The COVID 19 pandemic, with its takeover, has forced Gyms, Studios, and Fitness centers to shut down.
But, it certainly hasn’t stopped people from working out. Many have begun converting their drawing rooms into a full power workout zone. Be it Gym, Yoga, or Zumba, people have definitely become more health conscious today.
So, if you’re someone who’s looking to start an online fitness website, WordPress stands as a golden opportunity to do so without heavy investments.
To ensure you do this successfully, I’m here to guide you on how to start your online fitness website with WordPress.
Step 1: Install WordPress and get it fixed on your system
The very first step in this process is to choose a hosting platform to base your website.
And, I’m assuming you’ve already chosen a domain name 😛
Awesome, now we can go ahead and install WordPress!
Oh, wait, before we get there, let me explain why you should prefer WordPress over other platforms for your fitness website:
- WordPress is a self-hosted platform – This means you have full control over your website and data at all times. Plus, it has a huge library of plugins and themes that will let you add any functionality to your fitness website you can possibly imagine.
- Super flexible – It is user friendly and allows you to make your website look and appear exactly the way you want.
- Easy setup – Apart from being free, WordPress is extremely easy to set up and doesn’t feel too complicated.
With that being said, the process of installing WordPress is quite simple. Let’s see:
- Download the latest version of WordPress and extract the contents from the zip file
- You need to create an FTP account and upload these files to your web host. You can find the FTP account under ‘Files’ in your web host’s cPanel
- Upload your WordPress file
- Connect to your Web Host using the FTP account you created
- Under ‘public_html’, select and upload all the files in the WordPress folder
After you’re done, hop on to your website and you’ll find yourself welcomed with the WordPress installation set up 🙂
Once you’re there, simply follow the instructions – Enter your Database Name, Username, Password, etc. It’ll barely take a few minutes.
Image Courtesy: make.wordpress.org
Step 2: Get the look and vibe of your fitness website on point
Now that you’ve installed WordPress, the next step is to ensure your WordPress website looks professional.
After all, everybody likes to be taken seriously, right?
Now, be it online Gym training sessions, Yoga classes, or Zumba lessons, it doesn’t matter. Irrespective of the business nature – the look and the vibe of your fitness website should easily reflect your brand and its values.
To achieve this, you will need to have a Fitness theme on your website that provides the following:
- Strong appearance – Look out for themes with elegant designs. Ensure that it gives you the power to add unique flavor and style to your website.
- Customization options – Give your own touch to the design and looks. Choose a theme that comes with advanced customization settings.
- Pre-built Demos – Find a theme that provides a pre-built demo in line with your needs. Don’t get overwhelmed with themes that come with tons of pre-built demos that don’t fit your requirements.
- High Responsiveness – Lots of people access websites on their mobile phones. Just make sure the theme works properly when accessed through a phone.
- Feature-rich theme – Watch out for themes with features like Multi-color schemes, Speed, Slider functions, Modern layouts, Translation capabilities, etc. Choose a theme with features relevant to your needs.
- Great User Interface and User Experience – Pick a theme with great UI/UX as it plays an important role in designing different pages of your website.
There’s a vast sea of fitness themes out there. I’d recommend you to check out some themes like:
- Meridian Fitness
I suggest you select a theme that best fits your website and your audiences’ needs and requirements. Also, don’t forget to check out the theme demos before purchasing to get better insights into its working.
Now, once you’ve selected a suitable fitness theme, you can move on to the next step……
Step 3: Install LearnDash LMS to create fitness programs or courses
A crucial step. It literally represents the heartbeat of your online fitness website.
But, before you can begin, you will need to install a Learning Management System (LMS) plugin on your WordPress site. With an LMS plugin, you will be able to easily create fitness programs, add lessons, take online classes, create memberships, etc.
Now, WordPress offers tons of LMS’s to set up your online fitness website. However, I recommend going with LearnDash LMS.
And, the reasons I recommend this is because:
- Top-notch functions – LearnDash offers powerful features to create interactive lessons, videos, offer gamification abilities, manage learners/members, sell fitness packages, etc.
- Great Track record – This plugin has been around for years and is one of the most popular LMS’s out there with a great track record. Plus, their support team is extremely dedicated and responsive.
- Smooth integration capabilities – LearnDash integrates seamlessly with lots of popular WordPress plugins to enhance the value of your website.
Having said that, if you’ve decided to move ahead with LearnDash then, let’s quickly check out the installation process.
To install LearnDash, follow the below steps in your WordPress backend:
- Go to Plugins > Add New
- Click on Upload Plugin
- Select the .zip file you downloaded after purchase
- Click Install and hit Activate
Note: Make sure to enter the LearnDash License Number. Go to LearnDash LMS > Settings > LMS License for the smooth functioning of your website.
If you run into trouble, you can also check out this detailed guide on setting up LearnDash LMS.
Setup Fitness Programmes
After installing LearnDash, you can now begin creating different fitness courses/programs.
Given the sudden shift towards maintaining a healthier lifestyle, there’ll be several who’re just starting out. And, there’ll also be a set of people who work out regularly and would like to continue.
