What Does Being a “Freelance Personal Trainer” mean? | Exercise.com Learn: Your Fitness Business Resource

What Does Being a “Freelance Personal Trainer” mean?

Tyler Spraul is the director of UX and the head trainer for Exercise.com. 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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  • As a freelance personal trainer, you set your own hours and choose which clients you want to work with.
  • As a self-employed trainer, you need to keep accurate records of your expenses.
  • Starting your own personal trainer business takes patience and perseverance.

If you’re considering pursuing your passion for fitness and becoming a personal trainer, there are some things you need to know.

Once you obtain your personal training certification, the next step is deciding where you want to work. Generally, you can choose between working in a gym or being your own boss. Each option has advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at each position and weigh the pros and cons of each.

No matter the location, you’ll need a business management software program to manage and grow your business. Contact us to request a demo of our All-In-One Fitness Business Management Software.

Freelance Personal Trainer

Being self-employed has so many benefits. You have the freedom to choose when you work, who you work with, and where. As a freelance personal trainer, your hourly rate is also considerably higher when compared to someone who works as an employee. Furthermore, since you’ve already identified yourself as someone who loves fitness, you can work in a field that you truly enjoy. You may feel like it’s not even work at all!


  • Being self-employed means you’re your own boss. You set your hours, find clients, and create personalized workout sessions that showcase your personal style.
  • Working as a freelance personal trainer also means you earn 100 percent of the profit. You also get to set your own fee schedule. Some trainers use an hourly rate while others create packages for their clients.
  • Self-employed trainers can choose their clients. They don’t need to limit themselves to only gym club members.


  • As a freelancer, you will work a lot more, which means less free time and no one to learn from unless you are sharing a fitness studio with other trainers. In addition, you probably won’t have the added benefits from working for a fitness center, such as use of the pool, sauna, and spa.
  • Working as a self-employed personal trainer also means more wear and tear on your car. Since you’ll spend a considerable amount of time traveling, you’ll need to set money aside for regular maintenance. Keep in mind that this type of expense is considered a deduction, so be sure to keep accurate records.
  • When you work for yourself, you’ll need to purchase your own fitness equipment and liability insurance. You’ll also need a sufficient amount of start-up capital to get your business up and running.

When You Are an Employee

While working as your own boss has its ups and downs, so does being employed as a certified personal trainer.


  • Working in a gym or other type of fitness center is a great learning experience. You’re able to learn from trainers who are more experienced while marketing your service to its members for free.
  • You have access to a wide variety of different exercise equipment.
  • Working in a gym means your employer will provide the necessary liability coverage needed to work as a personal trainer.


  • You may earn less money, which means you may need to work longer hours.
  • In addition to the lack of personal freedom, your boss may not be easy to work with. You will not have the same flexibility when it comes to choosing your clients.
  • You must promote yourself and sign on a set amount of new clients to remain employed.

The Money Factor

If you intend on working freelance, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some basic budgeting skills. Depending on where you live, the fitness industry can be somewhat seasonal. For this reason, it’s vital that you have a firm grasp on your finances and don’t spend your profits from your busiest months.

Of course, there is a way to offset the slower seasons: online training. By utilizing Exercise.com’s All-in-One Fitness Business Management Software, you can train clients all over the world without having to leave the comfort of your home.

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Train Anyone, Anywhere in the World.

Similarities Between the Two

Helping Other People

Whether you choose to venture out on your own or work for someone else, one of the most rewarding aspects of being a certified personal trainer is helping people change their lives. Watching clients become noticeably stronger and build their endurance is extremely gratifying. And as your clients continue to get closer to reaching their fitness goals, you will take pleasure in watching them become more self-confident.

Dealing with Difficult People

Independent or dependent, it’s not uncommon for personal trainers to encounter difficult clients. Some may think you responsible for their weight loss simply because they are paying you. Some clients may put little to no effort into their workouts and blame you when they don’t reach their goals.

Making a Final Decision

Whether you choose to freelance or work for someone else, the first step to becoming a certified personal trainer is obtaining appropriate certification. Once certified, you can then decide which avenue you want to pursue. Your love of fitness and knowing what it takes to live a healthy life are important, but as a personal trainer, you need to know how your services will benefit other people — which means learning how to take the good with the bad.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How do I start a personal training business?

Starting a business begins with conducting a lot of research. Check out this article for more info.

Should personal trainers work in a gym before starting a business?

Not necessarily. However, working in an already established gym may help you gain valuable experience that you can transfer to your own business in the future.

Do I need insurance if I start my own business?

Yes. In order to protect yourself from various legal troubles, you should be insured. 

Grow and manage your business better with our All-In-One Fitness Business Management Software. Request a demo today. 

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