Working with a personal trainer can be a very rewarding, potentially life-changing experience.
Your trainer can provide the expertise, motivation, and extra push you need to transform your body, get stronger and become a better version of yourself.
In return, trainers get paid a pretty decent rate and can make a good living.
There’s just one question remaining for some clients:
Should you tip a personal trainer?
Clients are not generally expected to tip their personal trainers. Tips are welcomed but should never be expected. If you do decide to tip once or twice per year for exceptional service, the cost of one training session is a good amount.
In this article, we’ll break down the whole subject of tipping a personal trainer. In the process, we’ll examine how personal trainers get paid and provide some PT tipping ground rules.
How Do Personal Trainers Get Paid?
A personal trainer may be paid by the facility that employs them or directly by the client, depending on whether they are operating their own stand alone training business or are working under the umbrella of a fitness center.
A trainer who works for himself is free to charge whatever hourly rate he chooses.
The average hourly rate being charged by personal trainers in 2022 is between $60-70 per hour.
Of course, from this the trainer must deduct taxes, operating costs, insurance, and travel costs. If your trainer is coming to you, you should expect the rate to go up as gas prices continue to go through the roof.
Personal trainers who work as part of a fitness facility do not get paid directly by the client.
(See gyms with trainers here.)
Instead, they pay the gym and the gym, in turn, pays the trainer.
There are a range of payment plans out there. However, the following three methods of payment are most common:
- The trainer is paid a commission on the number of sales.
- The trainer is paid a percentage of the fee charged to the client when the session is completed.
- The trainer is paid a bonus when they reach a target number of sessions per month or quarter.
So, how much does the average personal trainer make?
According to payscale.com, the average hourly rate for an entry-level personal trainer is $15.30 per hour. That’s $31,824 per annum.
The average across the board for personal trainers at all levels is $42,000. Fewer than 10 percent are making more than $76,000 a year.
How Big Box Gyms Pay Trainers
Big Box gyms will offer one of two payment structures to their personal trainers:
- Commercial Gym
- 1099 Personal Trainer
The commercial gym structure is divided into commission, straight salary and retainer + commission.
As a commission only trainer, the PT is on their own financially. If they don’t sign up clients, they don’t eat.
The gym may either refer clients to the trainer, in which case they will take a pretty hefty part of the training fee, or leave the trainer to find them himself, in which case he will make a little bit more.
If the personal trainer is a straight salary employee, their income won’t change regardless of how many or how few clients they sign up each month (though if they fall below a certain quota, they can expect the pressure to come on).
A retainer plus commission structure will provide the trainer with a small guaranteed income, which is topped up by commissions on client sign-ups.
Depending on the arrangement, the retainer may be taken from commissions when sales are made.
A 1099 Personal Trainer structure is where the personal trainer operates as an independent contractor to the gym. Rather than employing them, the gym contracts services from the trainer and they pay tax as a self-employed business person.
In this set-up, the trainer is, in effect, paying to use the gym’s facilities.
The gym will generally refer their clients to the trainer, so that he has a stream of business. However, if a gym employs a number of contractors, they will preferentially use the more experienced trainers ahead of newer ones.
A typical fee split in this arrangement is 50/50. So, for a $70 one-hour session, the trainer will be giving $35 to the gym and pocketing the other $35 (which they will then have to pay tax on).
Personal Training Pay Example
Crunch Fitness is a popular international gym brand with more than 400 gyms in half a dozen countries.
Here’s a breakdown of how much an entry-level Crunch Fitness personal trainer can expect to make.
Crunch Fitness does not pay for the hours that their trainers are not training a client. The commission the trainer makes depends on their level of experience and the volume of clients they sign up.
For an hour-long session, the client pays $80, with $50 for a thirty-minute session. The trainer will start off making 40 percent on every session. That’s $32.00 per session.
So, let’s assume that the trainer conducts 15 training sessions per week, or 60 training sessions per month.
Their income for that month will be $1,920. On an annual basis, they will make $23,040.
Should You Tip a Personal Trainer?
Your main costs as a personal training client are simple.
Tipping is where the confusion starts to set in.
There are no set rules when it comes to tipping personal trainers. So, at the end of the day, whether you tip your trainer or not is a personal decision.
Having been a personal trainer for many years, my suggestions would be not to tip your trainer for every session.
I never expected to be tipped, and certainly not for every session. Neither did other trainers I worked alongside.
So, when should you tip? If you believe that your trainer has gone ‘above and beyond’ what you expected from him when you first signed on, provided you with exceptional service and delivered great results, then you should consider rewarding the trainer for his efforts.
Some fitness centers have a no-tipping policy when it comes to their personal trainers, so it pays to check before tipping.
How Much Should You Tip Your PT?
The general rule of thumb when it comes to how much you should tip your personal trainer is that it should be the equivalent of a single training session.
So, if you are paying $60 per session, then that is the amount you should tip.
Of course, if you want to tip a smaller or larger amount, that is perfectly fine. The vast majority of trainers are not expecting to be tipped, so any amount will be greatly appreciated.
By, the way, if you happen to have a trainer who mentions that tipping is a standard practice, I suggest you ditch him immediately.
Tipping During Holiday Season
While it isn’t standard practice to tip a personal trainer throughout the year, most trainers do receive some sort of gift at Christmas time.
This may be in the form of cash (in which case the cost of a single session rule usually applies) or something else.
The gift that you give to your trainer could be anything. In my experience the most popular items are gift cards at retail stores, theater tickets and gym attire.
Of course, you should never feel obligated to give your trainer a tip, whether in the form of cash or anything else, at Christmas time.
You may be a person who does not celebrate Christmas or who simply feels that the rate you have been paying is sufficient to fairly compensate the trainer for the services rendered.
The bottom line here is that no good trainer will be expecting to be tipped, whether during the year or at Christmas time.
So, there is no need to feel pressure or expectation to do so. Give if your heart compels you to do so.
Don’t Give With Expectations
You should never give a tip or gift to your personal trainer with the expectation that they will, as a result, provide you with an elevated level of service.
Of course, you should be getting premium service regardless, but no ethical trainer will give one client better service than another because they have received a gift from that person.
PT Tipping GuideLines
While there are no ground rules when it comes to tipping personal trainers, there are some general guidelines that we have identified.
Here’s a review of what you need to keep in mind when it comes to tipping your personal trainer:
- Do not feel obligated to tip your personal trainer
- Don’t tip your trainer after every training session
- If the trainer is working out of a fitness center, check on what the tipping policy is first
- Tip for exceptional service if your heart impels you to do so
- Provide a tip that equates to the cost of a single training session
- You can provide a gift in lieu of a cash tip
- Many personal training clients give their trainer a tip or gift at Christmas time, but you should by no means feel obligated to do so.
Personal trainers provide a valuable, personal service to their clients. In general, they are paid relatively well for it.
While there is no obligation to pay a tip to your trainer, he or she will certainly appreciate it when and if you do.
So, if you have received exceptional service from your personal trainer and your heart impels you to give them a little something extra, by all means go ahead and do so. You’ll make their day!
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Hope this helps!