5 Reasons Your Online Fitness Business Is Failing

By James Johnson
6 Min Read

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Online Fitness Business Owner Working

Your online health and fitness business is failing and you can’t figure out why.  

I’ll tell you one thing though: 

You’re certainly keen on getting to the bottom of this and finding answers. 

That’s a big step lots of fitness professionals never take. 

And the truth is:

Although your business is failing, you are not a failure! 

So, it’s time to identify the problems in your online health and fitness business and fix them.

To do this, I’ve brought in certified fitness business coach and consultant KK Hart to show you the 5 main reasons your business is failing and what you can do about it.

Let’s go…

1. You Don’t Invest Enough In Marketing

Marketing is one of those tasks.

It’s work you know you should do, but never get round to. After all, you’re in this business because you’re good at it. Shouldn’t being a great yoga instructor or fitness coach be all the marketing you need?


Have you ever wondered why it’s often the mediocre trainers, instructors, and studios that go on to achieve great success? (C’mon, we all know at least one.)

The answer is that they spend more time on their marketing. According to KK, “Lack of marketing investment is the main reason online fitness businesses fail.”

The reason is simple: if you don’t focus on bringing money into your business, your business won’t be around for very long.

If you want your business to thrive then you need to invest time (and money) into:

  • Understanding who your audience is.
  • Creating useful content to match their needs.
  • Connecting with them where they hang out.

You can do this in lots of different ways, and tailor it to your business. Social media, email marketing, YouTube marketing funnels, you name it. They all work when used correctly and strategically.

Here are some posts and videos that can help you with that:

But stick around to the end of this post, where I’ll show you a resource that will give you the exact steps you need to take to save your online fitness business.

2. You Aren’t Niche Enough

If you were to describe your online fitness business, what would you say?

Chances are it would be along the lines of:

  • “I teach yoga online.”
  • “I create online video workouts.”
  • “I live stream studio classes.”

These terms are super generic.

When your business fits into a generic category, it’s hard for potential customers to separate you from other fitness professionals in your space. There’s nothing unique about it.

For example:

If you say that you “teach yoga online”, you’re positioning yourself in a space where that are already 601 million other webpages:

Online yoga classes Google search results

But putting yourself in a niche category, like “vibrational yoga”, dramatically reduces the amount of competition you’re up against:

Vibrational Yoga Google search results

It’s also much easier for potential customers to understand who you are and what you do. 

“Fitness professionals need to find a specific way their service is different, and go all in on it. That’s what brings people to your business!” says KK.

Humming Puppy Yoga is a great example of this. They found their niche by playing different frequencies during their yoga sessions to elicit specific emotions.

Humming Puppy Yoga homepage

This isn’t everybody’s idea of a good workout. But, for the thousands of people who do enjoy it, it’s exactly the kind of yoga they want!

And, I get it…

Picking a niche can be scary. It feels like you’re closing the door on lots of potential customers. But, the opposite is true. You’re opening yourself up to an audience who will love your work.

3. You Aren’t Playing The Long Game

You’ve almost definitely had a customer come to you with an unrealistic expectation. You know, like: “I want to lose 150lbs in the next 3 weeks.”

When they say this, it takes all your strength to not laugh…

…before you explain to them that it doesn’t work that way. Getting results is a long-term process!


When it comes to your business, you think like the misled client. You think in terms of overnight success. You want it all, and you want it now.

We live in an era of instant gratification. There’s no escaping how we can have almost anything we want in just one click. The internet makes everything feel attainable.

But, the truth is, there’s no shortcut to online success. Just like building a strong body, losing fat, or getting really good at poses, it takes time and effort.

“Overnight success on YouTube, for example,” says KK Hart, “Typically takes about 7 to 10 years. There’s the hidden grind of making videos for a tiny audience until it finally clicks.”

SarahBethYoga can attest to this. Although she has around 1 million subscribers now, she spent 6 years growing her channel while still working as a freelance yoga instructor:

This is the reality for all online fitness creators who go on to have lasting success. So, it’s important to learn to focus on the long-term process of growth, and not instant success.

Here’s a great video from Matt D’Avella on how to shift yourself to a long-term growth mindset:

4. You’re Suffering From Burnout

You might be working too hard. (Okay, I know you weren’t expecting that.)

When you run a content-focused business, you tend to “give” a lot. That giving often comes in the form of free work, like creating…

  • YouTube videos
  • live streams
  • downloadable ebooks
  • social media posts
  • podcast episodes

…to give to your audience in exchange for likes, follows, and email addresses. But if you don’t make money from these you end up with an imbalance. You give more than you receive.

That’s where burnout happens.

There is a lot to be said for giving to your audience. But, there comes a time where you have to start asking for something in return; something that’s going to keep your business profitable.

You do this by creating a paid platform that generates income. 

“Trainers often think they’re playing an ‘either-or’ game, “ says KK, “that once you start making free content, you can’t charge for it later. They get stuck in this mindset, when it’s really not true.”

The surprising truth is that once you start asking people who have benefitted from your free content to upgrade to premium products, lots of them are more than happy to! 

The money you earn will, in turn, give you the resources – and emotional energy – to create more content, to help more people, who will eventually become new paying customers.

You can learn more about how you can use free content to create a powerful sales funnel in our guide, How to Create a YouTube Marketing Funnel for Your Membership Business.

5. You’re Focused On The Wrong Things

What am I doing wrong?

That’s a question you’ve probably asked yourself recently. You want to know what that thing is that’s holding your business back. Chances are, though, you’re not doing anything wrong.

KK says, “The realization for many of my customers is they need to switch the focus from what they ARE doing to what they’re NOT doing. This is typically where the answers are.”

You’re likely overlooking a system, process, or task, like:

  • Devoting time to marketing.
  • Finding your specific niche.
  • Offering premium products.
  • Hiring the right people to help you.

The reason realizing this is so important is that it forces you to reflect on your business. You need to look at why you aren’t doing these things.

Is that you didn’t know you should be doing it? Have you been putting it off because you don’t know how? Have you already tried and were just figuring it out?

The answers to these questions will show you the next thing you need to do.

How To Differentiate Your Online
Health & Fitness Business in 2020

Differentiate your online health and fitness business in 2020

The Last Rep…

There are 5 reasons that your online fitness businesses is failing:

  1. You don’t invest enough in marketing.
  2. You aren’t niche enough.
  3. You aren’t playing the long game.
  4. You’re suffering from burnout.
  5. You’re focused on the wrong things.

But now it’s time to ask the next question: what can you do about it?

Well, I’ve got you covered. In the next post in this series we’ll look at what you need to do to save your online fitness business. See you over there!