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Future Fit Traning
Personal trainer course instructor

How to make money as a personal trainer

If you’re looking to make money in fitness, firstly you’ll need to complete your fitness instructor and/or personal training qualifications.

The next step will be considering how to turn your knowledge into a career. Many of us go down the personal training or fitness instructor route because it’s our passion, but passion alone can’t pay the bills.

Ultimately, you need to either stand out in an employed position to progress, have a good head for business, and go self-employed. Where your strengths lie will affect how much money you can make in fitness, but there are lots of different routes you can take. Lucky for you, you’ve come to the right place! Here is a list of 5 ideas to make money in fitness. 

Personal training in a public gym

This is often the route that newly qualified Personal Trainers take.

This is because of the huge footfall in big commercial gyms. Thousands of potential clients coming and going each week means a huge amount of opportunity for you. It does mean you need to be good at talking to new people and selling yourself, face to face.

You need to be able to put yourself out there, whether that’s offering gym inductions or running classes, speaking to as many members as possible to find the ones that are looking for the service you offer.

These gyms operate on a rental structure, so you pay the gym a fee to use their facility to promote and operate your service from. Different gyms can have different rental fees, but on average, the ballpark is £550-650 per month.

Some gyms allow you to exchange service hours for rent, meaning you pay less, but work a certain number of hours on the gym floor for ‘free’. Alternatively, some gyms may actually require you to work a certain number of paid hours as a fitness instructor on the gym floor, or delivering classes, alongside your own personal training business, an example being Pure Gym.

Another structure some gyms use (Virgin Active for one) is employing PTs on a zero hour contract, offering part time hours to help you earn an income while you’re building your client base. You can then negotiate to decrease your employed hours and increase your own client hours when ready. The main benefits of working in these big gyms are the footfall, as discussed, but also the opportunities to progress to gym management, if that’s of interest to you.

A drawback, is that, depending on how much control you have over selecting clients or the member demographic, you might not always be able to work with your target client.

Personal training in a private facility

Working in a private gym generally means that there is limited footfall and turnover of members, as members sign up for class packages or personal training programmes, instead of being able to walk into the gym and train independently. The set up of these sorts of facilities can vary dramatically. Some may be more high end, boutique studios, and therefore charge a higher rental fee for personal trainers, but some may charge much less. As they are often smaller, independent businesses, they can also be more flexible too, and sometimes work out different rental structures for different trainers.

Instead of allowing service hours to reduce rental payments, they may also give you other tasks to perform to support the business, such as hours worked on sales, marketing or facility maintenance. The main benefits that can come from working in these types of gyms can be the flexibility of rental fees like this, but also usually less crowded gyms, and less waiting for equipment, which can be a big selling point for potential clients. The downside is that, often you’ll have to turn your marketing efforts online, in order to attract new clients, as you’ll be limited in picking up new clients on the gym floor.

This means implementing a top notch social media strategy and/or working on your SEO (search engine optimisation) on search engines like Google, to make sure potential clients can a) find you, and b) are drawn to you, above other coaches.

Personal training in your own space

This option isn’t feasible for everyone, but if you can convert a room in your house/flat/garage and buy some gym equipment, you could train clients without paying extra rent for gym space. This does mean that again, you’ll have to find your clients yourself, and generally online is going to be your best bet for this. It means that this may not be possible if you’re just starting out, as gym equipment can be expensive, and you also might not be able to afford the potentially slower build up of clients than in a gym environment.

To offset the lack of clients initially, many personal trainers start by using fitness classes to supplement their income, and you can work at as many different gyms as you like, while you search for clients to train at your home gym. If, like many people, you don’t have an extra, suitable room to use for a gym, you can find a small commercial space of around 1000 square feet to rent.

This may be something to consider down the line though, once your business has grown, as this is a considerable expense. This option means you can design the space according to your brand and values, and having your own private space can be a great selling point to take your business to the next level. Whether you convert a garage, or hire a commercial space, clients are often willing to spend more to avoid the crowded big gyms, and enjoy some privacy.

Online coaching

Online coaching is quite a broad umbrella term that includes a few different routes to explore. Firstly, you could sell fitness programmes. These can be out of the box, tailored to each individual, and you can choose whether to include personal check-ins from yourself during the programme.

The level of personalisation and support from you, will determine how much you’ll be able to charge for these. The bottom end would be a simple transaction where the customer buys the programme and can then download and use it independently, without any more intervention from you.

The top end of this could involve a consultation, resulting in a programme tailored to the individual, including regular check-ins with encouragement, form correction and targets for your next session. This could also be accompanied with other coaching such as nutrition, lifestyle and any other specialisms that you can add, to create a well-rounded, holistic service. Another idea is to operate on a subscription basis. This could be using a platform like YouTube for follow-along sessions, livestream classes, or using an app to offer all of this, plus more flexible ways of offering programmes and sessions.

This route can take a lot longer to make money from, as you need at least 1000 subscribers on YouTube before you can start making money from advertisements on your content, and to create your own app, well, that’s your house deposit gone! So the subscriber route is definitely more entry-level and something you could even build up alongside another job, until you start earning enough to cut down on your employed hours. The app route tends to be something you could do further down the line, depending on your finances.

With all online coaching options, you are going to need to bring your marketing A-game. It’s a very competitive market, so you’ll need to stand out. Additionally, your potential customers are going to assume that your online presence and the quality of your content will reflect the product/service you offer too, so you need to get this right. There are various marketing courses you can enroll in and professionals that you can hire for advice, strategy and implementation of content and marketing plans.

Starting out will be difficult, and it can take a lot of time before you are earning a decent salary, however this option does mean that you can choose your own hours and enjoy more flexibility than most in-person jobs in fitness. Once successful, you can start earning from other channels to like collaboration projects, sponsorships and even selling your own products and accessories. So there are often more ways to make money online than in person.

Group sessions/classes

Another way of making money in fitness is by offering group sessions. These could be tailored to certain demographics such as female only, trans-masc/fem focussed, older adults, or tailored for event training. You could either contact gyms and fitness facilities and be paid to conduct specific sessions in their facilities, or you could find your own location. Finding your own location gives you more flexibility on class numbers and pricing, which means you may be able to earn more, plus you have more flexibility on the actual classes you want to run.

On the flip side though, you would generally need to pay a fee for whatever space you use, so you may not make as much profit as leading other gym’s classes. Depending on the difference in earnings though, it may be that building your own community, and the freedom to tailor your classes more are the reasons you choose to find your own space. Either way, you can often earn more per hour for group classes than 1-2-1 for general fitness sessions, so it’s a good option to consider, particularly if you’re extroverted and enjoy the community and social side of coaching.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully this has given you a few ideas so you can have a think about which direction might suit you best. Whichever route you go down however, you’ll need to make sure you are properly insured and have completed the appropriate qualifications. Client trust and good reviews are essential to a successful fitness business, as it can be quite competitive. The industry can be tough, but running an ethical, professional service is a smart way to go to make money in fitness. Personally, I’ve found that the more I am enjoying my work and the more passion I have, the more the money follows, and so whichever route you choose, I would advise to choose it based on what you feel you’ll throw yourself into the most. Authenticity and passion go a long way in this business!