Financial Planning for a Successful Personal Training Business

By Andrea Foglia

Published 18 January 2017

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. As an 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. We’ve also prepared a free planning template to download, so you can immediately start planning for your future.

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.

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 over  50% more – at the cost of higher financial risk. For both independent and employed personal trainers, yearly salaries can be distinctively higher depending on specializations, experience and education – in some cases they even reach 6 digits.

Initial Investment and Operational Expenses

Before starting any kind of business, take into consideration that an initial investment is indispensable. As a personal trainer, 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 initial costs that you didn’t count on. 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. Costs for uniforms, graphic design, and so on also cannot be neglected. Make sure you consider all costs that come upfront beforeyou start.

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 depends on how you set up your fitness business.

Free Financial Planning Tool

To quickly get an indication of your first-year expenses and required income, use our free financial planning tool for personal trainers. Click here to download

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 calculating 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 over 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 a proper financial planning.

Personal Expenses

Also take in consideration that you have to estimate your personal requirements, like living expenses and personal debts. 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 and you plan to pay off your personal debt this year, also calculate these costs. 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 of all, 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 amount of sessions per year will allow you to shed some light on the amount of clients you need to acquire. Nobody but you knows 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 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. Knowing how many vacation weeks you want to have per year and how often you would like to train your clients on an average, will make it easy to determine the number of clients required.

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 $45 – 90 per hour depending on their qualifications, location of the sessions, and number of total sessions.

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. A good work-life balance is vital to keep you going in the long run, but it partly determines your income as well.

Free Financial Planning Tool

To quickly get an indication of your first-year expenses and required income, use our free financial planning tool for personal trainers.

Andrea Foglia


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