How Much Money Do Personal Trainers Really Make?

January 14, 2010 · 15 comments

how much do personal trainers earn
When you are about to launch into your fitness industry, it is always a good idea to find out first exactly how much money personal trainers really earn. Now you obviously have a great passion for exercise and helping others get fit and healthy but can you convert that passion into a viable, long-term career.  Lets’ find out.

But before we do, I have a quick announcement:

If you are looking interested in making a serious career and lifestyle from personal training, download your free No B.S Business Plan For Personal Trainers. It is a 20 step process, explaining exactly what you need to do to make real money in this industry.

Ok, back to the post….

So in how many other industries’ can you step out of your 6 month certification course and begin to charge $70 per hour? Not many. Trainers find themselves in a truly unique situation. Certified first-year personal trainers have the potential to earn a lot more money than fully qualified first-year accountants and lawyers. Very few other workers can start their career at $70 per hour……

Ok, so let’s bring it back to reality for a little while.  Yes, personal trainers DO have the potential to make a lot of money per hour and really make an amazing income, business and life from this great industry. BUT, there are a few little (big) hurdles that have to be overcome before we get to start smoking $100 bills.

Let me paint a picture of an average, every-day trainer for you. His name is Dwayne, he wears a muscle shirt and running shorts every day of the week (sorry, I couldn’t resist). He does 35 hours of personal training a week at $75 per session for a weekly income of $2625. Not bad for a lazy 35 hour week…

So let’s see how much of that he actually puts in his pocket:

a)     If he works for someone else’s business, let’s say he gets a cut of 50% of his turnover. So he will be taking home $1312 minus some tax so you are probably now looking around the $1000 mark per week. This brings it down to under $28 per hour…ouch.

b)     If he runs his own business, say it is a mobile business with no facility costs. He pays his car costs, equipment, phone, internet, business registration, insurance, certification courses. Budgeted out, you are probably looking at $500 per week spread over a year, so minus a little bit of tax that leaves our business owner with about $1800 per week (or $51 per hour) after doing 35 hours of PT. That’s a little better.

Time for a little commercial PT reality:

  • Personal trainers lose income when clients cancel (within the cancellation policy).
  • Personal trainers lose income when their clients go on holidays.
  • Personal trainers lose income when clients get injured.
  • Personal trainers lose income when clients leave.

Now I don’t want to sound negative or state the obvious here, but walking into this industry thinking that you are going to jump-squat your way to easy money is straight out delusional (no matter what all the flash info products say). This industry will reward you if you serve your time and have a clear understanding of how the game works (you can subscribe to the blog here for more on this).

In saying all of that, there are also a bunch of ways to make your personal training or boot camp business extremely efficient and a great earner. Here are my tips to ensure you get to see most of the money that you make:

1)     Run your own business.

2)     Always market for new leads because some clients will always leave (resistance is futile).

3)     Get really good at converting your leads.

4)     Run a service that provides value, cares for their clients and gets great results.

5)     Leverage your training time: semi-private sessions, groups or boot camps.

6)     Make your cancellation policy water-tight.

7)     Stop selling packs and get all your clients on direct debit.

8)     Up-sell additional training, products and/or services.

9)     Always look for new ways to cut your expenses.

You can see that taking accountability in your personal training career can definitely increase your income. Build up your client base, one relationship at a time and in no time at all you will find yourself putting your prices up, leveraging your business and making great money (you can find out exactly how to do this in my new program How To Rock Your PT Business).

Now, this is where I need your help. I am really interested to see what you have to say about this topic of personal training and income. So let me know your answers to the following questions in the comment section:

-         Is the income of the PT industry what you expected it to be?

-         What are you currently doing to increase your PT income?

I can’t wait to see what you guys have to say on this one.


Rick :-)

About the author: Rick Watson is the surfing, smiling personal training business guy who tells it like it is. He blogs, coaches, writes books and runs an online community for personal trainers but most of all he is a father and husband (with a healthy respect for road trips). If you like what you read, subscribe to the blog here or for more daily banter you can follow him on Twitter here or Facebook here.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sammy February 9, 2011 at 12:40 pm

I’m about to Start working at a Gym, anything I should be weary of im 19 years old and have a real passion for fitness and dietary needs.



2 Madgei July 8, 2011 at 7:41 am

I’m currently in high school, and being a personal trainer is my dream job because I love motivating people to be strong and healthy. Do you have any advice on how to get started in the industry? Such as best schools, or what employers expect or hope to see on an application, or how I would go about starting my own business? Thanks much :)


3 velphick January 28, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Hey Rick, is it true you actually need insurance also to cover yourself and your clients? A lot of PT’s have told either friends or family members that they got out of the game because its not profitable with all the overheads such as this, I’m about to finish my PT at TAFE NSW after a solid year doing Cert III & 4 in Fitness so just wondering what I’m up for, cheers mate and good article.


