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February 12, 2022 10 min read
There’s a lot of information available on the internet about a variety of things, and this is no less true when it comes to fitness topics. You’re here, reading this right now, after all. However, when it comes to physical fitness, there’s only so much that words can convey.
This is where a personal trainer can be an invaluable resource when it comes to putting you on the right track to your goals.
You can find a million articles and products promising to get you shredded, but there’s nothing like a person who knows what they’re talking about guiding you in real life.
However, a personal trainer is also going to be a lot more expensive than the free information you can find in an article or YouTube video. But how much more expensive? That’s going to depend on several factors that we’ll take a closer look at down below.
It’s no secret that the answer is largely going to come down to, “it depends.” However, there are some solid numbers that you can use as a general guide to compare different personal trainers.
The commonly cited average cost across the entire country is a $60 hourly rate, but some personal trainers charge even lower than $30 and higher than $200.
These are two extremes, however, and the average personal trainer cost is going to depend on a bunch of factors.
But again, this is only going to be a general guide. There are several different factors that are going to play a part in the cost of a personal trainer, most of which are going to come down to your personal circumstances and fitness goals. Once we see how pricing is normally done, it’s a good idea to see what exactly one should be looking for in a personal trainer.
The most essential part of personal trainer rates is the length of session and whether you buy it in a package of several training sessions.
It’s easy to assume that personal trainers sell their services on an hourly basis, but some also work in 30, 45, or 90-minute sessions.
So, you shouldn’t be assuming that your $50 session is going to necessarily be a one-hour session—it’s a good idea to check before going forward since clients pay per session.
The next most essential factor that dictates personal training cost is the number of sessions and whether you’ve bought them in a special package. This is another obvious factor—several sessions are going to cost more than one.
For example, having multiple sessions each week for several weeks might be more expensive upfront, but if you know you’re going to stick to the training, it can make financial sense. The discounts on these packages are largely going to come down to the gym or fitness trainers themselves.
If you're just starting out with your training, it can make more sense to book multiple sessions in a week so that you get a solid foundation quickly, with some added motivation.
If you’re looking to develop a particular skill or need specialized guidance in some area, a weekly session might be enough.
The location of the training can refer to two different things. For one, your geographic location is going to matter a lot. If you’re living in a big city like New York, chances are that prices will be higher than in a smaller town. On the other hand, you can also get fitness training either at a commercial gym, private studio or at your own home.
The latter option is obviously going to be the most expensive since the trainer has to drive to the client’s home for the private session. The gym session will make the most sense for many people since you’re already paying for the equipment—you might as well add some cash to learn how to use it properly.
Some trainers may be affiliated with their gyms while others may be considered independent trainers.
You should try shopping around different gyms in your area to see prices. Online personal training is also an option that’s popped off recently, but there won’t be that physical presence that there otherwise would be. Nevertheless, online personal training can often be cheaper and will also provide you with high-quality trainers that can adapt to your needs and goals.
There are also small group training sessions and personal training sessions. The first option is going to cost significantly less because there are several people sharing the costs. However, these sessions are going to be much less flexible for individuals that want a specific fitness plan.
If you’re looking for a flexible session with plenty of one-on-one time, a personal training session is going to get you a lot further.
This is especially true if there are any noteworthy injuries that you want your trainer to take note of when creating your training program. It also becomes a lot easier to adapt the program directly to your goals and nutritional needs. However, there will be a higher price tag attached to this option.
This is a big one and it’s going to be one of the largest factors when dictating price. There is nothing stopping anyone from declaring themselves a personal trainer, which is why there can often be such a huge disparity in prices and PT skill levels. However, the fact that there are no requirements for becoming a personal trainer doesn’t mean that licensing doesn’t exist.
There are a ton of different certifications and ways to discern a trainer’s credibility.
Some of these “credible” ways simply require someone taking a test or doing an online course, which likely won’t allow for the best quality training even though you’re then a certified personal trainer (CPT).
Some people may do their Bachelor’s in Exercise Science, but this doesn’t mean they’re experienced trainers. There are six personal trainer certifications that are the most widely seen. The National Personal Training Institute (NPTI) credential actually requires potential PTs to take a full program at a school. This makes the NPTI certification one of the most credible out there.
The other commonly seen certifications include:
Keep in mind that all of these certifications aren’t equal, and they all have their pros and cons. However, in many cases, they’re better than not having any certification at all. But education shouldn’t be the only factor when considering someone’s credentials.
We’ll look at this further down below when we discuss how to choose a personal trainer, but it should be said here that just because a personal trainer has a ton of credentials, doesn’t mean they’re good.
In many cases, it’s the real-world experience that matters the most.
This isn’t to say that certifications have no place, but that they have to be taken in the wider context.
Education, certification, and experience flow into one of the next largest factors that dictate price: specialization. If you’re paying $20 per session, chances are that you’re going to get very limited personal treatment, let alone offer some sort of specialization.
Specialization refers to those trainers who have racked up enough schooling or experience to be considered specialized in certain areas such as rehabilitation, or working with diseases such as MS or cerebral palsy.
The more unique your needs, the more specialized of a personal trainer you’ll need.
And the more specialized the trainer, the higher the price will be. This is because you’re not just paying for an hour of their time, but you’re paying for all the schooling they’ve done and the experience they’ve earned over years. These are the people that are going to be able to fit your own personal needs and goals, and this partnership will likely result in success for you.
