While making money is probably not your sole motivation as a personal trainer, let’s face it, at some point you’ve probably wondered to yourself “how much do personal trainers make?”
As an independent personal trainer, you have the flexibility to live the lifestyle and earn the income you want.
Unfortunately, rather than taking a business-based approach and carefully analyzing the market to set their prices, many personal trainers simply “play it by ear” and set pricing based upon a loose estimate of what they think should charge.
Sure, this strategy might work for some, but it’s always better to optimize your pricing based on proven business principles.
There are two primary considerations to keep in mind when maximizing your income – the number of sessions you train and the rates you charge.
As I explain in more detail later in this article, the equation below spells it out perfectly:
Income = Number of Sessions x Amount Charged
With one variable (Number of Sessions), you are limited by the number of hours in a day. The other (Amount Charged) is within your control to a large extent.
Below, I’ll share with you the concepts I’ve found to be completely fundamental to developing the right pricing strategy for your personal training business.
First, let’s take a look at the number of sessions you will be training each week.
Setting Your Own Schedule
One of the most enjoyable perks of being a personal trainer is the ability to set your own schedule, and build it around your lifestyle – not the other way around. Taking a little time off from work is no problem at all, whether to attend a fitness seminar or chauffeur your kids to a sporting event.
Some trainers aim for a full schedule consisting of twelve-hour days or more, while others simply may not need, or want, to train quite as often.
Your schedule is largely a function of your desired income levels and the number of hours you are willing to train with your clients.
Depending on your goals, over time you should have the freedom to set your schedule any way that you wish.
Sticking With The Schedule You’ve Set
As exciting as it is to be your own boss and in charge of your own schedule, the reality is that when just starting out, you probably won’t have much influence on the days and times you’ll be working.
When I first started personal training, my first client appointments went from 6am to 8am, and then I would return to train from 7pm to 10pm after finishing up my day job. This was all in addition to the clients I trained on Saturday mornings. Saturday evenings and Sundays were always kept free for my personal rest and recovery. – Hey, a guy needs to rest, doesn’t he?
In other words, until you have a large enough client base to support a steady income, you’ll often need to take on client appointments whenever they are available.
While the name of the game is client service, committing to too many early mornings, late nights and weekends will quickly leave you feeling burnt out.
To avoid this exhaustion, set your boundaries, stick to them and discuss available times with your clients during the initial consultation. As soon as clients learn to appreciate the importance from a business perspective, they will be respectful and appreciative of your schedule.
Controlling Your Schedule To Maximize Productivity And Income
Properly managing your schedule allows you to maximize your productivity and income.
When scheduling a client’s appointments, suggest a few times that will help to fill up any scheduling gaps. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that most clients will be very willing to work within your hours of business.
Sure, exceptions in business hours can be made from time to time, but be careful not to get into the habit of simply tacking on an hour here and an hour there, this time quickly adds up.
Once you’ve built a steady client base, you’ll find that efficiently planning your training sessions leads to increased personal time, enhanced career satisfaction and greater income.
Pricing Is Extremely Important For Any Business
Personal trainers are free to charge any rate they choose. Because of this, the amount charged from one personal trainer to the next can vary tremendously
Some of the most successful businesses in the world like Apple and Microsoft have whole teams devoted to developing their pricing models. These teams are constantly performing market research to ensure the highest demand for their products.
If these massive, successful companies invest millions into pricing, wouldn’t you think to do at least some research on yours?
Factors That Influence Your Personal Training Rate
Remember that economics class you took in high school? This graph pictured at the top of this blog post is of supply and demand, which illustrates how pricing is affected by market conditions.
Charging the highest or the lowest rates in the market isn’t the best approach, and neither is taking a wild guess. So how do you set your prices while ensuring that you don’t get lost in the crowd?
Your rate should be based on the following factors:
- Your credentials and accreditations – Degrees and certifications display a certain level of knowledge. You can typically charge more for this.
- Your reputation within the local fitness community – If you’re the go-to trainer for a certain niche, you can command a premium.
- The waiting list of clients you might have – With many options to see other would-be clients, you can feel confident setting higher rates.
- The disposable income levels in your area – How affluent is the surrounding community? Your rates will differ depending on whether you live in a large metropolis like San Francisco, or in a small farm town.
- The average rate of other personal trainers in the area – Other trainers, studios and gyms will have done some research on the market rate of trainers, use this information as a guide to set your own pricing.
- The amount of time you have available to train clients each week – Only have the time to train clients 20 hours per week? Well, you may need to adjust your rates to achieve your desired income levels.
- The costs to cover any specific expenses related to training – Are you renting space from an independent personal training studio?
- The level of customer service you provide – If you are offering fully customized plans and you go above and beyond for your clients, you can also add a premium to your rates.
There are many different variables to consider when setting your pricing. Heck, even seeing what “big box” gyms are charging will shed some light on current market rates.
When I first started doing research on how much to set my rates at, I was surprised to find that the local “big box” gym was charging $100 per hour! What I was lacking in the equipment department, I more than made up for through a completely higher level of customer service.
Over time you will be able to adjust your rates in response to any feedback or information gained from your clients. Your rates are unlikely to remain the same forever, so it’s best to stay on top of any changes in your market.
So How Much Should I Charge?
Once you’ve done the market research, it’s time to set your rates.
The typical training session can range anywhere from $30-$150 per session. I’ve even heard of some trainers charging $1,000 or more (think celebrity trainers).
As mentioned in the intro, calculating your income levels is as simple as the following equation:
Income = Number of Sessions x Amount Charged
Using the formula above and an assumed rate of $75 per session, let’s see how much you would earn each week working 40 sessions per week:
Income = 40 sessions per week x $75 per session
Income = $3,000 per week
You can also use the same formula to determine how many sessions you’ll need to train each week for a certain amount of income. For example, if you need $2,000 per week and an assumed a rate of $75 per session:
$2,000 = ? sessions per week x $75 per session
$2,000/$75 = ? sessions per week
26.7 = sessions per week
And finally, using your desired income and the number of hours you can devote to training each week, you can determine the minimum rate to charge per session. For example, if you need $1,000 per week and can train up to 35 sessions per week:
$1,000 = 35 sessions x ? per session
$1,000/35 = ? per session
$28.57 = per session
Combined with enough market research, this formula can be one of the most useful tools in planning how to structure your pricing strategy.
Personal Training Rates For Success
As a personal trainer, you’ve got tremendous control of your schedule, your pricing, and thus your income.
This makes for one of the most rewarding careers all while you’re helping others to achieve their goals. As they say, do what you love and the money will follow.
How much are you charging for your personal training services, and how does that compare to others in your area? Let me know how you determined your rates in the comments below!