If you’re a newly qualified or relatively inexperienced personal trainer, working out how much you should charge can be very difficult.
You want to avoid underselling yourself, but at the same time you don’t want to set your prices so high that you miss out on potential clients.
There are a few things you need to consider when setting your price – from projecting your expected income to assessing the competition. Thankfully, at Insure4Sport, we’ve put together a handy guide to help you make a decision.
With the help of some experienced personal trainers, we’ve identified several key factors which determine how much you should charge for your services.
Where you’re based plays a huge role in how much you can charge.
In areas like London, personal trainers can charge up to £200 for a one-to-one session depending on experience, whereas outside the capital some can charge as little as £15 per hour.
As a rule of thumb, the average amount a personal trainer in the UK will charge is around £30 an hour.
However, finding out what other local personal trainers are charging for their services will give you a good idea of the going rates in your area.
Tim Walker, the founder of Evolve Fitness in London who was recently listed as one of the capital’s top personal trainers, said:
“I know other PTs who work with some of the top lawyers in London and they charge £7-800 per session because they can – because people round there will pay it.
“We charge £75-85 an hour. I could charge more, but my fee is already high enough and I’m passionate about loyalty and customer retention.
“If I moved my business even two miles further south of London, I would go under. The client base wouldn’t be the same and I couldn’t charge half of what I’m charging now.
“My advice to other PTs is – scout the area, look at the demographics and set your price from there.”
Andre Mellor, a personal trainer at DW Brooklands in Cheshire, also knows the value of location in deciding how much to charge.
He said: “Where I work is on the border of Cheshire, in an affluent area, which definitely benefits me as a PT.
“People with spare cash aren’t worried about bills and can put money aside for gym memberships and one-to-one sessions.”
It’s not exactly a secret – the higher the demand for your services, the more you can charge for a session.
You’re unlikely to be short of work if your target customer base is celebrities, footballers and actors. These people not only pride themselves on their appearance, many of them don’t work traditional 9 to 5 jobs and have a bit of money to spare.
Mellor said: “I’ve found that people in affluent areas are more health-conscious because they’re not stressed about having mouths to feed and have more spare time on their hands.
“What this means is that, where I work, you might get more one-to-one sessions than you would in another part of the country.”
Walker added: “If there are thousands of people in your area who exercise regularly and can easily afford it, you can set your prices higher.
“You just need to be realistic about how in-demand you are – don’t just think that you should charge £100 per session because some fitness ‘guru’ has said you can make this much.”
Some lucky personal trainers have a waiting list of hundreds of people – however, you obviously can’t expect to get to this level overnight.
The best way you can increase the demand for your services is through good marketing. This encompasses everything, from managing your website and social media channels to digital inbound marketing and paid social media.
Ollie Lawrence, a Manchester-based personal trainer who has previously trained the Philadelphia Eagles NFL team, said:
“Always work on your website – when potential clients are searching online, your website is the first impression they’ll have when looking to train with you, so make sure your website reflects what your business does.”
Once you’ve gained more experience and expanded your skillset, don’t be afraid to put up your prices.
Mollie Millington is a personal trainer and fitness writer who runs group and one-to-one sessions in East London, as well as a digital-only service. In her first five years of business, Millington has raised her prices twice.
She said: “As my CPD courses started to add up and as I became more confident, I also increased my fees. Don’t be afraid to raise your prices from year-to-year provided it’s still a competitive rate.”
Walker added: “Experience brings confidence and confidence allows you to charge more for your services. If you’re prepared to be patient and hone your skills, you’ll gain the experience you need to charge a higher fee.
“Don’t do what I’ve seen some PTs do and act like the world’s best salesperson from day one, because you’ll reach your ceiling very quickly and fade away.
“You’ll also come across like you don’t care about providing a unique, good-quality service to your clients.
“You can’t rise to the top in a few months. I’ve been in the industry for 15 years and I’m still not at the top, I’m still learning. You gain experience all the time.”
It’s more than just your own skillset, specialisms and experience you need to think when deciding how much to charge.
You also need to look at your competition – what type of service do they provide? What level of service do they provide? Is it more or less advanced than yours?
Darren Craven, a personal trainer with Amaven who has five years’ experience, warns against setting your fees high at first, especially when you don’t have the experience or advanced qualifications to support your perceived value.
He said: “As a new PT, it’s tempting to jump into a high pricing strategy in order to cover all of your overheads, gym rental fees, uniform, travel etc. But unfortunately, clients aren’t going to pay huge sums for a trainer with no experience.
“When I started training in the gym I stuck to a competitive pricing strategy, but I made sure I offered clients something that others didn’t, so they had a reason to choose me over the other trainers in the gym. For me, this was the option of online fitness training to supplement their weekly sessions.”
Walker added: “Don’t charge the most in your area unless you’re the most qualified, experienced and in-demand PT in that area. You’d rather charge £30 and pick up some clients than charge £60 and get nothing.
“At the same time, don’t set your price too low to undercut the competition because you’ll end up taking on cheap clients. They’re difficult to train, never pay on time and can cause you all sorts of problems.”
In addition to your skills, location and experience, there are numerous business costs you need to factor into the fee you charge.
You might need to charge extra for personalised nutritional advice and individual meal plans, depending on your client’s goals. If you visit clients at their homes, you need to take travel costs into consideration.
There are also the costs that no one likes to think about – the business costs like tax and national insurance contributions. The amount you need to pay for NI contributions will depend on your earnings, but they start at £2.95 per week and are paid via self-assessment.
The tax personal allowance is currently £11,850 for the tax year 2018/19, so any earnings over that threshold (after business expenses are deducted) will be liable for tax.
The HMRC website is a great resource which gives you the lowdown on how self-employment works if you’re new to it all.
Then, of course, there is your gym equipment – if you’re providing a bespoke, high-quality service, you need high-quality equipment, and this can be expensive.
You’ll also need to factor in the essential costs like personal trainer insurance, which you need if you train clients. This protects you if a claim is made against you for injury to a client during a session, or if the equipment you use to train is lost, damaged or stolen.
According to The 2018 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report from the Leisure Database Company, the fitness market is worth just under £5bn and nearly 10 million Brits are members of a gym.
With the personal trainer market becoming increasingly saturated to meet this soaring demand, making your business stand out is vital if you want to grow your business and increase your prices.
Ashley Kissane, a REPs Level 3-qualified, self-employed personal trainer based in Peterborough, said:
“Compare yourself to other PTs who have REPs Level 3 and work out what your unique selling point is. Have you got any further qualifications? These should be included on your website to highlight your credentials. Any testimonials from clients will also boost your reputation.”