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  1. #1
    Registered User MARCMANtheDUDE's Avatar
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    PT Making 100k a year

    Hey all,

    Can a trainer ever hope to make 100k a year?
    What would need to happen to get close to that?

    (I am new to PT, but I am leaving a career to do it so it needs to pay off)
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  2. #2
    Registered User babyslayer's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MARCMANtheDUDE View Post
    Hey all,

    Can a trainer ever hope to make 100k a year?
    What would need to happen to get close to that?

    (I am new to PT, but I am leaving a career to do it so it needs to pay off)
    it depends who you train and how many people you train and what your services are worth

    im betting personal trainers for the stars and things like that make quite a bit lol, but if your training old woman at the ymca then i no i doubt youl make much $
    My names George Leeman and Im 22 years old benching 500lbs+ and deadlifting 900lbs+ with straps! Looking for custom diet and training programs and to work one on one with me as a strength and bodybuilding coach for reasonable prices? email me or add me on skype or facebook for details!

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  3. #3
    Registered User SFT's Avatar
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    The answer is pretty easy. If you work 40 hours per week, 52 weeks per year, you would need to make $48.08/hr. Essentially you would have to train 40 hour sessions at $50/hr without vacation. Realistically, this would be closer to 50-60 hours of work per week assuming you are NOT the business owner. In which case, you will spend even more time. On top of this, you will never actually be paid $50/hr unless you live in an affluent area. If you live in an affluent area, $100,000/yr isn't all that special anyways. You have to consider cost of living.

    For the most part, the highest paid in the industry are business owners. One person can only do so much. Most people will only work 40-60 hours per week if they want to have some work-life balance. So, you really need to be taking a cut from other trainers. Basically you are saying: I provide you with stability, I deal with the headaches, and I put in the work to build this place, therefore I assume higher risks, which should lead to higher rewards. You have to remember the higher risk part though. People do fail. Nobody ever thinks that it will be them, but it happens.

    So in short, I would say that you have to REALLY want to be ****ing awesome at what you do. I'm not saying the typical: "I really like to help people and I loving working out". That isn't enough to really excel in this field. You have to really want it. There is a reason that the average PT makes less than half the amount that you are asking about, and likely does not even receive any benefits.

    Think long and hard before you leave your career for this one. You will work many years and long hours before you make anywhere near $100,000.
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  4. #4
    Training For Chest Hair rdferguson's Avatar
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    The average going rate for PT where I live is $60-100/hr, and some PT's charge in excess of that by tapping into the right market. If you're charging $100/hr and doing 20 hours of sessions per week (4 a day, 5 days per week), you'll earn $2,000/wk, which is $100,000 every 50 weeks. Sounds good in theory, until you take out all your business expenses, which, where I live, is invariably going to be at least 40% of your income, leaving you with only $60,000 to live on, which is well within normal wages for the everyday family.
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  5. #5
    community gym PT KyleAaron's Avatar
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    I am sorry to inform you OP that you are going to have to work hard for your living.

    rd makes an important point, the distinction betweenbusiness income, business profit and personal income.

    If I work for someone else, my expenses of training people are essentially zero. The employer supplies the uniform, insurance gym equipment, rents the site, the electricity, and so on. My personal income is all mine. I might only get $30-$50 an hour, but it's all mine straight up.

    If I run my own business, I have to pay the expenses of that place, buy the equipment, pay insurance and all that. So while I might charge more and get $60-$100/hr, that's my business income - and my personal income will end up a lot less.

    The people making the most money in fitness aren't training many or even any people. They're supervising people who are training people and perhaps taking a cut from each, or they're writing e-books or making DVDs, that sort of thing. Of course, you don't just walk into that, you have to build up to it. You can't just walk into a $100k/yr job. In this it's no different from any other industry. I mean, there are people making $100+k/yr in cleaning - but they're not the ones on their knees cleaning toilets, and they did have to start with cleaning toilets.

    In other word, you have to work hard to earn big.
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  6. #6
    R[̲̅ə̲̅٨̲̅٥̲̅٦̲̅]ution Mr.ILL's Avatar
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    You're not going to profit 100k by yourself. You need to have someone working for you as well.
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  7. #7
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    I left a career to take a stab at PT'g. Nine months later i went back to my other career. I knew what I was doing when it came to training, there's just so many other factors that drove me back to what I was doing before. I totally agree with everything that was said above. My hat is off to all the successful trainers out there, its a tough, tough job. I think this guy said it best....

