What Does Personal Training Cost?

This is a fair question, and one that comes up early in the interview process with most prospective clients. The short answer is, simply, it depends. There is a substantial distinction between cost and value, as this posting may help illustrate.

We recently did a phone survey of gyms in the area. The typical client rate that we were quoted at these facilities was around $90 per one hour session (which at several facilities we were told was 50 minutes long), or around $55 for a half hour session (25 minutes). There is, however, a bit more to consider in this equation. The amounts in our survey were only the amounts the client would pay to the health club. The trainer would usually receive only about $15-18 per hour, or $8-10 per half hour. This means the client is paying for a premium training experience, a $90 per hour trainer, but only getting the benefit of a lower priced, $15-18 per hour, trainer. Usually this means someone with a fairly recent certification, little actual experience and training time, as well as fewer networking connections and less knowledge of nutrition, physiology, anatomy, and the other areas a trainer needs to become adept in to provide maximum benefit for his or her clients.

The next consideration in the value equation is the non-training time that a trainer spends on the client and their objectives. A trainer who is really only a workout partner (someone who puts you through a routine) would probably be of less value than someone who connects with their clients daily, who offered nutritional direction, tips on dining out, non-session day exercise prescriptions and other services that add value to the client’s experience.

What about the experiences and references from other clients? Is a trainer with a documented book of success stories and clients who rave about their experiences likely of more value to their prospective clients than someone who lacks those things? Would the trainer be willing to give a prospective client the contact info from a few clients so that they could ask any questions they liked?

What education does the trainer you are considering possess? Is their certification from a top shelf, highly accredited institution, or something you can find and test online? Would a certification that requires a proctored exam reasonably warrant a better array of knowledge and skill that one that can be taken at home, with the ability to refer to the course materials when taking? Do they have to keep up with the industry to maintain their certification?

What about the client’s specific schedule needs? Can you only train at 5:30 PM, which is prime training time for the industry? Do you need to train at 7 AM, and your trainer is already booked through 8 PM on the days you desire? If you can train at more readily available times that the trainer has open, it may benefit you both to fill open time at a lower rate. It would never hurt to ask. If you have specific trauma, ailments or difficult challenges in your personal situation, you may require a more extensive skill set, which would come at a premium versus a more basic training need.

Are you already fit? Can you sustain a rigorous one hour session, or would you hit the wall at 30 minutes? If you would, then paying for a one hour session wouldn’t be practical for you. If that is all the trainer you are considering offers, you may want to look further.

How do you factor in results? Is a trainer that costs 50% more, but is able to help you achieve the results you are seeking, a better value than a trainer with a lower rate that can’t help you get there? That question pretty much answers itself.

In conclusion, a prospective training client should consider many variables, not just price or hourly rate when considering a personal trainer. Many premium trainers with a substantial track record of success stories, impeccable references and a diverse skill set, command upwards of $500 per hour in certain parts of the country, but if you live someplace other than NYC, LA or Chicago, there are quality professionals available at much more affordable rates. Think of it like this. Your health is a most valuable commodity. If you needed surgery for a life threatening condition, would you want a surgeon based on the lowest price, or on the highest skill level?  Isn’t your overall health equally important?

Jim Harris