I want to find out how much money personal trainers ask for wages. If paid a wage or salary, what percentage do you ask for per client from your boss?
Great question, but the answer will depend on your location and what type of facility or environment you would like to work in. Generally, urban areas have a higher cost of living. Therefore, private training is more expensive, and private trainers make more per client. Suburban, ex-urban (the demographic term for the outer suburbs) or rural areas have lower costs, so private training is less expensive, and trainers will make less per client or hour.
The other decision is the type of facility: a commercial, for-profit multi-location health club company (such as a large chain), a small single owner commercial health club (where the owner runs only one or two locations), a private training studio, a not-for-profit facility (such as a YMCA, community center or school recreation facility) or training in the clients’ homes.
The benefit of working in a large health club is they spend a lot of money to recruit new members, anywhere from 100 to 300 new members a month, and these are your potential clients. Most health clubs will pay about 50 percent of the session cost to the trainer. While that might seem like a lot, keep in mind that the facility has to pay for rent, equipment, maintenance, non-revenue generating staff (housekeeping, front desk) and worker's comp insurance, so the actual margin per hour of personal training (the club owner's profit from your efforts) is approximately 12 to 20 percent. In a large urban market, this could mean a pay rate of $25 to $50 an hour, depending on how much each session costs. Some companies will also pay a commission, a percentage of sales if you hit your goal or the club hits its goal. The downfall about working for a larger company is that you are responsible for generating your own business. If you have an entrepreneurial mindset, this is a good thing because generally the more you train, the more you make. I know of a number of club-based private trainers who make over $100,000 a year conducting most of their business through a health club.
If you decide to work for a smaller organization such as a single location or a training studio, you can sometimes opt to pay rent. Some companies will charge trainers a fee for working in their facility, but once you cover the cost of the fee, the rest of the money you make is pure profit (but should be properly documented for tax and financial purposes. Try getting a car or home loan without documentation of your income… it just ain't gonna happen!). If a studio or club charges $1000 a month rent (very reasonable for a city) and you charge $75 an hour (on the low side of average rates in urban markets), then you would need to train about 15 sessions to cover the cost of rent (about two to three days of work), and the rest of the money you make in the month is profit. The challenge to these arrangements is that you have no say in the facility operations, and your contract is based on the whims of the club owner. Plus, you are responsible for generating all of your business.
If you are interested in being an in-home trainer, then you can charge whatever people will pay. The law of supply and demand dictates that if you provide a supply of training services at a price point dictated by the demand of the in-home training market, then you can charge any rate where potential clients have a demand for your services. This is anywhere from $50 a session for new trainers in suburban markets to $300+ for experienced trainers in urban locations; but keep in mind that you will lose earning potential while traveling from client site to client site.
If you are interested in helping people and not in generating your highest amount of income per hour worked, then a community center, recreation facility or not-for-profit organization might be your best bet. Working for these locations pays an hourly rate and might pay a little extra for training clients off of your scheduled shift. While the money is consistent, it is not that much, generally about $8 to $14 an hour (approximately $16 to $28,000a year). The good thing about these organizations is that their purpose is usually to help as many people as possible and not to specifically generate a profit.
The bottom line is, in a city, be prepared to ask for a percentage of the training session, about 50 percent. This will come to about $22 to $55 a session, depending on your experience and the price of the sessions. In a non-urban market, the rate would be about $15 to $30 a session. No matter where you work, be prepared to have to hustle to generate business, and this is shocking for most would-be trainers. You have to be prepared to market yourself and ask people to invest in your services. You have to be able to ask for and close sales. If you are not interested in being a salesperson, then either consider working for a non-profit organization or look for a career in another industry. That is not to discourage new entrants but instead is meant to prepare them for the reality. (Some people might disagree with the percentages, but it's a rough estimate based on personal experience.) Successful personal trainers are about 30 percent fitness experts, 30 percent motivational coaches and 40 percent salespeople. You will not get clients without being able to market your skills and services.
Success in this business is a numbers game. The more people you can meet, the more people have the potential to be your clients. You will not make $100,000 a year by sitting around complaining about your employer or flirting with other employees or club members, but if you do your homework about how to run your business, market your services and ask for sales, then the $100,000 a year mark is extremely realistic and can be achieved within three to five years of beginning your fitness career.
No matter where you work, you have to consider the following: if you want to be eligible for car or home loans, you have to show an income. So while it might be appealing to charge cash and not declare any income, in a few years it will catch up with you. Plus, consider retirement planning. Most health club companies offer some sort of 401(k) plan, which allows you to save money for retirement, tax free. In my own career, I have turned down higher paying hourly rates in order to stay with a company where I invested 15 percent of all pre-tax dollars into a 401(k) account, which has allowed me to save a substantial amount of money towards retirement. In my opinion, this is much more important than earning a few extra dollars an hour in the short term.