Can I Make Good Money As A Personal Trainer?

An In-depth Look at The Personal Training Profession

Yes, you can good money as a personal trainer is the short answer.

The longer answer is that, as most things are, if you are fantastic at your job and if you market and sell yourself well, you can make good money. 

Let’s break it down!

If you want to take a deep dive into whether or not a fitness trainer career is for you, check out this article – Is Fitness Trainer A Good Career?

If you’re curious generally about how much fitness trainers make in a given year, check out this article – How Much Do Fitness Trainers Make Per Year?

The Math Of Making Money As A Personal Trainer

We must make a few assumptions to break down how much a personal trainer “should” make per hour, per month, and per year. 

The Assumptions

Here are our big assumptions for how much money a  personal trainer makes:

  • We’ll assume the personal trainer makes a percentage of the revenue from each client session they train – If a client pays $100 per hour, we will take a percentage of that revenue and pay the personal trainer for their time
  • We’ll assume they are paid for each hour they train their clients – that means if they work 6 hours a day, that means they trained 6 clients for 1 hour each, so they’ll be paid for each of those hours
  • We’ll assume that the trainer is considered a full employee and not a contractor
  • We’ll assume that the personal trainer does not receive health care insurance, and we’ll assume that the personal trainer does not receive a 401k or retirement benefit from their company
  • We’ll assume that the personal trainer does not own the gym, so they are not receiving any additional profit from the gym’s other trainers
  • We’ll assume that the personal trainer doesn’t have any additional revenue sources from the gym, only their sessions. Read the article “Is Fitness Trainer A Good Career?” If you want to see other revenue sources trainers can bring in, and we’ll talk about this later in the article
  • We’ll assume that the personal trainer takes 2 weeks off per year where they don’t train anybody. That means they will not get paid for those two weeks
  • We’ll assume that the personal trainer works Monday through Friday each week but doesn’t work the weekends. We could think of it the same way if they train people Saturdays and Sundays but not Mondays and Tuesdays. They’ll work 5 days per week

If any of these assumptions isn’t the situation you are in or looking to get into, you should still be able to figure out how well, or not, you can do in that gym environment.

Now that we have those assumptions laid out, let’s determine how much a personal trainer could make in a given year of work.

The Math

Let’s look at 3 examples:

  • Example 1 – The Struggling Personal Trainer – Annual income of less than $30,000
  • Example 2 – The Comfortable Personal Trainer – Annual income of between $40 – $70,000
  • Example 3 – The Star Personal Trainer – Annual income of $80,000+

Depending on the city you live in, these numbers may be even higher to get comfortable or be a star, but I wanted to take what we are seeing right now as the major annual income numbers. 

And, certainly there is more to life than how much money you make, but it’s an important metric to determine not only your comfort level today as a personal trainer, it’s also an indicator of how likely you’ll be to remain in the personal training (or coaching) game into the future.

Example 1 – The Struggling Personal Trainer

Here are the inputs that we need to figure out how much money they make:

  • Number of clients they have
  • Average price point per client per session
  • Number of sessions per week per client – we’ll turn that into the number of sessions monthly and then annually
  • Average percentage of revenue they make from each client

Now, before you ask, yes you’d look at each unique client when you do your own specific math. I want to use averages and totals here merely to give you an easier way to look at the math more generally.

Here are the inputs for the struggling personal trainer:

  • 15 total clients
  • $60 per hour average price point
  • 2 sessions per week average per client
    • That = 100 sessions per year per client
    • That = apx 10 sessions per month per client which 
    • That = 30 hours per week of personal training
    • That = 6 hours per day of personal training
  • 30% of revenue per client which = ($60 * 30%) = $18 per hour of personal training

The Math:

15 clients * 100 sessions per year * $18 = $27,000 per year

Example 2 – The Comfortable Personal Trainer

Here are the inputs for the comfortable personal trainer:

  • 15 total clients
  • $80 per hour average price point
  • 2.5 sessions per week average per client 
    • That = 125 sessions per year per client 
    • That = apx 10 sessions per month per client 
    • That = apx 37.5 hours per week of personal training
    • That = apx 7.5 hours per day of personal training
  • 40% of revenue per client which = ($80 * 40%) = $32 per hour of personal training

The Math:

15 clients * 120 sessions per year * $32 = $57,600 per year

A few important notes you should be aware of:

  • Notice which inputs went up – 
  • Price jumped 33% from $60 to $80 per session
  • Sessions per week went from 2 to 2.5 on average – That increased the total number of trained hours from 100 per client to 120 per client per year which when you multiply by the 15 clients the trainer has, you see hours go up by 300 from 1,500 to 1,800 hours trained
  • Percentage of revenue earned by the personal trainer went up 10% – this is becoming more normal as personal trainer move up the trainer “tiers” in their gyms, but it’s not always the case. Because of the price move and the percentage of revenue move, the personal trainer made almost a 100% pay raise per hour. That is a lot

Example 3 – The Star Personal Trainer

Here are the inputs for the star personal trainer:

  • 15 total clients
  • $100 per hour average price point
  • 2.5 sessions per week average per client 
    • That = 125 sessions per year per client 
    • That = apx 10 sessions per month per client 
    • That = apx 37.5 hours per week of personal training
    • That = apx 7.5 hours per day of personal training
  • 45% of revenue per client which = ($100 * 45%) = $45 per hour of personal training

The Math:

15 clients * 125 sessions per year * $45 = $84,375 per year

A few important notes on the star personal trainer:

  • We didn’t increase the personal trainer’s client count or average number of sessions per client per week, so the personal trainer isn’t working more than they did before. We’ll come back to this point, but keep it in your mind
  • We increased the price per session by 25% from $80 to $100, and we increased the personal trainer’s earnings per client 5% from 40% to 45%. Just increasing price point and percentage again brings in a lot more income to the personal trainer

Now that you have a good idea of how you will run this math, let’s talk about a few important levers that you can pull to earn more as a personal trainer

How Do I Make More Money As A Personal Trainer?

I like to look at the business of doing, well anything, as a constant question of “how do I spend my finite resources the most effectively to grow something I’m proud of that makes me good money.” People will have different definitions of what their resources are, what they are proud of, and what good money means to them, but the formula remains. 

If we take that formula as a baseline, we can look at the levers you can pull in order to make more money as a personal trainer.

Lever #1 – Sessions Per Week

You only have so much time in a day, week, month, and year. If you’ve never tried to personally train more than 40 hours per week, give it a go. If you do 8 hours per day for 5 days per week, that is a lot of coaching, but you must remember that you don’t only train people on the floor. If you are worth your weight, you’ll also be designing your clients the right programs, nourishment plans, and lifestyle habits while you’re not on the floor. So, 8 hours per day may become 10 hours after you handle all of your client-facing fitness responsibilities as well as your business logistics responsibilities – like billing, social media, sales, networking, etc…

Note – If you do additional work for your clients that gets them better results and improves their client experience, you should be able to charge more over time which is a lever you can pull

If you only have so much time, we won’t look at sessions per week exceeding 40, so this is not a huge lever you can pull unless you don’t currently personally train that many sessions already. In my experience, I see most personal trainers not being able to maintain 40 hours; I see it often falling into the low to mid 30 hours because of the additional work that comes with it.

This problem is one that all personal trainers face, and it’s a big reason why we created Individual Design through OPEX Gyms – aka Personalized fitness which = the evolution of personal training – so that our coaches could earn more dollars per hour for their time spent coaching. Personal training can be a wonderful role, but it does require you to spend a substantial amount of time on the gym floor with individual clients. That gets very tiresome after a few years of growing a business for yourself. 

Lever #2 – Price

This is a huge lever which requires you to earn it. Going from $50 to $100 per hour doubles your annual income. This is absolutely a lever you should constantly work hard to improve. 

To increase your price, you need to retain your current clients by getting them the big 3:

  • Results
  • Relationships
  • Fun

If they are getting better in and out of the gym, if they are building a good trainer client relationship, and if they are enjoying their training sessions, they will stay with you. The more of your clients that you keep for longer, the more full your client list gets and the more leverage you have to charge people more.

Additionally to doing a great job with and retaining your clients is to build people’s willingness to pay by becoming an influencer. Now, let’s not go too overboard here. I don’t mean that you have 1 million IG followers, I just mean that the content that you put out to your market is respected and consumed consistently. The better you do this, the more likely people will be to pay more. 

Lastly (lastly for this article anyway), you want to make your customer experience sterling. That means your facility needs to look and feel top-notch from the parking lot to the look of the bathrooms to the cleanliness of the floors etc. Every little bit helps.

Lever #3 – Your Percentage Of Client Revenue Earned

This is another lever you want to pay close attention to. Either you want to begin at a great number – we see many gyms between 25 – 60% of revenue for personal training. We believe that 40-50% for personal training is very fair, so if you can shoot for that or better, you’ll be off and running. 

The way that you can earn more money here is the same ideas as price point, but many gyms are now incentivizing education with increases in either your percentage or your price or both. The more credentials or education you get mixed with the more popular and full you get, the more leverage you have to ask for more money from your gym. Keep in mind that the gym can only pay out so much percentage, so once you are in a very fair place, you and the gym are fully aligned to them push on your price point

Lever #4 – Expand Your Revenue Sources

You can look at things such as sales incentives – ie if you bring in a new client on your own, you can make a dollar incentive or you can earn a higher percentage ongoing on that client. 

You can sell supplements, but I’ve never loved that game in the long-run although there can be some money in it shorter term.

You can do something like remote coaching on the side. If you need to do this to make ends meet, I understand that, but it’s hard to grow both personal training and remote coaching at the same time, so you’ll want to decide which of the two will become your money maker and spend more time building that.

At the end of the day, I have always liked to build your main service offering, in this case personal training, as the biggest focus that you as the personal trainer spends your time because you need to prove that concept. If you can’t prove the concept of being a personal trainer, why would you continue to do it if you are already doing other businesses just to make ends meet?

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