Since you’re here and not on the website of your local gym, chances are that you couldn’t find their prices readily available. Although some will make their prices publicly available, most will not.
This is because gyms and personal trainers want to get you in so they can talk to you.
The more they get to know you and your personal needs, the better they can cater to your own needs. This also means that it’s easier for them to sell you on a particular trainer or a particular program.
For example, if a gym pushed the fact that their personal trainers will make you feel sexy, that won’t be a great selling point for people simply looking to rehabilitate after an injury.
Since goals are as diverse as the people who have them, it’s much easier for personal trainers and gyms to first speak to someone before selling them on a program or session.
However, this also isn’t necessarily a bad thing, even if it might be conceived of just going after a “sale.” Going in to speak to a real person can help both you and the gym (or personal trainer) connect you to someone that can really help you and push you to your goals.
Now that you know what a decent price range might be for your needs, it’s time to choose a personal trainer that works for you.
At the end of the day, you’re trying to get results that further your progress—getting generic advice that can be used on everyone is something you can get from the internet. But just like the question of price, this is easier said than done.
There are several factors to look at when considering a personal trainer, but it all comes down to whether you trust them to get you to where you want to be. This means that you shouldn’t look at just price, that you should consider their expertise and certifications, and you should get along to some extent.
It’s good to have a budget (and stick to it), but as we’ve seen, pricing differs on several different factors. And although we’ve been focusing on price, that shouldn’t be your main deciding factor.
When comparing a $25 session and an $80 session, you’re going to likely get very different values of training.
You might be saving a lot of money with the cheaper option, but your trainer will likely give you more generic workouts instead of focusing on your personal needs and motivations.
However, at the same time, you shouldn’t be seeing the price as an automatic indicator of value. In sales, there’s a common understanding that the higher you price something, the fewer complaints and haggling you’ll get. This is because people tend to associate higher prices with higher quality, even though it may not necessarily be the case.
Higher prices will also attract people who have more money to spend and are therefore less likely to pinch pennies.
These are factors you should be aware of about yourself when choosing a budget and a personal trainer. But, if you shouldn’t be focusing too much on price, what should you be focusing on?
By far the most important factor in the quality of a personal trainer is going to be their expertise. And even more importantly, how their expertise meshes with your goals. So, it’s going to be important to have some goals. Sure—you can walk into a gym, buy some personal training sessions, and have at ‘em without any specific thing you’re working towards.
But this isn’t going to be efficient and it might even be a waste of money. Everyone can find free, generic advice on the internet—there’s no point in paying upwards of a hundred dollars if you don’t know exactly what you’re paying for.
And this is also why it’s so important to become very familiar with your goals and at least understand them from a theoretical perspective.
This will allow you to find a personal trainer that honestly understands what you want, whether that’s losing weight, hitting a new PR, becoming a competitive powerlifter or bodybuilder, or simply wanting to become more physically fit.
Understanding your goals and knowing what it generally takes to get to them will also allow you to see through any potential BS. It’s important to head professional advice while also being critical in a constructive manner. Ask questions like, “why do you want me to do this exercise instead of x?”
You’re not looking to subvert professional opinion, but just trying to find out the methodology behind the system, if you have different ideas of how you think you should be progressing.
You may want to find a personal trainer that has expertise in the area that you want to train in.
Sometimes this will be easy. For example, your budget will likely limit the expertise you can buy (at least to a certain extent). Or your goal might be simply learning your way around a gym. For more general goals, more generic guidance is acceptable.
Since there are no official requirements to becoming a personal trainer, it might seem like a wild west out there. This is also why those with certifications (and especially those with more stringent certifications, such as a relevant college degree and a personal training course) can often charge more for their services.
After all, they’ve “proven” the fact that they know something about personal training.
However, education shouldn’t be considered the end all and be all, of effective personal training. For one, don’t completely overlook trainers without certain credentials.
And furthermore, don’t unquestioningly accept everything about a trainer that’s credentialed. Just like in the job market, it’s experience that matters the most.
You want to find a personal trainer that has a track record of helping people like you reach similar goals.
Another good source of experience is if the personal trainer has actually performed or reached the goals that you’re after. For example, if you’re looking to get into bodybuilding, finding someone who’s competed in bodybuilding can be invaluable.
However, you also need someone who’s enthusiastic about helping you reach your goals and knows how to teach.Doing and teaching are two separate skills. Someone may be an amazing bodybuilder but a bad teacher, or vice versa. How you balance these skill requirements is up to you and will once again depend on your goals. If you’re a quick learner and can get along with most people, maybe you don’t need an amazing teacher. This leads to our last point.
A good personal trainer should be interested in your specific goals and be enthusiastic about helping you.
And generally speaking, someone who’s getting paid $150 per session is going to be more enthusiastic than someone who’s being paid $30. But this is obviously not always going to be the case.
Personal trainers are amazing resources of information, but their job goes further than simply teaching you the ropes.
They should be sources of motivation and of general guidance in your journey. How well you personally get along with a PT can speak to how quickly and efficiently you work towards your goals.That also means you shouldn’t be afraid of backing out if you have some personal gripe with a potential trainer, since this will play a large part in your success.
In the end, you need a budget that’s within realistic boundaries depending on a host of individual factors. However, you also need achievable and well-defined goals, because a personal trainer can only help you in so far as you help yourself.
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