“What’s your fee?” This is a common question that many health and fitness pros must address with a potential client or employer. But arriving at the right fee for your services can be tricky. You don’t want to undercharge or accept an unusually low fee and feel as if you aren’t being paid reasonably for your time and expertise. But grossly overcharging might price you out of a job and isn’t fair to the client.
What’s more, if you’ve made a career out of wearing multiple “fitness pro” hats in the industry—i.e., personal training, teaching classes, managing programs, speaking and/or consulting—you might find that your hourly rate shifts depending on the situation. In fact, you might find it’s best not charge by the hour at all.
Here’s how to carefully and confidently consider the many variables involved in setting the right fee(s) for your fitness services and skill sets.
Know the Going Rate
A first step to arriving at your fee structure is to know a bit about what the market will bear. Location matters: Instructors in one city might earn several times more money per class than what instructors in another city could only hope to see on a paycheck. Investigate the average fee that trainers/instructors in your community charge and also what nearby gyms pay for the same jobs you do.
You can usually glean info via word of mouth and a bit of research. Look to your close peers in the industry and request their insight about fees. You don’t have to ask them outright how much money they make—just let the conversation flow naturally.
You might also have clients who’ve worked with other health and fitness pros in your area. Again, asking exactly what they’ve paid in the past might be inappropriate, but you could inquire if your fees are in the ballpark of what others charge. And sleuth around online. Your competitors might actually post their rates on the web. See how yours compare.
Per Hour, Per Session, Per Project, Etc.
A lot of health and fitness pros naturally assume they should charge by the hour because fitness jobs are usually structured by the hour: training sessions, boot camps, fitness classes, etc. However, sometimes your fee shouldn’t be based on clocking in and out of a job.
Quoting an hourly fee might get especially problematic when you try to account for variables such as value, expertise, a tight deadline and time spent working on the job beyond the hours you're actually clocked in (for example, prepping for a program, class or session).
To avoid a by-the-hour pricetag that might look overinflated to both you and the client, establish a project fee or consulting fee, if possible. Focus on fees related to completing a program or project and/or the value and knowledge you bring to the table.
Your Niche and Specialized Expertise
Related to the above point, consider that if you’re charging solely by hours spent training or consulting, you might be selling yourself short. For example, two trainers or instructors could both spend the same 60 minutes teaching a class. However, one is new to the industry and the other has a high degree of specialization such as pre-natal fitness or an in-demand niche like training golfers. Everyone’s time is valuable. But one person possesses greater experience, education and expertise. Fees should reflect that notable difference.
How Your Fees Reflect Your Brand
What does your fee say about your brand or career goals? If you want to attract high-profile members of your community as clients or you’re asked to teach classes at a high-end, elite club, you’ll naturally want to increase your fees beyond the average.
On the other hand, setting your fees too high without justification, or failing to tie it back to your brand, could hurt your chances of bringing in new clients or job opportunities. Find the balance.
A Packed Schedule
It’s nice to be in high demand, but it leaves you with only so much time and energy each day for clients and other work projects. If your schedule is quite packed, you might be able to set your fees slightly higher than normal because your time is so limited. Simply put, when your availability is at a premium, you have more leverage to increase your fees.
Are You Willing to Lose the Deal?
Finally, when you’re grappling with what to charge for a training package, a speaking engagement or a big consulting project, consider how much you want the job and what your goals are for taking it on. Quoting a fee that’s a bit higher than the amount you might ultimately accept leaves room for negotiation and covers you in case of unforeseen obstacles, setbacks and/or troubleshooting.
Be assertive in asking for what you feel you deserve, but stay within a range that appears fair and communicates that your services aren’t the cheapest around. Also, question how much you want the gig: There’s always the possibility that a prospective client will walk away from a high-priced deal, saying they can’t afford you or aren’t prepared to shell out your suggested rate.
Always consider whether you can afford—financially and professionally—to lose the deal because of your fee. Then hold your head high and name your price with confidence.