Gym Owners: Don’t Forget About Personal Training. Like, Not Ever.

A personal trainer adjusts a client's elbows to help him perform a sound barbell front squat.

“We realized the group class model was not going to pay for where we are.”

Gym owner Corey Lapell said that to me on “Run a Profitable Gym,” the Two-Brain podcast. He’s talking about his rent in the pricey West Coast city of Vancouver.

The solution? Corey started focusing on personal training—not to the exclusion of the group classes so many of us love.

In addition to those classes.

A head shot of writer Mike Warkentin and the column name "Pressing It Out."

In our 2022 State of the Industry report, data showed microgyms that offer PT generate an average of 22 percent of total revenue with one-on-one coaching. That number is up from 2021 by 2 percent. For some gyms, it’s far, far lower.

On the surface, 22 percent might seem like a good number—especially if you consider it “gravy” to the potatoes that represent your group classes.

But I didn’t have to look very hard to find a gym owner who puts the number in perspective. This owner relied heavily on group classes in 2020, then made changes during and after the pandemic to emphasize PT, a high-value service.

The result? PT generated 76 percent of revenue in 2022, and she was making almost $300 an hour as owner.

Over at Corey Lapell’s gym, they’ve hired specific PT coaches and started marketing PT. These changes are solving a lot of problems, including this classic one: popular group time slots are full but the gym is empty in other hours.

PT is “a very scalable thing in our space and with the times we have available. So we can easily scale PT and specialty group classes in a way we can’t do with the group classes,” Corey said.

More data from Corey: His average revenue per member went from about $150 to $250 as he improved his business with a mentor. (You can listen to the whole podcast here.)

So how do you start making more PT sales? Well, in your next free consultation—the best way to onboard new clients—pay attention to what the prospective member is saying. If the person is nervous about working out in a group—and many are—suggest one-on-one coaching.

Or if a person has very specific personal goals and feels the need for speed, offer PT sessions as the swiftest route to the destination.

Two-Brain founder Chris Cooper has had success with a simple sentence like this:  “So would you prefer to train one on one with me or in a group?”

Another simple step in the right direction: start talking about PT in your media—your blog, Instagram, your newsletter, etc. Let people know you offer the service.

None of this is presented to deter you from running the group classes we all love. Group fitness can be fun and very effective.

Just consider this a reminder that any gym that focuses predominantly on group training can probably add significant amounts of PT revenue to the bottom line.


One more thing!

Did you know gym owners can earn $100,000 a year with no more than 150 clients? We wrote a guide showing you exactly how.