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.
I have been working as a professional fitness trainer for over 9 years. I started Just like many other fitness trainers, working for a commercial gym. After 3 years of working for a few different commercial gyms, I became an independent trainer (meaning all my clients are private.)
Despite my transition to go private, you can actually do very well working for a gym. Most gyms will demand that you do floor shifts first before they allow you to train clients. I personally think it’s a great way to become more familiar with the facility and the members in your gym so when you approach them, you’ll have an easier time talking to them and selling training sessions. You can probably make anywhere from $25 to $75 an hour depending on your location, educational background and industry knowledge (certifications, years of experience, etc). In NYC, I would say average is about $45.
Here is the pro and con of working for a gym.
Pro: You have an access to a large group of people (leads). Having a chance to meet potential customers is crucial in succeeding in this business. More people you meet, wider network you can create. Gym members are easy to sell because most already have interest in getting in a better shape, and many can use some professional help.
Con: You have to compete with other trainers in the gym. You have to stand out from the crowd of trainers. Many gyms have over 50 trainers work for them. This means you can be in a very competitive environment to get clients.
Working for yourself can be great as well but also have some pros and cons.
Pro: You can run your business however you want, and how much money you can make is really up to you. If you want, you can make a six figure income training privately. Remember, what you charge is yours to keep. At a gym, gym charges X amount dollars for a training package, and they give you about a half of that. For example, if a session is $100 at your gym, you keep $45, gym keeps $55. As an independent trainer, you keep all $100.
Con: You have to market yourself. It may take a little bit longer to built your business and clientele because you have to find a way to meet potential clients. You have to provide your own leads. This is probably the hardest part of succeeding as an independent.
If you decide to go on that road and succeed, you will be very happy and it’ll be very rewarding.
So, focus on building a referral network system around you. Most importantly, you have to remember that this is a personal service business. Focus on providing excellent customer service that your customers cannot stop raving about. If you can do that, I promise you will always have customers. Also, price your service based on your value.
Oh, that can very so much. Location, experience, track record, greed, market demands, specialties, and the list grows every day. When I first started I made around $8000/yr so don’t expect instant stardom. Concentrate on providing a valuable service and always have an exit strategy, this business can have a high turn-over rate. If you can prove your worth, you’ll thrive but it may take years. No one thing makes a great trainer, its their journey to get there that will ultimately define them.
There are plenty of interesting insights above, many commenting that Gyms take a substantial cut when compared to being a private trainer, but it seems to be overlooked that these gyms provide not just the cliente but also all the equipment and facilities. Without that it’s just you and your client so your options are limited to your environment, weather, air quality etc. Some choose to go down the studio path and find out what real costs are associated with operating and equipping a premises.
There is no quick buck in the world of PT, most do it for the personal rewards first and foremost and still many do indeed make a decent living. it would be a better living but for the relatively low entry level necessary to call yourself a Trainer these days. I mean low compared to many other health related services.
Be a great role model, earn your stripes and pay your dues, get properly certified, do a buiness management course and above all else be 100% committed to the success of your clients and make their dreams come true. Then yours may come true too. All the best.