How to Set a Pricing Structure for Your Personal Training Business

When I first started out as a personal trainer, I charged my friends and family a meager $25/hour to get some experience. Soon after, I applied at the fanciest gym in town, got the job, and thought the big money would start pouring in.

Like many trainers who don’t have any structure to their pricing, I struggled to get any clients for the $85/hour this particular gym wanted me to charge. What I later found out was that I had no confidence in selling sessions at $85/hour as I only thought myself to be a $25/hour trainer. I was great at building value and selling benefits but lacked confidence in discussing prices.

When I finally got my first client after two months (thanks to my manager stepping in), I gained more confidence because I saw the results they got. I then knew I was worth every bit of $85/hour, and my clientele at that price point increased quickly soon afterward.

 

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Setting Your Prices Correctly as a

Personal Trainer

The goal of becoming a certified personal trainer is to make a living as one. Making a living is directly correlated to how much you can make based on your rates and being confident in how you present them. Because you’re not working for a commercial gym, it’s up to you to set your own pricing structure.

The goal of becoming a certified personal trainer is to make a living as one.

Today we’ll look at basing factors such as location, the economy, target population, cost to train client, and how self-worth factors into your personal training prices. I’ll also teach you how to discuss pricing with clients so you can do it confidently and you can avoid the mistakes I made when I first started out.

Location: how where you work affects your rates

When setting your hourly rates as a personal trainer, you have to consider how much your clients expect to pay based on the rates in your city. For example, clients in Manhattan would likely think that $100/hour is pretty reasonable while those in the Bronx would laugh at you.

Consider how much your clients expect to pay based on the rates in your city.

The socioeconomic conditions within the respective regions differ and your pricing model will need to be aligned with whatever it is people are willing to pay. Check out a few websites of other trainers in the area to see if they publish their prices and to see if there is some consistency to get a feel for the location-based pricing factors in your target market’s community.

Economy: a thriving economy merits higher prices than a downturn

Personal training is considered to be a luxury item, similar to getting massages, manicures and pedicures, and even the occasional teeth whitening. As these items are not a necessity, they will be amongst the first things cut from a client’s budget should the economy take a downturn.

Thus, it is important to have a pulse on the economy and be sensitive to recessions so that you can continue to maintain or attract new clientele. This may mean dropping your prices by $10 or $15 an hour or adding more services for the same price.

Target population: set a price that is attainable to them to entice sales

Your target population differs from your local neighborhood in that different types of clientele will have different interests. For example, the pricing structure for a toning client would differ from that of an extreme weight loss client.

Understanding the prices that your target audience expects to pay – and that are attainable – will be crucial to your ability to foster sales.

Cost to train client: the investments you make for training are passed on to the client

There are generally three things to consider when factoring in your costs to train a client:

  1. Travel time
  2. Gym fees
  3. Equipment costs

If you are a trainer that visits clients at their home or a facility of their choice they should expect to pay more than your local clientele. Generally, the farther away the client the more that you can charge (provided they won’t shop around for a local trainer).

Gyms charging personal trainers to use their facilities is common in the industry. This typically ranges from $10 to $25 and should be passed on to the client.

Investing in specific equipment for your client’s benefit affords you the justification to charge a bit more. If you are training at your gym that has a full set of free weights, kettlebells, a TRX, and a prowler you can charge more than if you were training at the local park with some stability balls and bands.

Self-worth: believing what you charge is worth every penny

In the above example of my lack of confidence selling $85/hour packages, I mentioned I had a tough time selling because I didn’t truly believe my services were worth that much. It wasn’t until I saw the results my clients were getting that I finally realized that people should pay me that much for my services because of the mutual benefit involved.

That said, your self-worth is one of the most important factors to setting your price. Think about some famous Hollywood personal trainers you admire; they can easily justify charging $150/hour because they have high self-worth and recognize people are willing to pay them that much.

I’ve found that the following factors influence self-worth:

  • Experience – How long have you been getting people to their goals?
  • Education – Do you have a CPT Certification? More than one? Bachelors? Masters? Loads of continuing education training? The more education you have the more confidence you will gain, therefore the more you can charge.
  • Personal Belief – What do you believe you are worth?

If you want to charge more but aren’t confident enough to do so, consider how you can expand the above areas of experience and education so that you have more self-assurance in increasing your rates. Once you start to see your clients have a new outlook on their health, you’ll know the value you provide.

How to Confidently Discuss Prices with Your Personal Training Clients

Confidence is a must when the inevitable question “So, how much do you charge?” comes up. For most trainers, there are three different types of pricing models:

  • Brochure-based pricing: This pricing model, taking its roots from commercial gyms, is when you have premade prices with a list of the types of training you provide. These brochures should also describe economy of scale pricing models, or the savings clients get when they purchase multiple sessions at once. The benefit of brochure-based pricing is that gives the client a sense of confidence as they know they are getting a consistent price.
  • Open pricing: This pricing model is a verbal one and is based on the trainer’s ability to set a custom pricing structure based on the client’s goals and timeline. This model also takes into account travel time, gym fees, and equipment costs. In example, “If you want me to travel to your house to train it would be $80 per session due to the extra time it would take to get there. If you want to train in my home-based gym it would be only $65 per session. If you would like to train in a gym near your house it would be $80 plus the gym fee of $15 totaling $95 per session.”
  • One price: Often best-suited to the expensive trainer, the one price model is a fixed, set-in-stone dollar amount that does not fluctuate based on location, equipment, or gym fees. I recommend this pricing model when you have optimal confidence and your schedule is already full.