    So in short, I would say that you have to REALLY want to be ****ing awesome at what you do. I'm not saying the typical: "I really like to help people and I loving working out". That isn't enough to really excel in this field. You have to really want it.

    I LOVE working out, competing, living this lifestyle, and helping people, but MUCH more will be required of you to be successful and make money. I was working 60 hours a week and only saw pay for 1/4 of it in the end. No health benefits. No paid vacation. No sick time. Very early days and late nights. Put a lot of strain on my marriage. Constantly tired. You must believe in yourself and what you have to offer. You gotta be ready to fight to build a client base and keep them. Be prepared to bust your butt. Personally, there were just too many things that I was not willing to do to be successful, it just wasnt for me. It is a rewarding job helping people get fit, meet their goals, and literally change some peoples lives. There are many positive things about being a trainer and I've seen many people be very successful at it and do extremely well. I'm glad I tried to do it. I learned a lot and I have no regrets. I'm glad I know it wasnt for me rather than wondering 20 years from now what might have been. I dont intend to discourage you, I just wanted to be honest in my own experience. Bottom line is it wasnt what I really wanted to do, so I moved on. Good luck to you whatever your decision.
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  8. #8
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    You're rarely going to make $100k a year just doing PT. Most people who make really good money doing this also sell supplements, teach courses and write books for supplemental income. This isn't difficult to do, but it does require a lot of hard work over a period of years to build up your own knowledge, gain a following of people who want to learn from you - oh, and on the side you also have to train people and make money. It is possible, but probably about 1% of trainers do this. Are you willing to do what it takes to be that 1%?

    Just to give you an idea, I was a successful PT in my old city, but due to my wife's work we relocated to a city where I knew nobody and basically had to start from scratch. I started back at the bottom at a chain gym, moved to another one when a better opportunity came up, and now I an in a private studio (owned by someone else). This all took place over a period of years but now just through training income I'm making about 60-70k gross (before taxes and overhead of course). I'm also one of the most qualified and skilled trainers in my city in the speciality I focus on (closet brag but it's true). Now I have the time to start writing, developing courses and hopefully start up other sources of income. Within another 2-3 years I will own my own studio, have trainers under me and hopefully be teaching as well. However you have to realize that it means dealing with your business all the time as well but since I love it, it doesn't matter.

    So in answer to your question, right away you are not going to replace a full time salary. Give yourself 6-12 months of hard work and you can get comfortable as long as you are good and can treat it like a business.
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  9. #9
    Fitness Anarchist SerpentHearted's Avatar
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    in theory.

    get out of the business model of selling "sessions" and into the model of selling results. For example "sign on for three months and I guarantee (providing you stick to the plan) [this] result", whatever is a good outcome for that client. Then you charge by the month for that result, not for the amount of time you spend with the client. They're not paying to hang out with you for an hour once a week, they're paying to lose 20kg or whatever the goal is. So to produce that result you might require that they do 1 PT session with you, also a couple of your boot camps, and they have a routine to work through on other days. Also they have to eat right, get enough sleep and so on. Maybe they're required to keep a food diary too. If they do everything that's required, they'll get the result... if they don't get the result they'll know why already and it won't be because your plan wasn't good enough.

    So work backwards from 100k and think "how many hours of PT do I actually want to do / how many clients do i want to work with" and calculate your price per month from there.

    Of course you actually have to be very good at what you do and be able to deliver the results your promise, that's the catch.
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  10. #10
    Registered User SFT's Avatar
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    You also have to consider what you mean by $100k. Do you want to take home $100k? When an employer offers you that salary, you never actually see anything close to that. You have taxes, health insurance premiums, as well as other items that come out pretax.

    I think you definitely need multiple sources of income to approach the $100k mark. Group fitness classes have a huge potential to boost your per hour pay. For example, if you run a class with 10 participants at $10/person, that is $100/hr. In my area, it would be difficult to charge that kind of money for personal training sessions. You also know that this money is more or less guaranteed if someone doesn't show up. With personal training, someone can cancel on you and that's a block of time that you are unpaid. Even if someone didn't show up for a group session and you were a nice guy about it, you could have them make it up at a later date, but the class would still run at $90/hr.

