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How to double your income by working independently as a personal trainer

Domenic Angelino author photo
Domenic Angelino
Nov 28th
friendly trainer with a client at the gym

Being a personal trainer, you understand the value of taking action. Your personal training clients depend on you to provide them with support, resources, and tools that enable them to take action on achieving their health goals. Your role in their life as a certified personal trainer is incredibly important because people notoriously get in their own way when trying to achieve their own health goals. They become their own road block. 

Fortunately, you get better at helping them with each new experience. Every day that you spend working with your clients in the gym serves to improve your skills at helping people achieve goals that will benefit them long term. Whether you’ve been working as a certified personal trainer for 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, or 3 years: you’re better than you once were. 

While this is undoubtedly a good thing, it’s actually twice as beneficial as it may appear at first glance. These skills don’t just benefit your personal trainer-client relationship, they are also useful when applied to yourself on a personal level. If you’re thinking about transitioning your career towards working as an independent trainer but are hesitant to do so, redirect your personal training skills toward yourself. This will make it much easier for you to take that leap and progress your career to its next stage.

Unlike a lot of other fields, career advancement for the personal trainer usually involves transitioning to working for yourself, rather than getting promoted to a higher position at whichever gym you’re currently working at. This is because most gyms offer limited upward mobility and any upward mobility that does exist is often accompanied by limited benefits. 

woman teaching at the gym friendly

This is most easily demonstrated when you look at the percent of personal training revenue that gets passed down to personal trainers who work for a gym. The exact amount varies from place to place, but the pay split notoriously tends to favor the gym rather than the trainer. Trainers in their first few years of practice typically walk away with around 30% of the share in pay, while trainers with over a decade of experience are sometimes able to work up to a 50% split.

When you work for yourself, all of your personal training income goes directly to you. Although you may have to pay for general business expenses when working as an independent trainer, you’ll still make far more than you would at a gym. This is partly because you’ll be able to set your own prices. Gyms tend to set lower personal training prices than independent trainers because they are often targeting different populations of clients. 

So just because your gym charges $50 per hour with a trainer, does not mean you have to charge that amount if you go independent. Many independent trainers charge between $70 and $100 an hour. Even on the low end, if you are charging $70 for an hour-long session, you will get $70 for that session. This is much more than the $15-$30 most gyms will pay you for spending an hour with a client. Many trainers who go independent will be able to easily increase their income by at least double what they’d make working for a traditional gym.

Going independent as a fitness trainer also has plenty of other benefits outside of drastically increasing your salary.

  1. You will be able to choose which clients you work with, allowing you to spend more of your time doing the type of personal training that you feel most energized to do.

  2. You will have complete control of your schedule, meaning you no longer have to work split shifts if you don’t want to.

  3. You will develop longer lasting and more meaningful relationships with clients, ending the cycle of working with high-turnover clients.

thick friendly man close up with phone at the gym aff8ed47-e1d4-4e3c-b96d-b6d0c2773e8b

So, going independent is very beneficial. And, despite it seeming intimidating, you’ve cultivated a skillset that enables you to motivate yourself to take action and do it. If you feel like going independent is right for you, get started on planning your own personal training business by following the three key steps below.

Figure out the necessities.

  1. The first thing that you should do is to start planning for and investing in an environment that allows you to train with your clients. At a minimum, you need physical space. The easiest way to go about this is that you can rent space in a gym. You’d basically pay monthly rent to a gym of your choice so that they allow you to train clients in their space. Alternatively, you can create create your own private gym space or adapt your client’s home space to a temporary gym during your sessions.

  2. If you are renting space in a gym, you can skip this step. If you aren’t, you should plan to purchase the equipment yourself. If you do, you can use a rented space or go to a location your client has natural access to, like their own home.

  3. Get independent personal trainer’s insurance to protect yourself.

Identify and familiarize yourself with helpful resources.

After you have the necessities sorted out, invest in making your new venture as easy and effective as possible. You’ll have to take care of elements of personal training that other people used to take care of on your behalf. Fortunately, many modern apps can still automate these things for you so your transition will be a lot smoother. This is important because it can be hard to keep track of everything you have to manage now on your own. This is where apps like Session Tracker come in. It helps you track client sessions, book appointments, and even analyze your business to help you make your new business as successful as possible. 

It’s hard to understate the importance of being able to conveniently view everything you have to do as a trainer in one place. Transitioning to working for yourself as a trainer can feel like a lot of work, but having so much that you need to keep track of all in one place can really help. Beyond just convenience though, having the ability to reflect on how well your new personal training business is doing will help you become successful much faster. Use resources like this to your advantage and you’ll come out on top!

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