How to Build a $100,000/year Personal Trainer Business

Hi there,

I’m going to show you how to find success in the personal training business, and at the end of this article, you, too, will be able to start making cool bucks.

Trust me, a Bachelor’s degree, multiple certifications, and over ten years of experience confirm that I’m the right guy to help you get started.

Let’s jump right in!

Cha-ching

Introduction

What do personal trainers make? That’s the burning question I get asked by many who visit this site.

So you’re certified and you’re ready to step out into the big world of professional fitness. That makes it a very relevant consideration.

This is now your career and livelihood, so the goal is to make it profitable and sustainable, of course.

Now, it’s fair to recognize that the personal training business will continue to grow; it is a burgeoning industry. The demand for health and fitness products and services has skyrocketed over the last decade.

People are more conscious about their health and fitness needs, and with that rising awareness comes a demand.

However, as with any lucrative industry, competition is continuously growing and the market is saturating fast.

There are approximately 340,000 personal trainers in the US as of writing this article.

The number is growing and the options for true innovation are dwindling.

Quite challenging prospects if you also factor in the inherent challenges of running a PT business.

Administrative constraints, marketing, and revenue sustainability all come into your field of concern.

You need to be realistic to defy the reality most trainers face.

The first question you should ask is how much money do personal trainers make?

From here, you can begin to look at the common strategies that the average trainer implements so you can build on them.

According to statistics, the average personal trainer salary is roughly $60,000 per year.

You have to stand out if you want to earn more than that. The highest-paid personal trainers all have a quality or set of defining attributes that stand them above the rest of the pack.

It’s not just about working hard; the world is full of hard workers, but working smart is what gets you the big bucks!

So how do you stand out and become a top earner?

Well, that’s what I’m about to share with you.

I’ve gathered facts, figures, and pro tips from my experience as a successful fitness professional, which I will share with you so you can have a shot at making your dreams come true as a pro trainer.

Just in case you haven’t already gotten your certification or are considering options for continued education, my quizz can help guide you to the right option for the type of trainer you are. Check it out here.

How to Build a $100,000/year Personal Training Business 1
How to Build a $100,000/year Personal Training Business 2

If you are yet to choose a personal training program, I have an article on the best personal trainer courses out there and the necessary education needed to be a personal trainer.

And without further say, let’s jump into my top tips for building a 100K fitness business.

Top 7 Tips For Building a $100k Fitness Business.

Tip #1: Specialize

Having a niche is tantamount to how successful you’ll ultimately be as a trainer.

You need to stand out or, at the very least, offer something less common while also retaining the standard tools and approach of your average PT.

That means diversifying your services, and the most fundamental way to do this is through specialized qualifications.

You should already have a standard PT certification from a recognized, accredited agency.

That’s great, but in this day and age, that’s not enough. You need to be able to offer more than just your run-of-the-mill PT services.

As I hinted, the trick is balancing your general PT services with a mix of specialties.

You want to be the person who’s on call for as many different services as possible.

You will need to have the relevant competence and credentials, so getting a specialist cert attached to your name is a big bonus.

The first one I suggest getting is a group training or group fitness cert. I’ve reviewed some of the best group fitness certifications here, so check them out and see which one works for you.

After this, you’ll want to go into special populations. One that I’ve found is really picking up is youth training or fitness for kids.

create a niche in your personal training business

Parents today are more in touch with their kids’ health and fitness needs. There’s also a high demand for giving kids a competitive edge on the sports field for scholarship and career prospects in the future.

Whatever the motivation, your business can truly benefit from having the ability to train kids effectively.

Another specialization is one that sits on quite the opposite side of the spectrum, and that’s training senior citizens.

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Fitness is, in fact, an aspect of medicine, and although your PT cert does not award you the same level of qualification or scope of practice as a doctor, you still play a vital role in the public health system.

