Setting your hourly rate as a fitness professional can be a bit perplexing to those new to the industry or in business for themselves for the first time. There is a perfect balance of factors to blend to be certain to hit the “sweet spot” - the perfect price for your personal training sessions.
To start, we’re going to assume that the personal trainer reading this article is a quality fitness professional able to deliver results as quickly and safely as is possible. It should be absurdly obvious, but if a trainer is unable to deliver results, they have no business charging anyone a dime.
Money Allergies
Many personal trainers act as if they’re allergic to money. They’d rather live under a bridge than have to ask a prospective client for cash, check or a credit card. So let’s tackle this issue.
A quality fitness professional has the ability to change lives like few other professions. Sure, a doctor can change a life, but typically they change it after a person has become ill. An attorney, while important to any business, gets paid several hundred dollars an hour to push some papers around. So the point is simple: Why doesn’t a fitness professional, having the ability to create extraordinary positive change in a person’s lifestyle, deserve to be paid well?
Market Research
It can be easy for anyone new to business to become overwhelmed or intimidated, but they realize quickly that along with the rest of life, common sense prevails. So while some personal trainers might have dreams of becoming a $500-per-hour celebrity fitness expert, it can be mighty difficult to command that fee in Small Town, USA.
Common sense tells us to look at other personal trainers locally to determine what they are charging, and that’s a great place to start. Calling around and searching online should give any trainer plenty of insight as to what it appears the market will bear, but it doesn’t necessarily deliver the correct answer. There are other factors to consider: Is it possible they are undercharging? Is it possible they are overcharging? Are these personal training businesses profitable?
Just because most local training businesses are charging around the same rates doesn’t mean it’s the perfect price point. It might be, but it might not. People spend money on things they value, and the more value delivered, the higher the rates that can be charged.
Know Your Numbers
It’s unfortunate, but when it comes to business, many personal trainers are just throwing darts. They haven’t given any consideration to the fixed and variable costs associated with their business and personal lives, such as rent and mortgages, gas, equipment, utilities, food, insurance and on and on.
Before any personal trainer settles on pricing, they must do the basic math: The business has to bring in more than it spends. And it also has to support the trainer’s personal life. Knowing just how much money needs to be coming in is crucial to any business succeeding.
A great tip is to enlist the help of an accountant. They can be of tremendous assistance with establishing the basic numbers necessary to make a business work, but they will also drive home the point about the biggest number most new personal trainers completely ignore: taxes! Yes, as sure as the sun shines, taxes are a part of doing business. So when contemplating prices, fitness professionals always need to figure taxes into the calculation.
Read about where your money goes and how $60 earned might be broken down>>
Up Is Easier than Down
It’s a heck of a lot easier to raise your prices than lower them, so when in doubt, start with a lower price point. This takes us back to the first point regarding the ability to deliver results. Any trainer that consistently demonstrates the ability to Readers should not take this advice to mean they should set their rates to be the lowest priced trainer in their area. Being known as the bargain basement fitness professional in the minds of prospects is not the positioning any trainer wants.
The bottom line is that specialists make more than those that are jack-of-all-trades types. Look at it this way: If a person really needed a criminal attorney - and let’s hope you don’t - wouldn’t they want someone that specializes in their kind of case? Or would they go looking for a one-stop-shop lawyer in a strip mall? Yet again, common sense business: Trainers that want to charge higher fees need to specialize in providing solutions to people with specific problems.
Under-promising and overdelivering is good business. When setting your personal trainer prices, it’s important to remember the value delivered for the service needs to be a great deal more than the dollar amount. The saying “the more you give, the more you get” couldn’t possibly be truer. Clients that feel they are receiving far great value than they are paying for will be marketing champions for any fitness professional.
Any trainer reading this article should plan on providing much more than they get paid for. And, in turn, they should expect a full roster of extraordinarily happy clients - the kind that refers new business very quickly.
Jim Labadie is the CEO of Prograde Nutrition, a nutritional products company created specifically for fitness professionals. He is also co-owner of Ultimate Business Systems, which provides business coaching services and products to trainers. Visit for more information.