As with any career path, one of your main objectives is a secure income.
So if you want to know how much you can bank as a personal trainer, you’re reading the right article.
I took the time to reach out and research 11 of America’s most recognized gym brands for a better idea on what their various earning structures are.
From basic wage to incentives, bonuses and commission structures.
Once you’ve read through this article, you’ll have a pretty great idea about how much you can expect to make at the industry’s most established gyms.
You will also learn about ways to maximize your income in the other employment options you will have besides working full time at a gym or facility.
If you are curious about which personal training certification to choose, check out my article on the top five. Also, you might be interested in my article on how to become a personal trainer. Let’s get started.
So, How much do Trainers Make? – Introduction
The health and fitness field emerged as a viable platform for professional growth over 3 decades ago, steadily rising as a major component of an essential approach to health and wellness.
Because of this, many industries and career paths have opened up, creating a lucrative and legitimate business opportunity for corporations and individuals alike. Job growth in personal training, for example, has a projected 10% growth for the next decade, well above the average for most industries in the US.
CNN.com ranks personal training as the 18th most sought after and potentially lucrative employment opportunity.
Research conducted by auditing firm Deloitte in a fitness industry report also shows that the US fitness industry is the biggest of all its global counterparts.
Simply put, If you are in America and are seriously considering a career in fitness, expect access to over 30,000 new job opportunities if the 10-year projections are anything to go by.
Based on the evidence, they most certainly are.
This higher than average growth warrants a deeper look, so you can go in equipped with a full game plan and an idea of how to successfully manage and maximize your income and value.
This will help you not only enjoy your career at the moment, but also help you plan for a comfortable future, whether that future involves starting up your own fitness brand, or securing a cozy retirement.
Personal Trainer Salary
Annual personal trainer salary in the US is between $42,000 and $72,000 with an average of $59,000. If you are working part-time, expect to earn $25,000 to $35,000. The top 10% of trainers that work full time can expect to earn between $70,000 and $100,000 or more.
You do need to remember that your PT income isn’t as black and white as these numbers suggest.
Earning capacity in the fitness industry, especially as an independent contractor is a multi-variable number, reliant on many factors.
The most crucial element to success is your networking and marketing capability and you also need to have a knack for sales in order to convert inquiries into paying clients.
This rings truer if you happen to land a permanent gig at one of the large gym chains such as Golds or Planet Fitness.
Your exposure to a vast, dedicated number of potential clients is a sure way to get your earnings up.
Networking and outreach is an active process, in most cases, especially at the beginning, this will count as the majority of the work you do as a trainer.
The goal as a trainer is to hybridize your client base. That means tapping into both the existing pool of members or attendees at your location as well as wrangling external clients.
This gives you a diverse and constant income stream allowing you to achieve the perks and earning potential of full-time employment.
Personal Trainer Earning Potential: The Factors
So many people ask me “how much does a personal trainer make?”. That’s hard to answer right off the bat because of all the variables at play.
That’s why I took the time to reach out to several popular fitness chains as well as pull some research data for you to get an idea of your earning potential.
Personal Training Earning Structure. How Much Do Personal Trainers Make?
So now that you have a general idea on how to start earning, it’s important to understand the different payment structures that come with personal training.
Here are the 3 main earning structures you will encounter:
- 1099 personal trainer
- Commercial gym
- Independent personal trainer
Commercial Gym Trainer Salary
This is the most basic setup in terms of earning and salary options.
You operate as an employee of the gym and gain a minimum wage based on your work on the floor.
The gym will typically incentivize your job performance by offering raises or bonuses based on how much traffic you generate.
If your sales skills are sharp, you will typically earn decent cash through a commission from selling programs, packages and memberships.
The commercial gym setup is the most stable as it comes with a W2 form for employment and all the basic benefits you can expect as an employed individual.
The downside of this is it is also the lowest earning potential of the 3.
Independent Personal Trainer Salary
This structure allows you the freedom to work, schedule and charge whatever you feel like.
This basically means you are self-employed and running your own business.
As mentioned, the bonus is you have the independence to create your own work environment and set your own price with no pressure from a corporate overlord.
You also get to be more creative with your programs and don’t have to adhere to a strict training protocol.
The downside of this is you are less exposed to a regular stream of clients and will need to optimize your networking and marketing in order to convert sales.
You also aren’t guaranteed a fixed income and have to rely on how well you can retain your clients in the long run.
The fact that you are running your own business in a sense means all the administrative technicalities rest square on your shoulders such as tax and insurance.
Overhead costs such as facility use, which counts as a rental fee will also come out of your earnings.
Although you can charge whatever you want as an independent, you will need to be smart and try to stay within the limits of industry standards in your area, and also play to what you can get away with charging based on the experience and reputation you’ve built.
