Are you thinking of becoming a freelance personal trainer but worried about going it alone? Many trainers prefer to stick with a salaried role because they feel it offers more security. Your income is guaranteed every month and employer will usually help you get clients. Is going freelance worth the greater risks in return for plentiful rewards?
In this article – we look at the pros and cons of becoming a freelance personal trainer.
Are Freelance Personal Training Roles Less Secure?
Salaried jobs are often associated with security since you are guaranteed a fixed income each month. But the changing job market and the rise of the gig industry have meant that these positions are increasingly rare. More and more gyms are employing PTs on a zero-hours contract, meaning they have no guarantee of any minimum amount.
Personal trainers shouldn’t be put off by misconceptions about the lack of security. The reality of modern employment contracts is that they’re just as fragile as self-employment. You can be let go with just a few weeks’ notice so it may not be as secure as you think. The perception of security is actually just an illusion, but does that mean freelance personal trainer jobs are any better?
Freelance personal trainers work in a variety of settings including gyms, parks, and clients’ homes. Depending on your setup, you may find it easier or more difficult to find clients. You’ll get varying levels of support with marketing, equipment, and professional development in different venues. Not all freelance roles are created equal but here are some pros and cons to give you an overview…
Pros & Cons of Going Freelance
Some of the advantages of becoming a freelance personal trainer include…
- Choosing your own hours (within the availability of your clients’ schedule)
- Charging what you’re worth instead of a predetermined gym rate
- Taking control over your own career and income potential
- Enjoying a greater income potential
- Keeping a greater proportion of your earnings (after deducting gym rent)
- Being paid for performance so the harder you work, the more you can earn
However, there are also several disadvantages to being a freelance PT that are important to consider…
- If you aren’t freelancing in a gym environment, then you won’t be handed clients – you’ll need to work harder to find clients
- More administration like bookkeeping and tax payments
- Not knowing if you’ll be able to pay the bills can be stressful
- You’ll spend a lower proportion of your time training clients and more on running the business (sales, marketing, finances)
- You’ll have to pay for your own training courses, workshops, and insurance
Some gyms also offer hybrid roles where you agree to work a number of hours on the gym floor in return for free rent. Depending on the deal you’re offered, you may find that a mix of these pros and cons both apply.
Is Going Freelance Right For Me?
Becoming a freelance personal trainer can be an exciting idea but it’s important to think carefully before making the leap. You may be your own boss but that doesn’t mean you won’t be answerable to anyone. If you rent space in a gym, then you’ll have to follow their rules. You’ll also be answerable to your clients as customer service is a huge part of the role.
Going freelance is generally best for people who…
- Have experience – going freelance as soon as you’ve become certified isn’t recommended as it takes time to learn on the job. You can also benefit from learning from other experienced professionals around you.
- Don’t need the support of a manager – ask yourself honestly whether you need to be told to do things or are at the point where you can manage yourself.
- Are self-motivated – there won’t be anyone else telling you what to do or reminding you when to do it. You’ll need to be confident in marketing tactics, delivering high-quality sessions, and keen to attend training courses off your own back.
- Feel happy to promote themselves – you’ll be 100% responsible for marketing to generate leads and selling your services to anyone who enquiries. It’s something that many trainers overlook but crucial in order to be successful.
- Are willing to work hard – going freelance isn’t an easier option, you may not have a boss but you’ll be completely responsible for your financial security. So, it’s important that you’re motivated to put in the hard graft.
How to Become a Freelance Personal Trainer
If you’re keen to become a freelance PT, then here are some tips on making the shift…
#1 – Reduce Your Living Costs
Pay off debts, cancel all but essential bill payments, and move somewhere with cheaper rent. This will minimise the amount of money you need to survive and reduce the pressure to earn big every month.
#2 – Have a Marketing Plan
Work out exactly how you’re going to get your own clients before going freelance. Set up your website, online ads, and any printed materials you’ll need like business cards. Don’t wait until you’re needing clients to do this, it takes time for people to filter through the funnel so start early. This way you can hit the ground running once you’re on your own.
#3 – Ensure You Meet Legal Obligations
You will need to have your own liability insurance if you want to work as a freelance personal trainer. You may also need to obtain a business license or keep financial records for tax purposes. The rules vary by country and region so do some research about legal obligations in your locality.
#4 – Hone Your Sales Skills
When you’re in a salaried gym position, it’s common for the membership consultants to do most of the selling. They’ll hand over warm leads who they’ve already persuaded to buy PT – you just need to finalise the details. But when you’re freelance, you’ll need to handle all of the selling for yourself. So, make sure you know what you’re saying and have nailed your persuasion skills.
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