Demand is always high for personal trainers because being fit is universally desired. To meet that demand, many are making a career out of helping others obtain a healthy lifestyle.
They choose to be a certified personal trainer in order to have a positive impact on people’s lives.
But making a living is also an important factor to consider. So, how much does a personal trainer make?
A good way to maximize a personal trainer’s salary is to first establish a goal. Having a destination in mind makes it easier to follow the correct path.
Certified personal trainers have many different possible career paths. Each must choose which is best for them.
Some personal trainers make upwards of six figures a year. Usually, they own a gym or studio where clients pay top dollar for the training and facilities.
While this might be a dream option, it isn’t the only way to succeed in the industry. Understanding how different personal trainers make their money will help you to pick the best path.
When deciding what to charge it is helpful to know the usual industry salary and wages. Such information can also reveal whether this particular career is a viable option.
The personal training industry has several different categories. These include Commercial Gym Trainers, Independent Trainers, and Private trainers.
This article will discuss them one at a time. But first, here are some useful stats related to personal trainer salaries.
Personal Trainer Income Statistics
There are several statistics to refer to for research purposes. They can help to illuminate the basics of personal trainer incomes.
- The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NDSM) reports that the average salary for a personal trainer in the US in 2020 was $40,000.
- ZipRecruiter suggested the average was $49,000 based on their information.
- TheS. Bureau of Labor Statistics found $42,000 to be the average.
Image source: salaryexplorer.com
What the NDSM reported is only a little above the median U.S. Salary. However, the top 10% of full-time personal trainers make between $70,000 and $100,000 a year.
These numbers also change depending on what type of personal trainer you are. NDSM classifies personal trainers into three types, along with their average salaries.
- Gym Employed -$34,000
- Independent -$62,000
- Private – $78,000
59% of the personal training industry is employed by fitness centers. Other employers include social organizations, educational services, and the government.
Many certified personal trainers are also self-employed.
Fitness Industry Billing Norms
Usually, personal trainers charge per hour or per session. A typical lesson will last an hour.
Some clients, such as athletes, will require personal training a few hours a day, several days a week. Personal trainers should bill accordingly.
Many personal trainers increase their fee for peak hours. This will include times such as early mornings, evenings, and weekends.
Focusing on repeat clients and peak times will maximize possible profits.
Build Your Own Business
Every personal trainer is responsible for building their own business. By working harder and smarter it’s possible to increase the money earned.
The most successful trainers have dedicated tremendous effort to their business. Only after that hard work did they begin earning their robust salaries.
Common Personal Trainer Pay Structures
Outlined below are the three common personal trainer pay structures.
Commercial Gym Trainer
Being employed at a fitness facility means that the client pays the fitness center. The gym then pays the personal trainer.
This pay structure has three separate ways for personal trainers to earn money:
- From sales commissions
- Pay from each finished session, using a pay stub will help to moderate the process
- Bonuses for meeting quotas during a set pay period
These performance incentives are the main benefit of working at a large health club.
Gyms charge roughly $50 per session, with each session being 30 minutes or an hour long. The certified personal trainer takes anywhere from $6-$25 of that.
Some gyms have a dedicated sales staff to bring in new clients. Then they will assign those clients to the trainers.
In other cases, the trainer is responsible for finding their own clients. They will usually earn an additional sales commission for doing so.
A personal trainer in this kind of structure can also expect to receive bonuses for reaching client sign-up goals.
Being employed at a personal gym is the most reliable pay structure. It includes a W2 employment form and the usual basic employment benefits.
However, this structure also has the lowest possible earnings of the three.
Personal trainers often start their careers at large chain gyms such as Gold’s Gym, 24 Hour Fitness, and L.A. Fitness.
These businesses have lots of equipment and many members that require personal training.
The downside is that the personal trainer can only expect to see 30% of their earnings. If a trainer sells 10 sessions for $599, the gym will keep $419 and the trainer will only receive $179.
Another option is independently owned chains. Places such as Anytime Fitness, Fitness 19, Joe’s Gym, and others.
Compared to the corporate gyms, smaller gyms have fewer clients and less equipment. So personal trainers in these locations must market themselves well.
It will take more work to find clients, but the trainer will keep 60-70% of the sale from each training session.
Challenges of the Traditional Gym Models
With the traditional gym model, only completed sessions return an income. This motivates fitness centers to ensure that all sessions sold are also used by the clients.
Many clubs give personal trainers bonuses for performing a minimum number of sessions. Either per pay period, monthly, or quarterly.
A newer model that has become popular recently is a subscription-based service. Customers choose the number of sessions they would like per month and pay a flat rate based on that number.
