10 Best Fitness Business Ideas in 2021


The coronavirus pandemic has radically transformed virtually every aspect of our lives, including the way we work out. But maintaining our fitness is arguably more important than ever, both for our physical and emotional wellness. So starting a fitness business in 2020 could turn out to be a lucrative endeavor.

For inspiration, take a look at 10 of the best fitness ideas in 2020. Whether they’re workout regimens, coaching sessions, or education-focused, all these health and fitness business ideas can be implemented without access to a gym, studio, or any other resource that requires in-person contact. Instead, they can all be managed 100% online. 

Virtual Fitness Business Ideas

When it comes to offering virtual fitness classes, flexibility is key. Obviously, you can’t expect your clients to have access to all the gear and equipment that they would in your gym or studio. So you’ll need to get creative and come up with variations on moves that typically require heavy equipment, and offer replacements for smaller equipment.

Don’t have dumbbells? Cans of soup, laundry detergent, or even wine bottles can do the trick. Towels can pinch-hit for yoga straps, paper plates or paper towels can work double-duty as sliders, and stacked books can replace yoga blocks. The important thing is that you’re getting your clients moving, whether or not they have a fully equipped gym at home.

With that in mind, let’s move onto 10 of the best quarantine-conducive fitness business ideas to start this year.   

1. Pilates Teacher

Traditional Pilates requires a reformer, which people can’t get their hands on without spending upwards of $1,000. But we’re not in the “traditional” world anymore, in terms of fitness modalities or anything else. Some of the most popular fitness videos on the internet right now are mat Pilates classes, which either require no equipment whatsoever, or smaller items like resistance bands, light hand weights, a small exercise ball, and/or a Magic Circle. Either way, pretty much every move that’s traditionally done on a Pilates reformer is adaptable to a mat.    

2. Yoga Instructor

Yoga is one of the most creative and adaptable physical activities in existence: Whether you’re doing a 90-minute arm balance and inversion-focused vinyasa class, holding pigeon for 10 minutes, or meditating for five, you’re doing yoga.

And as Yoga With Adriene’s 8.13 million YouTube subscribers can attest, it’s entirely possible to have a satisfying yoga session at home. Because yoga is such a rich and complex practice, you may feel overwhelmed by your options as an instructor. In this scenario (as in pretty much everything else), authenticity is key. Lean into your strengths, interests, and particular area of expertise when you’re designing your sequences. Be sure to include a mix of experience levels, too.       

3. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) Instructor

With classes as short as 10 minutes (or even five), HIIT is one of the fastest, most effective ways for people to get in a quick cardio blast. And since each burst of high-intensity moves lasts just about 30 or 40 seconds, it’s frankly one of the most palatable ways for people to get their heart rates up. Plus, with moves like plank, jumping jacks, squat jumps, mountain climbers, high knees, and burpees comprising the essential HIIT repertoire, you don’t need equipment or much space to get in a good sweat session. (Though you can throw in a few weights-optional moves, as well.)  

4. Run Coach

One of the hardest things about running isn’t the physical aspect—it’s mental. So follow in the footsteps of successful apps like Peloton and Nike+Run Club, and create guided running sessions for your clients. You may not have the technological capabilities to create your own app, but you can create recordings of yourself guiding your clients through their runs, cueing them when to speed up or slow down, and keeping them inspired and motivated along the way.

You can create different programs for different durations, fitness levels, and even musical genres (disco run, anyone?). This can be a real game-changer for people struggling on their fitness journeys. 

5. Cardio Dance Classes

Cardio dance classes are a fun, endorphin-rich exercise that doesn’t feel like an exercise—aka the ideal quarantine workout. They also happen to be a popular workout genre on YouTube: One of Popsugar Fitness’ most popular videos is their “30-Minute Hip-Hop Tabata to Torch Calories,” which boasts 23 million views to date. You’ll notice that most dance classes that fall within the “workout” genre are cardio dance classes, so the intent is more on getting your heart rate up, rather than the choreography. That said, if you’re a trained dancer and you’re feeling the choreo itch, go ahead and share a step-by-step tutorial of your choreographed dance routine.    

