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  1. #1
    Registered User allthehage's Avatar
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    Question about typical personal trainer salary pay.

    I currently make about 1800ish a month at a job I hate. But at this point, I don't really qualify for many jobs that pay near that...which is a little sad. I have long considered getting certified as a trainer. My question is, if I was a trainer for a large gym like 24, lifetime, LA, Bally's, etc. could I expect to make at least what I make now, or more? Most of the trainers I see at the gym don't look like they make crap but I don't want to go spend a thousand dollars on certifications and quit to find out I can't even make rent and my car note. Thanks for any advice or information.
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  2. #2
    Training For Chest Hair rdferguson's Avatar
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    I don't know what the pay is for any of those places, or if they have multiple paygrades/deals for PTs. But I'll tell you about the place I was working at until recently.

    In the gym I was at, there were 2 kinds of trainers: those hired by the gym, and those on rental deals.

    Those hired by the gym had 3 levels.

    A level 1 trainer got paid $20/hr for PT. This was the entry rate.
    A level 2 trainer got paid $30/hr for PT. To become level 2 you had to be doing 20 sessions/wk, pass a written exam and get tested on how you do inductions.
    A level 3 trainer got paid $40/hr for PT. To become level 3, you had to already be level 2, pass a written exam and be doing 30 sessions/wk.

    The rental trainers simply paid $250/wk (I think) to the gym, could set their own prices and whatever their clients paid them was theirs to keep. So, if they were charging $70/hr (which would have been considered quite cheap) and doing 20hrs/wk, that'd be $1400/wk, minus $250 rent ($1150 total). And that's all well and good if you can get that much work. If your business go south (which happens) and suddenly you're only doing 5hrs/wk, suddenly things aren't looking so good.
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  3. #3
    community gym PT KyleAaron's Avatar
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    rd's gyms sound sht. Usually in this subforum I'd put it down to "US jobs suck", but rd's Aussie like me, must be talking about Genesis and Fitness First and commercial gyms like that.

    Community - council-owned or YMCAs, etc - gyms generally offer you a few steady gym shifts of 3-6hr at a time at a casual rate of $20-$30/hr, and after that PT sessions will be charged to clients at about $60-$80/hr, of which you'll get $35-$40.

    You can get more gym shifts if you're willing to work whichever ones come your way as people are sick or on holiday etc, but may find yourself doing things like a close at night (1800-2200) followed by an open the next day (0530-0900).

    How many PT clients you get depends on how good the local market for it is, combined with your hard work. Gyms typically have 1-6% of members wanting to do PT at any one time, but this is adjusted by local income. So a gym with 5,000 members in the central city will have heaps of potential clients, one with 500 members in a country town rather fewer.

    But it really depends on the energy of the PTs. I work for two gyms. One has 4,000 members, the other 2,400, and they're 2km from each-other, so basically the same income level of people coming to the gym. Yet the smaller gym does more PT. Why? Well, PT clients can come from the client wandering up to front desk or some trainer and asking for someone to train them, or they can come from the PT talking to people on the gym floor and signing them up. At the larger gym, 90% of new clients are from client enquiries, 10% are from PTs. At the smaller gym, it's 50-50.

    So for example one of the less successful trainers I know has 3 clients, and was today telling me that "in the first 2 years I was here, they gave me no clients at all!" All 3 of her current clients were assigned to her.

    I have 16 clients, and 12 of them I recruited myself. I once mentioned this to the manager, saying, "if I'd relied on you for clients, I'd only have 4."
    He replied, "Actually you wouldn't even have that many, since if you hadn't found your own clients I wouldn't have given you as many." Managers want to back success, whoever they give you they want you to keep, if you can't do it yourself they'll find someone who can.

    Currently I work 50 hours a fortnight, Sundays 0730-1300 (gym shift + some PT) and Mon-Fri 0600-1000 (just PT). On top of that are a few shifts like Thursdays 1000-1400. From this I earn A$1,600 a fortnight before tax, or thereabouts. I could work more hours - I turn down shifts finishing after 1800, and am not doing any PT at all at the larger gym which has a lot of potential to grow PT overall, since I would be the only trainer actively actually trying to get clients - but I've deliberately limited the hours I work since I have a newborn son.

