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.
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 agree with what everybody else has said
It depends on your energy level, your personal committments, your drive, your ability, your knowledge,your professionalism, and your business skills.
It takes time and patience to cultivate a personal training business.
You can make as much as you can tolerate!
as Joanne and Daniel stated, you can make a living in the fitness industry but it can also be challenging to get started.
Many trainers begin by working for a gym, and those positions are not known to pay a lot. Unfortunately, many gyms are more in the business of SELLING personal training that of providing QUALITY personal training, and that can lead to early frustration.
Getting off on your own has its own set of challenges because you have to build a client base, and you also have to decide what kind of trainer you want to be.
I have been in the industry for 17 years and have a stable income. But it took a number of years to get there. To be honest, I am not near the income I had when I worked with IBM. On the other hand, it’s been the most rewarding experience of my working career and I would not go back.
I can only recommend that you get your certification as a personal trainer. Just don’t quit your day job immediately.
It depends on how good you are! If you are professional, committed and dedicated to the improvement in the health and fitness of your clients you will make a good financial outcome. I suggest that you focus your attention on the fitness outcome of your clients, rather than on your financial income.