I jumped into the fitness industry pretty much overnight. I made the decision to take a class in college that would prepare me for the ACE Personal Trainer exam. The rest is history. The demand for personal training services is definitely out there in force. I had no idea how many people really do look for personal assistance with health and fitness.
I started out a year and a half ago as a fitness enthusiast. I might be a rookie, but I am proud to say that I now consider myself a fitness professional. Having said that, there really are a lot of factors that go into “salary” as far as the business goes.
The way I look at it:
Personal trainers have to take into account the services that will be offered. A trainer may charge a client more per session if those sessions are infrequent (once per week) and may charge less if those sessions are more frequent (three times per week). It’s only good business to do so. A trainer also has to take into consideration whether or not the client has requested that the trainer have correspondence with other healthcare professionals (usually in the form of letters to physicians, physical therapists, etc). Trainers can choose to reflect those services in the overall pricing for the client.
We’re different in that we (as fitness professionals) usually set our own rates and clients choose whether or not to pay those rates or go with a trainer who is cheaper OR more expensive. That client-based decision is more than likely based on the trainer’s experience, scope of practice, business savvy, personality, area of expertise, etc. Something else to consider is the area in which you train. For me, 25 dollars per session (what I would consider an “average” rate) is a little high for 1.) my experience level as far as years in the industry, 2.) the population that my gym serves, and 3.) the economy as whole right now. The trainers at my gym generally charge between 15 and 30 dollars per session, before we pay the gym its percentage. I charge the lower end of that spectrum, regardless.
If you’re looking for the numbers, ACE has published the results of the 2010 Salary Survey for ACE fitness professionals. You can see those results here:
Just a note for all the clients out there who might read this, keep in mind that some personal trainers (like me) may sacrifice up to 40% of the initial rate as a fee to the facility in which they work if they are independent contractors. A 15 dollar per hour session translates into 9 dollars per hour for the trainer. =) Just as one example.
This isn’t something you do to get rich, at least as far as money goes. You do this job because you love it. You do it because you want to improve quality of life for other people. The real riches come from the relationships you build with your clients and being able to come out of a session saying “My client really learned from and enjoyed his/her session today, and I learned *this* from my client today.” I love my job. =) It’s worth every second. I’m not sure it should be legal to put a pricetag on that kind of experience.