6. Fusion Classes

You’ve probably noticed that some of the buzziest new workout classes don’t hew to just one fitness technique. Rather, they borrow elements of several modalities: Think a yoga-inspired dynamic stretch, followed by a Pilates ab series, then some bodyweight strength moves and HIIT circuits for a sweaty finale.

With so much variety in the mix, it’s almost impossible for fusion classes to be boring, which makes them especially appealing for people who typically shy away from traditional exercise classes. Beyond that, fusions give you the chance to flex your creativity when you’re designing sequences.      

7. Personal Training

If you’re a personal trainer, you can, and should, continue to train your clients remotely via Zoom or FaceTime. Here again, you’ll need to get a little creative when formulating their training regimens, based on the equipment each client does or doesn’t have access to.

And since motivation can be a problem for lots of us right now, you might consider helping them design a weekly workout schedule, then touch base throughout the week to keep them accountable and motivated. With all those caveats in mind, remote personal training is a 100% viable option right now, whether it’s your main source of revenue or it’s supplemental to other income streams.      

8. Health Coach

While health coaching isn’t strictly a fitness idea, the market overlaps—as you know, “fitness” is equal parts working out and eating right. Plus, it’s a logical supplement to any other fitness class or course you may offer. Of course, being a certified health coach can only help you establish your legitimacy here. But it’s not necessarily a requirement that you’re accredited as a health coach, especially if you already have a loyal following among your fitness clients. And chances are, as a certified coach or instructor in some fitness modality, you’re also educated about nutrition. But if you’re interested in deepening your knowledge before extending your services to clients, it’s easy to find relatively affordable health coaching courses online.    

9. Create an Online Store

Ecommerce is king—that was true before the pandemic, but it’s irrefutable now. So if you haven’t yet set up an online store, now’s the time to do it. As a fitness business, there are tons of things you can sell, like apparel, supplements and other nutritional food and drinks, exercise equipment, or water bottles, all of which you can purchase cheaply from wholesalers.

If you already have a website, it’s likely that your host platform supports ecommerce. Otherwise, you can follow our guide on how to start an ecommerce business in seven easy steps. Building a website and/or store might not be the most fun thing you’ll ever do, but these days, it’s an absolute requirement for your business. And as you well know, some momentary discomfort pays off in the long run.   

10. Virtual Workshops and Courses

Whatever your area of expertise is, it’s likely conducive to offering an online workshop or course for clients who want to deepen their knowledge and experience of that subject. You might start by gauging interest from your existing clients, asking them which topics they’d be interested in learning about, and which format they’d be open to, whether that’s a one-time afternoon workshop or a weeks-long course.

The planning and implementation is a little more labor intensive here than it is for some of the other options on this list. But there are tons of upsides to this fitness idea: It gives you the opportunity to deepen your own understanding of a subject, it’s a great way to foster ongoing relationships with your clients, and, of course, you’ll be able to charge more for this offering than you would for a standard fitness class, just to name a few.   

The Bottom Line

Obviously, the best fitness business ideas in 2020 look pretty different from the best fitness business ideas of past years. Even with some gyms opening at partial capacity, many people aren’t itching to take their workouts to a public space just yet. However, there is still plenty of demand for fitness businesses, meaning if you can start a successful virtual endeavor, you could see great success.

And the good thing about virtual fitness business ideas is that they won’t become obsolete once the world reopens. After untold months of working out solely at home, people will still appreciate the option to maintain the routines they’ve become habituated to during quarantine—as well as the flexibility it affords them. Beyond that, you can see this moment as an opportunity to expand your typical offerings. As you can likely tell, all these fitness ideas are complementary to one another, so feel free to offer as many of these ideas as you feel qualified for and excited about.

Christine Aebischer

Christine Aebischer is an editor at JustBusiness and Fundera.

Previously, Christine was an editor at the financial planning startup LearnVest and its parent company, Northwestern Mutual. There she wrote and edited on topics such as debt, budgeting, insurance, taxes, investing, and retirement. She has written for print and online on topics ranging from personal finance to luxury real estate.

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