    Overall I earned A$34,000 last financial year, but I started in late July and missed a week in June for the birth, so effectively I worked 11 months of the year. However it's all casual, so in future years I could expect the same results, as I would at least occasionally like some time off! If I were willing to do whatever gym shifts were offered and do PT in the evenings, or at least a few evenings, I could probably work it up to around A$50,000. But then I wouldn't see my wife and son as much. The biggest earners as PTs tend to be young single people.

    It's reasonable to expect that if you are active on the gym floor talking to people and helping them out with their training, without any hard sell nonsense you can get 1-3 new clients a month, and keeping 3 of every 4 long-term, doing on average 6 half-hour sessions with each in a month (some do 1/week, some 2/week), you will thus add 6-12 sessions a month to your total. So after 12 months you're doing 100-120 sessions a month.

    Of course you have to put in some unpaid time to do this. For example, your first client might want to come in Mondays and Wednesdays 0600-0630, and you have no-one else. Your already had to get up early, so after the session, hang around for another hour or so and talk to the regular gym members, notice any newbies and offer your help, etc. Do your own workout, and don't be shy to chat to people during it. Basically, just talk to heaps of people. If only 1 in 20 people are interested in PT, then you have to talk to 20 people to get 1 client. And no hard sell needed, by the way.
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  4. #4
    Training For Chest Hair rdferguson's Avatar
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    ^ Fitness First don't even hire trainers. It's just pay ~$2,000 to get into a contract with them, then start paying fortnightly rent, and if you're lucky, get some clients while you're at it. The rental system's good when you've already got business. It's murder when you don't.

    TBH, I'm not seeing what's so drastically different between what you've described at community gyms vs what I described for gym employees where I was at before, other than the fact that I didn't talk about gym floor shifts, which we were paid for ($21.13/hr). In saying that, I'd rather work at a YMCA gym than Goodlife (where I was working) due to the culture, but the pay status as an employee really isn't that grossly different. As an aside, I'm hoping to move up to Bundaberg at some point, and they've got 2 YMCA gyms there.
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    golds was around 32 an hr at my peak, working around 25-30 hrs a week
    mind you that was after around a year of scrounging for clients and working extremely hard on sales

    also worked a brief stint @ 24, hit 22 hr, but sales team was terrible and I didnt have the drive to sell at the time
    Nope
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    Originally Posted by allthehage View Post
    I currently make about 1800ish a month at a job I hate. But at this point, I don't really qualify for many jobs that pay near that...which is a little sad. I have long considered getting certified as a trainer. My question is, if I was a trainer for a large gym like 24, lifetime, LA, Bally's, etc. could I expect to make at least what I make now, or more? Most of the trainers I see at the gym don't look like they make crap but I don't want to go spend a thousand dollars on certifications and quit to find out I can't even make rent and my car note. Thanks for any advice or information.
    keep your job
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  7. #7
    community gym PT KyleAaron's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by rdferguson View Post
    ^ Fitness First don't even hire trainers. It's just pay ~$2,000 to get into a contract with them, then start paying fortnightly rent, and if you're lucky, get some clients while you're at it. The rental system's good when you've already got business. It's murder when you don't.
    As I understand it, you pay no rent for the first month, 1/3 for the second and 2/3 for the third. So if you were a real gun of a PT and built up business quickly, it'd be okay.

    Not supporting the system at all, just commenting. For my part, I figured that if they're asking for rent rather than a large chunk of the session fee, they must expect that you won't be bringing in much session fees. That is, they expect me to fail. If they with all their business experience expect me to fail at their gym, why should I expect to succeed? So I wouldn't sign on, though they continued to contact me for months afterwards.

    TBH, I'm not seeing what's so drastically different between what you've described at community gyms vs what I described for gym employees where I was at before, other than the fact that I didn't talk about gym floor shifts, which we were paid for ($21.13/hr).
    Including the gym shifts is important, since it gives you a financial and... er, social? base on which to build your training career. I mean, 10hr of gym shifts you can do in 2 days, and that's equivalent to the dole. Not brilliant, but it'll put food on the table, and you can walk away at any time (as opposed to the rental, 12 or 24 month contract). And once you're on the gym floor training newbies to the gym, it lets you get to know people, etc - and thus build PT.