As people get older, their health and medical needs become more urgent. Staying fit is one of the most profound forms of treatment and quality of life boosters for senior citizens.

By keeping older people fit, you are not only allowing them to stay fitter and stronger for an extended lifespan, but you’re also helping them maintain their independence and ability to be productive and interactive in society.

This is very sought after and can be very profitable if we’re looking at how to make money in fitness.

Other specialties include:

  • Special populations
  • Pregnant women
  • High-performance athletes
  • Nutrition
  • Body transformation

Should you choose nutrition, make sure it is one of the top fitness nutrition specialist certifications on the market.

You can even specialize or find a niche in specific disciplines or sports. Examples of popular discipline-specific specializations include:

  • Yoga
  • Zumba
  • Pilates
  • Boxing
  • MMA

If you want to learn how to master small group training to make more money, keep it locked as I will be bringing out some paid content on how to maximize your earnings.

One big way I’ll teach you how to do that is through small group training.

Mastering the group approach can help you net more revenue in the same amount of time.

For example, a small group of, say, 10 clients will bring you more in an hour’s session than a single client.

To achieve this, get a group fitness instructor certification for your continuing education credits. Even if your fee per head is lower, the group volume will easily surpass a one on one session’s earnings in the same amount of time!

It works cheaper for each client and makes you more money, the true definition of a win-win situation.

Tip #2: Grow Progressively

A big factor in determining how to make money as a personal trainer is how you map out your career progression.

Progressive, long term planning, and patient diligence are key factors when looking at how to be a successful personal trainer.

As a fledgling trainer, your options are relatively limited.

You will likely need to start off at a big franchise commercial gym.

This is the best way to get your toes wet and gain the relevant experience you will need as a top-earning trainer.

Having said that, it is important to protect your career with long term goals in mind, goals that shoot far past working in a big box gym.

While offering easy access to the industry, these commercial fitness clubs are not where your bread will be buttered.

You will learn the ropes, have a great pre-established environment and facilities and have constant access to prospective clientele.

But the benefits stop there, especially where the money is concerned, so while this may be a necessary step for most trainers, it should always be a temporary stepping stone.

Working up from that, you can contract with private or boutique gyms, allowing you to take control of what you charge, but also comes with the hefty tedium of gym rent and admin work.

Personal trainer business plan

But if you want to earn more, you kind of have to spend more.

Working in a private gym as a contractor also has a bit more of an exclusive allure attached to it, which you can leverage in your marketing approach.

This, again, shouldn’t be your final destination because while income would naturally increase, you’re still nowhere near making a killing, and your revenue is not as secure as you would like it to be.

Just as with your franchise club days, working as a contract trainer with private and boutique gyms should be a stepping stone.

This is where you establish your reputation as a reliable and seasoned fitness pro while growing your influence and client base.

From here, you want to be in a position to invest in an independent operation. You either want to open your own facility or function without needing one by offering fitness-related products or services that don’t require fixed premises, such as online training or house calls.

The best way to track your progress and determine if you’re ready for the next big move, especially income-wise is to keep track of all relevant numbers.

Monthly and yearly income stats, client turnover/churn rate, and online analytics all play a part in determining where you are in your career, helping you work towards where you want to be.

The highest-paid personal trainers are the ones who have gone through the work, starting from the bottom and paying their dues.

You can’t rush success.

Tip #3: Get Your Marketing Game On Point

How much do fitness trainers make? Well, lets rather ask, how much do fitness trainers market themselves?

One of the biggest struggles as a personal trainer is getting the word out that you are one.

Being able to market yourself effectively is so tricky when there are so many options to choose from, all offering similar services.

This is where the specialization we spoke of in tip #1 will be handy, but that alone isn’t enough.

You need to be able to broadcast your availability and do so in a way that will entice conversions and improve client retention.

To this end, social media is an obvious starting point.

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Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, and other platforms are the best places to present yourself to a wider audience.

