Is there a secret to earning more in the fitness industry?

It’s the million dollar question that every budding personal trainer is sure to ask. “How much can I earn as a personal trainer?”. A good question too, because personal training isn’t your typical day job and the options are virtually endless when it comes to how you can structure your business!

Something you may have noticed when searching for personal training opportunities is that no two job ads (or their corresponding earning potentials) are the same. Between gym instruction, personal training management, employment vs paying rent… it’s enough to make your head spin! So let’s break down the options.

The different ways you can work as a Personal Trainer

The Contractor. This is where you’ll sign an agreement with a gym or fitness facility that allows you to train clients and build your business within the gym in exchange for paying rent. The rent can sometimes be subsided (or replaced) by working on the gym floor as a gym instructor, but every agreement is unique, so be sure to talk directly to the gym manager about the details as contracts can even vary from trainer to trainer.

Personal trainer

Side note: Keep in mind that you don’t need to work at a gym to be a personal trainer! Outdoor training is becoming increasingly popular (we’re setting up a fantastic outdoor training facility at our Academy of Fitness campus right now!), as well as mobile training (visiting clients homes or offices)… and for more experienced personal trainers, setting up a personal training studio is often the goal.

The Employee. This arrangement means you are hired directly by the gym as a personal trainer (and could also include gym instruction and group fitness teaching). This can be a great option for newly graduated personal trainers to gain experience in a safe environment. Often the gym will provide clients and marketing for you and in some cases, you will be paid based on your rostered hours instead of how many clients you train. These benefits come at a cost, however, as the hourly rate is much lower than you would charge as a self-employed personal trainer.

Tips for reaching your maximum earning potential as a PT

1. Become your own boss. Yes, it’s hard work and will involve longer hours (especially in the beginning) than if you were an employee, but the benefits are huge! You can charge what you want, set the hours you want and market yourself to your heart’s content. Continue studying beyond your Certificate IV in Fitness (i.e. a Diploma of Fitness or even a degree!) and you’ll be able to increase your rates accordingly.

As a Personal Trainer your options are virtually endless when it comes to how you can structure your business.

2. Become a specialist. Believe it or not, advertising that you’re “good at everything” is unlikely to gain the trust of your potential clients! It’s important that you find a speciality or “niche market” (even if you ARE a jack of all trades) to help give your marketing an edge. Think about it… if you were looking to achieve a certain goal or were a special population (pregnant, older, previously injured) and had to choose between a few different personal trainers, don’t you think you’d want to go with the one that specialises in whatever you’re looking for? Don’t worry – this doesn’t mean you’ll only train those clients, it will just give you a good place to start!

3. Learn how to market yourself (or hire a professional!) There’s a quote that says “you can’t sell a secret!” and it couldn’t be truer. What good is being an incredible personal trainer if no one knows who you are? When you run your own business, you ARE your business. Don’t be afraid to “sell yourself” (have business cards on hand at all times!) and make sure you look the part. Set yourself up with a website & Facebook page so people can find you online and use them to showcase your knowledge, experience & point of difference. If writing & marketing isn’t your strong point, get someone to help!

Workout with personal trainer

Show me the money!

Okay, now we’ve got the important stuff out of the way, we’ll cut to the chase. If you’re happy being more secure as a personal training employee, you’re looking at earning anywhere strong from $30-$45 per hour + super and don’t have to worry so much about marketing and prospecting. However, if you’re hungry for success and desperate to be your own boss, there’s good news! A standard wage for personal trainers is about 60-80k per year (pretty awesome for a job that only requires a Certificate IV to get started!) but it’s not uncommon to earn 80k-120k+ in Australia and some very high achievers are earning upwards of 200k*.

Ultimately, it is up to YOU how much you earn as a personal trainer. Believe it or not, there IS a “magic” formula to success in the fitness industry. We at Academy of Fitness believe it looks something like this:

The right education (we can help there!) +

heaps of determination & hours of dedication +

a kick-butt marketing strategy +

a positive attitude that your clients love +

openness to keep learning & growing.


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