Has this has happened to you? You’ve finally decided to take the big step and hire a personal trainer, so you start calling around to local fitness facilities in the hopes of finding your very own fitness professional.  It doesn’t take long to discover the blatant disparity between pricing: $20 per session, $40 per session… $60 DOLLARS PER SESSION!?!? 

“Why the hell would I pay so much for a trainer if I can get the same thing for $20?!” To use the well-known cliché, ”You usually get what you pay for!” – and hiring a personal trainer isn’t any different.

So let’s dig into this a little…

    First of all, not all trainers are created equal – just like not all accountants, financial advisers, auto mechanics, contractors, hair dressers, and tutors are created equal.  I’m not implying that getting your taxes done at a booth inside of a Walmart is necessarily a bad thing, but chances are that in this case you’ll probably not receive the same level of accounting advice you would get from Price Waterhouse.  Shouldn’t we apply same thinking should when hiring a personal trainer?
    Sure, your neighbor’s son (who has a six-pack and lifts weights every day) could probably write you a workout.  You could also go to your local warehouse-style fitness center and buy a package of 10 sessions for the ridiculously low price of $200. Heck, you could even flip to the back of any fitness magazine and mail away for a $99 certification… then you’d never have to hire trainer.
Comparing Apples to Oranges

    There are scores, if not hundreds of personal training “certifications” out there.  Many require nothing more than $69 and the completion of an un-timed, at-home test that anyone with internet and an 8th grade reading level can pass.  And, believe it or not… many of the warehouse-style gyms will actually provide their own training certification to those interested in working as a personal trainer, but have no prior training experience or certification, otherwise.   These in-house certifications aren’t worth the paper that their printed on and aren’t recognized anywhere but at the issuing organization (by the way, you should expect to pay very little for a trainer at a place like this).
    The certification programs that bona fide personal trainers go through can cost them $1,000’s just to get to the test.  This journey could include workshops, classes, study materials, and organized peer groups, plus six months (or more) of intense studying.  It’s only after months of studying things like: program implementation and design, special populations, fitness nutrition, biology, kinesiology, physiology, anatomy, supplementation, assessments, etc., that a candidate may be ready for the proctored test (taken at a facility where no phones, books, or notes are allowed).
    Even after the test is passed, these trainers need to continue their education every year or two in order to maintain their certification.  These continuing education credits (CEU’s) are earned by: attaining additional certifications or specializations, attending workshops and taking classes, seminars, study courses, internships, etc. (FYI, if your trainer has a certification that doesn’t require CEU’s, it would be wise to reconsider your selection). 
For example, I’ve been a certified personal trainer for over 16 years now and over the years I’ve invested tens of thousands of dollars – and a countless number of hours – maintaining my certifications and specializations.  

So, why the difference in price?

Knowledgeable, certified professional trainers can’t offer low hourly rates because of the amount of investment and professional development that go into perfecting our craft and expanding our knowledge base.  Our time is significantly more valued because of these things.

    If you’re interested in finding a warm body just to watch you go through the motions of a cookie-cutter workout then there are a number of establishments that would love to take your money.  However, if you’re looking for a fitness professional to custom design your fitness program while considering your exercise and health history (all-the-while adjusting myriad variables from workout to workout), then you’re likely to benefit from choosing high-quality over low-price.
    The responsible programming, accelerated results, and library of information that a qualified FitPro can offer you is well worth the extra money.
    Do your due diligence and make certain to speak to the person who will be in charge of your programming – BEFORE you spend any money.  And, ask them questions… a lot of questions.  Let them justify the price (not some gym salesperson).  It should take no more than a quick ten-minute conversation for you to be able to tell if you’re dealing with a qualified and consummate personal trainer.
    You work hard to make a living, be sure that your personal trainer does, too.

The great ones always will.