However, statistics show that simply being present on social media is less than effective in building your client base.

That’s because the highest-paid personal trainers have one thing in common, good reviews!

Whether those reviews come from positive word of mouth from the results your clients discuss within their social circles or you have an online review platform such as Google or TrustPilot, you need to have actual people say good things about what you offer; it’s way more effective than you saying good stuff about yourself.

Other great marketing strategies include referrals and paid ads.

A good website with an effective SEO strategy is also essential if you aim for that top-level income.

A full-spectrum marketing strategy that embraces all the resources and platforms I’ve just mentioned is a huge determining factor in how much personal trainers make.

Soon I’ll release some premium content on marketing, sales, and business, so stay tuned if you want to learn more about that.

Tip #4 Online Coaching

We live in a digital age; there’s no ignoring that because you can bet your socks your clients and potential clients aren’t.

Increasingly, people are seeking their fitness fix online.

With the high paced hustle and bustle of modern life and the myriads of commitments we face to keep up, the idea of setting aside time to meet and train with a coach in person is not that appealing for some.

We also live in a world where long-distance travel and connections are possible. Servicing existing clients remotely while converting new clients located outside of your geographic scope can only be achieved through online coaching.

When people ask me, “how much do trainers make?” I often respond with, “Not as much as they could if they were online.”

Online coaching is the fastest-growing segment of the fitness business. And while it might seem limited with regards to the fact that you can’t give that personal touch, it’s also quite empowering and can lead to tremendous career growth when implemented correctly.

To do online properly, you need the right tools.

The first thing you’ll want to do is optimize your social media presence.

That means you’re no longer posting random content willy-nilly.

You now have a purpose-driven, organized approach to handling your social accounts.

You provide value and meaning while directing your audience with effective calls-to-action or CTAs, opening them up to potential conversion.

Next, you will want your own digital real estate as a web domain. Find a name that resonates with you and what you do, then register a domain.

After that, design your website with the right UI/UX principles and some SEO magic sprinkled in.

Next, you want to create the products and services you will offer.

A great place to start is with custom workout plans. From here, you can and should progress to nutrition plans. Nutrition is one of the most overlooked areas in the professional fitness business regarding trainer services, yet it’s probably more important than the actual exercise component.

Use this to your advantage and capitalize on nutrition.

Moving from here, you can start to design and package information products such as workout bibles, recipe guides, and video tutorials.

By using an eCommerce system on your site, you can ensure payments are managed automatically.

You can outsource your online PT activities to full-scale digital management systems that handle program design, client tracking, and instant messaging. A good example of this is Trainerize.

The online model is your gateway to the dream of passive income as a trainer. An online fitness coach’s salary and what you make with your in-person services will boost your earnings significantly.

If you want to gain so pro insight into becoming a successful online personal trainer, stay tuned, as I will be creating some premium content to help kickstart your online business.

Tip #5 Optimize Your Pricing and Payment Model

What you charge is one thing; how you charge is another. The highest-paid personal trainers are shrewd in how they collect their income.

What I mean is the way you price your services can have a big impact on how much money you ultimately pull in.

Many trainers falter not because they aren’t charging a fair amount for their services but because they fall off because of how they structure their pricing and payment systems, leaving so many income irregularities.

You want to create a steady revenue stream instead of dribs and drabs of cash here and there.

You want to be able to budget your monthly income towards the things that matter instead of playing the waiting game with clients.

The best way to do this is to create a membership model. A system that retains clients over a membership period with recurring payment streams you can rely on for steady revenue.

When you have to wait for once-off payments, you lose time on your income; as you know, time is money. Getting paid late is the same as being lowballed in the value scheme of things.

Make your pricing options so that clients are incentivized to retain your services for an extended period, thus securing a stable cash flow as a result.

Another way of optimizing your pricing is by implementing a validity period policy.

Make it so that whatever package or tier your client purchase, there is a limit on how long it can be used.

