If you wonder “How much do personal trainers make”, the answer is it can vary widely. This will depend on where you work, who you work with, the types of training sessions you offer, and more. We’ll dig into why everyone has a different answer and explore common questions around personal trainer salaries such as:
- Can you make good money as a personal trainer? Yes, and the best way to do it is by starting your training. This keeps you from paying a percentage of your earnings to a gym or other employer.
- Can personal trainers make 100k a year? Independent and employed fitness trainers can earn a six-figure income. It’s an easy breakdown of where you work, what your overhead is, and what you charge. Online fitness coaches (personal trainers) can make even more money than a traditional trainer. This is because they can market globally, provide more offerings, and charge a monthly subscription fee.
- How much do beginning personal trainers make? Sometimes less than $15 per hour as seen when working for a national gym chain. But in other cases trainers earn $50 + per hour. The more personal training certifications and specializations you have, the better your income will be working for someone else.
- What percentage do gyms take from personal training sessions? Most gyms will take anywhere from 75 – 45% of what the trainer is charging the client. This is why beginning trainers working for a chain earn less. If the gym charges rent, the percentage can be as low as 25%.
- Do personal trainers get paid hourly? Traditional trainers get paid hourly either by the club, employer, or client directly They also will have group rates, and upsells with more services. Conversely, online personal trainers charge a monthly rate since the training service doesn’t stop at the hourly session.
- What states do fitness trainers make the most money in? The top 10 states where trainers earn the most income include:
- New York
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
Like most jobs, when you start your own business and learn how to be your own boss, you can make the most money. Get your EMAC personal training certification and start making money in as little as one month.
Let’s start answering the common questions by addressing:
- How much do personal trainers make?
- How do personal trainers get paid?
- How to make more money as a personal trainer
How Much Do Personal Trainers Make?
According to the bureau of labor statistics, the average personal trainer salary is 40k annually. Other sites like Indeed quote a similar salary as do fitness professional publications such as Club Industry. It can be confusing because some sites will state that certified personal trainers earn minimum wage. Whereas others will claim experienced trainers can earn over 150k per year. You might be asking, why the difference and what do they really earn?
Why The Vast Range On Earning Potential
An annual 40k salary is just an average. Further, especially in the case with the BLS, it accounts for other fitness professions such as group fitness. Group fitness instructors, for example, can’t teach 40 classes per week. In fact, most won’t teach more than 10 classes per week and earn $30 an hour. Therefore, this group drags down the national average.
Additionally, these averages account for two distinct types of personal trainers. The first is the part-time personal trainer. Many trainers work with clients as a side gig. They either have another full-time job or don’t want a full-time job. Therefore, part-time personal trainers also drag down the national average.
The second category includes “churning personal trainers”. The industry reports an annual 80% turnover rate of personal trainers. This is a huge problem for the fitness industry and it also affects averages on how much money personal trainers make. The issue here is that churning trainers never get good at their craft. By self-selection, they never really committed to the position. Even if the trainer jumps to a fitness facility, they’ll still have to work their way up. These two groups combined make personal training seem less lucrative than it actually is and can be.
How Much Money Can Personal Trainers Make?
We’ll explain how fitness professionals get paid here later. But first, we can do a quick calculation to see exactly how much do personal trainers make. A quick search on a realistic lead generation service tells us a personal trainer cost is between $35 – $90 per hour. Again this is a big range. The gap here is based on whether it’s private personal training or group personal training.
Regardless, splitting the difference, you can see a personal training session will run a client $62.50 per hour easily.
($62.50 x 40 hours per week) x 52 weeks per year = $130,000 average personal trainer salary
The math speaks for itself. A personal fitness trainer can earn a six-figure income. It’s important to note again, this is not the average. Most personal trainers are employees at gyms, which drastically alters the salary. So, the important question is how do personal trainers get paid?
How Do Personal Trainers Get Paid?
It’s not common for a personal trainer to get paid directly from the client. This is usually only the case with independent personal trainers. Trainers are usually in one of three scenarios:
- Employees of a gym
- Independent contractors at a gym or training business
- Independent personal trainer
Employees Of A Gym
When working directly for a gym owner, it’s common for trainers to earn a percentage of the cost of a training session and sometimes a flat hourly rate. When trainers are earning a percentage of the session, it can be anywhere from 25% – 65%.
In the example of our $62.50 hourly cost, this breaks down to a salary range of $32,000 – $84,000
Another big range, but you can now see how this further affects the national average. It’s also important to note two things with this example. The first is that it isn’t the norm for trainers working for a fitness facility to have a full 40-hour workweek. This is because the health clubs make sure they have more than enough trainers to go around. Personal training is one of the main revenue drivers for gyms. The more trainers in a gym, the more competition, and the harder it is to have a full schedule.