4 Ynetee May 23, 2012 at 12:29 pm

I have had a very different and povitise experience with my trainer. She keeps track of time when she’s away and works those days on to the end of the month. If you are paying for 30 days of training then you get 30 days of training. I think it’s a really honest, nice way of doing things


5 DADDY SKIPZ August 28, 2012 at 1:04 pm

you are all cunts i make 100b a year from pt suck my cunt


6 mike October 10, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Agreed. You have to work hard at it but if you put in the time you’ll be at a 70k income in a year. But you have to be good and get yourself out there.


7 mp3 player für kids June 28, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on
the video to make your point. You definitely know what youre talking about, why
throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you
could be giving us something informative to read?


8 Rose August 19, 2013 at 6:48 pm

I’m in grade 10 at high school and am right in the middle of choosing my subjects for senior school. I’ve chosen the Certificate III in Fitness because I love sports and being a personal trainer is just about the only job that really appeals to me (from what I’ve heard about anyway). My mum isn’t so convinced about it though. She is worried about the income and has even given me a list of the 10 lowest paying jobs (personal training wasn’t on there but that’s not the point). I think she’s worried that I will become a personal trainer but then struggle with my finances. This has been really useful but it has also made me a lot less sure about everything…

So, in your opinion, do you think it would be more beneficial to become a personal training and do something that I love or to try for a high OP and apply for a course at university that I’m not really that interested in?

Thanks!! :)


9 fitness business marketing February 26, 2014 at 12:46 am

I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own blog and was wondering
what all is needed to get set up? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty
penny? I’m not very internet smart so I’m not 100%
certain. Any recommendations or advice would
be greatly appreciated. Kudos


10 November 10, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Hello there! This post could not be written anyy better!

Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate!

He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this article to him.
Faorly certain he will have a good read. Many thanks forr


11 Andrew January 15, 2010 at 8:15 am

Great post Rick!

Well as you know I work for myself, which was always how I wanted to do it and don’t regret it for a second – not matter how much harder it may be to get things up and running in the initial stage it’s worth it in the long term.

Reduction in income is definately a big blow – the last two months it’s pretty much been a third of the usual income so yeah ouch that hurts. I still have my regulars so I have just made sure I give them the best possible service (as I always do anyway) and keep them motivated throughout the week so there’s no straying to the cupboard!

Honestly I have been pretty happy with my income, that is other than the past 2 months of course. As you mentioned we can charge more than most first year out – I have been earning more than most of my friends and working half the hours so go figure..not that we should necessarily compare ourselves to our friends in that way so we can just keep that between us pts

To increase my income I am currently seeking out some new alliances with some locals – one of my clients runs a marketing business and going to meet with an Osteo to see if we can work together. They would be my two big hitters at the moment so we’ll see what happens. There are also other bits and pieces going on as always which I’m sure we are all doing so someone else can mention them!

Looking forward to some exciting new ways to build the business up for this new decade, bring it on!


12 Daniel Munday January 16, 2010 at 11:32 am

Good points Rick and it definitely isn’t all beer and skittles for PT’s starting out.

The best tips I can give to anyone starting out is not go directly into PTing for yourself which goes against the advice most people will tell you. Learn the ropes from someone who’s been there done that or at least do some time in a gym environment with someone who knows how to run a business – not just any old gym monkey. Otherwise you’ll follow the trend and be out of the game in less than 2 years.

Second tip is to surround yourself with smart business people. Most PT’s don’t have a business head on them. If you run your business like a hobby that’s all it’s ever gonna be.

Third – work smarter not harder. I love making good money doing what I love by optimising my training times and venues so I control it rather than it controlling me. You don’t have to train every client that comes your way.

Finally, give people what they want and you’ll get what you want. The law of reciprocity is massive and it’ll come back to you 10 fold.


13 Rick January 18, 2010 at 10:35 am

Hi Guys

Thanks for your comments.

Andrew: With The December and January periods being notoriously quiet, it is a tough period to be sole trader trainer. BUT, it is a great time to implement a few of additional income streams like gift certificates, holiday group training and kids training. Thinking outside the square at this time of the year is essential – and something that can be planned for throughout the year. Great to hear that you are happy with your income level and hope that they keep rising for you. Keep up the hard work mate.

Daniel: Welcome to the site and thanks for your wise words. Comments like yours show that there is definately a shift in the way that successful trainers think and how much planning goes into running their business successfully.


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