Often, clients will purchase a package and let that purchase sit until they feel motivated to get off their butts and use it.

By placing a time limit on a package, let’s say for 1 month from purchase; you are encouraging client activity, which will lead to results and retention and keeps the money coming in.

The system of payment is also important. Instead of reminding your clients every instance they need to pay, have payments automated through a debit order or similar system.

One last interesting thing I want to mention when it comes to pricing is to try not to lowball yourself in the hopes that a cheaper price will result in better business.

Consumer psychology is a funny thing. You will often find that the more expensive something is, the more perceived value is attached to it, making it more sought after.

Don’t be shy to price high; it’s easier to slash a high price than to justify a sharp increase.

Tip #6 Get Involved With Nutrition

How much do personal trainers make a year?

Not much if they don’t fully integrate nutrition into their service.

As I already mentioned, nutrition is one of the most overlooked aspects of health and fitness as far as trainers are concerned.

Most trainers have a good solid foundation in nutritional science and psychology in terms of personal application. They obviously take that aspect of their lifestyles seriously.

Unfortunately, many trainers don’t translate this concept into a service.

That might be because nutrition is complex; it requires more understanding of your client’s unique needs than exercise.

It’s also harder to monitor and motivate because you’re not there every time your client puts something in their mouth, but you are there most times they exercise.

Nutrition coaching is also difficult to implement because of the deeper psychological factors at play when it comes to remapping diet habits.

I advise you to learn nutrition as a coaching practice and implement it as part of your service portfolio.

When good nutritional coaching is on offer, your revenue options will skyrocket.

Tip #7 Networking is Essential

Success is never achieved in isolation and your network is your net worth, both pretty cliched Quotables.

But cliches are cliches for a reason; they are steeped in truth and understanding of objective reality.

So how much can a personal trainer make with networking in mind?

When it comes to the question of how to be a successful personal trainer, just as with any business venture, networking is your bread and butter.

Your influence, good reputation, and access to business prospects/clients grow as you interact with more people and organizations.

You obviously want to immerse yourself within the circles relevant to what you are aiming to achieve.

So a great place to start is your classmates/alumni for whatever educational experience got you here to begin with.

If you have a college degree in fitness science or sports medicine, connecting with your fellow alumni is a powerful networking event.

Even with certification, most of the top accredited certifying agencies have a portal to access the network of students past and present.

Networking in this way is more than just building your social currency; it’s also a way of learning.

You can have a mentor or observe the success of your peers while recognizing and avoiding their failings.

Another great way to network is by attending trade shows, conferences, and seminars.

These are huge gatherings with an industry focus and, thus, plenty of opportunities.

You can take this a step further and actually be an exhibitor at trade shows, marketing yourself to prospective clients and potential partners who can add value to your business.

The last way you can implement networking tactics is to interact with your clients more connectedly.

By building rapport with clients and getting to the core of their character, you gain access to their network of family, friends, and professional connections.

Conclusion

So there you have it, my 7 pro tips on optimizing your PT business approach towards nailing a $100,000 + per year operation.

The key to making money in fitness is to offer unique value and recognize for yourself what that value is worth.

A lot of trainers recognize the inherent level of competition and challenge in the industry and they make the right moves to innovate around it, but after this, they very often forget to value themselves and end up struggling, even with a golden opportunity.

When asked how much money a personal trainer makes, I often ask, ” How much is that trainer worth? Increase your value by adding to your repertoire and your reputation.

Networking and adding to your credentials are key when considering this.

So the question of how to make money in the fitness industry is really a question of what you have done to increase your value, followed by what strategies you implement to substantiate that value.

Tyler Read

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT. Tyler holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Sonoma State University and is a certified personal trainer (CPT) with NASM (National Academy of sports medicine), and has over 15 years of experience working as a personal trainer. He is a published author of running start, and a frequent contributing author on Healthline and Eat this, not that.

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