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Personal Trainer Hourly Rates

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This is a thorough guide to personal trainer rates in the US in 2012.  It is meant primarily for those who are curious about the costs of hiring a personal trainer, but will also be useful to aspiring personal trainers who are trying to get a sense of earning potential.

The Complete Range:  $20-$300 per hour.

If you live in a rural area, are willing to work with someone who isn’t certified, works in gym franchise, with only a high school  diploma and less than 1 year experience you might be able to get a session for $20.   This doesn’t count any subsequent medical bills caused by the session.

If you live in Beverly Hills or Manhatten, work with an independent trainer, who has a masters degree and 15+ years experience, and has trained celebs like J. Lo or Stallone then you are looking at the $300/hr range.

Your Likely Range: $50-$120

Most people living in urban areas in the US are going to find rates in this range.  But this is still a rather large spread.  To narrow it down even further we need to dig into the factors a bit.  But if you are in a hurry and just want quick and dirty answer to how much a decent trainer is going to cost you here is the ballpark answer.

Ballpark  Hourly fee for Trainer in a Gym:  $50/hr 

Tip for aspiring trainers:  If you are thinking of becoming a trainer don’t make the mistake of thinking that this will be your starting hourly rate.   The average split between the trainer to the gym is 60/40.  Meaning the average gym trainer will receive $30/hr before taxes.  Inexperienced trainers should expect an hourly closer to $20.

Ballpark  Hourly fee for Independent Trainer: $75/hr

Tip for aspiring trainers:  So why not just be an independent trainer and retire rich?   Even though you don’t have a gym to pay, there are plenty of expenses that you have to cover now that the gym is not covering your expenses.

Expenses include: health insurance, transportation cost, continuing education, marketing costs.

Also its important to realize that you will spending much of your time working on things besides actually training clients.  This nonpaid time includes: communication/scheduling with clients, planning for client sessions, travel time, and marketing.

Not to mention that if you are not an experienced trainer with an established client base you’ll struggle to get hours.  If  you have between 5-10yrs experience you can charge 75/hr and can expect to actually make between $30 and $50/hr.

These ballpark figures are an educated guess.  I’m sure there are a few dynamite trainers working in respectable rural gyms who charge $30/hr.  Likewise you can find some real duds who charge upwards of $100/hr that have managed to inflate their hourly wage through shrewd marketing rather than offering a real value.

But for most US residents we would be suspicious of anyone charging less than $50/hr.  Likewise anyone charging over $120 is overcharging unless they are working with a very specialized subset of the population (olympic athletes, bodybuilders, weird looking supermodels, etc.)

If you have the time to dig a little further we can break it down for you by the various factors influencing the wage.

The factors that determine the hourly rate of personal training services include.

  • Geographic Location
  • Level of Education
  • Years of Experience
  • Type of Certification

Personal Trainer Rates by US Region

All the charts below are constructed using only data from trainers working in gyms and athletic clubs.  This data is much easier to come by then data from independent trainers.   To adjust for independent trainers simply add $25-$50 per hour.

Source: American Council on Exercise

 

Personal Trainer Hourly Rates by City

The findings of this data seem to contradict the regional data as Los Angeles is a fairly inexpensive place to seek training.  This suggests that hourly rates are determined more on the local than the regional level.

 

Source:  National Federation of Personal Trainers

 

Personal Trainer Salary by Education

As you might expect, more education means a higher pay rate.  It also means a higher hourly.  I’m glad to see this trend.  Trainers who have a master’s degree have spent several years studying the body and how it works.  Trainers who only have the certification may have only studied for a month.  Those with a Bachelor’s earn 10% more than those without a degree.  But those with a Master’s degree earn over 40% more than those without.

Source: American Council on Exercise

 

Personal Trainer Salary by Years Experience

I don’t know about you but I if I could pay 10% more and hire someone with 3 years experience vs someone with no experience I would do so in a heartbeat.  Also there seems to be little difference between someone with 4 years experience and someone with 20 in terms of pay.  

