Do you flex your love for working out, interest in human anatomy, and passion for helping others on their fitness journey? If so, a career as a personal trainer could be your calling.

Before you hit the ground running, you should know how much personal trainers make. Let’s crunch the numbers on a certified personal trainer salary and how to bulk up your income. 3, 2, 1, let’s begin!

How much do personal trainers make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2019, there were 373,000 personal trainers in the United States.1 The median pay for the job was $19.42 per hour, which translates to $40,390 per year. The top 10% of trainers earned more than $75,000—that’s 9% more than the U.S median salary. 2

Furthermore, personal trainers’ job growth outlook over the next decade is quite positive. The BLS anticipates that there will be more incentives for employees of all kinds to join gyms and health clubs as health and fitness benefits become well known.3 That means more demand, and clients, for private trainers!

Factors that impact a personal trainer’s salary

What else affects a personal trainers’ salary? There are four primary pay considerations:


Many trainers cut their teeth by working for a gym or a health club. While this is a great way to get a foot in the door, they tend to be the worst paying industry. Per the National Federation of Personal Trainers, here’s the rate range for this popular industry:4

  • Fitness Club: $12 – $22 per hour
  • Community Center: $14 – $29 per hour
  • Resort/Cruise Ship: $15 – $41 per hour
  • Private Training Studio: $35 – $65 per hour


The state and city you work in can impact the average hourly rate and annual salaries for personal trainers. States with the highest average salaries are:5

  • Washington: $54,387 per year
  • Maryland: $53,695 per year
  • Nebraska: $52,574 per year
  • Virginia: $51,884 per year
  • New York: $51,824 per year

Freelance or contractor

Should you work for yourself or an employer? If you work for yourself, you have a greater opportunity to make more money because your employer won’t shave off your profit. But as an independent contractor, that depends on you hustling to find clients and setting a fair hourly wage. On the other hand, when you work as a contractor for a gym or fitness studio, you have more consistent work with less overall upside.


An attractive aspect of personal training is that it doesn’t require a significant amount of on-the-job preparation or a wealth of personal experience to get started. According to the National Federation of Personal Trainers, nearly half of all trainers working in clubs have 1-4 years of experience within the industry. That said, more experienced trainers can expect to earn more money per session.

Ways to increase your earning potential

So, how do you improve your chances of making a career as a personal trainer? Here are ways to further increase your worth as a freelancer or become a more attractive candidate to clients:

Education and certification

If you’ve studied kinesiology or gone through training certification programs, those credentials signal to clients and employers that you’re a pro, even if they’re not legally required.6 They show that you know how the body functions, the importance of nutrition, and the steps a person must take to reach their fitness goals. Greater levels of knowledge and education make it easier to command a higher salary. When you’re starting out make sure to factor in how much it will cost to become a personal trainer as you’ll need to recover those costs over time.

Social media presence

Some fitness trainers don’t actually see their clients in person; instead, they create a career out of making personal training videos on social media. For example, the top 20 fitness influencers on Instagram have over 90 million followers, which many turned into lucrative online brands.7 Now is an excellent opportunity to start putting out your own training videos on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube as more people workout from home.

Grow your client base

Slow and steady wins the race. Just like how it takes time and concerted effort to lose fat and build muscle, the same goes for growing your business. If you’re a freelancer, you require a steady stream of clients. As you build up a loyal clientele and become in greater demand, your rates will also increase.

Offer personalized fitness plans

When it comes to fitness and health, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. A 25-year-old trying to put on muscle will have different exercise and diet regimens from an elderly client who wants to maintain functional fitness levels. You can charge more for providing tailored workout and meal plans according to each client’s unique fitness goals.

Host group classes

The opposite of the 1-on-1 approach, group classes, and boot camps allow you to charge less but make more through volume. As a result of COVID-19, trainers have become more creative and offering different types of classes. Consider going to the park or the beach if the weather allows. Or, you could host a virtual boot camp.

Protect your training business with insurance

Just as you train your clients to protect their knees in a squat, as a personal trainer (especially a freelancer) it’s vital to protect yourself. Between all of the weights and exercises, it’s easy for injuries to occur, and a claim can seriously set back your progress.

One of the best ways you can mitigate the potential financial damages related to being a personal trainer is by having the right type of insurance.

For starters, general liability insurance provides coverage for the investigation, defense, and settlement for non-employee third-party claims relating to:

  • Bodily injury
  • Property damage
  • Personal and advertising injury.

Similarly, professional liability insurance can provide an investigation and legal defense should your clients say that your advice resulted in their financial loss.

Fortunately, Thimble makes it easy to protect yourself and your business with Fitness Insurance. Our affordable, on-demand coverages work by the hour, day, or month.

Just click “Get a Quote” or download the Thimble app, answer a few questions, and we’ll generate an instant quote. Click to purchase and we’ll send your policy and as many Certificates of Insurance (COI) as you need to your inbox.

All of this can be done in less than 60 seconds, meaning you won’t even break a sweat.

If you purchase monthly general liability insurance, we can bundle that with an optional Business Equipment Protection (BEP) coverage with limits of $1000, $2500, or $5000.

Make career gains

Personal trainers have a unique opportunity to reach their financial goals while making a positive difference in others’ lives by helping them achieve their physical fitness goals.

You can increase your earnings by leveraging your location, industry and business model, and experience. You can further pump up your rate by completing certifications, learning about nutrition, building your brand, and leveraging social media.

But none of this will matter if you don’t protect yourself with insurance. When all it takes is a single liability claim to jeopardize your business’s success, investing in the right insurance is the smart way to strengthen your bank account!

We’re rooting for your success as a personal trainer. Now go keep the world, yourself, and your business healthy!


  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fitness Trainers and Instructors.
  2. Income and Poverty in the United States: 2019.
  3. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fitness Trainers and Instructors Job Outlook.
  4. NFPT. Certified Personal Trainer Salary Snapshot.
  5. Zip Recruiter. What Is the Average Personal Trainer Salary by State?
  6. ISSA. Can you do personal training without certification?
  7. Mediakix. The Top 20 Fitness Influencers on Instagram To See.