I am often teaching new personal trainers who are just at the start of their journey into the fitness industry, one of the most common questions I get asked is ‘what is the average personal trainer salary?’ Now this is not an easy question to answer as to do so you need to fully understand your options when it comes to working in the fitness industry and what different routes offer in terms of both starting and potential salaries.

The best way to look at this is to try and split the type of job roles down into two key groups, employed and self-employed. This is your first major decision when it comes to looking at potential work in the fitness industry, while employed jobs tend to have all the perks of being safe, guaranteed salary, all the hassle (tax, NI, CPD, Insurance, and the list goes on) taken care of for you, but the major downside of this is that salaries are much lower than if you were self-employed. When you look at self-employment many personal trainers find it a scary idea, most of all they are unsure about if they can make the sales needed to keep them earning a decent amount of money. On top of this they then need to have all the skills to run a business and most importantly keep on top of the finances. But when weighed against the possible earnings the self-employed route offers a much higher potential salary.

Employed Personal Trainer Salaries

Fitness instructor – as a fitness instructor many gyms will employ staff to do things like inductions, maintain the gym floor and just be around as a port of call for members who have questions. This job is a relatively lowly paid with fitness instructor salaries being as low as £12,000 per year. Unfortunately as the industry grows and develops many gyms are going down the budget route these roles are increasingly rare.

Personal trainer – Some gym chains employ their personal trainers, they are generally given a set number of hours to work on the gym floor as a fitness instructor each week and these hours are paid at a fitness instructor hourly rate. This allows the personal trainer to have a very basic salary similar to the rates mentioned above, many new entrant to the fitness industry are reassured by having this guaranteed baseline income. The personal trainer is then expected to sell personal training clients to the membership base, for each of these sessions clients pay between £30-40 per hour and the gym will then pay the personal trainer 50% of this in their wage packet. Personal trainers working in this way can expect a salary between £20,000 and £35,000 per year.

Fitness management – Many people decide after a number of years to leave the gym floor and work in management roles. Within the leisure industry there are a wide range of roles available with general managers earning between £21,000 at a smaller club up to £50,000 at larger sites. This can go even higher with national leads earning £70,000 plus in larger gym chains.

Exercise Referral – The NHS and community based projects are fast becoming a big employer of personal trainers. There is a massive call for trainers, particularly those that are level 4 qualified to work with referred populations both within hospitals and in the community. These posts are normally advertised at between £25,000 and £35,000.

Self-employed Personal Trainer Salaries

Personal Trainer (Gym based or mobile) – there can be a massive range in terms of the amount of money that freelance personal trainers earn it all depends on the number of clients that the trainer is getting booked in each week. Initially wages for the first year can be as low as £12,000 (based on and average of 8 clients per week), however after 12 months as the personal trainer hones both their training and sales skills this could raise up to £30,000 – £50,000 dependent on the rate being changed and the number of hours being worked. One of the great things about being self-employed is that you have control over the hours that you work and the rate you charge, so if you want to earn more all you have to do is work more hours or increase your rate! 

Exercise Referral – Many NHS trusts and exercise referral schemes use freelance instructors to deliver their sessions. The rates for this depend on your level of qualification, experience and area of speciality. Average hourly rates range between £15 and £30 per hour.

Class Instruction – Many personal trainers supplement their income by teaching classes, dependent on the class and if you are delivering it for somebody else or if the class is yours hourly rates can be as low as £10 per hour up to £100 per hour for a boot camp with 20 members.

Corporate Wellbeing – This is a very niche area of the fitness industry to be involved in, which involves going into organisations and driving healthy workforce initiatives. There are a small number of large companies that tend to get the contracts to deliver these services, which they then use freelancers to deliver, day rates can range between £150 to £300 per day depending on your experience and speciality.

The most important thing to look at is when considering what kind of salary you can earn as a personal trainer is to not view the industry as a quick way to make money. As with anything in life your career in the fitness industry will be a journey and you should plan ahead, looking at what you would like your ultimate job to be then work out a career pathway that gets you there. As you can see from the above discussion the self-employed route is a higher risk strategy but in the long run if it works for you the rewards are substantially higher than if you are working for somebody else! Also try and avoid only considering a single route, many personal trainers bump up their salary by working in a number of fields at the same time.

Tom Godwin (@TomForesight) has been involved in the fitness industry for over 18 years and has been involved with personal training, business/career development and corrective exercise. He is currently involved in personal trainer education as a tutor, assessor and course developer for Fitness Industry Education.