How to increase your income as a personal trainer

How to make more money as a personal trainer if you’re recently qualified and on contract in a gym is fairly simple. You need to stick at it and gain more experience! According to our research the average salary of a PT who works for gyms on contract is around £19k although a newbie may not make that in the first year.

A personal trainer in that situation may decide to go freelance in a gym as his hourly rate will increase dramatically. This however can be a disastrous move if done too early as in the first year you’re only looking at £14 to £18k income. If you’re on the bottom end of that scale it may not be enough to pay back the cost of becoming a personal trainer in the first place, and you could find yourself joining the ranks of PTs who drop out of the business early.

The sensible option is to stay with the contract for a year or two and work harder at becoming the best personal trainer you can be. How can you do that? You need to take a close look at the qualities and skill set that make up the successful PTs.

Build your knowledge to increase your income

During the Level 3 training course you will have learnt the basics in several key areas of your profession. The course covers elements of anatomy and physiology, client support, health and safety, exercise and health principles, and planning a gym-based induction. However, it is obvious that a 4 or 6 week course will only skim the surface of these disciplines.

Further education is a key to increasing your income

Further education is a key to increasing your income

It is essential for an aspiring personal trainer to expand their knowledge in these areas. The easiest way to do this is to read the best books on the subject.

But what are the best books?

I’m indebted to Chris at Motive8 for his collection of titles for essential reading as follows.

  • Periodization. Theory and Methodology by Tudor O Bompa
  • Fundamentals of Anatomy and Physiology by Frederie Martini
  • Motor Learning and Control by Richard Magill
  • Olympic Weightlifting. A complete guide for athletes and coaches by Greg Everett
  • Sports Nutrition by Asker Jeukendrup and Micheal Gleeson
  • Essentials of strength and conditioning by Thomas Baechle and Roger Earle

Improve your soft skills to be a more effective trainer

Chris goes on to suggest that a study of books on personal self-improvement will also be of immense benefit to a personal trainer. The ones he recommends are reprinted below.

  • How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carneige
  • Thinking fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • Sport Psychology concepts and applications by Richard Cox
  • Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  • The four hour work week by Timothy Ferris

As a personal trainer you are working closely with another person’s body, instructing and correcting exercises, but the way you interact with your client in these sessions is itself of paramount importance to your, and their, success. You need to have effective communication skills to be able to instruct and guide your clients. You must recognise what it is that the client wants and not just push on them a generic workout programme. To do that you need to develop your listening skills and be empathetic. As one of our PT friends, Abbey Sketch, said:

“Ability to listen is number one. E.g. not every client wants to be pushed to their limit and you need to respect that.”

You also need to be honest with your clients and give them realistic goals that you know they can achieve. Otherwise they will quickly become discouraged and stop turning up.

And how to inspire them at the same time?

You should be that inspiration – in the way you look and the way you behave. By practising the points outlined above, a rookie personal trainer can quickly gain a reputation among trainees as being the real deal and he’ll soon have clients queuing up to train with him.

But what if you’ve already done that and you’ve made the leap to full-time freelance PT with a steady stream of regular clients.

How to increase your income now?

Well, if you still have gaps in your work schedule you may need to look at your marketing.

More clients = more income

How do you get most of your clients? Many personal trainers rely on word of mouth and referrals to gain more trainees but effective marketing will greatly improve your exposure to future clients.

Get more clients to grow your business and income streamIf you don’t already have a website you should make one. It is very easy these days to set up a website but many people forget that to be really efficient it should be optimised for search engines. It’s worth finding someone trustworthy who understands this subject as the right keywords and search terms on your home page will greatly increase your number of site visits.

Also you should consider direct advertising. An entry on Yellow Pages is useful, but more effective is a subscription to a specialised professional trade directory of personal trainers. If you can find one that’s location specific that’s even better. There you can create a profile and some allow you to upload a video of yourself in action. The directory will have a much higher rating on Google than your personal website ensuring a greater chance of your profile being seen.

There’s always the obvious method of increasing your hourly rate – but before you do that you need a good reason to charge more than the average. As a general PT you’re not offering anything different from many others so the answer is to specialise.

If you're not special, become special!

Successful PT Alexandra Merisoiu had this to say about the way to increase your income:

“I think choosing a niche is the way to go, be the expert in the field, be known for one thing and people will come.”

Of course in order to be a specialist PT you will need to study your chosen field and gain more recognised qualifications.

The first step will be a course in Exercise Referral, after which you’re able to choose a Level 4 specialism. There are many to choose from, such as Obesity and Diabetes or Lower Back Pain. A popular choice is Nutrition and Health as dietary advice is as important to clients as workout advice. You could also go for HIIT, Pilates, Bootcamp activities, Kettlebells – the list goes on.

Whatever you decide to make your speciality, ensure that it really appeals to you and is a good match for your abilities. Once you have a good understanding of your chosen area and feel confident in teaching it to a varied clientele, then you may be in a position to increase your fees (see our article on how much you should charge).

Work hard and be honest with your clients and the results will follow.

In this way you will have a very good income and be of benefit to many people. Good luck!