Not everyone wants to be an independent personal trainer or fitness business owner. There's something to be said for working at an awesome club in a great environment, but this inevitably creates a catch-22 when
bookended with the realities of enjoying a decent living and making more money as a personal trainer.

What if you really enjoy working at your club, like the clients you train, the location, set-up, camaraderie with the other trainers and staff and the convenience of not having to go out and market and grow your own business? Thinking like an entrepreneur may allow you to stay in that great environment and increase income.

There are ways to leverage yourself and make more money by being creative and seeing the possibilities within the structure already in place:
  • Raise your rates (if you are allowed to) or negotiate a higher revenue split
  • Offer group or boot camp training (more money, less time!)
  • Offload some of your clients to other trainers at the club and work out a commission split
  • Design new programs like nutrition seminars, weight loss challenges, injury/rehab talks, etc., and create the program to work without you having to do anything once it's all set up
  • Design systems and upsells, cross-sells and downsells to help the club make more money while you get a cut
  • Take on higher level duties/responsibilities
  • Bring in revenue-sharing initiatives for the club (supplements, MLM, massage therapy, etc.)
  • Help the club owner cut costs or improve efficiency in exchange for a percentage of the ongoing savings
Above all, work out a fair and reasonable revenue share on all these initiatives and you'll create a win-win for all involved.

But how do you initiate these changes?

Approaching the club owner the right way

After you've thought about how you could start earning more money at your club or gym, you'll have to approach the owner with your plan of action and business ideas.

Take these steps to ensure a successful meeting and not only show your value to the owner, but make their palms sweat as they realize how much money they would be losing if they let an entrepreneurial trainer like you get away!

Establish your past and present value
Come prepared to your meeting with cold hard facts: Show the owner how much money you bring in to the club per month/year and how much profit you represent. Talk to them about what initiatives you'd like to get started to increase the owner's revenue and profits. If you tell a business owner that you are going to create
money for them out of thin air, they'll listen!

Make sure you come with a giving hand, not a threatening one; show the value you off er by STAYING, not what they'll lose if you walk away. The owner isn't dumb -- they know why you're there and why you are asking to make more money. State the facts in a way that shows the benefit to both of you: "I need to make more money and have found a few ways to do it that will benefit the club as well."

Establish the parameters for a deal
Now that you have the owner's attention, tell them in specifics what you are proposing. Do your research and come prepared with dollar amounts, timelines and marketing plans. Some examples:

  • You keep 100% of the training revenue you bring in. In exchange, you agree to bring in more paying members, design specific programs that the club can use to make more money, and train some of the staff for free.
  • You no longer train clients one-on-one but become a manager or supervisor, get a raise and institute several cost-saving measures and revenue sharing initiatives to further increase your income.
  • You keep the split on your personal training revenue where it was, BUT the owner agrees to let you market to the club's email list for special programs and recurring revenue generating initiatives.
Close the deal or walk away
At the end of the day, the owner is either going to be receptive to what you are offering or not. If you really
want to stay at this club, make sure your proposals are well-thought out and designed. Outline not only the profits you can bring to the company but the cost of the missed opportunity -- that is, you.

Here's the deal: If you leave the club and invariably take all of your clients with you, the club loses in four ways:
1. The club loses an experienced trainer that helped them with their reputation and client retention.
2. The club loses the revenue that they made from their split with you as a personal trainer.
3. The club potentially loses all those members who will cancel their memberships and follow you wherever you go.
4. The club loses the potential revenue and income they would have generated through your cost saving initiatives, new programs, joint ventures and all the other changes you would have instituted.

Show them that by keeping you around, they are going to make more money, even if they have to give up a bit on the front end. If, after all of that, the owner simply won't budge, then you have to be prepared to walk away.

*Please note: These strategies obviously won't work for large chain gyms. It has to be the right situation, where the owner has his hands personally involved in the club's day-to-day activities. You'll know whether the situation is right for some creative deal making or if you simply have to walk away.

The Bottom Line
If done right, you can greatly leverage yourself and increase your personal training income by looking outside of what are considered "normal" ways of making a living as a personal trainer. Instead of merely trading time for money and making a per-hour rate, you are now creating initiatives and instituting systems that are working without your labor, then stacking them one on top of another to explode your income. At the end of the day, what matters most is what making more money affords you: more time with friends, family and loved ones, and a lifestyle to match your expectations.

Chris Fernandez, B.S., CPT, is a cutting-edge author, speaker and celebrity personal trainer for over 13 years, as well as a natural for life bodybuilder, athlete and cross-trainer devoted to helping other personal trainers achieve lasting fi nancial independence through his blog ( and System 5 (