    Not saying you don't know that, but it's something worth spelling out to someone like the OP.

    In saying that, I'd rather work at a YMCA gym than Goodlife (where I was working) due to the culture, but the pay status as an employee really isn't that grossly different. As an aside, I'm hoping to move up to Bundaberg at some point, and they've got 2 YMCA gyms there.
    Culture makes a big difference. I worked at one gym where I was given an official warning for training someone without charging them for it. It was a young medical student who was interested in strength - she's a student, can't afford PT, but can benefit from it. I did it on my own time, but they didn't like that.

    I feel that a community gym needs to give back to the community. That sometimes means people getting free training. YMCA already have official programmes like Open Doors (for retarded, etc people) and CROP (for the mentally ill) giving them free or subsidised training, so they support unofficial efforts like mine - if I want to stay back after work or come in early and train people for free, they think it's great. The other "community" gym didn't like it, so I left. I ran into the young woman recently at a PL comp (she wasn't competing, just watching), she is still lifting and is stronger than ever - more than you can say for most of my paying ex-clients!

    Anyway, I like the Y's culture. There's no pressure to have enormous PT numbers, but if you do then they praise you for it. And there's lots of community stuff, as I said. Financially, I'd do better at a Fitness First or Genesis, but I wouldn't like the culture, the "sell! sell! sell!" would piss me off. At the Y I can give clients to other trainers if I feel they'd be a better match, at a commercial gym I'd be stealing clients off other trainers, fck that sht.
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    Originally Posted by volitionfitness View Post
    golds was around 32 an hr at my peak, working around 25-30 hrs a week
    mind you that was after around a year of scrounging for clients and working extremely hard on sales

    also worked a brief stint @ 24, hit 22 hr, but sales team was terrible and I didnt have the drive to sell at the time
    I work at 24 now in San Francisco. Lots of opportunity here. If you average out the commissions/session + percentage/session + min wage, at the highest level, you will be earning between $30-37/hour. Having 2000 sessions under your belt and taking on a master trainer title (charging more) you get 35-40/hour. Depending on your team, it can be great or it can be bad. Most of my clients came from the membership team with a few here and there that just saw me train or were referrals.
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  9. #9
    community gym PT KyleAaron's Avatar
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    Elite coaching is about getting the last 5% out of a person's performance, personal training is about getting the first 50%.

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  10. #10
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    Haha, that finance first video is hilarious.

    I'm not completely opposed to the rent model. Sure you can argue that they expect you to fail, but fitness in general tends to be a flakey industry for trainers. The barriers to entry are low, it pays less than people think, it's harder work than people think and lots of other reasons, hence most PTs last 1-2 years at that before changing careers, so you could say anyone expecting PTs to fail is following the odds, not being pessimistic.

    However, I see it from the perspective with rent that there's unlimited scope to earn. If you train 3x as many people one month as you did the previous month, your rent is the same, the extra money is profit. However, if you have a % cut, your rent essentially increases as you become more successful. Sure there's pros and cons, at a certain level of clients they're fairly similar, but the % based model would seem to favour trainers starting out, and the rent model would favour PTs with a lot of clients. I've seen Y's with a rent model and commercial gyms with % cuts too.
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    Training For Chest Hair rdferguson's Avatar
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    ^ Favourited!
    SQ 2x150kg BP 95kg DL 190kg OHP 60kg @ 70kg

    You can work out without training, but you can't train without working out.

    The noob effect, as explained by Greg Everett: "You take someone who's totally sedentary and you can get 'em stronger by making them pick their nose vigorously for an hour a day."

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    community gym PT KyleAaron's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by popupwindow View Post
    you could say anyone expecting PTs to fail is following the odds, not being pessimistic.
    Sure. But rather less PTs would fail if they had more professional support. For example, if more experienced trainers acted as mentors, rather than competitors. In a rental/franchise system, that'll never happen, I'm not going to help another trainer, what's in it for me, I actually lose income that way. So the rental/franchise system is not only designed to take advantage of failing PTs, but to encourage them to fail.

    This is what most of us would call "unethical."

