Pricing your personal training services is one of the most common issues for fitness professionals. There is no true industry standard—rates fluctuate based on location, experience, and the trainer’s personal opinion. As a result, there’s a wide range in pricing models to choose from.
Like many others, I struggled with setting my prices too. When I first started my business, I was offering $20 personal training sessions simply so I could build experience working with people. My belief was that if my barrier to entry was low, I’d have no problem getting people through the door. I soon realized that if I wanted to turn my hobby into a business, I’d have to charge more for my services.
A Starting Point for Pricing Your Personal Training Services
I did what most people do when they need to figure something out—I turned to Google. I looked up what other trainers in my city were charging and I found rates from $30 to $120 per hour. Thirty dollars an hour didn’t seem like it would make much difference than the twenty I was charging. On the other hand, $120 felt way out of my league as someone new to the industry. As a result, I started in the middle: a price of $60 per session when 6 sessions were purchased and $50 when 12 were purchased.
As I built up my clientele and improved my craft, I began adding $5 per hour to my packages for new clients, while keeping past clients in at their grandfathered rate. I added a larger package option to include 20 sessions at the request of my clients. I also offered one-off sessions along with a program design based upon the amount of time it took me to create it.
I stuck with this model for around three years, not necessarily because it was working for me, but because I was too busy running my business to figure out how to structure things differently. I found myself getting burned out from constantly trading hours for dollars. My income was inconsistent because some months everybody would renew their packages. Other months, there would be no renewals, and I had clients paying anywhere from $50-$95 per hour. On top of that, I was still providing programs and workouts for my clients to do between sessions. Thus, I was feeling incredibly undervalued for the work I was putting in.
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Finding a Better Way to Price Your Personal Training
My mentor at the time suggested I move to a monthly model, wherein clients pay a certain price per month on auto-pay for a package. This includes not only personal training sessions, but also things like a discount on group classes, habit-based nutrition coaching, and between-session program design.
That last point alone was a game changer. The realization that all the time I was spending creating workouts for my clients to do in between sessions was actually a value-added service that could be included in the overall price.
I began speaking with other trainers and looked for advice on how to structure the monthly model. There were things that would need to be taken into consideration, like what happens if a client needs to miss a session? My schedule was fully-booked, so I’d have little room for make-up sessions. What happened if I wanted to go on vacation?
I eventually found a way to navigate those challenges that worked for my clients and me. The result was consistent cash flow each month, less accounting struggles, fewer uncomfortable conversations about renewing packages, and a greater commitment from my clients. When I was operating on a per-session basis, my very first client—who is still with me today—was coming in an average of two times per month for the first 3.5 years of our working relationship. Since implementing the monthly model she has come to every single session.
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Set a Final Price and Focus on Fitness Business Growth
The final step in handling my rates like a true business owner was bringing everybody’s monthly rate to the same level, depending on how many times they were coming to see me each week. While the monthly model led to better cash flow and made it easier to manage my finances, I was actually earning less per session because I needed to account for time I or my clients wouldn’t be there. Moreover, some months they’d get a “bonus” session if there was a fifth week. My clients were now paying anywhere from $45 per hour to $90.
I gave my clients plenty of notice when I made the decision to increase everybody’s rates. I gave them the option to pre-pay two additional months at their current rate. Some of my clients’ rates nearly doubled, and while they were incredibly uncomfortable conversations to have, I knew they were necessary if I wanted to maintain the longevity of my business.
I was terrified all of my clients would pack up and leave. But in reality, only one couldn’t continue due to financial constraints. We spent our last month together equipping her with the skills she needed to continue her training on her own. Everybody else was incredibly supportive and they have been so much more invested in their results.
As you can see, there has been an evolution in how I charge for my services. I’ve never worked in a big box gym or for another trainer, so I never had the opportunity to learn the industry norms. It took a lot of trials, errors and some serious stepping out of my comfort zone. However, I’m now more fulfilled than ever because my clients are more committed and getting better results. In addition, I feel like I’m being compensated for the time and energy I contributed to those results. A true win-win situation.