Personal Trainer Careers Advice: Freelance Or Employed?

Getting started as a Personal Trainer can be nerve racking to say the least. Whether you are planning to work part time or full time, for yourself or for a gym it is new and it is a challenge. This tends to bring about uncertainty for those who have just qualified and are ready to begin their career as a Personal Trainer, so the question arises as to whether it is best to be employed by a gym or to work for yourself as a freelancer?

As the answer to this question is completely dependent on the individual’s life circumstances, previous experience and character we will look at the main differences between these two options. Bare in mind that the facts vary slightly between gyms but often follow the same structure.

To be employed by a gym simply means you will earn a salary like you would any full time job and in return you will work up to 40 hours a week at the start, carrying out Gym Instructor duties. Pay is usually minimal (£11-£14K) but can increase over a period of months. During times agreed between yourself and the gym you can build your client base which is a great way to earn money whilst building your experience and confidence with members. The hours spent working for the gym decrease in some cases as your client base is developed and on top of your wage you will receive a percentage of the hourly rate of each client you train. This option is good for those who:

  • Need time to build confidence as well as earning a wage.
  • Cannot afford to take a chance in losing out on a regular pay check.

Being a freelance personal trainer can mean working from a gym, outdoors or from clients homes. If working from a gym there is often a rental scheme in which you pay monthly for simply using the space and having access to their members. There are often unpaid hours you must work as a Gym Instructor, in the first few months to build up the numbers of clients but eventually all responsibilities are taken away and you can work the hours as you please. Price per session varies from £30 to £80 per hour depending on the location and facilities you are working from. All the money you earn from your sessions is yours to keep although there is usually a minimum and maximum rate you can charge set by the gym itself. The issue is that often rent is quite high ranging from £500 to over £1000 per month in the London area. However the freedom of it is very attractive and is surprisingly manageable to pay the rent if you have enough clients to fulfil it. This option is good for those who:

  • Do not have to worry about receiving regular income in the first couple of months whilst the client base is being built.
  • Want to have control over their own hours and how many clients they have.

A common question from a trainer starting out a new career is how many clients do I need? Although there is no magic number, a good review point would be to analyse how many clients you have after 6 months, if you are averaging between 15 and 20 clients on your books then you are doing very well. If not then don’t worry but this is a good benchmark to work towards.

There are other establishments such as Personal Training studios and agencies who may operate differently. In these cases it is my advice that you research into all of your options and choose which is best for you. For most, I would suggest being employed by a gym if your confidence is understandably shaky. The Gym Instructor duties will build confidence by default and prepare you for the one to one sessions. It is the option that most students go for when they leave our courses and I do not blame them. However I would suggest working as a freelance Personal Trainer if you have previous experience in working with others or if you feel you are confident enough to jump in the deep end – you will have the fun and excitement of running your business as well as more earning potential.

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About Author

I am an educator of fitness qualifications with experience in delivering to students of the UK and Internationally. My past in the industry has allowed me to practice and refine my philosophies whilst improving my skills in training myself and others. Now as a proud Director of Love Fitness Education my attention is set on producing the best fitness professionals in the business.