Being a part-time personal fitness trainer can be a great way to earn extra money and work in a fun, fast-paced environment. Let’s go through the basics so that you can make sure you’ve thought of everything.
Benefits of Personal Training as a Side Hustle
You dictate your schedule.
This is different from a full-time personal fitness trainer who (at first) will take on all sorts of people at all sorts of times just to make enough to pay the bills. If you’re doing this on the side, you’ve probably got a fixed number of hours you are willing to work. This simplifies things a lot.
You don’t have to go to the gym every day.
Traffic can really eat up your day. If you don’t need to go to the gym to work out or to work, then you’ve saved yourself potentially an hour or more of travel time. Work on another side hustle!
You are often a godsend to the full-time personal trainers and will be sent clients.
Sometimes trainers just get overbooked and can’t take on more clients. So they’ll send them to you. Or maybe there are personality conflicts and instead of losing the member, you are more of a fit for that person. There are many, many benefits to having a part-timer around.
You only have to have a few clients to make it worthwhile.
Depending on the area you are in, it isn’t unreasonable to charge $40 per hour. It is much more if you are an excellent trainer and are in a hot area, like Los Angeles, for example. If you are excellent and are charging three clients that rate to train them all in the same hour, you’re doing pretty good.
You get all of the benefits of networking in just a handful of hours per week.
Gyms are amazing areas to network. If you’re trying to meet people in a new city or are working in sales and need more contacts – just go to the gym. Even just being there as a member will get you tons of contacts. I can’t understate how much networking will do for you – whether you’re a trainer or in another business or doing both.
Part-Time Trainer Working Independent or for a Gym
You can be a part-time personal fitness trainer as an independent contractor or work directly for a gym.
If you’re good at the business side of things and can easily take on the paperwork, work out the taxes, insurance, and all of that business, I would be an independent trainer. That way you are truly your own boss and separate from the gym’s politics. It is also more lucrative to do it this way.
If you work for a gym, you will be part of the team. Being part of the team means really contributing as a team member and it’s kind of hard to just do that a couple of hours per day. Unless you really love the group, and it is a release from your real job. Then you can just go and have fun and put the money second.
There is no question – you won’t make as much money working for a gym as you would working as an independent trainer. But if you just want to go, put in your time, get loud and talk to people and have fun doing it, then work for the gym.
How Much Can You Make as a Part-Time Personal Trainer?
If you charge $40 per hour and have two people for that hour, you can make $80. If you work Monday, Wednesday and Friday for two hours and you have two clients for each of those two hours, that’s $480 per week. Almost $2,000 per month. For 6 hours of work per week.
Those calculations are based on you working as an independent trainer. You’ll have to pay taxes on that money, you’ll have to pay the gym whatever fees they want for you to train, you’ll probably want to have insurance as a fitness trainer and there will probably be a membership fee for your certification. So, in actual fact, you may be taking home only about $1,400, depending on what you work out with your gym, your certification, and the taxes you pay.
Still, $1,400 a month in your pocket for six hours of work per week is not a bad side hustle.
Getting Started – Getting Certified
I would never hire a fitness trainer or want one on the floor of my gym who wasn’t certified.
To add to that, I don’t have a lot of respect for the existing certifications. Mostly because they are only theory tests. There are some exceptions.
Any personal fitness trainer should work under other trainers for a period of time. There are thousands of little tips and tricks that are learned from old-timers that are not learned in books. It is one thing learning about something in a book and it is another thing to see it in 3D.
The proper sequence of making a fitness trainer is:
- A lot of experience in exercise, whether with a sport or from spending time in the gym.
- Certification as a Personal Fitness Instructor.
- Apprenticeship under a successful trainer.
I could add a #4 here also, which would read, “Apprenticeship under a different successful trainer.” This is because the more people you’ve worked under, the more different viewpoints you will get.
Unfortunately, there is no exact science to this trade, and you’ve got to find out what works for you based on your training style, personality and approach to the subject.
You can also add “Get a college degree.” to that list above. I ended up doing that. Whether or not it is necessary is debatable.
Getting Started the Quick Way
The above section is the ideal way to make a fitness trainer.
You can just get thrown into the mix under an established trainer (like I did) and somehow make it out alive. I did all sorts of things backwards, but I persisted and, luckily, no one got hurt.
If you’re learning on the fly under the direct supervision of someone who knows their stuff, you’re in a great situation. There is nothing like hands-on learning. It makes the words on all of these books make sense and gives them a depth that an inexperienced trainer won’t have.
But this route of working under someone isn’t the “make money fast” route. In fact, neither of these routes are “make money fast.”
The fast (and very unsafe) method of making money fast as a trainer is to get one of these dinky $100 personal fitness certifications online and walk into a gym and work as an independent trainer. You somehow get people to sign up with you and get started. But in this scenario, you’re likely to injure them and without all of the other training necessary you probably won’t keep them long anyway.
As someone in charge of hiring personal trainers, I always loved and needed a diverse group of trainers. Matching the right trainer with the right client proved to be one of the major factors in client retention. I never turn down a part-time personal trainer when they approach me.
I wish more people would do personal fitness training on the side.
This is partly to take some of the weight off the shoulders of the few superstar trainers who work their butts off each day. It is also partly to spread the good word of fitness to the masses.
Personal fitness training is a trade that should be valued and built up to a prestigious level. There is a total art to it, and I believe that trainers are some of the hardest working people. I’ve planted my feet really deep in a gym and rarely saw the sun because I was constantly training people.
Look, if you can work out a part-time gig, do it. Even if it is just a fun hobby you get paid for.
A good gym is a really exhilarating environment with people doing amazing things day in and day out.
Why wouldn’t you want to be around that?