We tried twelve software apps for personal trainers to help you decide what’s best for your online personal training business
By Jonny and Yusef
After painstakingly signing up to all the personal training software that we could find online, we’re going to take you through how they work, and compare their features.
We’ll also share the software stack that we use to coach our clients. Spoiler alert: everything we use is free, flexible and professional. And it’s pretty robust – we’ve used it to coach thousands of clients.
But first, let’s review the market as a whole, because things are moving really fast in software so it’s an exciting time to see what’s available.
How to decide
To start with, we will look at big picture principles as to what you should look for in software, so even if there’s an app that you’re considering that we haven’t covered, you’ll still be able to make a decision.
The overriding principle is that software is designed to solve a problem, so remember to make sure it’s solving the right problem for you.
The first thing to look at is is whether you are consistently getting clients.
You only have a certain amount of time and bandwidth to spend each day. We know people who have spent so much time on finding the best apps and building the best custom branded website for only a couple of clients, and they’ve been focusing their energy on the wrong things.
The biggest problem that you’ll likely experience as a business owner is getting a consistent flow of new clients, so that should be your top priority.
Once you have a steady flow of clients, your next question should be:
“What should my software do?”
As a fitness coach, you need software that will help you deliver your service to the client. Keep it as simple as possible, because bloat is always bad. Unfortunately, the way apps develop, they tend to throw in half-formed features until they become really messy, rather than something that serves you as simply as possible. Remember that the client doesn’t care if you’ve got a branded app with a fancy logo. They just want results.
People don’t buy coaching; they buy coaches.Prioritise practicality and smoothness.
Mistakes to avoid
What software developers want out of an app and is very different from what your client wants. Don’t get drawn in by bells and whistles. Put yourself in your client’s position. You may find yourself getting drawn in by a particular feature, but ask yourself whether your client would care, or if it’s just something you think is nice to have.
Remember, when you’re signing up for a new app, to think about how user-friendly it is. If it’s complicated to use, that might be ok if it makes your client’s training experience easier. But you also need to think of clients like 50-year-old Margaret, who’s not very familiar with apps and suddenly has to sign in create an account and click on all the pictures of traffic lights to satisfy the Captcha. Think about whether it’s worth it if it’s going to create a load of hassle for your client, and will result in lots of calls to technical support.
With that massive caveat in mind, let’s get into all the main personal training software, and their pros and cons. We won’t be comparing price, because there’s little difference in cost between them, and the priority is your clients’ experience. Once we’ve taken a look at these, we’ll show you what we use in Propane Fitness.
Below is a breakdown of some of the key features of those we looked at, with notes on any potential downsides. But before we dive in, we thought Quenza and Fitteo would also be worth a mention. They don’t quite fit the purpose of online personal training in the way that some of those do in our comparison below, but they might be useful if you’re looking for something slightly different.
Quenza is more of a CBT/counselling-style platform that allows you to send articles and exercises to people to help deal with emotional issues. While this is great for some coaches, it isn’t really set up for fitness.
Fitteo, run by an ex-Personal Trainer, is a marketplace where you can buy or subscribe to creators. As a coach, you can create programmes that people can buy or subscribe to. This one is mobile-only at the moment, so won’t have some of the same features that the ones below have and isn’t quite right for online personal training. However, it could be worth a try if you’re looking to branch out into programme subscriptions.
|Tendon.io||· Very clean and simple|
· Options for voice activation and recording workouts
· Option to connect to accounts and subscriptions
· Switches easily from the client’s view to the coach’s view
|Creating a periodised programme of workouts can be quite a laborious process (but it could be worth seeing whether this is something that Tendon.io smooths out in the near future).|
|Truecoach||· Features for checking and commenting on form|
· Access to centralised database for trainers.
