Do personal trainers get paid by the hour? | Learn: Your Fitness Business Resource

Do personal trainers get paid by the hour?

Tyler Spraul is the director of UX and the head trainer for He has his Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medicine and is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist. He is a former All-American soccer player and still coaches soccer today. In his free time, he enjoys reading, learning, and living the dad life. He has been featured in Shape, Healthline, HuffPost, Women's...

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UPDATED: Aug 25, 2020

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  • Personal training is one of the fastest-growing industries in the USA.
  • Obtaining your personal trainer certification allows you to work in many different sectors.
  • When you first start out, you usually earn between $8 and $15 per hour.

Personal training is one of the fastest-growing businesses in America. And as obesity rates continue to increase, so does the need for qualified individuals in the health and fitness industry. For individuals who possess an entrepreneurial spirit, becoming a personal trainer can be quite lucrative.

On average, full-time personal trainers can earn about $50,000 per year with the potential to make upwards of $135,000 annually.

As you acquire more clients, you’ll need a way to stay organized so that you can run your training business efficiently. Request a demo of our fully-customizable, All-in-one Fitness Business Management Software today to start managing your business better.

Hourly Rate for Personal Trainers

As a personal trainer, your hours are based on your clients’ needs. You have much more flexibility when compared to the typical 9-to-5 job. When you first start out as a certified personal trainer, it is a good idea to work in a gym.

Although you are still an entrepreneur, working in a brick-and-mortar institution provides you with the financial security of an hourly wage as you build your client base.

Unless you are bringing clients with you or have friends at the gym who are interested in buying personal training packages, you probably won’t have any clients. Building a strong client base takes time, so don’t worry if your first few months are slow. To get your feet wet, management will most likely offer you “floor hours” to help you get acquainted with gym members.

Depending on the gym, the hourly rate ranges from $8 to $15 per hour. Even though many new trainers think that cleaning the machines or stacking weights is punishment, everyone needs to start somewhere.

Working in the center area of the gym is the best way for you to introduce yourself to both current members and new prospects looking for guidance. For example, offering free lifting advice is a great way to break the ice. Helping members without expecting anything in return gets you noticed, so even if they don’t need your services, they probably know someone who does.

Once you start building your client base, your hourly rate is determined by the type of package they buy from you. Large packages of 24 to 36 sessions are optimal because that means you have steady work for several weeks. Most gyms will offer lower rates when clients buy in bulk, so make sure you are aware of this beforehand.

On the other hand, if a new client buys a smaller training package of only six sessions, your hourly rate will be higher. Unfortunately, you will have to work harder and persuade them to purchase more. Most personal trainers encourage clients to purchase the largest package possible, not only for client retention but also because they know that their clients are more likely to achieve their fitness goals over several weeks or months as opposed to only a few sessions.

Annual Salary

After your calendar is fully booked, the management team will probably reduce or take away your floor hours, which means it’s now up to you to retain your current clients and sign on more to keep your business going. Depending on how many personal trainers work at your gym, the time of year, and where you work, it may take over a year to have a full schedule.

When you start training over eight sessions a day, you can then begin to think in terms of annual salary. Typically, when you reach this point, you no longer need to seek out new clients. You’ve proven yourself, built a credible reputation, and your business is now based on referrals.

Understandably, certain times of the year will be busier than others. January is always one of the busiest months as people set fitness goals for the new year. In addition, the months leading up to summer are also busy since people want to look their best on the beach. Knowing the busiest times of the year will help you budget properly and focus on your annual salary.

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How Can I Earn More Money?

Many gyms offer tier programs where personal trainers can advance to different levels. Some may even wear shirts of different colors that help distinguish one from another. Personal trainers are placed on different tiers for a variety of reasons including years of experience, the number of certifications, and specific areas of expertise.

As a result, some personal trainers will earn more than others. Top-tier trainers usually have the most certifications and experience, which means they earn more than someone who is just starting out.

Interestingly, there are some trainers who although they are highly qualified, they don’t increase their hourly rate. They prefer to keep their rates reasonable enough for current clients. While this is fine when you are just starting out, you will never increase your earning potential if you keep this mindset.

To increase your earnings, you need to expand your field of knowledge on a regular basis. You need to build upon your current certification with continuing education courses.

As a certified personal trainer, your education is worth every penny, so your rates should reflect this.

Personal trainers who earn six figures usually own a studio where clients are willing to pay top dollar.

While this is a wonderful aspiration, it isn’t the only way to increase your earning potential. Some personal trainers choose to go on their own and offer services outside the gym. Teaching group sessions and running boot camps are excellent ways to increase your salary.

Your success as a personal trainer relies heavily on how much time you devote to your business. Offer incentive programs to current clients and free lessons to potential ones. Practice what you preach and live a healthy lifestyle. Your clients will see you as a source of inspiration. Stay positive, and the effects will show in your salary.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What certification do most personal trainers have?

Most personal trainers are certified through ACE or NASM.

Can a personal trainer have a certification and be a bad trainer?

Yes; just as a doctor can have a medical degree and still be a “bad” doctor, having a personal training certification does not mean that the trainer is an effective one.

How long does becoming a certified personal trainer take?

It depends on the certification. Some only require a few days or weeks of studying; others require months of study and other pre-requisites like a college degree.

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