Setting the right price for your services can be scary for new business owners. As businesses have shifted to a hybrid or online model, setting prices has become downright tricky. The traditional cost-plus pricing model of calculating costs and adding the profit margin has been taught forever as the no-fail pricing strategy. Though it works well for finished goods, it isn’t the best for service providers (like personal trainers). It doesn’t consider the value you bring to your customers or the relationship-building process. You have to do the heavy lifting yourself to show how valuable you are. TrueCoach is here to guide you on how to set pricing and prove your worth to potential clients. 

If you do a quick Google search for the average price of a personal training session, you’ll find tons of different prices ranging from $30 per hour to over $150. With such a broad range, it isn’t particularly helpful in giving you an idea of what your price should be. With trainers popping up online and a possible recession looming, it can be tempting to go as low as possible to stay competitive and attract more customers. We can assure you that this will only hurt you in the long run. 

Don’t Start Too Low

If you’re newly certified, it can be tempting to start with bargain basement pricing out of pure eagerness to attract customers or because you don’t feel as confident in your abilities as a seasoned trainer. We cannot stress enough how detrimental this can be to your business model. Setting low prices will attract a particular clientele (it may not necessarily be the clientele you want). Charging $25 per hour to start when you need to charge at least $50 to turn a profit is like shooting yourself in the foot. It will be challenging to justify constant price hikes and a low price doesn’t leave any margin to offer seasonal or new-customer discounts.

PRO TIPS:

1. To start building traction, we recommend offering friends and family one or two sessions for free in exchange for positive reviews on Google or your business Facebook account. Positive reviews are as good as gold. They allow new businesses to compete with established ones and let customers do the marketing for you.  

2. Research, research, research! Check out what other trainers are charging online and in your area. Be sure to look for trainers with the same experience level and similar offerings. You can’t compare your pricing to the next celeb trainer offering gold-leaf facials and massages after each workout!  

Location, Location, Location

Ok, we know the aim is to set pricing for online training, but location still matters! When shopping around, customers typically check the pricing in their area and what is available online. For example, Jane in Los Angeles may be readily available to pay $100/hour for a session online because that may also compare to what she is finding for in-person sessions. However, $100/hour might make John’s eyes water in rural Washington state. Your location matters as well! Where do you live? Where are you working from? How much does it cost to live there? If you live in a fancy high-rise in Chicago, your training demographic may not be college athletes, as they may not have the funds to pay what a more established client can for the same service.

Share Your Certifications

You would never consider going to an unlicensed doctor. We bet you wouldn’t even consider going to an unlicensed cosmetologist for a dye job. It should be the same with personal training. Clients should know you are indeed certified and understand what you’re doing when there is a risk of injury. Posting your certifications on your website or social media business page gives people much more confidence. It lets them know that you’ve invested money into your education that will ultimately be factored into your hourly price.

PRO TIPS:

  1. In addition to posting your certification, client testimonials help gain new trainees and their trust. With permission, post before and after photos of a client or family member you’ve helped achieve a fitness goal. Have you developed a diet plan that you used personally? Do you have a weight loss journey of your own? You can also serve as your own cheerleader because results are results.  
  2. The goal is to make a living, but sometimes things start slowly. Some newly-certified trainers opt to work in an established gym for six months to gain experience. There is no harm in working part-time for a gym as you build your brand and find your own clients on the side until you have enough to feel comfortable leaving the big-box gym behind. If you go this route, consider their pricing scheme and how it’s presented to clients. 
  3. Offer guarantees. Communicate to clients that they can receive their money back if unsatisfied with their results. This shows you have 100% confidence in your abilities. However, make sure customers aren’t taking advantage. John shouldn’t be able to miss classes every week and then request and receive a refund for not seeing results.  

Communicate Your Training Methods

When training in person, clients can show up, throw their gym bag to the side, and start training. However, online training requires a little more finesse. Do you have a reliable internet connection? What programs are you using to meet virtually? Will customers incur added charges for said programs? How will your customers be able to contact you or customer service? How will you share information or updates? This is where having a website and reliable personal trainer software like TrueCoach becomes a must-have in your training arsenal.  
 
TrueCoach has a dedicated app for trainers and one for clients. You can build and share workouts in just 2 minutes. Communicate with clients in the app, share important updates, or send words of encouragement. Integrated real-time messaging allows you to message clients directly in the app, give them pointers or correct their form.  

Never assume your clients just know. Before your first session, it is worth spending 10 minutes to help a client set up or do a quick run-through to ensure they aren’t having any problems meeting with you. You want to offer more than just results; you also need to provide 5-star service in every aspect of your business. Trust us, it will not go unnoticed with clients and will further justify your hourly rate.

Set a Realistic Profit Margin 

We know you want a concrete answer on how much to charge, but everyone’s situation is different. It would be impossible to tell every trainer reading this just to charge $80/hour without knowing your circumstances and costs. However, we can share that according to NASM, a good profit margin for a personal trainer is around 60%. 

Calculating Profit Margin 
(revenue-coach’s rate) 
revenue 
 
Example 
(100−40)100(100−40)100 = 0.60 or 60% 

If you charge $100 per session with a coach’s rate of $40, your profit margin would be 60%.  

Add up all your expenses such as location, cost of personal training software, equipment, marketing, and anything else you spend money on to perform your job. This is the baseline for what you need to earn to break even.  

A high profit margin allows you to administer discounts or cut costs when necessary, (like during a recession), without feeling much of a strain. Again, starting, you may begin with a lower profit margin, and your expenses can vary drastically based on where you live, but this is an excellent rule of thumb.  

Our research shows that 71% of personal trainers make less than $41,000/year. Although it is lower than the national average, which holds steady in the mid-50s, the excellent news is that there is much leeway when you have your own business. The sky’s the limit, and you can charge even more as you offer more services. There are million-dollar trainers that have successfully built their brands to part-time trainers using training as a side hustle.  

One of the biggest factors in receiving the price you want is something we can’t put a price on—confidence! When presenting your services and pricing, practice your pitch and avoid using words like “um” and “well.” Put your shoulders back, hold your head high, and present yourself with professionalism and confidence. Ironically, not only are you selling results to your clients, but as they see change happening, they’ll undoubtedly have more confidence as well!  

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Article by TrueCoach

First published: October 17 2022

Last updated: January 11 2024