Confidence is a must when the inevitable question “So, how much do you charge?” comes up.

Examples of Personal Trainers Pricing Structures

Pricing Structure Example 1: based on a goal rate of $60/hour

Sessions Per Week Payment Schedule  Pricing Incentive  The Math Notes
4 Monthly 2 free sessions 4 sessions x 4 weeks = 16 sessions16 sessions x $60 = $960 total for the month Including the 2 free sessions for paying up front, monthly brings your hourly rate to $53 per hour. However, this can normally be recouped as most clients will miss one or two sessions so the hourly rate is maintained at $60 per hour. It is up to you to negotiate price if the client wants to make up the missed sessions.
4 Bi-weekly 1/2 price on one session – or $30 off 4 sessions x 2 weeks = 8 sessions8 sessions x $60 = $480 Bi-weekly $480 – $30 discount = $450 every two weeks Bi-weekly means a check every other week so you will need to budget accordingly. Since they are paying every two weeks (28 days) and most months have 30-31 days, they do not receive the extra free sessions from paying monthly.
4 Weekly No discount 4 sessions  x 1 week =4 sessions4 x $60 = $240 total per week Some clients simply cannot afford to pay monthly, but this could also be an indicator that they are not entirely ready to commit. Have a good cancellation (i.e., no refunds) policy in place the client has both read and signed.
4 Daily No discount 1 session x $60 = $60 per session This is not a desirable training environment so use your best judgment. Again, have a good cancellation policy in place.
3 Monthly 2 free sessions 3 sessions x 4 weeks = 12 sessions12 sessions x $65 = $780 total for the month Including the 2 free sessions for paying up front, monthly brings your hourly rate to $56 per hour. However, this can normally be recouped as most clients will miss one or two sessions so the hourly rate is maintained at $65 per hour. It is up to you to negotiate price if the client wants to make up the missed sessions. Also, notice the $65 per hour rate. Adding $5 to the price may encourage the client to consider the 4 sessions per week package (whereby they would save $80 because the price per session is $60 versus the $65).
3 Bi-weekly 1/2 price on one session – or $30 off 3 sessions x 2 weeks = 6 sessions6 sessions x $65 = $390 Bi-weekly $390 – $30 discount = $360 every two weeks Bi-weekly means a check every other week so you will need to budget accordingly.  Since they are paying every two weeks (28 days) and most months have 30-31 days, they do not receive the extra free sessions from paying monthly.
3 Weekly No discount 3 sessions  x 1 week =3 sessions4 x $65 = $260 per week Some clients simply cannot afford to pay monthly, but this could also be an indicator that they are not entirely ready to commit. Have a good cancellation (i.e., no refunds) policy in place the client has both read and signed.
3 Daily No discount 1 session x $65 = $65 per session This is not a desirable training environment so use your best judgment. Again, have a good cancellation policy in place.
2 or 1 All No Discount $75 per session The rate is raised to increase the sale of the above package types.


Pricing Structure Example 2: for targeting long-term packages

Package   Per Session Rate  Duration    The Math
48 Session $60 4 Months 48 sessions x $60 = $2,880
36 Session $65 3 Months 36 sessions x $65 = $2,340
24 Session $70 2 Months 24 sessions x $70 = $1,680
12 Session $75 1 Month 12 sessions x $75 = $900
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How Much to Charge for Personal Training

Now that you are familiar with some pricing models for personal training and have seen some examples of pricing structures, you should have a good idea of where you want to set your prices.

If you are a new trainer and are trying to get more clients under your belt, you may want to experiment with some cheaper pricing models to get some cash flow going. If you are a more experienced trainer and simply want to add a few more clients to your base, your demand may merit a higher pricing structure.

Regardless of where you place your pricing, the most stable approach to growing your personal training business is recurring income. With a recurring pricing model, you are able to forecast your monthly income and won’t have to scramble to generate new clients once you get a few to start committing to long-term plans. Ongoing client relationships also allow you to hone your craft and give you time to establish results for your clients. These results will translate into your best form of advertising, thus helping you get even more clients.

Common Personal Trainer Rates Per Hour

Setting your initial hourly rate — or readjusting it — can be a confusing aspect of your job. If you work in a big box gym chances are they have this pricing model preset for you. If you are an independent trainer, you’ll have to understand how to set your personal trainer rates per hour and why people should pay them.

