Being a personal trainer seems like a glamorous job from the outside. You get to make your own hours, work out whenever you want, and try out the newest and coolest gym equipment and accessories. More importantly, though, you have the privilege of helping many people lead happier and healthier lives. Nothing compares to that, no matter the price tag.
The life of a trainer gets romanticized all too often, though. What may seem exciting and permanently stimulating from the outside is actually a stressful, unstable job at times. Trainers, especially in the beginning career, are left wondering if they will get enough clients, sell enough programs, or pay their gym’s rent. That isn’t to say it’s not a rewarding job, though. Even when times get tough, most trainers find immense joy seeing their clients succeed, which is what keeps them on their path.
One of the most common questions people wonder when they’re thinking about transitioning into the career of fitness is, how much do trainers make? What’s the average salary of a trainer? Here are the facts you need to know.
Trainers Make Less Than You Think They Do
You may have heard that trainers make up to $200 an hour. That’s true, but only for very high-level trainers who have been in the industry for a long time. Yes, celebrity trainers make a ton of money, but they’re the exception, not the rule. In fact, the normal pay for a trainer is pretty bleak. According to Glassdoor, the average base salary for a trainer in the United States is $32,798. Ouch. ZipRecruiter says $48,683 is the average salary for a personal trainer. Neither of those numbers are exciting.
At the YMCA, the average hourly rate is $18, at LA Fitness it’s $13 an hour, and at Gold’s Gym it’s $22 an hour. Of course, if you’re an independent trainer that doesn’t work for a brand, you’ll be able to set your own rate (more on that below), but when you work for a corporate gym, you can only make so much per hour.
A Trainer’s Salary Depends on a Lot of Factors
Before you totally toss out your dream of becoming a personal trainer, though, know that your salary will depend on quite a few factors. Your education and certifications help determine your rate, as does your experience. If you only have a basic certification like NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) with only a year of experience under your belt, chances are you won’t be making $200 an hour right off the bat. But if you put in the time and effort and pay your dues, you’ll certainly make your way up the ladder.
If you work as a personal trainer outside of corporate gyms, you have the chance to make much more. Independent trainers who do online coaching or corporate wellness small group classes, for example, end up making much more than a trainer at a place like Equinox. If you’re trying to make more money as a trainer, you have to expand your network and find different places to train other than your local gym.
Simply Being a Personal Trainer May Not Be Enough to Survive
This might sound discouraging if you want to become a trainer, but it can actually be a motivating fact if you look at it with a different perspective. When you’re a personal trainer, you have a wealth of knowledge to disseminate to a wide range of people. You don’t have to limit your coaching to one-on-one clients. You can teach workshops, host retreats, build an online platform, partner with big brands, etc. The possibilities are endless.
If you simply train clients in one-on-one sessions, you might not make enough money to lead the life you want. But if you think outside the box and invest your time in unique ways to share your knowledge, there is no limit to how much influence you can have — and how much money you can make.
The Final Word
A personal trainer’s salary will differ from case to case, so don’t let the average numbers stop you from pursuing a career in fitness if it’s a big goal for you. Whatever you choose, though, be smart about your decisions and always expect to have to work hard to earn your money. Being a trainer is one of the most under appreciated jobs in today’s world, which means you’ll run into a moment at some point in your career where you’re being underpaid. Once you get through that rough patch, though, and learn how to be prosperous and influential, you’ll find a way to pay your bills and live a comfortable life.
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