using an ‘All-in-one’ type app for running your business.
There are two main reasons for this which can be summed up with some classic, cliched sayings:
Jack of all trades, master of none
All software is limited to the quality of the development team behind it. A company that focuses on doing one thing really really well will likely outperform a company of a similar size trying to do 10 different things at once. As I said in the beginning, you only want to add software if it will improve the chance of your clients achieving their goals. Having the best software in each part of your coaching business system increases the top-end potential of your product in terms of delivering a perfect user experience, and gives you more flexibility over time.
All your eggs in one basket
Hosting your business in one place and one place only can be extremely risky. If your whole income stream runs through one provider and that provider changes up their business model in a way you don’t like, you just have to suck it up. We worked with someone recently who had their entire member’s area deleted with NO backup. Months of work gone. Diversifying your business tools spreads the risk more so you can avoid cataclysmic events. Equally, in the constantly changing online world it is beneficial to be flexible so you can pivot with market demands. Having everything tied up to one limits you with the provider’s ability to switch it up as times change. Having a few different pieces of software gives you more control of the direction the ship is going.
All of that being said, it’s not some egregious sin to go with a Truecoach, PT Distinction or a Trainerize, we just prefer the other way of doing things.
For those who are looking for more interchangeable solutions here are the best apps for each of the functions we listed near the top:
Best App for clients to track their data – Google Sheets + MyFitnessPal
The UI of Google Sheets isn’t as flirty or modern as some of the other options out there, but the flexibility and reliability is unrivalled. It’s also super easy to see how your clients are doing at a glance. As for MyFitnessPal it’s great, it’s free, it’s intuitive and the food database is impressively expansive. It will likely always remain the go-to food-tracking app, and when used in conjunction with google sheets it is all your clients really need to track their workouts and nutrition.
Best App For Accountability – Telegram or Facebook group
There are two suggestions here, the first for 1-1 coaching and the second for more group/community coaching (our suggested method). This is arguably the most interchangeable section in terms of which software you use but here is why we use Telegram and FB Groups.
Telegram is great for 1-1 because it has voice note, voice call, video message functionality, and it’s not generally used as a social app. This means you won’t be serving your clients in-between your group chats with your family and friends, this is a cardinal sin [link to mistakes made article] of online coaching. You shouldn’t use your 1-1 messaging app for anything else except your business, else it gets really messy.
As a side note – Telegram has some weird ass emoji packs so even if you don’t end up using it to coach you might as well check it out to see the sheer boldness of some of the designs.
Facebook groups work well because of their simplicity, cheapness and community comment function. Really you can use any community to deliver group coaching, the important things are:
- Boundaries – it’s a contained area for only your clients and there are set ‘check-in’ points for everyone on the same channel. E.g under a pinned post or on a Q&A
- Comments – clients need to be able interact with you and ask questions.
Having these two things in place allows you to deliver a tailored experience to your niche, whilst still having the scalability to coach 100s of people all at once.
Best App For Delivering your coaching – Podia
Having a members area with a database of your best coaching material is an essential part of having a high quality online offering. This is where you can make a real difference compared to an offline PT, and is going to help you stand out among others.
Instead of only having access to the present day version of you, you can build an experience that address all sides of your target niche’s fitness journey, not just a single block of workouts.
We have tried a ton of different members areas and our best bet for simplicity and reliability is Podia. The design elements are intuitive and it’ll give you everything you need to structure a logical and effective experience for your clients.
Best App For Processing payments – Stripe
Stripe has a beautiful customer UI, some great analytical tools and supports most currencies and payment methods. Fees wise it’s on the cheaper end of things and really the main thing is that it makes it incredibly easy for your customers to pay without leaving your website. The flexibility of payments methods also means you can have custom payments (for special offers you make to clients) and automatic recurring payments – which is going to take the headache out of collecting those monthly subscriptions from clients.
Best App For Automations – Activecampaign
Activecampaign is a powerful piece of software that lets you go off the deep end creating sequences and triggers that give you true capacity to scale much larger than you otherwise could without hiring outside help. Not only can you deliver an amazing, consistent service. But you can also create nurture sequences that trigger when certain conditions are met and increase the chance of selling to your email list. On top of this you get access to data and tracking that can better inform your bigger picture decision making over the long term. Some of this isn’t going to move the needle early on in your business, but over time its a big difference maker and separates those who truly reach scale from those who don’t.
Check out those 10 apps below
- Facebook Group
- Google Sheets
- PT Distinction