The second consideration is the difficulty for the average personal trainer to earn the top end of the range. Although gyms will have different breakdowns and bonus structures, they’re all trying to do the same things:
- Sell more personal training
- Keep the trainers they have so they don’t lose members if a trainer leaves
- Make it harder for the trainer to achieve the top percentage
Independent Contractors At A Gym
Trainers who work as independent contractors at a gym have similar situations as employees. They forfeit in most cases almost half (if not more) of the sessions they charge. Gyms can take this money from trainers because, realistically, the gym puts forth all the overhead and marketing. Someone who has a gym membership is already a prime prospect to buy a training session or 20. In these instances, a contracted personal trainer will almost always be restricted by the flat pay rate the business is willing to pay. However, these trainers can sometimes charge whatever they want. Employees of a health club usually have to stick to a specific pricing structure.
Independent Personal Trainers
Trainers who run their own business are in the best position to achieve over $100,000 annually. They have no pricing restrictions and can also provide different types of services such as:
- Nutrition coaching
- Online personal training
- Private personal training
- Group personal trainer
- More as the fitness industry continues to evolve
The hardest thing for independent trainers is getting new clients and finding a location to train. This is why most new personal trainers choose to work for someone else. They often don’t know how to do the marketing and don’t have the capital to open their own location. These barriers alone keep the top personal trainers in an elite class. Experienced personal trainers know the marketing isn’t that difficult. Similarly, they know they don’t need expensive fitness equipment to get the job done.
How Can You Make More Money As A Personal Trainer?
The answer depends on which of these three categories you’re in. The best, of course, is to be working independently, but if you’re with a gym you’ve got some growth opportunities.
Maximizing Income As A Gym Employee
First and foremost, most gyms won’t hire you unless you have a personal training certification. Even more, many clubs will specify which certification they want you to hold. So, if you’re thinking of going this route, make sure you know the requirements. Once you have a personal training job, the three ways you can make more money are working more hours, selling more, and getting more education.
Obviously, the more hours you work, the more you make. Additionally, some of these fitness facilities will pay you more with the more sessions you run. This helps the gym owner keep you on staff. Remember, turnover for the clubs is a bad thing. Then, most gyms will pay you more as you gain more certifications or fitness specializations. Similar to the entry-level certification, the fitness manager or owner will have a list of courses this applies to. The more specializations you have, the more expertise you convey. This supports the revenue goals of the company.
Earning more as an independent contractor will vary widely depending on each business structure. Check with some local opportunities to learn more and build your own career path if this is the route for you.
Maximizing Income As An Independent Personal Trainer
Remember, this is the best situation to be in. You’ll be earning all of the dollars you charge clients. This gives you much more freedom on pricing structure, work schedule, and service offerings. While most employers require a personal training certification, you don’t necessarily need one if you’re starting your own business. However, it’s still a good idea to study for and take a certification exam. This will give you credibility which will help in the long run. As an independent trainer, you have more ways to earn money.
- Work more hours and/or Increase price structure
- Offer various services (online personal training, group instruction, nutrition coaching, etc.)
- Hire other personal trainers to work for you
The first is the least scalable way, but a great way to start. As you offer more services, especially with online coaching, you’re able to gain more freedom. You can work different hours and often anywhere. Lastly, the best way to scale your personal training business and make the most money is to hire other trainers working for you. In this case, you can be earning over 200k and beyond depending on how big you grow.
As you can see, the national average doesn’t give a realistic view of a personal training salary. But, by understanding the cost to a client, you can see where the opportunity is.
How To Become A Personal Trainer
After realizing the earning potential, you might wonder how to become a personal trainer Follow these five steps:
- Decide if being a certified personal trainer is right for you. Helping others get to their fitness goals is a very rewarding career. But just like anything else, you’ll want to commit to your craft and become an experienced trainer.
- Enroll into a personal training certification course. You don’t need a degree in exercise science to start training or working with clients. In fact, there are a number of online certifications from organizations like National Academy of Sports Medicine, International Sports Sciences Association, and American College of Sports Medicine.
- Study for your test and pass the exam. Most of the exams cover similar topics. So no matter what certification you choose, follow proven study tips to pass a personal trainer exam.
- Start training clients. You can either get a job at the gym or start a personal training business. Even better, is to become an online personal trainer. You’ll get the most freedom and flexibility and less sales requirements.
- Keep learning and get specializations. Specialized fitness instructors earn more at gyms. These continuing education courses allow you to cater to specialty clients and earn a greater hourly wage.
Not sure if you’re ready to start your own business? You might be closer to a successful entrepreneur than you think. Don’t fall into believing the myths of the entrepreneur.