Great comments everyone! You’ve raised valid points for both sides of the issue. Like many other experiences, it seems to be a matter of trial and error, and personal preference. Regardless of the decision, it appears that offering complimentary consultations could be the key to initiating the conversation and, in many cases, gaining the trust (and business) of potential clients.
If you are charging the appropriate rate for your time and the services you offer – there is nothing to hide. Posting rates qualifies your leads. Since just about everyone comparison shops on the internet now (and even less will pick up a phone to make inquiries), it is a waste of your time not to post rates.
If you need to do something more advanced you can always figure out a way to offer add on services, or bigger packaged fees, but at a min – post a base rate.
I post my rates because I personally don’t like having to contact someone (usually a salesperson) to find out how much something is going to cost. My rates are what they are and not posting them isn’t going to change anything. Surprisingly, only about half of the people that contact me through my website have looked at the rates when then contact me. For what I do (mostly working with people who have exhausted their rehab benefit and high end athletes), my prices are low (high compared to the area Personal Trainer average).
Posting your rates gives you the platform to discuss cost with clients. This is often a difficult topic for many fitness professionals. Having your rates posted makes this less of a challenge. When the topic comes up or when you must bring up the topic, you simply bring up your website (this will also help you market your services as you can suggest that the client direct people to your site at this time) and go over the rates you have on the site.