    Realistically, a group fitness class could get you $50-200+/hr gross. The problem is that some people offer so many of these that they kill their income per hour. For instance, I've seen my boss run a bootcamp with 4-6 participants paying ~$6. We're talking $24-36 for that hour. Given the opportunity, you're better off having a personal training client for $50-60/hr.

    My point is that a lot of personal trainers reduce their potential income by not offering group sessions. Likewise, a lot of group instructors miss out on personal training income that could bring in more income than some of their poorly attended classes.
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  11. #11
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    Originally Posted by SFT View Post
    You also have to consider what you mean by $100k. Do you want to take home $100k? When an employer offers you that salary, you never actually see anything close to that. You have taxes, health insurance premiums, as well as other items that come out pretax.
    Great advice here.I know of only one trainer in my city who makes over 100,000-and he works from 6 am in the morning until 10pm at night,Monday to Friday.He is a hell of a nice guy and I got one of my long term contracts on his recommendation.He is about 41 or 42 and told me 'I won't be doing this at 50" three times a year he takes a two week vacation , he can afford to , but as he told me "I HAVE to"
    I do all right.I make a good living but to do so, I work in 5 places, I teach classes ,work a few Gym shifts and I also teach courses.In addition to that I train about 15-20 people a week, I could train more , but I refuse to train early morning clients.I need my sleep, but I did it all the time in the beginning just to get my name out there and pay my dues.
    A lot of people have unrealistic expectations about this business-I love what I do but am very realistic about it,and am also very lucky.
    For someone starting out my advice is they do it part time for at least six months and don't quit your day job.
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  12. #12
    Registered User SFT's Avatar
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    What annoys me about all of this is that NASM has promoted this bull**** about their top trainers making $100,000. How many of them really do? Maybe a couple hundred trainers in the country? I'm sure most of them in are very affluent areas as well. I don't care if you can make $100,000 a year if an average house in the area costs $600k+ or a condo costs $350k+.

    In my area you can probably making $60-85k per year gross without going too overboard. My math is ~25 sessions per week, 49 weeks per year, $50 per session on the low end, and 35 sessions per week with the same on the high end. A house in this area costs ~$200-350k depending on the area.

    Anyways, I think we made the point that you probably can't expect to get rich going at it on your own. Also, $60k in on your own isn't the same as $60k working for someone else. You will pay additional taxes, but you can also write more off most likely. You do have to pay for your own benefits and that can be HUGE. That alone could be a difference of $5,000+ per year. We will see if things change here in the States with the "healthcare reform".
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  13. #13
    Registered User tonyrod1's Avatar
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    It is absolutely possible to make ober 100k as a trainer without killing yourself working long hours each day and no days off. I've been making over 100k since I decided to quit my full time job at Eastman Kodak in 1999. I opened a 1500 sq. ft facility and did so with NO MACHINES or expensive equipment. During the recent recession, I adapted to the bad economy and found a space that is only 650 sq. feet. I lowered my overhead and I am still there. I rent space from a local World Gym. I currently have about 73 clients. I am opening a 2nd and 3rd location in the Spring. Many of my clients have been with me for 5 or more years, training month after month. How did I do this? I made a lot of mistakes. I won't lie. But I also learned from those mistakes!

    For lack of space,let me quickly summarize what I feel is the best and quickest way to become a 100k trainer.

