NOTE: The concepts below are based on a persona trainer offering one-on-one sessions. If you work at a a corporate or franchised gym, you may have to use their existing policies and fee structures. If you offer online training and coaching, other rules apply. If you offer group classes such as boot camp, there are different rules in these cases as well.
Fees are commanded based on the trainer’s ability to conduct a professional business and the customer’s perception of that value. Decide your value on a per hour (include travel if applicable) basis and maintain that rate without negotiation. Haggling and negotiating is not professional. Imagine asking your hair dresser for a package deal or your doctor to give you the first visit for free. The same standards must apply to personal training. The moment a personal trainer begins to “negotiate” their fees the more their professionalism falls and the more they appear like a used car salesperson. Car sales are based on goods not services. Professional services, such as a doctor, lawyer, or personal trainer, are set and not subject to negotiation.
Fees are a reflection of time spent, not just the training hour. So, while a trainer may choose to charge $60/hour if they travel 15 minutes away and come back for another session, that is 15 minutes both ways for a total of 30 minutes on top of the training session. For that situation, $90 would be appropriate. Professionals charge professional fees. If clients do not want to pay training rates they don’t have to, there are many low-cost trainers they can choose from. Price should never be a unique selling proposition. There will always be someone cheaper. The advantage to higher fees is training less people, and the highest quality training must follow.
The fee schedule is up to the personal trainer. Keep in mind that most clubs charge $60-$80/hour and independent contractor fees should be similar. If a trainer pays rent to a facility, fees may have to increase to reflect that cost. It is of no business for clientele to know what expenses a personal trainer may or may not have. Employees of gyms make $25-$35/training session in most cases. A professional personal trainer deserves at least twice as much. Clients, who can afford personal training, want the best service and the greatest results, not the best price. Professional fees should reflect this fact.
How much notice should a client be required to give before canceling a session?
The client must always provide 24-48 hour notice prior to a paid session to receive opportunity to make up the session or avoid forfeiting the session and payment. For this reason, as with any professional service offering, clients must pay up front, in advance of services rendered. This is another reason why offering ongoing/reoccurring monthly fees is desirable. This can be arrange via PayPal (as an example).
Should a personal trainer sell packages or take payments prior to training sessions?
Whether the client pays monthly or per session, payment must be received before the session and the client should always be pre-paid in the event of a last minute cancellation. Some trainers charge at the end of the month for all sessions scheduled in the month to follow. Other trainers choose to offer packages of sessions. The personal trainer should never offer steep discounts on training packages. The only discounts that should be offered are commitments to regular intervals of recurring sessions versus paying for a single session. The single session is not intended to ever be used, it is merely an offering to give the individual the idea that they are receiving a great deal. And they are!
We will repeat it here: This is another reason why offering ongoing/reoccurring monthly fees is desirable. This can be arrange via PayPal (as an example).
Whichever mode of session payments the personal trainer chooses to utilize, be it monthly or in packages, they should be certain that the frequency of payments occurs at similar times between clients (monthly) or that packages sold are small enough in number that a constant income flow is realized and not the fluctuations in income so many trainers battle year in and year out. The personal trainer should not offer refunds in payment, only service.
Should the personal trainer offer free sessions or assessments to draw interest?
No free sessions for one-on-one training. A professional personal trainer has devoted a great amount of time and effort in learning their trade and deserves to be compensated accordingly. The only people who offer FREE appointments or sessions in their profession are those who have difficulty drawing interest any other way – which may be an indicator that the problem is not with their exposure, but the lack of service they provide. Once something is offered for free, there is no value to the service. The choice to offer free sessions or assessments is not encouraged.