Want to give you some (very crude) rules of thumb for what you should charge at your training gym.

But first, let’s acknowledge this fact: most training gym owners undercharge for their services.

This often comes from a reasonable place. 

First of all, many training gym owners are nervous about getting price objections. After all, won’t keeping prices low lead to more volume? 

Well… sort of. But I like Seth Godin’s take here: you’ll know you’re at the correct price point when 20% of people are offended by your pricing.

The reality is you will ALWAYS get price objections. Particularly if you’re in a market where the other options are low priced, volume gyms where people rent access to equipment. Now we know that’s not a fair comparison; you’re not selling equipment access, you’re selling coaching and accountability. And part of the job of your marketing is to make it clear that you’re totally different solutions. But this is likely to still happen once in a while.

Also of note: different people just value different things. Some people are relatively self-sufficient at the gym and like doing their own thing. And some people just want to spend money on other stuff because they value it more than what you have on offer. The better you get a building value for what you do, the less this will happen. But that’s just the way this is going to go sometimes. And it shouldn’t make you concerned that your prices are too high. 

In fact, I don’t think I’ve EVER even seen a training gym that was genuinely having issues because it’s prices were too high. 

(“You know, we were having all sorts of struggles making our rent each month. But then I lowered my rates, and now we’re burstin’ at the seams and more profitable than ever!” - Literally no one ever)

The second piece is stickier. A lot of training gym owners run smack dab into their own feelings of self-worth. While I can’t do this justice in an email, if you don’t believe your services are actually worth $XXX, it’s going to be very hard to charge that much and/or successfully sell at that price point. 

So assuming you are truly awesome at what you do… how much should you charge?

Different markets vary a bit, but a lot less than you’d think. The real consideration is the value of the service you offer, and the costs to fulfill that service.

I do think it’s ok — and even wise — to look at what your competitors are charging for comparable services. But it should NOT be the final consideration when you’re determining what to charge.

You need to consider what’s realistic for your market, but you also need to build your model backwards: in other words, look at the cost of fulfilling your services and make sure you can run it profitably after paying your overhead. In a future email, I’ll dive into more detail on this topic. But as a rule of thumb, a typical training gym should shoot to keep total expenses no more than the 60-70% of revenue.

In practice, most don’t. This is partially because they don’t control expenses that well. But the bigger issue tends to be they were under-priced from the get go and designed to fail.

Most training gym owners look at comparable solutions in their market, then set their prices lower. If the owner ran numbers beforehand, they figured on a best case scenario for anticipated volume and for expenses, assuming nothing goes wrong and nothing breaks. This means they charge the absolute smallest amount possible in an attempt to not get price objections and/or butt up against the limits of their personal belief in their own self-worth and the value of what they do.

So at the risk of being laughably crude…

If you run a higher volume, large group class model (15 clients or more per session), you should be charging an average of at least $175/ mo., ideally $200/ mo. or more. 

If you run a higher touch, small group personal training model (4-6 clients per session), you should be charging an average of at least $300/ mo., ideally $350/ mo. or more.

You don’t need 500 clients to do well at these price points. And if you have less clients paying a higher average monthly rate, you can provide much, much better service.

You can afford to keep your space in better condition.

You can afford higher quality staff and keep them around longer by paying them actual living wages and even offering benefits.

You can afford to spend some money on marketing so prospects find out you exist.

You can afford extra service bells and whistles so you can treat your clients as unique and individual humans.

And you can afford to pay yourself an income that’s appropriate for the value you’re creating and the stress and risk you incur as a small business owner.

Now all of this is predicated on you being awesome at what you do. I honor the introspective part of you that is wondering if you can really justify charging these higher rates. Because it means you genuinely care about a fair exchange of value with the clients who are trusting you. Believe me, this is a valuable quality and you rock for thinking about this!

But at a certain point, if you’re looking to make this a sustainable career with a sustainable training gym business, you’ve got to develop both your skill set and confidence to the point where you’re comfortable with these numbers. 

I believe in you!

PS Want to check out a training-gym focused podcast with legit guests and actionable strategies?

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