How much should you charge for your training sessions? I once heard that price is relative to the cost of everything else on sale in the marketplace – well with Personal Training it gets even more tricky than that.
That’s because training is an intangible service that’s highly dependent on the person delivering it (the trainer, ie YOU) That’s what this blog is about by the way – if the product is YOU, then no one should be telling you how much to charge or be steeling any of your money. Dumping the gym is the first step to getting paid what you’re worth.
Back on subject, your rates aren’t dependent on the number of certifications you have, the kind-of shape you’re in, or how many years you’ve been a trainer. These are all factors that influence the price, but they don’t determine it.
The sole determinant is your own self-esteem – the belief you have in yourself and your training services. Yeah, you could say that about any field, but it’s the most true in this one. That’s both a scary and at the same time a liberating thought. What do you think, performing at your peak, you could get away with charing? That should be your rate. If you have no experience right now, charge 10-20% less than that until you become comfortable with closing sales and giving outstanding service. But on future training packages and all re-signs, begin to slowly raise your prices.
What really determines the price you can set as a Personal Trainer is your psychic value. With pretty much everything we purchase, this is the deciding factor. That’s what makes a Maybach nearly 50 times more expensive than a Hyundai. Your ability to create that value is your primary asset.
But people don’t consciously know this. The reason most clients think they need a Personal Trainer is to improve their appearance or performance in some way. And surely, I and I’m sure you too achieve amazing results with the people we work with. That’s one of our key success areas of course. But it’s not the only one, and surprisingly it’s not really the most important one. Since results are largely dependant on factors that are out of our control, results can’t be the deciding criteria.
What Personal Training starts out as is a way to get in shape; what it actually turns into is a high quality, highly regimented activity to engage in on a regular basis. That’s what’s cool about it – in an otherwise boring life, it becomes something fun and challenging to do! It’s the training session and the trainer that are the products that the client is paying for, not the end result.
It’s the process.
The feelings the trainer and session can create will be what determines price. Of course, these types of sessions will also get better results, but it’s the experience that comes first.
In order to create value in your training sessions that you can charge more money for, you need to start thinking differently about them. We need to view it as a product, and just like any other product, we need to start thinking about what it’s made of.
- How does a great training session sound?
- How does it look?
- How does it feel?
- How does it taste? (take your mind out of the gutter)
- How does it smell?
- How does it make you feel?
My point is that you need to consider all of the factors that could directly, indirectly, and psychically affect your session. The reason Jackie Warner can charge over $400 for her sessions and some of her trainers can charge over $200 isn’t because they’re better trainers (if you’ve watched her show, you know that’s clearly not the case). The reason is because they train out of an exquisite studio in a posh neighborhood and they’re all good looking. These are factors that have nothing to do with the training itself. You don’t need to hit the same hot buttons, but you get the idea. There are a million and one ways to increase your session’s psychic value, and we’ll get into a few of them later.
Yeah, so back to price – in most major buying decisions, price isn’t the deciding factor. I’d challenge you to identify a single thing you own that you bought just because it was the cheapest. People don’t by training like that either, so just lowering your prices isn’t the winning formula. Like we just talked about, it’s all perceived value. It’s only bad trainers that cite price as the primary reason that clients don’t buy.
Successful trainers doesn’t view price as the deciding factor. They pay attention to all the facets of the job, and instead spend more time and effort in justifying price, rather than arguing over it.
But no matter how justified your rates are, there’ll inevitably be some people that’ll think they’re too high. Maybe they had no idea how much Personal Training cost, or they’re just used to bargaining for everything they buy. But sure enough you’ll find ’em – clients that’ll fight you on price.
You never want to get involved in a price discussion over your services. It’s tempting to do it, especially if you need the work, but don’t! Consultant and sales people in every field will tell you the same thing – people that fight you on price are usually the highest problem customers around. These are exactly the people you want to avoid. Just politely let them know that your prices have been set in competitive marketplace, and with all things considered you actually turn out to be a tremendous value over other trainers.