    However, I see it from the perspective with rent that there's unlimited scope to earn. If you train 3x as many people one month as you did the previous month, your rent is the same, the extra money is profit.
    Sure. But if you're that successful, why pay a gym rent at all? Why not run your own place, pay rent and get 100% the session fees?

    It breaks down like this:

    Community: no autonomy, no risk - 1 negative, 1 positive
    Commercial: no autonomy, high risk - 2 negatives
    Self-employed: autonomy, high risk - 1 positive, 1 negative

    It's not clear why you'd choose two negatives over either of the single positives and single negatives. If a FF or Genesis etc you have greater earning potential, but if you're the sort who can fulfill that potential, go open your own joint and get 100% the session fees.
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    I don't understand what you mean by 'helping' another trainer? Sharing tips, discussing stuff etc is that what you mean? Why can't you do that at a commercial gym? You're just as adversarial at a community gym because you're competing for the same pool of clients (unless you target different demographics). There's no reason you would be more or less likely to mentor someone based on the gym or system, it's purely to do with the people involved and their willingness to help others. Although I agree formal mentoring/shadowing programs would make for better trainers.

    I think you're creating a false dichotomy with gym type and business system. There are community gyms with rental/self-employed trainers, and there are commercial gyms with % of session methods. Neither gym has a monopoly on either system, which is why your community/commerical/self-employed break-down doesn't make sense.

    Paying a fixed rent and having clients is VERY different than running your own gym, you know that. Paying rent you have a pool of potential clients already in the gym, no capital investment, gym is marketed for you, bills are paid, low risk, equipment is maintained, infrastructure/systems and more. The skill-set of running a gym (businessman, entrepreneur etc) is completely different to the skill-set needed to have a lot of clients (being a good coach etc).

    Both systems have pros and cons, corporate vs community gyms have pros and cons, but I think your own experiences are causing you to over-emphasise the benefits of a community centre/% method, and over-emphasise the negatives of a commercial gym/rent method.
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    community gym PT KyleAaron's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by popupwindow View Post
    I don't understand what you mean by 'helping' another trainer? Sharing tips, discussing stuff etc is that what you mean? Why can't you do that at a commercial gym?
    You can. But when you have to pay rent, you'll be tempted to not do so - because if you're not careful you'll actually lose money working at that gym. So the competition is a bit more cut-throat.

    You're just as adversarial at a community gym because you're competing for the same pool of clients (unless you target different demographics).
    Competing for clients isn't the issue, it's how important it is for you to get clients.

    If you are paid a base wage regardless of whether you get clients, getting clients is important, but not urgent.
    If you pay rent to be there regardless of whether you get clients, getting clients is urgent.

    There's a difference between starting out earning $300 and trying to get clients, and starting out paying $300 and trying to get clients. Each situation creates a different attitude among the trainers. Of course you will get competitive cocksmocks and helpful mentors both at any gym; but each will encourage one type over the other.

    There's no reason you would be more or less likely to mentor someone based on the gym or system, it's purely to do with the people involved and their willingness to help others. Although I agree formal mentoring/shadowing programs would make for better trainers.
    It's certainly true that the people involved are the most important factor. But the circumstances do influence the people, and more importantly they influence the kind of people you'll get in that workplace. If you're a person who wants to help others, you will tend to avoid some workplaces and seek out others.

    "I want to help my fellow trainers develop, I'll work at Finance First."

    Hah.

    I think you're creating a false dichotomy with gym type and business system. There are community gyms with rental/self-employed trainers, and there are commercial gyms with % of session methods. Neither gym has a monopoly on either system, which is why your community/commerical/self-employed break-down doesn't make sense.
    It's true that they're not 100% each way, but that is the tendency. In Australia, there are no YMCA or city council-run gyms where trainers pay rent, and there are no Genesis or Fitness Firsts where trainers are paid a base wage and pay no rent. There are of course many other gyms with different cirumstances, but those 4 make up most of the fitness market.

