Demand for personal trainers across the UK is high, but it can be very difficult for experienced and new PTs alike to answer people when they ask, ‘how much does a personal trainer cost’?
It’s especially important to get this right at a time when business is booming for a variety of reasons. For starters, the Great British public collectively has many different motivations to hire a personal trainer: fitness goals, weight loss, an upcoming charity event, a more personalised alternative to the gym, and so on.
However, they want to be sure they’re getting the best possible service at the right price – which leaves personal trainers with a difficult balance to strike. Charge too much and you’ll find it hard to generate a big enough client base but charge too little and you’ll be flat out with not enough earnings to show for it.
We’d like to say that there’s an easy answer to how much a personal trainer can charge. But as you’ll read in this guide, there are plenty of different factors that can affect the hourly rate you can reasonably advertise. Don’t worry, though: read on and we’ll give you some ballpark figures to work with.
We’ve picked out six key considerations that play a major part in determining how much personal trainers cost in the UK. All of these will affect you in some way or another, so it’s worth weighing up how each one applies to you as you determine your standard hourly rate:
Some places in the UK have much higher average earnings than others. However, this doesn’t automatically mean that there will always be more business in London and the south-east of England as there would be in, say, Scotland or Northern Ireland. That’s because while earnings are higher in and around London, living costs are higher too, which means that people don’t necessarily have more disposable income to spend on personal training sessions.
Nonetheless, charging a premium rate for your services is not going to be especially popular in areas where money is tight. That’s why a general understanding of the local economy, and what people tend to do to keep fit in your area, is so important.
Connected to the previous point, it is absolutely critical that you know who your direct competitors are, what they offer and how much they charge. If you undercut them with a lower rate, then you may attract some clients away from them, but be wary of established players giving loyal clients preferential rates in order to keep them. And if you decide to charge over and above their rates, then you have to be absolutely certain that you have the skills, credentials and relationship-building skills to make clients feel that you’re worth the investment.
If you’re just beginning with your personal training business, then pricing yourself at the same level as other PTs in your area is a good starting point. From there, you can vary your rates as you learn more about your marketplace over time.
As much as it would be nice to keep 100% of the money you charge your clients, the business world doesn’t work that way.
For example, do you need to buy, fuel, maintain and insure a car so that you can drive to sessions with your clients? Do you need to invest in specialist equipment, or subscribe to fitness-related apps that support the services you want to deliver, including gym space? How much will you have to pay in tax, National Insurance and in other business expenses? And do you need insurance to cover you against any unfortunate circumstances? (as you’ll read below, the answer to this last one is yes!)
All of these come out of the money you charge, and therefore has to be factored into the overall rate alongside how much you’d ideally like to earn.
If someone is going to pay top dollar for personal training services, then they’re going to expect the best of the best. They’ll want someone who has years of experience, knowledge of the latest on-trend fitness techniques and exercises, a full range of qualifications, and a good reputation in the local fitness community.
If you don’t have many of these – or indeed any of them – then it doesn’t mean that you can’t become a successful personal trainer in your own right. But what it does mean is that you’ll have to lower your sights in terms of your rate. As you gain more experience, qualifications and credentials, then you can gradually bring your rate up to match that of the established local PTs.
Don’t forget that you don’t have to slavishly stick to a single hourly rate for all your customers all the time. Giving them a level of flexibility, and incentivising repeat custom through offers and discounts, can be instrumental in helping you build a deep customer base in the long-term.
For example, you could offer customers a free trial session, so that they can get a taste of your techniques and approach without making any financial commitment. And if you want to turn an occasional client into a committed regular, then why not sell a set of ten sessions for the price of eight? Not only will they feel valued by getting such a great discount, but it can also support your cashflow by helping you bring in a greater volume of revenue up front.
If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that the affordability of personal training sessions to different people can change very quickly. You may think that the economic news you see on the TV, whether it’s related to Brexit, COVID or the cost-of-living crisis doesn’t really affect you. But if one of your clients loses their job, or their energy bill suddenly goes up, it can have a very real effect on you if they can’t afford to pay for PT anymore.
That’s why it’s important to keep abreast of the goings-on in your community and the wider world, and to retain the flexibility to change your prices. For example, if a 10% reduction would make the difference to one of your clients, then one session at 90% of your normal rate is worth more than no sessions at 100%!
Asking ‘how much does a personal trainer cost’ is a bit like asking ‘how much is a piece of string?’, because all the factors above influence the figures in a certain way. But it’d be unfair of us not to give you some rough ‘ballpark’ figures as a starting point, so that you can at least get an idea of whether your proposed rates are realistic or not.
If you’re new to the profession, want to set your stall out as an affordable option, or you’re operating in an area where earnings are relatively low, then it would be reasonable to charge between £30 and £40 an hour. This might sound like a very exciting figure for what is the bottom end of the market, but remember that you will lose a certain proportion of that in business costs, as well as in tax. Read our guide to small business taxes to help you assess how much of your earnings you’ll be able to keep for yourself.
From there, it’s possible for the hourly rate to rise substantially, especially if you can tick one or more of the following boxes: years of experience; plenty of qualifications; strong local reputation; operating in an affluent area; or specialising in a particular type of personal training (e.g. nutrition). The more of these criteria you can meet, the more you can charge: upwards of £50 an hour isn’t uncommon, especially in London, and you could even pull in as much as £100 an hour if dealing with a premium client base.
As you’ve now read, there can be plenty of variation in how much personal trainers cost, depending on all sorts of different factors. But however much you’re able to charge, one thing that never changes is the scale of the consequences when things go wrong.
Even the best personal trainers in the world suffer from unforeseen circumstances or accidents, whether one of their clients gets injured, there’s damage to property, or equipment gets lost or stolen. For a self-employed personal trainer, just one of these incidents can be enough to do serious, lasting damage to their finances – which it’s why it’s so important to get protected.
At Protectivity, we provide affordable personal training insurance cover to hard-working people like you, no matter what types of training you offer and no matter how much experience you have. Our policies include public liability, professional indemnity and up to £250 of free equipment cover, so you can help your clients reach their goals with confidence and peace of mind.
Take a look at our personal trainer insurance policies today, and explore options that start from just a few pounds a month.