The takeaway?  Pay a little extra for someone with at least a few years experience.  Also, if you want an experienced trainer you might as well find someone who is very experienced vs. someone in the mid range.  The cost will likely be comparable and you’ll get better training, in general, from someone with 15 years experience than someone with only 5.

Source: American Council on Exercise

 

Personal Trainer Salary by Certification Type

The highest paid trainers are NASM certified.  This is only fair as it is the most difficult certification to acquire.  Some of the other programs on the list, I won’t name names, can be acquired in as little as two weeks time.   It is truly a scary proposition to mix someone with two weeks of book study, an inexperienced exerciser and a barbell.   Ask your trainer where they are certified and if they say NASM you know you are in good hands, if they say something else then you’ll need to dig a little deeper.   They may be great but then again…

Source:  SimplyHired.com

About the Author: Jesse C. Walker is the husband of Amber Ellison Walker, the head trainer at I Think I Can Fitness.  He also happens to help small businesses to increase revenue by developing an online presence.   He can be contacted at jesse@ithinkicanfitness.com and on Google+

 

10 Responses to Personal Trainer Hourly Rates
  1. valerie parauka
    February 25, 2013 | 5:48 pm

    This info on salaries was terrific! As a former personal trainer recertifying, it is imperative I get payrate figures. Thanks for keeping it real!

    • Jesse C Walker
      February 26, 2013 | 1:30 am

      No problem Valerie! I’m glad it is useful. Good luck with the re-certification.

  2. Becky MacGregor
    August 22, 2013 | 9:25 pm

    Thank you for this- I have multiple certs from NASM and have been a trainer for over 20 years- but i live in a mixed rural area – my rates I wanted to have lower for my seniors so it would be affordable for pp who need it…but I was still undercharging for many years!

    • Jesse C Walker
      August 23, 2013 | 2:46 pm

      Thanks for the comment Becky! Pricing is truly one of the most difficult decisions in the business of personal training.

      Perhaps you could have a regular rate and a seniors rate?

  3. adrian
    September 19, 2013 | 7:21 pm

    this really helped thanks looking to be a personal trainer

  4. Alison Taber
    November 9, 2013 | 8:46 pm

    HI Thanks for this post. I have been teaching Group Exercise for 3 years and have recently been certified as a personal trainer. The fitness studio that I have been teaching at wants me to take on personal training clients, which was one reason why I got certified. However, she is offering 60/40 split, 60 for her, 40 for me. I carry my own liability insurance, responsible for own continuing ed cost, CPR/AED cert., help with marketing, as well as scheduling client and keep proper records for each, and cleaning up before and after each training session. I’m starting to feel like she is taking advantage. Your thoughts on the situation would be appreciated.

  5. Jesse C Walker
    November 25, 2013 | 9:09 pm

    That really does sound out of balance. I’m certain you can get better deal elsewhere.

    Help with marketing? And cleaning?

    That is lunacy. Might I ask where you live? If it is a particularly small town that has only one gym they might be able to justify it but it seems out of whack to me.

  6. Scott
    July 23, 2014 | 9:14 pm

    AWESOME! really helped a lot

  7. CAB
    December 10, 2014 | 5:46 pm

    I was just certified and live in MS. I have been teaching a Stretch class at a gym for over a year at $15/hrly. The gym owner wants me to sign a contract to train at his gym and no other gyms for 60/40 of $50. Is it just me or is that ridiculous?!
    If I independently trainer what would be some basic equipment you would suggest outside of a matt, ball and tension bands?

    • Jesse C Walker
      December 11, 2014 | 3:20 pm

      Hi Carmen, thanks for the comment, unfortunately gyms really seem to try to gouge trainers. It does seem ridiculous to me, especially the non-compete clause. But I’m afraid it is fairly standard for the gym world.

      It is amazing how much you can do in-home with the simple equipment you suggested. Some other possibilities include getting certified in kettlebells, TRX, or Pilates Matwork(all highly portable equipment).

      Independent training is great but it really requires you to be a business person as well as personal trainer. It can be complex and client growth can be slow without a facility. That said, in my opinion, it is worth every ounce of effort for the freedom.

      But it may be hard to make ends meet at first…

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