To cater to all sorts of audiences, you can build different levels/categories on your website. For e.g: Beginners, Intermediate, and Advanced.
Under each level, you can create various courses/programs. This can include Workout plans, Nutrition plans, Transformation plans, etc.
You can create a course/program by heading to:
- LearnDash LMS > Courses > Add New
Image courtesy: LearnDash
As you can see from the above image, changing the attributes of your courses/programs is very simple. You can easily change the title of your course/program (Cardio workout), write its description (benefits), add images, etc.
It also gives you the power to create as many courses/programs you need.
Add Fitness Lessons
Fitness mostly involves demonstrations. Hence, for each of these programs, you can offer different workout routine lessons. These lessons can be a compilation of short videos.
For e.g: A short 5-minute video lesson demonstrating a cardio exercise for a Beginner.
An hour-long whole body workout video for an Advanced user.
You can include several such short videos for users in their respective categories. Each of these can contain different exercises/workout routines.
Similarly, you can also create courses/programs for nutrition or transformational plans. Having said that, writing articles on fitness and eating habits can be helpful as well. It can help in attracting several potential clients.
Create Membership Levels
So, merely creating fitness courses/programs is not the end game. As I mentioned earlier, the beginners may not know the start point.
Plus, handling customers in an organized manner is extremely vital. You need to ensure that they aren’t overwhelmed with loads of content.
Hence, to ensure a smooth and organized flow of activities, using a Membership plugin works quite like magic. It will also make it easier for your customers to sign up for multiple courses/programs offered in a bundle. Moreover, it gives you a chance to earn recurring revenues through subscriptions.
There are tons of Membership plugins you can use but I recommend using MemberPress. This is because it is one of the most popular membership plugins with a great track record. Plus, it comes with robust features and offers fantastic support.
And, once you’ve installed MemberPress, you can start creating different levels of memberships. For eg: Beginners, Intermediate or Advanced.
To create membership levels, go to:
- MemberPress > Memberships > Add New
You can even choose to restrict the content for each membership level as per your requirements.
Attach Program/Course(s) to a Membership
Now that you’ve created memberships and programs, it’s time to assign these courses to various memberships.
In doing so, the client who purchases a particular membership will automatically gain access to the courses/programs attached to their membership.
To assign memberships:
- Go to Edit Memberships Page > Membership Options Box
- Click the LearnDash button
- Tick the programs/courses to be assigned to this membership
- Hit the Update button to save changes
Image courtesy: LearnDash
Besides, you can even set up pricing options for each membership level. And, increase it as the user moves from Beginner to Intermediate and so forth.
Each of these levels can have their own own courses/programs – workout plans, nutrition plans, etc. Membership rules can also be set at each level with respect to content accessibility.
You might also want to create a separate pricing page for your visitors. This will enable them to make an informed decision about various membership plans.
With MemberPress – you can access, configure, and set up subscription payments effortlessly.
Setting up Payment Systems
This is a very important section when it comes to monetizing your courses/programs. Especially, when you’re selling on individual levels without offering memberships.
To sell your programs/courses at an individual level, you need to access the Payments tab. And, configure certain settings to start accepting payments.
Now, LearnDash, by default, comes with built-in support for accepting payments via PayPal.
But, first, make sure you’ve registered for a free PayPal account and have got it verified.
Once it’s done, head to your LearnDash backend dashboard and follow the below steps:
- Go to LearnDash LMS > Settings
- Click on the PayPal Settings tab, fill out all the payment details
- Hit Save
Image courtesy: LearnDash
You’re now set to accept payments via PayPal.
However, apart from PayPal, you can also use the Stripe integration plugin to accept payments via Stripe. But, you will need to pay for the add-on.
Step 4: Conduct live training sessions to induce a real Gymnasium vibe
In the good old days, people preferred having a workout buddy. This helped during weight lifting sessions and enabled them to stay motivated. Personally, it always felt nice to workout or shake a leg with a buddy 😛
Oh boy, I miss those days!
Well, the situation has changed. But, thanks to LearnDash – adding a human and a personalized element to workout sessions is not yet a thing of the past 🙂
Live Workout Sessions
To add more value and energy, you should conduct personal training sessions or live workout routines. You can coordinate this by creating different batches and allotting time accordingly. Plus, it opens up a new avenue for you to earn extra income.
To make this possible, you can use the LearnDash and Zoom integration function. This will enable you to conduct your live workout sessions with ease and breeze. In such times, this is as close as you can get to personalization and providing a real gymnasium sort of vibe.
Get Instructors on board
As an online fitness business owner, there are tons of things like Marketing, Growth, etc. that’ll need your attention. Now, it may not be possible for you to create fitness lessons, conduct multiple live sessions, provide personal training, chalk out meal plans, etc. single-handedly.
To cater to the different needs of your members, you will have to onboard professional Fitness Instructors/Trainers. These Instructors can help with conducting training sessions and take up management responsibilities thereby, saving you loads of time and effort.