    1) LEVERAGE YOUR TIME - I train small groups ONLY of 3-5 clients in 45 min. sessions. Very few people NEEED or can AFFORD a 1-1 session these days. It's really not necessary.My small group all receive personalized attention during their session. I make personal training efficient and affordable. Bottom line.
    2) DIVERSIFY YOUR TRAINING METHODS - I moved away away from "machine based" training to a combo of functional and traditional training using basic stuff such a dumbells, med, balls, etc. I found that small group training is somewhat more difficult if you are using only machines.
    3) Find a NICHE. I train mostly women bet. 35-50 years old. This makes it easy to market my services, which I tailor to that demographic. I have more targeted niches such as programs for Diabetics, Post-Bariatric surgery clients, etc. It's much easier to market to specific groups because you know where they hang out, read, and more
    4)USE TECHNOLOGY - all of my clients book their appointments online using a specialized software program that also handles my client payments. My clients are allset up on a monthly EFT and get charged either thru their credit card or debit or checking account. This takes place month after month until they notify me that they are stopping their training. I have strict policies in place to make this process very efficient. I take NO CASh. There is a reason for this. I also know how much I am earning each month due to this system. My clients LOVE making their own appointment, which they can do up to 3 months in advance. I call it the "power of the appointment". I send out scheduled automated e-mails. I send out an electronic newsletter.I have no paper contracts. Make technology y our friend!
    5) THINK OUT-OF-THE-BOX. - I advertise - "UNLIMITED TRAINING per month." I charge 1 price for the month. What's the advantage of that,you ask?? Well, during the last hurricane here in NY, I still made money, despite the fact that most of my clients didn't get to me for at least a week or more. I am all about simplicity.I stopped selling "session packages" about 10 years ago.
    Even though I market UNLIMITED TRAINING, most clients are coming 3 times/week. It's all about their "perception" of what they are getting. Which brings me to my last point:
    6) Create a VALUE PROPOSITION - this involves a perception of value that involves "over delivering" to your clients and giving them the most value for their investment. My clients walk away frfom their first free orientation with me saying " Holy ****.. I get all of this... AND a MONEY BACK GUARANTEE?" Perception of high value is a must. But you must follow through on that perception. Leave your cell phone OFF during your sessions and keep keep unnecessary chit chat to a minimum. It's a balance. People WANT THEIR ASSES KICKED and its hard to do that if your are talking about the weather, the latest news,etc.

    These are just a few examples of what i feel is needed to set yourself apart and start making some serious cash. If you have any questions, feel free to emailme at itrainu1111@aol.com. Hope this info helps.
    Last edited by tonyrod1; 12-16-2012 at 01:07 PM. Reason: typo
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  14. #14
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    Originally Posted by tonyrod1 View Post
    It is absolutely possible to make ober 100k as a trainer without killing yourself working long hours each day and no days off. I've been making over 100k since I decided to quit my full time job at Eastman Kodak in 1999. I open a 1500 sq. ft facility and did so with NO MACHINES or expensive equipment. During the recent recession, I adapted to the bad economy and found a space that is only 650 sq. feet. I lowered my overhead and I am still there. I rent space from a local World Gym. I currently have about 73 clients. I am opening a 2nd and 3rd location in the Spring. Many of my clients have been with me for 5 or more years, training month after month. How did I do this? I made a lot of mistakes. I won't lie. But I also learned from those mistakes!

    For lack of space,let me quickly summarize what I feel is the best and quickest way to become a 100k trainer.

    1) LEVERAGE YOUR TIME - I train small groups ONLY of 3-5 clients in 45 min. sessions. Very few people NEEED or can AFFORD a 1-1 session these days. It's really not necessary.My small group all receive personalized attention during their session. I make personal training efficient and affordable. Bottom line.
    2) DIVERSIFY YOUR TRAINING METHODS - I moved away away from "machine based" training to a combo of functional and traditional training using basic stuff such a dumbells, med, balls, etc. I found that small group training is somewhat more difficult if you are using only machines.
    3) Find a NICHE. I train mostly women bet. 35-50. This makes it easy to market my services, which I tailor to that demographic. I have more targeted niches such as programs for Diabetics, Post-Bariatric surgery clients, etc. It's much easier to market to specific groups because you know where they hang out, read, and more
    4)USE TECHNOLOGY - all of my clients book their appointments online. They LOVE doing that. I send out scheduled automated e-mails. I send out an electronic newsletter.I have no paper contracts. Make technology your friend!
    5) THINK OUT-OF-THE-BOX. - I advertise - "UNLIMITED TRAINING per month. I charge 1 price for the month. What's the advantage of that,you ask?? Well, during the last hurricane here in NY, I still made money, despite the fact that most of my clients didn't get to me for at least a week or more. I am all about simplicity.I stopped selling "session packages" about 10 years ago.
    Even though I market UNLIMITED TRAINING, most clients are coming 3 times/week. It's all about their "perception" of what they are getting. Which brings me to my last point:
    6) Create a VALUE PROPOSITION - this involves "over delivering" to your clients and giving them the most value for their investment. My clients walk away frfom their first free orientation with me saying " Holy ****.. I get all of this... AND a MONEY BACK GUARANTEE?" Perception of high value is a must. But you must follow through on that perception. Leave your cell phone OFF during your sessions and keep keep unnecessary chit chat to a minimum. It's a balance. People WANT THEIR ASSES KICKED and