1099 Personal Trainer Contract Structure
This structure is sort of a hybrid between being an employed trainer and an independent one.
In this case, you work as a private contractor who supplies a gym or facility with your expertise in order to service their clients.
This allows you a general degree of freedom you can expect as an independent and some of the perks of income security you would enjoy as an employee.
This system works out by having you split your earnings with the gym or facility based on an agreed percentage split.
With that out of the way, let’s look at which gyms offer what in terms of salary and earning potential.
I’ve made a list of popular gyms and how you can generate an income by associating yourself with them.
CPT Salary Infographic
Personal Trainer Salary by Gym:
I’ve reached out to several big gym brands to get an idea of how their trainers earn.
This will help you decide where you want to get your foot in the door.
24 Hour Fitness Salary
$7/hour session starting wage based on trainer tier
- PT Elite
- Master Trainer
|Session Premium Rates|
|New Trainer/PT1||PT2||PT3||PT Elite||Master Trainer|
|Qualifications||CPT Cert, 0-750 sessions||CPT Cert + 1 additional, 751-1500 sessions||CPT Cert +2 additional 1501-2250 sessions||CPT Cert +3 additional 2251+ sessions||CPT Cert +3 additional 2251+ sessions. Increased gym responsibility|
Trainer Earning Capacity Comparison
|Trainer Earning Structure|
|New Trainer/PT1||Master Trainer|
|Monthly Hours||120 at $10.00||160 at $10.00|
|Monthly Sales x20%||$2,500||$4,640|
|5% commission bonus||$232|
|Total After Bonus||$4,872|
20% upfront on any personal trainer packages sold
10% upfront on any group class packages sold.
|TC24 Group Class Packages||10%|
|Packages Sold To Employees/Dependants (excl TC24)||31%|
5% bonus for every 60 sessions or more over a 1-day period.
Gold’s Gym Salary
Starting at $10/hour session, going up to $30/hour session depending on trainer experience and length of time of employment.
No specific figures or stats were given on how that’s all structured.
$400 for every 55 sessions performed
$12 – $15/ hour session
(minimum wage is location dependent)
$400 for every 55 sessions performed
Snap Fitness Salary
$10 – $15/ hour session
Planet Fitness Salary
$10 – $15/ hour session based on the trainer I reached out to.
They, however, made it clear that wages and bonuses vary from location to location.
Pay increases based on the amount of time working and overall performance at the discretion of management and based on location
No specific bonus structure at this location, but others may have.
Crunch Fitness Salary
Varies based on franchise location
Incentives, like wages, vary from location to location, trainers earn different commission structures based on what they sell and how much they sell in terms of personal training packages.
The commission ranges from 40% to 65%
Tiered earning structure
Bonuses and incentives are tied in
After attempting to reach out to EXOS training and careers dept for a week, I managed to get on a call with one of their training personnel.
He went ahead to tell me that they cannot divulge salary-related information outside of the interview and hiring process.
Let’s assume EXOS trainers have a reasonably high earning potential based on the positioning of the brand.
A 4 tiered earning structure that starts at $15/hour session. Tier structures are as follows:
|Session Premium Rates|
|Earnings||Weekly Sessions||Hours/week (first 3 months)|
|Tier 1||$15.00 – $20.00||2||4-8|
|Tier 2||$17.00 – $22.00||5||4-8|
|Tier 3||$21.00 – $26.00||10||4-8|
|Tier 4||$23.00 – $30.00||20||4-8|
Benefits that include payment of $100 towards recertification fees as well as trainer CEUs
None outside the tiered structure
Lifetime Athletic Salary
All Lifetime locations called did not divulge wages or incentive information.
What I can say for sure is that you can expect to make a decent amount of cash working as a trainer here owing to the high end, luxury positioning of the Lifestyle brand.
Anytime Fitness Salary
As a franchise chain, the wages vary depending on the location but expect the minimum starting wage to fluctuate around the industry standard of between $10 – $15/hour.
None other than commission split for packages sold and the ability to increase earnings by running group classes
Awarded on top of the minimum wage for selling of monthly packages
Equinox has a complex wage tier structure, but wherever you land, you’ll be earning more than at most gyms even at the basic starting level.
Take into account that Equinox trainers work an average of 27 sessions per week.
|Session Premium Rates|
|Earnings/hour (less than 42 hours/2 weeks)||Earnings/hour (more than 42 hours/2 weeks)|
The incentive program kicks in once a trainer works more than 42 sessions per 2-week pay cycle.
All tier earnings are bumped up (see table above)
|Session Premium Rates|
|Trainer Tier/ Earnings|
LA Fitness Salary
|PT Sessions||Trainer Earnings|
Location-Based Earning Stats
|Location Stats||Trainer Earnings|
|High Cost of Living (e.g. Los Angeles)||$7.50-$15.00|
|Low Cost of Living (e.g. Arizona)||$6.00-$12.00|
None reported outside of the increased earning capacity for conducting group sessions
None reported as of reaching out.
