Fitness instructor motivating people doing exercise at park
The fitness industry is no longer limited to the inside of gyms and group class studios. You can take your passion for fitness and wellness outside and online in a variety of ways. — Getty Images/Neustockimages

While the pandemic has sparked a renewed commitment to health and wellness, it has also created a seismic shift away from traditional gym environments. Those who are fitness-minded are discovering creative, new ways to get their sweat on and achieve balance of both body and mind. The fitness landscape is ripe with opportunities for entrepreneurial individuals with a high fitness aptitude, creativity and a drive to help others achieve their fitness goals.

Outdoor fitness instructor

Besides the opportunity to maintain safe social distancing, exercising in the great outdoors provides the invigorating fusion of fresh air and fitness. At the start of 2021, outdoor exercise was expected to be the year’s top fitness trend, with 51.9% of active adults opting for open air activities, as opposed to only 14.6% one year earlier.

Backyard boot camps, neighborhood 5K training series, small group roller skating and beach yoga classes are all in high demand. The key is to keep outdoor fitness simple and light on equipment, focusing on body weight training and utilizing easily portable items like resistance bands. If fitness instructors plan to use an outdoor space that is public property, it’s important to understand and adhere to the city or town’s guidelines for obtaining park permits.

Virtual yoga instructor

When access to public places was much more limited during the pandemic, 80% of consumers tried livestream workouts, up from only 7% in 2019. With virtual fitness classes suddenly mainstream and the U.S. population becoming increasingly holistic in their approaches to well-being, the demand for virtual yoga might resonate with those who are looking for a more zen career path. Prospective yoga teachers may reach students across the U.S., or even worldwide.

If you’re already a yoga devotee, consider taking the next step toward your own yoga-based business and get certified through a yoga training center in your area. Build a social community through posts to your social media accounts that demonstrate your teaching style, promote your course offerings and provide a glimpse into your practice while you build your live and pre-recorded classes, scheduling system and payment options on platforms like MindBody. Some hot new trends in yoga to consider if you want to target a specific niche: Broga (yoga for guys), Yoga HIIT and mental fitness yoga.

Personal home trainer

In a recent survey of millennials and Gen Zers, 81% and 50%, respectively, confirmed that they now prefer at-home to gym-based workouts. This means that personal trainers have a great opportunity to reach fitness-minded people in these generations (born between 1981-2015; that’s ages 6-40) at home, where they most prefer to work out.

In addition to modeling a healthy lifestyle, the most successful personal trainers build a reputation on their ability to listen and communicate so that client goals can be realistically set and achieved. They ask the right questions and are mindful of injuries and nutrition. The average hourly rate for personal training in the U.S. is $60, however depending on experience and geography, personal trainers can command up to $100 per hour. If you’re considering a career as a personal fitness trainer but are not yet certified, you may want to consider one of these top certification programs. To start building your brand, tap into the reach and influence that social media has on fitness and provide mini-sessions, tips and motivational insights. Platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok are perfect for this, where you can keep your audience engaged and grow your client base.

[Read more: A Quick Guide to Social Media Branding]

Mobile fitness truck operator/coach

If you’re a personal trainer who prefers to work with small groups of private clients or train teams in an open-air environment, investing in a mobile fitness unit or franchise is a great way to take your services on the road. This all-in-one model will help you reach larger numbers of clients and tow and stow an array of equipment from pull-up bars to bungee ropes. There are all types of units that can easily be hitched to the back of an SUV or truck and can be used as a mobile billboard to get attention and build business with eye-catching branding. The novelty of this fitness model alone can generate a lot of interest. You can also consider the added value of the built-in community it promotes, which helps foster safer social interaction and organic motivation.

Entry into the market typically starts with researching the things that are generating buzz, and Google Trends is a great resource for tracking the market and identifying an emerging niche.

Meditation and mindfulness coach

Meditation, the practice of achieving mental clarity, has tripled in popularity over the past 10 years. Over 14% of U.S. adults report that they have tried mediation at least once because of the numerous health benefits that can be achieved, including a stronger immune system, lower blood pressure, elevated mood and improved sleep. The rise in popularity means that opportunities may exist for wellness experts who wish to add this discipline to their qualifications, and for those who have experienced the profound effects of meditation and wish to guide others.

While there are no specific certification requirements, immersing yourself in the practice with a credible instructor or enrolling in a course like The Path will help you hone your practice, develop a unique teaching style and gain the experience to build a career that can command an average annual salary of $61K.

Kids fitness coach

The importance of exercise for children cannot be overstated. Physical fitness benefits every area of child development including confidence and self-esteem. The CDC recommends that school-aged kids get at least 60 minutes of exercise each day, yet most don’t get nearly enough. If you love children and want to have an impact on developing the physical literacy that can flourish into a life-long commitment, consider starting a youth-focused fitness business.

You don’t have to start from scratch. Identify where the greatest needs are in your area and consider buying into a franchise. Or, focus on specific training such as Les Mills, which offers training in their Born to Move Kids programs for ages 2-16. You can then market your skills to help local community centers, recreation programs and gyms as an additional revenue stream.

Online fitness blogger

A fitness enthusiast who is also great with a pen (or keyboard) can find that maintaining a blog that focuses on health and wellness can be a very fulfilling and profitable business. Growing a community of followers who subscribe to your blog and related social media can cement your status as an influencer, and garner the attention and marketing budgets of fitness-related companies who may wish to sponsor your content.

Building an invested audience is the true challenge and you’ll need to set yourself apart with a niche in which you can authentically establish yourself as a guru. The key is to understand the goals of your audience and devise a strategy that focuses on creating motivational content of useful and actionable videos, images, advice, recipes, reviews and interviews with other experts in the field. Research what the best bloggers in the fitness space are doing in order to capture your share of the health wealth.

Health and wellness podcast host

Perhaps you’re an authority in a specific niche within the fitness universe and consider yourself more of a talker than a writer. You love long-form media formats and are at your peak when interviewing experts in your professional orbit. Starting a podcast is relatively simple, provides you with a platform to broaden your audience and to market your products or services. To start, you will need some equipment essentials including microphones, headphones and recording software.

Online fitness apparel retailer

If you have an affinity for fashion, the fitness apparel industry is experiencing explosive growth and is expected to reach a market value of $248.1 billion by 2026. Sub-categories including yoga-inspired clothing, sustainability, size inclusivity, customization and smart wearable technology are all trending and will account for significant sales in a category already dominating U.S. apparel sales.

While athletic apparel purchases were traditionally more commonplace within physical storefronts, assistance through virtual consultations, live chats, detailed sizing guides and augmented reality try-ons have elevated the online apparel shopping experience. Shopify’s platform offers relatively turn-key platforms for designing and hosting e-commerce stores once you’ve developed your branding and logo.

[Read more: Building a Brand from Scratch? Start With These Tips]

Premium vitamin and supplements seller

If you have solid sales skills or are a marketer at heart, nutritional supplement sales is a great small business to consider starting. The nutritional supplement market experienced significant, double-digit growth in 2020, as COVID-19 sparked a surge in the pursuit of better health and nutrition from within. The U.S. market is valued at $140 billion and is anticipated to grow 8% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) through 2028. Vitamin D and other immunity boosting vitamins are generating a lot of buzz, as are supplements that aid in stress management, post-workout recovery and skin vitality.

Entry into the market typically starts with researching the things that are generating buzz, and Google Trends is a great resource for tracking the market and identifying an emerging niche. While the FDA does not regulate the manufacturing and sales of supplements, it’s important to be knowledgeable about claims restrictions and labeling do’s and don’ts.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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