You can use the WISDM Instructor Role extension to add multiple Instructors on your LearnDash based online fitness website. You can enable these Instructors to create workout lessons and reduce your managerial responsibilities. Furthermore, you can even set up personalized profile pages for your gym instructors, so your members know everything about them, such as their photo, bio, expertise, qualification, courses created, ratings, and so on.
To add Instructors:
- Go to your Admin Dashboard, click Users > Add New
The best part – your Instructors also get to have their own dedicated dashboard. From here, they can easily create courses, track commissions earned, and access details about their courses and students.
Once you’ve got Instructors on board, you’re almost set to go live with your online fitness website. But, there are just a few basic things that need to be taken care of. To know more, continue reading through….
Step 5: Create Pages to guide your customers through your website
Imagine hopping on to Amazon and finding the basic elements like the Menu, About Us page, Contact Us Page, Payments page, etc. missing from the website.
Not only will this block you from making a purchase but it’ll also leave a bad impression!
Having said that, these elements may seem basic but, trust me, they play a vital role. The theme you select will have a great impact in terms of UI/UX of the pages on your website.
This is a very important page that can either make or break your customer. Your homepage should be designed extremely well and should reflect your business objective.
To make your homepage attractive, you can use quality images/videos of workouts, training, etc. to showcase your offerings. I’d also recommend using an Image Slider or Carousel on your homepage to beautifully display images.
Pro Tip: Try to use images or sliders in the first fold of your homepage to grab quick eyeballs.
To add a homepage, follow the below steps:
- Go to Pages > Add New
- Add all the elements
- Hit Publish
- Then head to Settings > Readings > Home Page Displays
- Select Static Page and set the Homepage to the page you just created
- Click Save.
Having an attractive Homepage can work wonders in arousing your customers’ interest to explore deeper into your website.
About Us Page
With this page, you need to tell your customers about the intentions behind starting this fitness website. Give them a little background about you and your team so that they can get to know you a little more.
You can use this page to your advantage and display your skills, experience, medals, certificates, etc. to back your expertise and win their trust.
A crucial page that can help you capture genuine leads. People who wish to know more about your business and would like to get in touch with you can do so through a Contact Page.
To create a Contact Page, you can simply add a New Page on your site and add a Contact form for your customer to fill out. With powerful plugins like Contact Form 7 or Gravity Forms, you can create a Contact Form as per your convenience.
Through this Contact Form, you can capture your potential customer’s email Id and use it in the future to send out marketing materials.
Blogs and Testimonials
You can write fitness articles or blogs on your website to educate people regarding fitness and its benefits. This will help in bringing traffic to your website. Your potential customers will tend to read these blogs to gauge your knowledge and expertise in the field.
To add blogs, you can create a New Page, rename it ‘Blogs’ and add posts to create a new blog or article.
Similarly, displaying Testimonials from happy customers in the form of videos or words can also help in converting new clients. You can even showcase their ‘Before’ and ‘After’ pictures to induce inspiration.
Adding a Menu
You need to guide your visitors after they land on your Homepage. Don’t want them simply wandering around, do you?
So, to direct your visitors to your courses/programs, you’ll need to provide them a link that’ll take them to your course/program page.
To make this possible, you’ll need to create a navigation menu. Follow the below steps to create one:
- In your backend Dashboard, go to Appearances > Menu
- Click on Create a New Menu, add a menu name
- Add different pages you’ve created such as Contact Page, Blogs, About Us, etc.
- For the course/program page, add a custom link to ‘/courses/’
- Set this as the Primary Navigation Menu and hit Save.
Having done this, you’re nearly ready to go live with your online fitness website! You’ve covered all the basics.
Now, just bear with me as I quickly cover one last tiny step after which your website will be 100% ready. Take a look….
Step 6: Market your online fitness programs to boost client base
So, all of the hard work that you’ve put in the above steps will go in vain if you don’t use the right marketing strategies.
To popularise and promote your online fitness business to the correct target audience, you need to use appropriate marketing tools.
Go check out the following plugins that can help you capture genuine leads and reach out effectively to your target audience.
ConvertKit – This is a powerful WordPress plugin that can help you capture leads and sell your fitness programs easily. It gives you the option to automatically place the email capture forms anywhere on your posts and pages. You can check out the ConvertKit LearnDash integration.
- MailChimp – With this popular plugin, you can run an effective email marketing campaign. It enables you to send out promotional emails, newsletters, etc. to your ever-growing email subscribers. You can use it to notify them regarding offers and developments of your fitness programs. Check out the LearnDash MailChimp integration add-on.
- Social Warfare – You can use Social Warfare plugin and add social sharing buttons to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. With these buttons on your blog posts, images, and program page will enable you to encourage your users to share your content on social media. This, in turn, can increase your following and improve your brand image.
With these marketing tools, you can increase your social presence and improve your client base by leaps and bounds.
And, with this, we finally conclude the last step in creating an online fitness website (Yaaaaay)! 🙂
3 out of 10 WordPress users use LearnDash to run various sorts of fitness websites, thereby, making it the most popular platform.
Having said that, I hope the article provided you with valuable insights into starting your online fitness website with WordPress.
In case, you have any doubts or concerns, feel free to ask in the comments below. I’ll be glad to help 🙂