    These are just a few examples of what i feel is needed to set yourself apart and start making some serious cash. If you have any questions, feel free to emailme at itrainu1111@aol.com. Hope this info helps.
    I agree with pretty much all of what you are saying here. However, I do have a few questions for you:

    1. How many hours per week do you work? This includes any book keeping, programming workouts, waiting for clients, downtime that you are waiting for your next class/session, etc. I'd be interested in seeing the hours that you are at your place of business, broken down Monday through Sunday.

    2. Do you have a spouse with health benefits? If not, how much of a burden is this on you?

    3. How do you rent the space, and how much does it cost you (again what area)? Do they give you a room to yourself?

    4. How long have you been in the fitness field?

    I completely agree with using group fitness classes (as I posted above), keeping overhead low, and finding a niche. However, I wouldn't mislead someone looking to enter this field by telling them that it is easy, will happen quickly, or has a high success rate.
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    community gym PT KyleAaron's Avatar
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    What tonyrod has presented has built on what we've said here: you're unlikely to make $100+k training people one-on-one, the people who make lots of money are doing other things. He's training small groups. Financially it's definitely better to train 5 people for an hour at $20 each than one person for an hour at $60. However, be aware that with less personal attention, you'll get worse attendance and retention. This means some people will get no or poor results, and you'll be having to work hard looking for new members. That along with admin, session planning and so on, takes the hourly rate to a lot under $100.

    I note that tonyrod tells us how successful he's been, but also that he had to downsize at one point. This suggests that the path has not been ever and upwards. And that's something you've got to expect with PT, and especially self-employment - there'll be bad times, and you have to have to some sort of strategy to get through them. Savings in the good times combined with some creativity to get out of the bad times.
    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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  16. #16
    Registered User SFT's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by KyleAaron View Post
    What tonyrod has presented has built on what we've said here: you're unlikely to make $100+k training people one-on-one, the people who make lots of money are doing other things. He's training small groups. Financially it's definitely better to train 5 people for an hour at $20 each than one person for an hour at $60. However, be aware that with less personal attention, you'll get worse attendance and retention. This means some people will get no or poor results, and you'll be having to work hard looking for new members. That along with admin, session planning and so on, takes the hourly rate to a lot under $100.

    I note that tonyrod tells us how successful he's been, but also that he had to downsize at one point. This suggests that the path has not been ever and upwards. And that's something you've got to expect with PT, and especially self-employment - there'll be bad times, and you have to have to some sort of strategy to get through them. Savings in the good times combined with some creativity to get out of the bad times.
    I agree that group personal training requires more planning hours than one on one training. At the end of the day, I think the pay is slightly better per hour, perhaps 10-30% depending on how efficient you are. Where our thoughts differ is that I disagree that people will attend less and that you retention will be worse in groups. In my experience, the group dynamic can be very important. I can give a similar amount of attention to 5 people as compared to 1 in terms of coaching. Socially, I obviously can't, but that is where the group dynamic comes in. They interact amongst each other.

    If one of them were to miss a planned training session, I would give them a quick call and email. As members get more comfortable with each other, they might even call each other up and say "Hey where were you last night?". If it doesn't work out, you can always say "I have a free time slot at (a time you have open that you currently aren't training)."

    The nice thing is that if you do lose 1 person, you still have 3-4 more. Ultimately the answer probably lies somewhere in the middle. I don't plan on relying solely on one or the other.
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    Registered User PerFit's Avatar
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    It will be difficult to make 100k AND have a good time as well.

    I don't want to disclose how much I make but it is comfortable. I have 5 staff working for me in a large facility that offers many difference services. I also own a successful affiliated CrossFit box as well.

    People above have made some very good points. Another important one I can add is not to get complacent. Always be looking to diversify and progess your business. What you are doing right now might be HOT but in a couple months it might fall by the wayside and your clients twindle.
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    Hey this is SO useful to read!!!
    Thanks to everyone for all the feedback!
    I will need to read it again to process it all - I am sure I will have questions!
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