Working At A Gym Or Working Independently As A Personal Trainer?
Typically, certified Personal Trainers have the option to work under two general employment structures - as either an Independent Trainer or a Gym Affiliated trainer. Most facilities use a Subcontractor model, which is not considered employment, however in this article is covering only the employed vs self-employed models. Each option comes with its own set of strengths and weaknesses, depending on your location, experience level, personal work preferences and income expectations.
We’ve unpacked and reviewed the pros and cons of working at a gym vs working independently as a Personal Trainer.
Can I Earn More Working Independently As A Personal Trainer?
The biggest attraction of working independently as a PT is the ability to see the biggest return on your training fee. However, don’t forget that you’ll be absorbing business overheads - taxes, insurance, equipment costs, marketing expenses and ongoing training. You’ll also be responsible for the financial risks associated with running your own business.
Should you be employed by a gym, typically, your first few months working as a Personal Trainer will see you running the front desk and performing menial tasks, rather than constantly training clients and developing your business.
However, a major benefit of working in the gym affiliate structure is that your taxes and insurance will be paid by your employer. They will also be required to provide full liability insurance, worker’s compensation insurance, and provide holiday pay and annual leave. This means that even at quieter times of the year, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing your income is protected. Even in busy periods, the reality of operating as an independent Personal Trainer is that clients will cancel.
Those first few months within the gym system are also a valuable time to build up your clientele, learn from your fellow trainers and get your feet wet in the world of Personal Training - without the added stress of paying your own wage.
Will It Be Easier To Build A Client-Base As A Personal Trainer In A Gym?
It’s certainly true that there are some great ways to take advantage of having access to your gym’s membership, but remember, clients won’t be handed to you on a silver platter! There are loads of ways to ensure you’re doing your best to book new clients.
Practice what you preach and train in the gym that you work at to give members the opportunity to be impressed by what you can do. Train clients in peak hour for the same reason. Get involved in your gym’s newsletter or blog and share your knowledge with members - they’re all potential clients.
Working in a gym, you benefit by working under the brand umbrella - assuming that this is an instantly recognisable, well respected brand. You have constant contact with their members, but remember, it’s up to you to hustle for their business. The downside to this is that you are limited to that client pool and don’t have the option of building your own market. On the contrary, as an independent Personal Trainer, you have the freedom to reach out to whatever market you choose.
Can I Do Both?
This is dependant on your agreement with the gym you plan to use, however in technical terms then yes, this option could provide the best of both worlds. To avoid investing in expensive exercise equipment while you’re starting out as an independent trainer, there is the option of seeking employment as an independent contractor of a gym. This would involve paying a fee for use of their facilities, while maintaining your autonomy as an independent Personal Trainer. This also benefits the gym, as your client is likely to sign up as a member.
Alternatively, if you are a subcontractor then you are most likely paying ‘rent’ to the gym you train in, and are unable to train non-members of that particular gym in the gym itself.
Flexibility Of Independent Training Vs The Stability Of Training In The Gym
If you crave the flexibility of being your own boss, working independently, or as a subcontractor in a gym is for you. You can control your own schedule and work as much or as little as you like - wherever you like. Offering to train clients from their home can be a great solution that wouldn’t be an option working from a gym.
If you want to build a business that not only suits your lifestyle, but best represents your personal brand as a trainer, operating independently is a great option. However, if you need a little more financial stability while establishing yourself as a trainer, there are some fantastic benefits to working for a great gym.
It’s also important that aspiring Personal Trainers understand that getting clients and running a business is hard work. While it is flexible to the extent that you determine your hours/how many clients you have, at the end of the day it will take a lot of time and energy to ensure you continue earning.
Choosing What’s Best For Your Goals
At the end of the day, there are benefits to each option. When making your decision, let your passion for serving your community as a Personal Trainer guide which employment structure would work the best for you.