How much can you make working as a personal fitness trainer? If you want to work for a gym, these are the factors that determine how much is possible.
According to Intuit, the range for personal trainer salary in the US is $16,000 – $61,000.
According to Salary.com, the range for a personal fitness trainer in the US is $32,019 – $92,964.
To be honest, it is hard to answer this question directly. But here it is broken down into its parts so that you can get an idea of what you can make.
How Experienced/Trained Are You?
From the eyes of a person who hires fitness trainers, here are some things that I look for:
Experience OR a willingness to learn.
An experienced trainer who gets along with other people is gold. He can bring new exercises onto the scene along with new viewpoints. Adding some spice and variety to the environment is a major plus.
Willingness to learn. I got my first job, not through experience or prestigious certifications, but, through a willingness to learn. There were very experienced and well-known trainers in the fitness center who just needed a sane person to help them.
See, many applicants in the fitness industry could use a bit of humbling. With all of the big muscles, tight shirts, chiseled abs and bravado, sometimes people forget that we are actually in the business of helping people.
Having an awesome image is good. Being able to help people is essential.
Certifications. Experienced trainers often scoff at most of the certifications offered. I look at it and figure out what class it falls into: The dinky class of certifications or the reputable class. Beyond that, I don’t pay much attention to it. To me, the certification is a measure of how likely you are to keep people safe.
There are higher level of certifications which require you to have a college degree. This is a different type of applicant, and is becoming more and more common. Unless they have zero experience, they probably won’t hurt your members. But with the higher credibility, you can add more prestige to your gyms and more certifications on the wall. And I can charge the clients more for it.
These are all factors that go into the final number.
Where Does the Rest of the Money Go?
If you’re working for the gym, you’re not getting the full amount that the client is paying for that hour.
The rest of the money goes to pay for:
- The janitor to keep the machines and floor clean.
- The sales guys to fill you up with clients to train as well as build the general membership.
- The mortgage or rent of the building.
- The air conditioning, water, electricity, maintenance of the building.
- Insurance costs.
- Maintenance for the equipment itself.
- Bookkeepers, managers, receptionists, etc.
It is easy (and tempting) to start thinking about how much you could be making if you kept all the money for yourself.
Benefits of Working for a Gym Instead of as an Independent Trainer
You get experience. There is no better way to get acquainted with applying what you’ve learned than having an area to practice. If you are new and there is a gym willing to invest in you, then take the job so long as you can afford it.
It is always good to say you’ve had six months or at least a year experience working in the field. And if you do a good job, you’ll have great references.
One thing that a fitness trainer needs – whether he works in the same city or not – is good references. If you have really helped someone, they will be happy to tell someone else about you. Collect thank you letters, success stories and all sorts of other evidences of a job well done. Get the person’s permission to use these.
You’ll end up using this to show potential clients that you can actually help them. You’ll use it to show new employers that you are competent.
Honestly, who knows what field you’ll be in in 15 years. My advice is to keep this stuff for any potential job you may undertake.
The contacts that you develop will also help you in ways that you wouldn’t usually imagine. I’ve gotten deals on cars from a car dealer, discounted lawyer fees, great rates on hotels and I’ve learned so much from the professionals I’ve trained in the gym. You really can’t put a price on this.
People would pay good money to be so connected in society. You’re in a position where people will pay you to hook you up with professionals who need a fitness trainer. This is a not-often talked about benefit of being a fitness trainer.
Job security. Working for a gym will alleviate the stress of getting and retaining your own clients. You are still responsible, as a gym employee, for signing up new members and retaining the ones you’ve got, but you’ll likely get paid either way. If you do a really bad job, you’re going to get fired, obviously.
Billing and collections is not your job. You don’t have to worry about chasing people up for their money.
There is no in-fighting. Independent trainers sometimes fight over each others clients or try to sign on the same clients. It becomes slightly cannibalistic. The answer is to drive more people in the door or recruit new members from outside the gym. Divisions like these within the group can rip it apart. The viewpoint of a gym that has trainers working for it is, “We are all on the same team.” If you want less politics, work for a gym.
Every Gym Is Different
Every gym has it’s own culture, feel, atmosphere, vibe, or whatever you want to call it.
Bigger gyms are different than smaller gyms. CrossFit gyms are different than Yoga Studios or Female-only fitness centers.
A gym at the Country Club is going to have higher paying customers than one in a low-income part of town. A gym in New York City is going to pay more for fitness trainers than one in the middle of nowhere.
That is why there is such a huge price range at the beginning. Do your own research based on what area you live in and what training you bring to the table. Then you’ll get an idea of where you can fit in.
Your willingness to work hard and hustle is the biggest factor.
If you are willing to be a personal fitness trainer AND learn how to run a Group Fitness class, you’ll be more valuable. You can also get the gym to pay for those extra certifications. I’ve done this. I’ve had to put my own ideas of group fitness classes aside. I learned them and I taught them, and I learned a lot from having taught them.
By doing something like that, you’ll have something else to put on a resume’ and you’ll increase your income. If you want to take on extra work, such as an online fitness trainer business for the gym, then there’s some more money in that for you, too.
I’ve done all of this.
Get your hands dirty. If you’ve got someone willing to pay you and train you, take the opportunity. Be a sponge. Spend extra time outside of work learning.
And don’t just learn your job, learn the jobs of each and every person at the gym. Find out how much the gym makes a year. Find out how much other gyms in your city make every year. Propose a way to increase the income of the gym and ask for a raise or a percentage of the increase based on your plan.
Think big and you’ll get paid big.
There is no one answer to the question of “How much is the salary of a personal fitness trainer?” But most factors are described above.
If you’re willing to hustle and learn and hustle and learn, you’ll do fine.
The biggest mistake of fitness trainers that I have seen is that they are way too confident and self-centered. Their attention is not on their clients, it is on themselves.
Being a fitness trainer isn’t a showboating job. Yes, you have to look the part, but don’t let it cut across your ability to help others.
If you can help people, you’ll make more money than you know what to do with.