Interestingly enough, price is directly related to perceived quality – people expect to pay more for the best. For that reason, when something costs more, it’s considered better and will probably lead to even more demand – you can actually hurt yourself by charging too little!
I’ve noticed this first hand. A little while into my solo career, I went through a long dry spell. Because I wasn’t selling to a particularly affluent clientèle, I incorrectly assumed price was the reason. I eventually cut my sessions to a half hour and made my rates ridiculously low. This of course didn’t help business pick up in any way and killed my self-esteem and credibility.
Over the next year I got committed to fitness – I raised my prices, improved the quality of my sessions, and paid attention to my image. In about a year, in the exact same training environment, I had more than tripled my prices, and was so booked I had to hire 3 part-time assistants to help!
If you’ve done your job of justifying your price through outstanding sessions, you’ll find clients won’t be looking for concessions on price, but instead on training frequency. They’ll want to cut back on the number of sessions they use per week so they can fit it into their budget. Unlike the price shoppers, these types of client are earnest in their desire to train with you, and usually turn into great clients and sources of referrals. They’d rather work out less than resort to an inferior trainer.
The only drawback is that this type of client may turn out to take more time per week to service, since they may call or email you more for coaching in between sessions. They also may take away peak time slots from other clients that are training at a much higher frequency. For these reasons, it’s up to you to decide whether you’ll allow less than twice weekly training in your practice.
Ways To Add Value To A Training Session
As we mentioned, justifying price is the key point. If you cost the most, on what basis? Here are a few:
- You’re in great shape yourself.
- You have a sound knowledge of all the key information to handle common client questions.
- You’re perceived as more busy and in demand than other trainers.
- You’re personal appearance indicates that you’re one of the best in your field.
- You have a professional attitude, like what would be expected from one of the world’s top trainers.
- You are punctual and prepared every single time.
- Your sessions are always challenging and excellent in every way.
- You have a positive personality.
- You have more experience than other trainers and this is directly obvious from training with you.
- You are more highly qualified than other trainers and this is directly obvious from training with you.
When you put all of these together you get a complete package that can easily go for more than what other trainers are charging in the marketplace – even twice as much. Through these factors and many more I haven’t listed, you can eventually grow into one of the highest earning trainers in this field.
If you’re having trouble getting people into your funnel in the first place before price even comes up, you probably have an image problem. That means people don’t have an interest in you and aren’t willing to take a chance on you in the first place. You’re probably not coming across as credible to them.
- Do you sound confident or needy?
- Do you appear to be a professional or an unskilled amateur?
- Did you clearly demonstrate knowledge or the opposite, a lack of experience?
- Did you get them excited about everything they’ll accomplish with you?
- When you’re training others, do these sessions appear to be the absolute best on the market, or just like everyone elses?
What’s funny is you might come across the opposite situation where your client’s are very wealthy and have absolutely no buyer’s resistance at all. They’re actually slightly insulted at any indication of price or any obvious sales techniques. And if you hang around this field long enough and keep racking up credibility indicators, you’ll get to a point where price is no factor – you can charge whatever you want and people will happily pay!
These types of clients are usually used to the best of everything, and paying for it isn’t a problem for them. This type of wealthy client is rare however. I’ve had to sidestep price discussions with clients who were multimillionaires many times. That’s because even the wealthy in many cases are very careful and shrewd about how they spend their money; that’s how they got rich in the first place.
So charging less isn’t the answer – it’s creating a climate where price is justified. There are some other minor tactics involved that can boost your prices, like having them in writing, having the price discussion in a private place that’s on your turf, and having your certifications hanging on the wall at the time when price is brought up. You need to be creative and think of ever little thing you can do that’ll add more perceived value to your sessions if you want them to be the highest priced. This ability to crawl into the mind of a customer and understand what they consider value is something that’ll pay off permanently.
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