How to Set a Pricing Structure for Your Personal Training Business
When I first started out as a certified 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.
Setting Your Prices Correctly as a
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.
If you’re not working for a commercial gym, it’s up to you to set your own pricing structure. You can now become a certified online personal trainer and add additional revenue by setting prices based on all services you offer.
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:
- Travel time
- Gym fees
- 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? An Online Personal Training 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
|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|
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. Your income can grow further with this method if you add online personal training to your services and utilize an online personal training software to run your business. 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
Personal Trainer Career Roadmap
How to Become a Personal Trainer in 5 Simple Steps
Personal Trainer in 2020
Personal Trainer Salary
Top 5 Exercise Science Careers