LA fitness does seem to present the lowest job satisfaction of most major gym chains due to the high trainer turnover and anecdotal accounts.
Conclusion on CPT Salary
So there you have it folks, 11 gyms and training facilities and how much you can expect to earn. A few takeaways from this research include:
- Most fitness chains, especially the large franchise gyms don’t have a fixed wage, incentive or bonus structure
- A lot of the information gathered here was obtained from individual trainers or front desk clerks with their own unique insight or experience regarding earnings
- Pay typically increases the longer you stay at the gym and the more you work/sell
- Corporate head office personnel, who were the only option in a lot of cases, tend to be very covert about payment structures even though this would have been the best way to gain a clear and decisive understanding of earning potential
- The best way to obtain a full idea of what you can expect to earn is to actually visit one of these facilities and get a hand on impression. Use this information as a rough guide.
Other Things to Consider
Aside from the income structures, you can expect, it’s important to look into other benefits on offer.
Things such as medical and dental benefits, 401k and employee/partner discounts are all important to take into account.
These factors don’t count as direct money in the bank, but they still ultimately affect your net income and quality of life, which is the main objective at the end of the day.
You also want to look into career options outside associating with a fitness facility.
As a certified trainer, you can embark on many career options including working as an online personal trainer or a private, in-call/out-call trainer who doesn’t necessarily rely on a gym or facility in order to work with clients.
Private training presents the ultimate earning capacity, whether online or in person.
That’s because you set your own rates regardless of what the industry determines to be fair.
I do recommend that you strategize your career in stages over the long term. Start off as a gym trainer and build your rep and experience to a point where you can strike out on your own, and maybe even open your own gym down the road.
So you’re ready to start providing the world with value in health and fitness, while also making a decent income for yourself? You need to consider the following factors.
- Which certification(s) you hold.
- Amount of trainer experience
- Specialization if any
- Level of education
- Reputation and credibility
These are the fundamental considerations for any personal trainer worth their salt.
You need to nurture and strategize around these key points and the rest will usually figure itself out.
You will also find that one or some of these factors will inadvertently influence some others.
For example, your experience will influence your reputation.
Your Certification Determines Your Salary! Here’s how!
There are tons of certifications floating around out there.
It’s a typical case of the good, the bad and the ugly.
My goal with PT Pioneer is to help you not only find the good but also to determine the best especially if you want to go the specialized route.
Most certifying agencies provide a general approach to health and fitness, but many will have areas of focus and tiers of specialization, so it’s important to know which one offers what and match that with your career preferences.
Experience Matters. How Salary is Impacted by your Experience!
This is something that rings true with any profession.
The more time you’ve put into honing your craft, the more competent you will be at it.
Nowadays, the hiring process in most career fields is looking more and more at how much time you’ve put into a job skill with less of a focus on what you have on paper.
As you grow in experience, the strength or your personal brand grows along with the demand and price tag.
That brings us to the next important factor, reputation.
Reputation is Key. The Name you Build Determines the Career you Build!
As your experience in the game builds up, your reputation and associated value will grow with it.
Maintaining a good reputation is one of the most valuable assets you can possess as a personal trainer.
The PT world is growing, and with that comes a lot of stiff competition.
There are thousands of trainers today carrying the same legit certs with similar skills and aspirations.
Your rep is the only way you can truly stand out, so nurture it and keep it on the good side at all costs!
Specialization is the Key to Special Opportunities!
As mentioned, specializing in certain aspects of fitness is worth considering.
Another way to boost your overall value as a trainer is to find a niche, a specialized service that is not commonly offered.
The best way to begin carving a niche is by gaining a specialized certification and gaining experience in a specialist field.
Location, Location, Location. Where you Train impacts how you Earn!
Certain geographical locations have a higher demand for fitness.
Major metropolitan areas such as New York or LA Have populations that seek out health and fitness in higher proportion than more modest cities.
Places like Boulder, Colorado has an entrenched culture of a fitness-oriented lifestyle.
This opens you up to more opportunity, and if you play your cards right, using the best strategies, you can expedite your salary growth.
To give you an idea of where the money is, here are the top 5 cities with the highest average earnings for a personal trainer.
- Washington, DC
- San Diego, CA
- New York, NY
- Las Vegas, NV
- Columbus, OH
Your Level of Education Matters!
When getting into a personal trainer career, having the required certification and level of experience will certainly count to your chances.
Being college-educated, and specifically in a health and fitness-related fields such as sports science or physiotherapy can shoot your chances through the roof.
If you have any further questions about the personal trainer salary or how much do trainers make, please drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll get back to you.
Good luck and happy training!