The job of personal trainer can be very lucrative for those who work hard and do well. Everyone who’s interested in a career as a personal trainer wants to know about the potential financial rewards, so here we talk in detail about what personal trainers can expect to earn and what industry factors and career decisions will most affect their income.
What is the average personal trainer salary in the UK?
This is a question we hear a lot, but it’s one that’s very difficult to give a general answer to. It’s much easier to analyse the earning power of different types of personal trainer separately.
Almost all personal trainers in the UK will work in one of the following three capacities:
1) Freelancer in a club
This refers to personal trainers who work for themselves, but operate within a health club, gym, leisure centre, or some kind of fitness establishment like a Fitness First club.
Under this type of arrangement, they pay rent to the club to use its facilities, but must secure their own clients from among the club’s members.
The money trainers can earn working in this capacity varies a lot depending on the establishment they are set up in and the people who go to it. Trainers freelancing in clubs with good reputations in affluent areas can earn around £40 to £60k a year. Although the rent in good clubs can be as high as £1k a month.
But it also depends on how hard and how many hours a trainer works, and how many clients they attract within the establishments they’re based in.
Most newly qualified personal trainers begin their careers working in this capacity, and sadly, a lot of them give up on their fitness careers because they’ve started with unrealistic expectations of earnings and get discouraged when they don’t make a great deal in their first year.
We advise all of our personal trainer course graduates to view their first 12-18 months as an apprenticeship period and accept the fact that they’ll probably end up making only £14 to £18k a year freelancing in a club (after rent), unless they’re fortunate enough to start out with existing connections in the industry or some other advantage.
Better opportunities will present themselves as they advance through their careers if they are willing to work hard. They’ll get better at enticing clients, learn more skills and improve as trainers, and find openings at more upmarket fitness clubs.
Personal trainers working in this capacity are in competition with other personal trainers in the establishment they’re based in. For this reason, we advise anyone freelancing in clubs to look closely at the ratio of trainers to members in any particular club before applying to join.
Some places unfortunately open their doors to as many trainers as possible to collect the monthly fees without caring about how difficult they’re making it for the trainers to get enough clients to earn a decent income.
If we had to give a good rule-of-thumb, we’d say that there should be no more than 2 or 3 trainers for every 1000 members in a fitness club. Although for more high-end clubs, this ratio can be considerably higher and there will still be plenty of clients for everyone.
2) Employed by a club
Some personal trainers are actually employed directly by fitness clubs instead of just being based in them, and earn an income on a PAYE (pay-as-you-earn) basis. Such trainers do not only secure their own clients; they may also be referred clients by the club they are employed in.
Our organization makes a broad estimate that only about 10% of personal trainers work in this capacity. Those that do normally earn about £24 to £28k a year, but this can be significantly higher for trainers employed by more high-end establishments.
Some personal trainers spend their careers working for chains of health establishments. They might start out working for one of their lesser branches and as they gain more experience get transferred to more established centres in more prominent locations and get paid higher.
In addition to one-on-one personal training, trainers employed by a club will often be given other tasks to do within the club, such as running group fitness classes or circuit training sessions. Such things give trainers an opportunity to advertise themselves to potential clients – people who enjoy a trainer’s classes are more likely to hire that trainer for personal training.
3) Self-employed independent
Like the freelancers in clubs, self-employed, independent personal trainers are in business for themselves and so have to find their own clients, but are generally different in that they don’t base their business upon the support of affiliated health clubs and obtain clients through their own means.
These trainers are the higher-risk, higher-reward entrepreneurs of the personal training industry. There is no limit on how much they can earn or how successful they can become. Most trainers who operate like this have previously accumulated years of experience working in fitness clubs.
The most prosperous independent personal trainers earn six-figure sums and run their own personal training franchises, often employing other personal trainers to work for them so they can take on very many clients. London personal trainer Matt Roberts is an example of this.
Those who fall short of that sort of level can still earn a lot of money and have great careers working in this capacity.
Of course, some who go down this route sadly fail and go out of business. This usually happens when people set themselves up like this without having enough clients to sustain an income or when they don’t learn how to market themselves and run a business properly.
All the most successful independent personal trainers got to where they are by understanding business and marketing in addition to fitness and exercise.
Another reason why top independent personal trainers make a lot of money is because they usually have several different income streams. They will all do one-on-one fitness training, but they also tend to do things like running group fitness classes, selling fitness products on their websites, or promotional work for media projects.
Something else quiet common among the highest earning personal trainers is they have very broad ranges of skills and expertise. Any decent personal trainer can go running with their clients or do a bit of boxing pad-work, but there are far more specialist areas of health and fitness that different clients will require.
Trainers qualified in sports massage therapy can rehabilitate their clients from injuries, while those who have studied nutrition and obesity can provide diet and weight management services. Those who can do strength and sports conditioning can get work at sports clubs devising exercise programs for entire sports teams.
Then you’ve got back pain management, pre and post natal exercise, child development exercise, diabetes management, and many others. A personal trainer’s earning potential increases with their skill-set.
How can I maximize my earning potential as a personal trainer?
We hope that we’ve encouraged you by talking about the potential rewards that exist in the personal trainer business for those willing to work hard and make a go of it.
If you want to keep learning about how to maximize your earning potential as a personal trainer and forge the best career possible for yourself, then we have lots of additional information and resources to help you with that.
To see everything we have to offer that can help your career, check out our amazing fitness resources center.
You might also be interested in taking our business and marketing course, which will teach you all the critical skills you will need to run your own business in the modern fitness industry.
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