I am open when trainers approach me about using my facility (a smaller, 24 hour gym). I don’t have trainers on my staff here and use independents anyways. I negotiate a split or fee with them. I have had times when the trainers client has then joined my gym. Owners are always open to that and maybe even giving a discount to the trainers clients if they join. Never hurts to approach local, gyms and see what kind of a deal you can work out. Good Luck.
I train my clients either in their home or outdoors. I use equipment that I have acquired over the years and I also utilize body weight exercises. In the world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), most of what we do is based on dynamic movements which requires very little equipment. My clients enjoy the MMA-based workouts because they are a nice break from the same old gym equipment and they can be done almost anywhere.
I’ve had the same experience you’ve had with major gyms. As others have suggested, you could seek out independently-owned gyms but many of them will still require you to pay a monthly fee to use their facilities. You will have to factor this into your monthly expense report.
Patience, perseverance and creativity are key in building clientele on your own.
Hang in there!
I’m a trainer who prefers the outdoors and I rarely train clients at gyms. I’m not sure how confident you feel about this, but my suggestion to you is to take them outdoors or at the very least train them at their apartments/homes. I see you reside in Southern California where the weather is almost perfect, so why not take advantage of it? I know San Diego has some great locations for training and I personally believe the best workouts are done when using the surrounding environment to our benefit. Plus, you will avoid all kinds of legal and financial issues you will need to resolve if you are going to use a gym, apartment complex facility or any other type of fitness center. This is just another option for you to consider.
you can also check with apartment complexes. Many of them have a gym for their residents. There are not in the business of making money of personal training, and I have never heard them say ‘no’ when you train the residents. You could check whether you can take it a step further and offer a service to their tenants in return for training privileges.
Some community centers have small exercise facilities, and that is another area to pursue.
If you check with gyms, go for the smaller, independently owned ones. Large chains and franchises have their rules, and you won’t get a foot on the ground as an independent contractor. The same goes for Ys.
Just hang in there, Getting started is challenging.