This means more consistent income for the facility. Yet, clients must make sure to use every scheduled session to make full use of their subscription.
Independent Personal Trainers
Being confined to a club isn’t for all personal trainers. Many prefer to bring their services to the clients themselves.
This is a large developing market for certified personal trainers.
This means the trainer owns and runs their own business, and is self-employed. They can work when they want and charge what they want.
All marketing is their responsibility. So too is the business name, logo, website, and more.
The workload is high, but you keep 100% of every sale.
Being an independent personal trainer requires a thorough knowledge of supply and demand. Specifically, the local market area.
Try answering these questions:
- How many fitness clubs and private studios are in the area?
- What demographics make up the market? What is the fitness reach in the community?
- How can you improve it?
- How can you stand out?
Being employed by a large fitness company can offer good money. But there is almost no limit to the amount of money an independent contractor can make in this industry.
Experienced personal trainers can expect to make anywhere from $50-$100 depending on their area.
However, without a well-established gym to rely on, they won’t receive a regular stream of new clients. There is no guarantee that their income will be stable.
In fact, income is entirely based on marketing and retention of long-term clients.
One alternative is to rent space from a nearby gym, though this is becoming rare. With this arrangement, the gym receives roughly 10% of the personal trainer’s earnings.
As intimidating as owning a business can be, a large financial commitment isn’t necessary to be successful.
1099 Personal Trainer Contract Structure
Another option is a combination of being an employed trainer and an independent one. Instead of the W2 form, independent contractors receive a 1099 tax form.
In this arrangement, the gym does not employ personal trainers, but contracts work to them. This is beneficial for the gym because they avoid the costs that come from having employees.
This model is like hiring a handyman to fix a broken sink. You pay them for their service, but they are not an employee.
The personal trainer salary for independent contractors is often more than employees make.
But contractors have more expenses. They also need to handle their own taxes, marketing, and rent.
In this scenario, the gym owner would collect client fees and then pay the personal trainer. By comparison, an independent personal trainer would be collecting the payment themselves.
A 50/50 split between the personal trainer and the facility is common in this case. If the client is paying $70 per session, the trainer and the gym would both get $35.
- Higher potential earnings
- Flexible schedule, procedures, and dress code
- Smaller workplace setting
- Less stable income
- No group classes, floor hours, or substitutions
- Responsible for own taxes, insurance, and other paperwork
- More marketing and networking required
An independent contractor lacks the support that a large business brings. There is less help marketing, less foot traffic, and possibly fewer sales.
But there is more freedom and a higher potential earning for independent contractors.
Private Personal Trainer
Private personal trainers are the highest earners in their industry.
Personal trainers may make as little as minimum wage or upwards of $75 an hour if they work at prestigious gyms. Private personal trainers on the other hand charge around $100 an hour.
A successful private personal trainer can make upwards of $70,000 a year.
Private personal trainers have a far higher earning potential compared to their peers. This is because private personal trainers set their own rates.
They are self-employed and can create their own schedule. They have the freedom to determine which clients they will work with.
This is where most personal trainers want their careers to go.
Private personal trainers may even work with celebrities, professional athletes, and actors. All while drawing in large salaries that include 401k, medical, dental, and disability benefits.
It’s important to understand the pros and cons of being an employee vs. a private personal trainer.
Employees enjoy a fixed income as long as they stay inside the company structure. They can’t make their own schedule and have little flexibility at all.
This stops them from using their time to be creative, proactive, and industrious in advancing their career.
Compared to that, personal private trainers may seem like they’re living the dream. But it does have its downsides.
They won’t receive help from a facility or have clients funneled to them. They must network, make sales, and market themselves well.
So finding new clients is only based on their own skills.
Ending thoughts on how much does a personal trainer make
Anyone hoping to get into the personal training field has a lot to learn and many decisions to make. The information in this article will help you to know how best to advance your career.
Personal trainers can make a six-figure income. That requires specific urban markets and a huge investment of effort, education, and time.
No matter the career path, it’s vital to balance short and long-term goals.
It’s best to focus on safe and effective fitness programs. This will have a positive impact on any fitness career or business.
A client’s results will be what markets the business. So a trainer’s salary will depend on the quality of their work and level of business savvy.
Putting in the time and effort will increase your business and fitness training skills. Those skills in turn will fuel the success of the business.
Be creative when expanding the business. Offer incentives to clients who bring referrals.
Be memorable. Practice what you preach and apply the advice given to clients.
Personal trainers are all about motivation, so make sure to stay motivated. Your attitude will impact your business growth.
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