· Ability for clients to share progress
· Connects your Stripe account and creates products and subscriptions
· Can be used to design your client’s week
|It can be difficult to create a periodised programme.|
|Everfit||· Dashboard setup shows clients’ notes, updates and everything else all in one place. |
· A food journal that integrates with MyFitnessPal
· Chat feature
· Teams can all work from the same dashboard
|Like Truecoach, Everfit makes entering periodised programming difficult. However, it will be very good for simple cookie-cutter programs|
|MYPTHUB (My PT Hub)||· Slick interface that interacts with MyFitnessPal|
· Chat feature
· Uses a centralised database, allowing you to search and add exercises to create your workout program
|TrainHeroic||· Chat feature|
· Dashboard shows clients a breakdown of their metrics
· Look and feel of a social media feed, which could work well for group training
· Has a calendar for organising sessions
· Analytics allow you to view a client’s performance over a chosen time period
|This wasn’t the most intuitive app. It has got all the moving parts, but there’s a lot of data to wade through, and it’s not organised in a way that feels that easy to make sense of.|
|Apotheo||· Dashboard can be branded according to your preference|
· Simple, intuitive dashboard with a breakdown of practical information (e.g. number of clients, overdue payments and tasks you have to do)
· Option to send messages (in more of an email format than a chat format)
· Ability to add forms so that clients can enter data
· Calendar allows you to set reminders and add events
|The way in which you set up training plans is a little bit clunky. However, you can get around this by adding a google sheet or a video to a particular plan.|
|Heads up Health||· Integrates all the different trackables and wearable devices you use onto a single dashboard|
· Allows you to log key data to see how you’re doing on areas such as number of steps per day
|Personally, we’d find this app clunky for delivering coaching, but it depends on your use case|
|PTDistinction||· Ability to view client profiles and see which clients have the highest and lowest completion rates|
· Clients can add photos to their logbook and set up reminders
· Really nice, clean user interface and very quick to load
· Universal search option on the dashboard makes it easy to find things across the whole app
· Chat function
|The main downside is that you have to be a bit of a slave to the infrastructure of the app. It shows your clients’ tasks, while you’re probably more interested in the tasks you need to complete as a coach.|
|Trainerize||· Ability to view the average compliance and number of sign-ins|
· Easy to see clients’ progress
· Chat function
· Option to add clients to monthly billing from the app
· Ability to create groups for group-style training
· Calendar allows you to arrange video calls
· Ability to connect the app to FitBit and MyFitnessPal
· Library of workouts
· Easy to add in branding
|There are lots of features on this app, which always makes me worry that there’s a bit too much going on.|
So, what do we use for our own online coaching?
The app that we use for Propane is Podia.
Although this isn’t actually a one-to-one coaching platform, we found that this serves our own needs really well, including delivering group coaching passive products, selling digital products. It’s been a massive factor in our own profitability. We also really like being able to use it to showcase testimonials from clients.
We use Podia as a platform for stuff like our exercise demonstrations, one-off programmes, FAQs and e-books, but the ability to showcase testimonials and allow people to buy things has been great, particularly as it sorts out the payment processing for you.
We also use it to host the Propane Protocol, which is a passive product that is all delivered through Podia, and and if we do want to interact with clients, we can do this using a software stack.
There are lots of very good options out there, so it really comes down to what your online fitness business’s priorities are. The key thing we were looking for was something that minimised friction, so Podia was perfect for us. You might have seen another option in the table that was perfect for you.
Why we switched to group coaching
Whether you’re working with lots of clients or only a few, you’ll likely find that at some point you come up against capacity issues with one-to-one coaching, regardless of the software you use.
This is why we switched from one-to-one coaching to group coaching, and in the space of about six weeks, it took our revenues from about £2,000 a month to £10,000 a month (and beyond).
On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re struggling to get new clients, then unfortunately no piece of software, no matter how good, is going to solve that problem for you – that is a marketing problem. Another big thing to consider is this: even if there was the perfect app on paper, does it fit in with your clients existing habits? Can you get them to log into it consistently?
Even though it’s not perfect and has plenty of its own issues, Facebook is one habit that your clients already regularly log into, so you can leverage their existing habits to check in more, and improve their compliance.
Finally, make sure you’re being flexible; if you’ve got a client who likes tracking their food in MyFitnessPal, and you’re making them track their food on a different platform (even if it’s better), there’ll always be friction as a result of them migrating over to something else and getting used to how it works. There might be clients who just completely refuse to switch.
What else do we use to organise our coaching?
We use software to support our business functions, such as getting clients, processing payments and delivering coaching, so we’re looking for something that can be used easily on a desktop, flexible, customisable and affordable.
Find out more below about a few pieces of software we use to help with the day-to-day running of Propane. And the best thing about all of these is that they’re all free.
|What we use||What we use it for||Why|
|Stripe||Payment processing||It’s simple and flexible, and allows you to do monthly subscriptions. It will even handle your tax for you.|
|Google Sheets||Programming||Google Sheets is fast, flexible and great for formulas. It instantly synchronises with your client, so they can log their training from anywhere. You can also set up your spreadsheet as you see fit and according to what’s important to your clients.|
|Telegram||Communication||We use Telegram because it’s secure and has a really simple interface, with video messaging and voice messaging. It’s also a separate platform to what most people use for their regular communications, which makes it easy for both you and the client to separate your coaching from your personal life.|
|Notion||CRM and client dashboard||Notion is a really powerful, intuitive tool which helps us handle our clients’ notes, goals and anything we discuss on calls.|
We hope you found this run-through of the personal training software market in 2022, and found it useful to read about the different types of software we use at Propane. And remember, the main principle is delivering your programme to the client with minimum friction.
If you think Podia might fit the needs of your own online personal training business, you can access a discount for the app here.
You can also watch the video below or read this article to find out why we recommend Notion for creating a client dashboard.