Personal Trainer Salary Survey (2020) Results Revealed
Personal trainers have taken a significant financial hit due to covid-19, but few have given up on the profession, according to a salary survey from Personal Trainer Development Center conducted in August.
Fifty-eight percent of personal trainers report losing some or all of their income, mid-pandemic, and twenty-eight percent say they were laid off or furloughed. Six percent have not found a job to replace the one they lost. On average, the personal trainers surveyed say they lost the equivalent of $3,000 U.S. dollars a month since the virus closed gyms and studios, and radically changed how people exercise. The survey of 1,169 fitness professionals elicited responses from around the world, so they come from areas with vastly different success rates at containing the coronavirus.
The survey was not all gloomy; twenty-one percent of trainers said they made more money during the pandemic, and about the same percent reported no change in income. Predictably, trainers who had been taking clients before the pandemic online were most likely to report income bumps.
And personal trainers are persistent: ninety-seven percent said they plan to continue in the field, most of them using some combination of in-person and online coaching. Less than one percent said they intend to quit and work in another field.
They are also adaptable. The study shows a giant shift to teaching online. Before the pandemic, fifty-six percent worked with clients exclusively in-person. Ten percent were online and twenty-eight percent did a mix of both. After the pandemic, only five percent were training clients in-person exclusively. Fifty-six percent were working exclusively online, and twenty-three percent had a hybrid model. Thirteen percent said they weren’t taking clients at the time.
The shift to online training may outlast covid-19-related precautions and restrictions. When asked, “Once pandemic restrictions are lifted, how do you plan to train clients?” two thirds of respondents, sixty-seven percent, said they planned to still use a mix of online and in-person instruction. Another twenty-one percent said they would operate primarily online, while only ten percent said they will work primarily in-person once restrictions are lifted.
Attitudes about the safety of in-person training varied. Fifty-eight percent said it was safe but only with precautions, like masks, social distancing and frequent sanitation of equipment. Thirty-nine percent said it was perfectly safe. A minimal three percent, said it was unsafe. Some of this variance might reflect different coronavirus containment and prevalence depending on area.
The study also served as PTDC’s annual trainer salary survey and gained some non-covid-related insight into the field. Three quarters of personal trainers identified as male. Most, fifty-eight percent, were between the ages of 25 and 34. All other respondents were older but none were older than 55.
The average number of certifications earned by a personal trainer was four. The most common were from Precision Nutrition or the Online Trainer Academy. Each was held by forty percent of respondents. Also sixty-three percent had either a bachelor’s or a master’s degree from a four-year college.
Before the pandemic, the average trainer salary was $46,000, according to the survey. Also pre-pandemic, those who worked online exclusively had a better average income of $54,000, but that was just seven percent of personal trainers before the spread of covid-19. Personal trainers are also an optimistic bunch; before the pandemic, seventy-five expected to make more money in 2020 than they did in 2019.
Nick Keppler is a freelance journalist, writer and editor. He enjoys writing the difficult stories, the ones that make him pore over studies, talk about subjects that make people uncomfortable, and explain concepts that have taken years to develop. Nick has written extensively about psychology, healthcare, and public policy for national publications and for those locally- based in Pittsburgh. In addition to Athletech News, Nick has written for The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Vice, Slate, Reuters, CityLab, Men’s Health, The Gizmodo Media Group, The Financial Times, Mental Floss, The Village Voice and AlterNet. His journalistic heroes include Jon Ronson, Jon Krakauer and Norah Vincent.