Personal trainers notoriously undervalue their services. Our industry tends to attract service-minded, fitness enthusiasts that love helping people reach their goals. We rationalize away the money claiming, "I love it so much, I'd do it for free!" And most of us are not natural born sellers, which leaves us at a disadvantage. This isn't true for all fitness professionals. But even if you enjoy sales and aren't afraid to ask for money, you're surrounded by people who are. So the perceived market value isn't necessarily driving your prices in the right direction.
Getting paid what you're worth usually requires negotiation, which happens at two key points: before you get hired and once a year after that.
1. Know before you go: Research pay rates and service fees in the industry, as well as adjacent professions. You'll also want to know nearby membership fees, training rates, and fitness service offerings. This will help provide a baseline for your negotiations. If interviewing for a job, always ask the hiring manager about the pay range, how salaries are determined, and whether the amount is negotiable before scheduling an interview.
2. Be prepared: Don’t just talk about why you deserve the rate you’re proposing, come with proof. Provide objective evidence of the value you will deliver. Have a professional resume prepared specific to fitness or related skills. You’ll also want supporting documentation of experience, education, and value differentiators. When preparing for clients, have a similar portfolio that would be displayed as marketing materials or a website form.
3. State your case: When discussing your pay or rates, be professional but straightforward. Always discuss money before agreeing to employment or a training schedule, preferably in person. For employment, prepare a brief statement that highlights your desire to join the team, your worth and previous compensation structure, as well as your willingness to reach an agreement. For new clients, be sure you prepare your ‘close’ with value-based statements versus apologies for your rates.
Once you are hired or book the business, it’s important to negotiate annual increases.
If you work at a health club or studio, during the hiring process be sure to clarify when the company considers wage increases. If there is a schedule for reviews, mark it on your calendar and schedule a reminder to follow up proactively. If there is no annual review timeline, ask for one at the time of hire.
You'll need to detail your contributions to the facility over the past year. Prepare a quick one-page report that focuses on what a manager would find most useful. Look beyond your sales numbers, but also note how you've helped other trainers, departments, and members as a whole.
If you're self-employed, plan to review yourself at least once per year to consider rate increases. Much like you would do for a manager, take stock of all you’ve done to improve, grow and service your clients in the past year. You won't necessarily share this with your clients, but it will help you establish objectivity and cadence to your business structure and it will increase your confidence when asking for more money.
Make a pact with yourself, your co-workers, your friends, and your family that this will be the year you get what you deserve!