Now, you probably have a good idea of what the local personal trainers cost at the big box down the street. Keep in mind that the trainer gets a piece, a piece goes back to the gym’s overhead, and the gym owners also get a bit of profit. Depending on your personal trainer business structure (at-home, virtual, personal gym, visit clients at their location, etc.), you may or may not be dealing with the same overhead and can adjust your pricing accordingly.

For example, perhaps the trainers at your local 24-Hour Fitness charge $60 an hour and $45 for half an hour. You know that the trainer themselves don’t earn that full amount, but as an independent trainer you would. Therefore, you can undercut the big box gym and charge $45 for an hour and $35 for a half an hour and still make more per hour than the trainer at the gym.

Another example takes into account market rates. If you are in New York City and are traveling to meet clients at the gym in their condo, you may be able to charge more per hour than a personal trainer who lives in Madison, WI where there is less demand for your services.

If you have any questions about your specific situation, feel free to leave them in the comments and I’ll respond with my opinion on how much you should charge your clients.

For more information on becoming a successful personal trainer click the below link and check out our business and sales course.

Business and Sales: The Guide to Success as a Personal Trainer 

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17 Comments

  1. Thanks for the information very helpful.
    I’m leaving my job of 7 years to pursue my love in helping people live a healthy and fit lifestyle as a NASM Certified Personal Trainer. I am looking for somebody that knows this field to help and mentor me as I grow in the fitness business.

  2. Thank you! Very Informative. I am a health coach and firefighter and I am ready to grow my fitness business. This helps alot!

  3. You mentioned that gyms charge trainers $10-$25. Is that per hour?

    • Yes, or for one session. Sometimes you can discuss a monthly fee or rent to pay the gym if you know you are training there frequently.

  4. Great info I like the idea of a volume discount

  5. Hi Eddie,
    how much do you think is right to charge per/h when you first start ? And what about small group session? is going to be the same?
    Thanks
    Cristina

  6. Hi Eddie,

    Thank you for sharing this is very helpful.

  7. I’m a personal trainer about to go independent and this article has been so helpful to me! Thank you so much for taking the time to create and post it.

    Best,

  8. I’m about to go independent in the Dallas Texas area and i just relocated her recently. I’m Having some issues on figuring out how much i should charge in this area. Don’t wanna go cheap but don’t wanna over price either. Any help would be great. Thanks.

  9. Hi Eddie! This was very helpful to me just starting out and as I’m trying to pinpoint my fees. Do you feel running quick 1/2 hour sessions twice a week is beneficial or should most sessions be one hour? And then charging accordingly for individual sessions and packages?

    • Hi Jill!

      I would only suggest 30 minute sessions as a last ditch effort to complete the sale for someone who has a issue with the cost.

  10. Can you share your document for cancellation policy? I am a CPT in senior fitness and just starting out in Las Vegas. Any key points for that market in terms of pricing? Will you be emailing me directly for my reply? Thank you!

  11. This was always my problem and I was never comfortable with pricing my sessions and always undercharging my clients. Sometimes spending 2+ hours on a strength and conditioning session and charging 80 dollars plus traveling over 20 miles to the client one way. Even with my Graduate degree in exercise science, years of athletic experience and 6 years of training at the Olympic Training Center, I just did not have or take time to have the business confidence to employ a stronger price structure. I’m hoping that this will give me the necessary ideas and tools. Given what I’ve mentioned, how much would you say is fair to charge for a long term client that easily has the means to afford it. Thanks, I look forward to the book……I’m contacting amazon now. 🙂

  12. This was always my problem and I was never comfortable with pricing my sessions and always undercharging my clients. Sometimes spending 2+ hours on a strength and conditioning session and charging 80 dollars plus traveling over 20 miles to the client one way. Even with my Graduate degree in exercise science, years of athletic experience and 6 years of training at the Olympic Training Center, I just did not have or take time to have the business confidence to employ a stronger price structure. I’m hoping that this will give me the necessary ideas and tools. Given what I’ve mentioned, how much would you say is fair to charge for a long term client that easily has the means to afford it. Thanks, I look forward to the book……I’m contacting amazon now. 🙂

  13. Hi. I have a possible client who lives a hour away from me. Could possibly get 2 or 3 clients out of it. I have told them for their free assessment they must travel to my gym. Just because it’s not beneficial for me to drive 2 hours total and maybe get a no go. So if they agree on this. Then I need to figure out what to charge them for training, travel and gas. Based on 1,2 or 3 people for 1 hour long sessions once a week. Can you give me a idea of what is fair to both the clients and myself? Thanks

    • Hi Deborah,

      Thanks for checking in.

      I would say you have to be very upfront with the client about the situation. You can tell them the price of their session would be double (or more) your normal rate and if they can recommend you more clients and they start training in the same gym or area, you can reduce their session rate. Also its always good to appear to be very busy and have many clients so that you can ensure they know the time issue prevents you from training others near your locale.

      Also if you are in desperate need for clients, work with them to find something that works for both of you. If not, charge what that time would cost you in full. Check out my book and online course for more tips around building your business: https://www.fitnessmentors.com/business-and-sales-ceu-course/

      Keep kicking butt,

      Eddie Lester
      Head Instructor


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