Personal Trainer Hourly Rates

This is a thorough guide to personal trainer hourly rates in the US.  It is meant primarily for those who are curious about the costs of hiring a personal trainer, but will also be useful to aspiring personal trainers who are trying to get a sense of earning potential.

The Complete Range:  $20-$300 per hour.

If you live in a rural area, are willing to work with someone who isn’t certified, works in gym franchise, with only a high school  diploma and less than 1 year experience you might be able to get a session for $20.   This doesn’t count any subsequent medical bills caused by the session.

If you live in Beverly Hills or Manhattan, work with an independent trainer, who has a masters degree and 15+ years experience, and has trained celebs like J. Lo or Stallone then you are looking at the $300/hr range.

Your Likely Range: $50-$120

Most people living in urban areas in the US are going to find rates in this range.  But this is still a rather large spread.  To narrow it down even further we need to dig into the factors a bit.  But if you are in a hurry and just want quick and dirty answer to how much a decent trainer is going to cost you here is the ballpark answer.

Ballpark  Hourly fee for Trainer in a Gym:  $50/hr 

Tip for aspiring trainers:  If you are thinking of becoming a trainer don’t make the mistake of thinking that this will be your starting hourly rate.   The average split between the trainer to the gym is 60/40.  Meaning the average gym trainer will receive $30/hr before taxes.  Inexperienced trainers should expect an hourly closer to $20.

Ballpark  Hourly fee for Independent Trainer: $75/hr

Tip for aspiring trainers:  So why not just be an independent trainer and retire rich?   Even though you don’t have a gym to pay, there are plenty of expenses that you have to cover now that the gym is not covering your expenses.Expenses include: health insurance, transportation cost, continuing education, marketing costs.

Also its important to realize that you will spending much of your time working on things besides actually training clients.  This nonpaid time includes: communication/scheduling with clients, planning for client sessions, travel time, and marketing.

Not to mention that if you are not an experienced trainer with an established client base you’ll struggle to get hours.  If  you have between 5-10yrs experience you can charge 75/hr and can expect to actually make between $30 and $50/hr.

These ballpark figures are an educated guess.  I’m sure there are a few dynamite trainers working in respectable rural gyms who charge $30/hr.  Likewise you can find some real duds who charge upwards of $100/hr that have managed to inflate their hourly wage through shrewd marketing rather than offering a real value.

But for most US residents we would be suspicious of anyone charging less than $50/hr.  Likewise, anyone charging over $120 is overcharging unless they are working with a very specialized subset of the population (olympic athletes, bodybuilders, weird looking supermodels, etc.)

If you have the time to dig a little further, we can break it down for you by the various factors influencing the wage.

The factors that determine the hourly rate of personal training services include.

  • Geographic Location
  • Level of Education
  • Years of Experience
  • Type of Certification

Personal Trainer Hourly Rates by US Region

All the charts below are constructed using only data from trainers working in gyms and athletic clubs.  This data is much easier to come by then data from independent trainers.   To adjust for independent trainers simply add $25-$50 per hour.

Source: American Council on Exercise

Personal Trainer Hourly Rates by City

The findings of this data seem to contradict the regional data as Los Angeles is a fairly inexpensive place to seek training.  This suggests that hourly rates are determined more on the local than the regional level.

Source:  National Federation of Personal Trainers

Personal Trainer Salary by Education

As you might expect, more education means a higher pay rate.  It also means a higher hourly.  I’m glad to see this trend.  Trainers who have a master’s degree have spent several years studying the body and how it works.  Trainers who only have the certification may have only studied for a month.  Those with a Bachelor’s earn 10% more than those without a degree.  But those with a Master’s degree earn over 40% more than those without.

Source: American Council on Exercise

Personal Trainer Salary by Years Experience

I don’t know about you but I if I could pay 10% more and hire someone with 3 years experience vs someone with no experience I would do so in a heartbeat.  Also there seems to be little difference between someone with 4 years experience and someone with 20 in terms of pay.

The takeaway?  Pay a little extra for someone with at least a few years experience.  Also, if you want an experienced trainer you might as well find someone who is very experienced vs. someone in the mid range.  The cost will likely be comparable and you’ll get better training, in general, from someone with 15 years experience than someone with only 5.

Source: American Council on Exercise

Personal Trainer Salary by Certification Type

The highest paid trainers are NASM certified.  This is only fair as it is the most difficult certification to acquire.  Some of the other programs on the list, I won’t name names, can be acquired in as little as two weeks time.   It is truly a scary proposition to mix someone with two weeks of book study, an inexperienced exerciser and a barbell.   Ask your trainer where they are certified and if they say NASM you know you are in good hands, if they say something else then you’ll need to dig a little deeper.   They may be great but then again…