Benefits of Becoming a Self Employed Personal Trainer
The advantages of being self-employed include having a flexible schedule, independence, being your own boss and the possibility of receiving tax advantages. Most often, personal fitness trainers are more creative and experience increased personal satisfaction and a greater sense of achievement when they are self-employed.
The disadvantages of being self-employed include long hours, usually 10 to 14 hours per day. This can include 6 to 7 days a week of work. When a personal fitness trainer is also a business owner they not only work with their clients but they are also required to actively market and manage their practice.
Therefore, in the beginning, new trainers may need to devote 2 to 3 hours for business promotion and development for every hour of client interaction. Sometimes the startup costs can be greater than what has been anticipated. Initially, income is usually not steady and there are financial risks. But, most personal fitness trainers agree that the benefits of being self-employed outweigh both the perceived or real risks.
Self-employment – Independent Contractors
An independent contractor (IC) is a professional who works for themselves. The IC can choose whether or not to accept in-home clients in the presence of the client’s own home or the home of the personal fitness trainer. The IC can choose to rent space in a studio or gym, or even own their own studio or gym. As well, the IC can train multiple clients at one time to increase profits while increasing camaraderie between clients with similar goals and abilities.
For self-employed trainers, the two most prevalent reasons for failure are mismanagement and money (capital). Mismanagement is generally a result of poor planning, not realistically evaluating strengths and weaknesses, failing to anticipate obstacles, improper budgeting, and lacking the necessary business skills to prevent failures.
Having your own personal fitness training business is the most profitable option for a personal fitness trainer, although not everyone is well suited for this type of enterprise. It takes a certain personality type to be truly successful in one’s own business. The most successful personal fitness trainers are inventive and follow through with their plans. They respect money. They possess considerable expertise in a particular career field and have broad experience in several others. They have very good verbal and written communication skills and are normally considered to be very personable. Successful business owners tend to be positive thinkers, determined, self-disciplined, service-oriented, and persistent. Remember, most personal fitness trainers operating small businesses that don’t succeed are examples of talent without proper business skills.
Possible benefits to working as an independent contractor
Choose training rates and fees (typically ranging from $40-$150/hour or more)
Ability to work fewer hours while making more money than as an employee
Pay-outs include rent (no rent fees when working from home or the home of a client), marketing, and professional and health insurance.
Dictate own policies and procedures
Accountable only to the client and oneself
Choose own hours without concern for requirements of an employer
Many clubs or gyms require a certain number of employee hours to maintain employment at a facility (typically 15-20 hours or more per week), and these same clubs or gyms expect set hours of availability in many situations (i.e., the morning shift from 5-10 am, or evening shift from 6-10 pm every day).
Tax incentives, such as write-offs and deductions, for be- ing a business owner
Products or services utilized for purposes of doing business can often save money (check with a tax accountant for more information)
Ability to work in varied locations or the comfort of a gym in home
Possible drawbacks to working as an independent contractor
Time spent in transit: When time is spent traveling from location to location, that time could be offset by working at one gym or location. Otherwise, not only time but opportunities for earning income may be lost.
Higher tax bracket for being a business owner: Independent contractors are subject to a higher tax bracket than the typical employee. Some taxes can be offset by the legal usage of eligible tax write-offs. All independent contractors should seek the advice of a certified tax accountant.
Greater effort required to gain new clientele: The work necessary for gaining new clientele is solely up to the pursuits of the individual unless they choose to retain marketing assistance. Being assertive and efficient with where the personal fitness trainer chooses to devote time for gaining new clientele is a must.
Increased liability: Since the development and enforcement of policies and procedures is up to the independent personal fitness trainer, liability for injury or accidents lies squarely upon the shoulders of the individual PT. Seeking liability insurance is a must.
Employee – Benefits, and Drawbacks
A personal fitness trainer who is an employee works for a club or other organization that typically supplies the location, equipment, and most or all client prospects.
In general, if you are comfortable making the leap into marketing yourself as a trainer in your own business, you can expect more job satisfaction and freedom to operate as you please, but not all new trainers have this knowledge or skill. Once a client base is built, a professional trainer may want to consider transitioning to private practice – but only after weighing both sides of the situation.
Possible benefits to working as an Employee
Marketing already in place: There is less need to perform external marketing since most employers have already done the necessary work and focus can be made upon “internal” marketing or marketing of one’s own training with members of the gym or club.
Liability is assumed by employer: In the event of client injury or accident the club is usually liable for coverage, not the trainer (the trainer may still be held liable in the event of negligence – confer with legal counsel for more information).
Client prospects provided: Many gyms or clubs send client prospects to trainers and leave the “selling” of personal fitness training to the trainer or hand the trainer pre-paid clients. It is not suggested to rely on the club to refer clientele, but there are greater odds of being fed clients at a gym.
Employee benefits: Some, not all clubs or gyms may provide 401k investment benefits, as well as medical benefits, accrued vacation, and sick leave with pay (benefits will vary). Other benefits include complimentary memberships for employees in fitness clubs, as well as educational workshops offered at little or no cost to the trainer.
Single work location: With employment from a club or gym, there is little need for travel from home to home and location to location costing time, gas, and added stress when time could be spent making money.
Built-in support system: This will vary from club to club and location to location, but many facilities have a system of management and mentor support in place to help ensure the success of a personal fitness trainer. The sheer number and success of personal fitness trainers of a given facility should provide a clear view of the likelihood of new trainer success.
Possible drawbacks to working as an employee
Limited income: Due to the inability to increase rates and a normally scheduled rate of pay (often as little as $10-$15) the ability to earn a professional income is greatly hindered. This is perhaps the most significant difference between working as an employee and working as an independent contractor.
Constant supervision: While the amount and significance of employee supervision will vary, ultimately, there will be a manager or gym owner with whose policies the personal fitness trainer must comply with if they plan on continuing to work in their gym or facility.
Starting Your Personal Training Career
Now it’s your turn to take action. Did you know that most fitness careers don’t require formal education or a degree?
Learn more about the variety of fitness industry careers. There is always something exciting about earning a new training or coaching certification and applying that new knowledge of how you train your clients. This also helps you hit the reset button.
Check out what it takes to start a career in personal fitness training. This is your most affordable and fastest way to become a highly qualified personal trainer.
Is your recertification coming up? Learn more about earning your CEU credits. You can find the full list of CEU courses here.
If you are ready to start your online personal training or coaching business, don’t forget to learn more about our online coaching course. You will also really enjoy this very comprehensive training course called Online Expert Empire.
There is always something exciting about earning a new training or coaching certification and applying that new knowledge of how you train your clients. This also helps you hit the reset button.
NESTA and Spencer Institute coaching programs are open to anyone with a desire to learn and help others. There are no prerequisites.
Thanks for reading!
PS: Click here to see many helpful business/career resources