Articles for Professionals, Businesses, People

Employed, Rental or Own Business – Pros and Cons for Each as a Personal Trainer


Back in November 2013 we posted this article to our newsletter subscribers. It had a great response and the information is as relevant as ever. So here it is again for our new blog…

To help lift the fog surrounding the different Personal Training opportunities, I asked Michael Grogan, [formally] FD at Goodlife Fitzroy, for his input. Michael has worked under both an employed and franchise Personal Training model, so is well placed to provide some advice.

Keep in mind that these scenarios, while the most common, are not indicative of every situation. The relative pros and cons of any role as they relate to you specifically should be taken into account.

Over to you Michael…

I’ve provided what I see as the main differences below. In the interests of full disclosure, at Goodlife, our Trainers work under a Licensee model, which has been successful for both the clubs and our Trainers. While this might influence my opinions, in the very least, the information below should provide food for thought for anyone looking to become a Personal Trainer.


The big attraction with the employee model is the security of being paid directly as an employee of the gym. In many cases the employer will provide the clients – meaning no ability to sell required of the Trainer. Not surprisingly, this is often the first preference for new Trainers. It’s worth noting that very few clubs and studios are still using an employed model.

Among those that are employed, the majority are ‘casual’. Very few Trainers are employed as part time staff and even less, if any, are employed under a ‘full time’ arrangement.

With a ‘casual’ employment agreement, earnings will come from a 50/50 or 60/40 split between the gym and Trainer for each session. Part and Full Time roles are not session dependent, so the split between the employer and employee is not so relevant.

If conducting a limited number of Personal Training sessions each week, this can be a beneficial arrangement. If, however, your desire is to make Personal Training your main source of income, an employed arrangement may be restricting your earning capacity.

Case Study:

At 15 sessions per week ($75/60 mins – Trainer receives $35), Facility retains $600, Trainer takes home $525,

Benefits: No financial obligation (like rent); Less stress; Sick/Annual leave; Superannuation contributions.
Considerations: Potential ceiling on earnings.


The main draw card with this Personal Training model is that the fee paid by the client for a session goes directly to the trainer; therefore a 60 minute session at $75p/h is going directly to the trainer. The harder a Trainer works (the more sessions they do) the greater their income.

On average, Trainers will cover their weekly rental fee in their first 3-5 sessions. After that, every session fee goes straight to them.

While not all rental models require a start up fee, many do. This may be unexpected for those looking for a Personal Training ‘job’, but it may come with some benefits;

  • Considerable and structured business training: You learn skills required to operate your own successful business, skills that stay with you for life.
  • Access to a large membership base: Usually rental Trainers work in large commercial gym’s like Goodlife; providing access to a wide range of members of all shapes, sizes and goals. This is an opportunity for you to create your own niche, rather than working within someone else’s niche.
  • Dedicated and ongoing support from a division manager whose focus is to ensure all Personal Trainers are as successful as they can be.
  • Established and proven systems for lead generation: For example, at Goodlife we run Kickstart and 12 week challenges that are designed to generate leads for Trainers.

This sort of model is not for everyone though. In most cases it does require an initial investment and a minimum commitment period. So those unsure about whether a career in Personal Training is for them may be advised to consider other options.

Case study:

At 15 sessions per week ($75/60 mins), Facility rental no more than $300. Trainer takes home at least $825.

Benefits: Business training and support, Rent is same regardless of income.
Considerations: Contract periods. Rent is the same regardless of income. Possible start up fees.


The real appeal here is complete control over all elements, no fee sharing and very low entry costs.

This situation really is the ultimate learning environment and can be the most rewarding but does come with it’s own considerations.

You need to come to terms with all facets of business such as marketing, bookkeeping, financial statements / projections, client generation, client retention, securing a facility/permit, OH&S, etc.

With no immediate support from management, no coaching or assistance with lead generation, this can be a challenging way to get started. A business coach/mentor can make the difference. Be sure to adopt a learning mindset – it’s not just the things you know you need to learn more about, it’s the things you don’t even know that you don’t know, that can bring you undone.

Building useful connections and connecting with advice you can trust is also paramount.

If you feel you have an extensive network to draw upon (or a great business mentor) and are confident with your abilities both as a Personal Trainer and in business this may be the best option for you.

Case study:

At 15 sessions per week ($75/60 mins), Facility/park payment ~ depends*. Trainer potentially takes home $1,125.

Benefits: Complete control, All fees go directly to the Trainer.
Considerations: Need to source/purchase equipment/facilities. No immediate support. Need to develop own systems and processes. Marketing challenges. Staff? Business set up. Etc.

*For example, if you’re running 6 bootcamp sessions with 10 participants in Melbourne parks, you’re likely to be paying close to $6,500 per year in permit fees.

Thank you Michael. 

Historically speaking, Personal Training has always been something professionals did independently. It was only in recent history (thanks largely to Rowena and Kerry McEvoy and their SPT program) that Personal Trainers became a part of employed staff. A trend that has died out because managing employed Personal Trainers is, to be frank, like herding cats!

If you have any questions, you’re welcome to send them through or add to the comments for this blog item.


Picture 15Dennis Hosking,
Managing Director,

Some useful links for Trainers;



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