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Financial Planning for a Successful Personal Training Business

By Nan de Bruin

Published 21 June 2021

Starting a personal training business requires more than just knowledge about fitness. You obviously also need to start considering finances and management. It’s time to do the math and calculate your costs and pricing to estimate possible profit and start a structured and efficient business. The last thing you want is to destroy your dreams because of poor budgeting!

Of course, when you’re working as an employed personal trainer, your finances will be relatively structured. You have set rates, and you receive a regular salary as a personal trainer which will help you stay financially secure.

As a freelance personal trainer, however, this is something you need to be more careful with. That’s why this article will go over the essential elements of financial planning and how to finance your personal training business. It is imperative to have a sound financial strategy for your personal training business.

How Much Do You Earn as a Personal Trainer?

An important question is “How much should you charge for a personal training session?” The answer is, it depends. Rates vary immensely. It’s possible that a client is willing to pay up to $200 for a personal training session. On the other hand, others won’t want to spend more than $30.

What is important, is to understand your location and the people who live there: they are your immediate target audience, so look for ways to appeal to them.  Starting a premium service in a college town for example will limit your potential target audience. It is essential to take this into account for your finance as a personal trainer.

It’s understandable that an experienced trainer will cost a lot more than a trainer who just started out. As a personal trainer who is employed in a gym in the US, your annual salary will range between $40-70k. As an independent contractor, on average, you can earn up to 50% more – at the cost of higher financial risk.

For both independent and employed personal trainers, yearly salaries and rates can be distinctively higher depending on specializations, experience, and education – in some cases, they even reach 6 digits.

Discover tried and tested business models for personal trainers that will lead to a financially solid personal training business.

Initial Investment and Operational Expenses

Before starting any kind of business, consider the initial investment. As a personal trainer getting your finances in order, the first thing you need to be aware of the fact that a certain certification is needed. Therefore, these mandatory costs have to be planned in the cost structure.

If you do not have a gym paying for this, you have to calculate these expenses in your financial planning, no matter if you’re freelancing or employed.  A Personal training certification is not a cheap affair as it will cost you a lower-4-digit sum.

There might be other starting out costs that you didn’t count. Especially when working independently, additional equipment costs such as ropes and kettlebells might come into play, but also electronic devices like a proper laptop or trackers (if you do not own them or prefer not to use your personal items), as well as personal training software.

And don’t forget the marketing: the costs for uniforms, graphic design, website, maybe even social media ads. Make sure you consider all these costs in your financial plan as they come up before you start.

Start off strong with our tips for a great website for your personal training business.

To successfully operate your business, you will have recurring operational costs. If you work independently, you will need to pay a fee to the gyms you work in or rent your own place. For employed trainers, rent shouldn’t be a concern. Other costs include but are not limited to stationery, accounting, travel expenses, marketing, and insurance costs.

Concerning your insurance, security is always the highest priority. Make sure you are insured properly to build up a sustainable and solid business. The costs always depend on how you set up your fitness business and should be taken into account for your financial strategy.

How Much Should You Charge For a Personal Training Session?

You already know the amount of the necessary establishment costs and the money needed throughout your first year. So once you have a clear picture of the size of your investment, it is time to think about the pricing strategy.  But as we did not consider all the other costs yet, you have to take those into account before trying to find the right price.

Don’t forget to account for tax. Taxes depend on the country you’re working in. If you forget to calculate taxes in your planning, your personal savings will be smaller and that new car or dream vacation will be far, far away. But as you can see in the calculation tool, it is not hard at all to keep an overview of the due amount of taxes. On a side note, keep in mind that taking care of your taxes is also a time investment, but necessary for proper financial planning.

Motivated clients stay with your personal training business longer – learn about the right tools and strategies to increase client motivation.

Personal Expenses

Also take into consideration that you have to estimate your personal requirements, like living expenses and personal debts. If you do personal training as a second job, take your regular salary into consideration. You can’t live in a gym, and you can’t eat dumbbells. So include your rent, money spent on food, entertainment and so on.

Furthermore, in case you raised credit, had your equipment financed, plan to pay off your personal debt this year: don’t leave these costs out. As an entrepreneur, you don’t just strive to break even. You also want to earn enough money to have some personal savings and not just operate in the black. So take these extras into account.

Alright, now that you have calculated the total cost and estimated your personal savings, you know how much you need to earn.

First, let’s think about the price for one training session. What pricing suits your level of experience and service, and what’s affordable to the client base you want to target? Don’t forget to calculate taxes per session and add them to your pricing. After that, you can calculate how many paid personal training sessions you have to perform per year to reach your goals.

Balance Your Work

Session cost and the number of sessions per year will allow you to shed some light on the number of clients you need to acquire for financial security as a personal trainer. Nobody but you know how much time and energy you really have. And this is nobody’s decision but yours. Whether you want to take it easy or go all-in, consider beforehand how much you can put into your personal training business.

With fewer clients, you might be able to offer better quality for a higher price, while more clients will give you more options to keep the cash flow going. Also, think about how much time you want to invest in each client. To find the right number of clients for your pricing, you need to determine some other variables. All these things are part of the financial strategy you need to determine

Knowing how many vacation weeks you want to have per year and how often you would like to train your clients, on average, will make it easy to determine the number of clients required. This will give you a baseline to determine your rate, which will ultimately determine the salary you pay yourself as a personal trainer.

When you keep in mind what you personally expect to get out of this, how much is left over at the end, and how many clients you will be able to train, you will more or less get an idea of what you need to cover these costs. As an orientation, most independent trainers charge an hourly rate of $45 – 90 per hour depending on their qualifications, location of the sessions, and the number of total sessions.

Good management software for your personal training business will not only save you time, but will help you keep your finances in order.

Wrapping Up the Financial Planning

All in all, there are a lot of expenses you have to deal with. Whether it’s the cost of your personal life or your operating costs and the start-up capital. Once you have made a realistic estimation of those costs, you can set a price for your personal training sessions.

Also, decide for yourself how many weeks you want to work and how often you want to train your clients. Think about pricing structures, package deals, and add-ons you could offer. But ultimately, a good work-life balance is vital to keep you going in the long run, but it partly determines your income and financial security as well.

Nan de Bruin

Visual storyteller and winter sports enthusiast

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