    Paying a fixed rent and having clients is VERY different than running your own gym, you know that. Paying rent you have a pool of potential clients already in the gym, no capital investment, gym is marketed for you, bills are paid, low risk, equipment is maintained, infrastructure/systems and more.
    The key issue being discussed here is the risk. Signing up for a fixed rent-paying agreement is not low-risk, if it were then gyms wouldn't offer it. If they're charging $300 a week rent, that's because they've assessed that over half their trainers will provide less than $300 worth of the difference between session fee and trainer wages. Typical session fees are $60-$100/hr, typical trainer wages are $35-$45/hr (individual vs group). The per session difference is $25-$65. Divided into $300, this means they expect you to do less than 5 to 12 hours of personal or small group training a week. If they expected you to do 20 or more, they'd rather have the difference, they'd get more money.

    When they expect you to fail, that is not "low risk." That's high risk.
    I think your own experiences are causing you to over-emphasise the benefits of a community centre/% method, and over-emphasise the negatives of a commercial gym/rent method.
    Not only my experiences. Talk to any FF or Genesis trainer or former trainer, see how many you can find who've had a positive experience; now compare with the consensus from former or current trainers at community gyms.
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    Everyone has pressure to earn money, otherwise they wouldn't have jobs. Yes you have less to lose at a % based gym because if you only do a few sessions in a month you'll still make a profit, but surely you have equal pressure in earning a crust, paying the mortgage etc. I just think in the longer term when you're growing, having a fixed % discourages that growth, because you can never increase your hourly rate (beyond doing 2-on-1s etc). So yes there's the downside risk of paying rent above the amount of sessions you do in a month, but there's the upside potential of drastically improving your hourly rate.

    This comes back to getting clients, everyone has bills to pay, so getting clients should be urgent for everyone who PTs for a living. The 'culture' at a community gym may be more laid back and friendly, but I think this still has more to do with the people that the business system. Plenty of commercial gyms full of friendly rent paying PTs and plenty of community gyms full of bitter competitive people. Not saying either is better or worse, but individual gyms will vary based on the people, not the payment system.

    I think our key disagreement here is perspective. I see $600-1000/month rent as low risk, because on a 12 month contract, even if you never trained a single client you would only lose $6000-10000, assuming first 2 months free, it would be unrealistic to not train anyone, and it's deductible anyway, so it's more like 2/3 that amount anyway, assuming you find some other income source. However, opening your own gym would likely involve a $30000 to $500,000 investment, depending on if you start a PT studio/CF style gym or decked out franchise. Then you have a years worth of rent, electricity, air con, interest on loans and more, assuming you open a gym, train 0 people and collapse after 12 months. So say a $5000 potential downside vs a $100,000 - $750,000 potential downside. To me, the $5000 looks fairly low risk. I suppose if you compare it to training 0 people at a community gym in a year it's a $0 loss, but still, $0 vs -$5000 isn't a big difference when the 3rd option is -$100,000+

    There are also many commercial gyms using a rent structure that aren't FF/Genesis. Those gyms tend to attract the AIF graduates who couldn't get hired anywhere else and who they over-fill in the gyms to make a heap of money off. Not to mention they charge them extra for joining, uniforms etc. There's lots of medium sized commercial gyms where you can rent space, be a great trainer and make good money. It's easy to look at YMCA vs. FF, but there's a huge middle-ground, which in my view captures the best of both worlds.
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    no gyms i met with offer the floor hours....u get paid zilch for working the floor. Only the time you actually train and sales you make....sucks.
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    Originally Posted by edgarallanpoe View Post
    no gyms i met with offer the floor hours....u get paid zilch for working the floor. Only the time you actually train and sales you make....sucks.
    id find a new gym
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    Originally Posted by EdgarAllanPoe View Post
    no gyms i met with offer the floor hours....u get paid zilch for working the floor. Only the time you actually train and sales you make....sucks.
    Well, you're used to that as an independent trainer already. I think the time is coming when commercial gyms are gonna start being community based, meaning you get paid more if you train more, but you also get paid more if the whole team trains more. Just a little tip for those wanting to work at 24HF... they're changing the whole commercial game.
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    Originally Posted by extremenergy3 View Post
    Well, you're used to that as an independent trainer already. I think the time is coming when commercial gyms are gonna start being community based, meaning you get paid more if you train more, but you also get paid more if the whole team trains more. Just a little tip for those wanting to work at 24HF... they're changing the whole commercial game.
    please explain "24hf are changing the whole commercial game".
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