Work less and earn more as a PT: a blueprint for earning six figures in 20 hours a week

January 29, 2023

Summary: By carefully designing your life, and following a five step process, it’s possible for Personal Trainers to earn $100,000 a year (after tax and expenses), while working five hours a day and taking a long weekend every week.

What if you could work as a Personal Trainer and take home $100,000 per year, cash in hand (profit), after tax, with a three day long weekend every week, only working five hours a day and taking a four week holiday every year?

It might surprise you, but this is not only possible, but (with a bit of planning) actually quite simple, and very achievable.

Let’s talk about how to do this.

You’ll notice that the description of our $100k PT is strongly biased towards a certain lifestyle. And so it should be. Too many people spend the best years of their life giving up their lifestyle to support their business, when they should be designing their business to support their life.

Determining the ‘perfect life’ you want to live needs to be your first step, and it’s always the first thing I do with the fitness business people I mentor.

What do you want your life to look like? Once you’ve worked that out, work out how much it will cost, and the free time you need to live that life. From there, you can design your Personal Training business to give you that life.

Before we get into the exact numbers, and how to achieve them, it’s worth touching on the reasons you don’t see a lot of Personal Trainers who make a long-term career of it, something I’ve discussed previously.

Basically, while being a Personal Trainer may be suitable for providing a living for young, newly graduated PT with minimal financial responsibilities, it may not be able to provide for your changing needs and changing lifestyle as you age.

With this model however, you can build a successful long-term career as a Personal Trainer, not just a short term option that tides you over until you have to grow up and get a real job.

So how can you take home $100,000 a year as a PT, $28,000 more than the average Australian who’s working the standard 9-5 slog?

Let’s first break down the numbers, then we’ll explain the steps you need to take to get to that target. 

Let’s start with the only part that might make you question this strategy. 

You’ll be charging $150/hour. But don’t worry, I’ll tell you how to do that shortly as part of our five step blueprint.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • $150/hour.
  • Five hours a day (have the rest of the day off).
  • Four days a week (long weekend every week).
  • 48 weeks a year (lots of holidays).

With this, you’re earning $750 a day (for five hours work), $3000 a week (that’s four five hour days), $144,000 a year (48 weeks).

So your revenue is $144,000 per year. Let’s take off $10,000/year to rent space in a gym. $134,000.

After tax, you’re pretty much bang on that magical six figure mark of $100,000.

The numbers add up. But anyone can sit there with a calculator and make this seem a dream career.

But as you know, it takes some smart work and planning to get there.

Here’s the simple five step process, which should get you to the six figure income in under three years – much less if you’ve got a high work ethic.

Step one:

Start working as a PT, charging an average rate of around $100- $120 an hour. 

Ideally, you’ll be doing one hour sessions, and ideally, you’ll only accept clients that want to train with you twice a week or more. Again, this is the ideal scenario, because it means you don’t need many clients, and if they’re training more often, retention tends to be higher. 

Get to ten clients as fast as possible, which will be 20 hours a week. If your sessions are only 30 or 45 minutes, or if clients see you only once a week, you’ll need more than ten clients, so make the adjustment to your figures where necessary.

Step two:

Get really really good. And by that, I mean provide an incredible experience to your clients. In the end, you’re not actually selling Personal Training. You’re not even selling results. You’re selling this experience.

As Steve Martin said in an interview, and as Cal Newport titled his book, ‘be so good they can’t ignore you’.

In the case of a Personal Trainer, provide an experience so good they can’t ignore you.

Step three:

If you’ve followed steps one and two, step three should actually be quite easy.

Step three is organic growth. Not paid marketing, not social media campaigns, not short term promotions, but organic growth. You become renowned for the experience you provide.

Step four:

In this step, supply outstrips demand. The people lining up to train with you exceed the time you’re willing to spend doing Personal Training. 

This is simple economics, when a resource becomes scarce (and in this case the resource is your time and the experience it provides to your clients), it also becomes more valuable, which is important for step five.

But first a warning. You’ll be tempted to overwork yourself here in step four. Don’t. Don’t lose sight of the lifestyle you’ve designed for yourself and the hours and dollars you need to live that lifestyle. Don’t be tempted to trade time for money. That leads to burn-out, and retirement at 65, regretting the previous four wasted decades. It also negates the benefits of supply and demand, because you’re releasing more supply to the market and devaluing your service.

Step five:

If you’ve followed the first four steps, you’re now in a powerful position to do two things.

Firstly, increase your prices. Since you started this process, the cost of living has gone up and the dollar is worth less (inflation), so you need a price increase to counter that. But your service has also become more scarce, a second reason to increase prices.

The second thing you should do is to replace any departing clients with higher paying clients. Let’s say you’re charging $130 an hour at this point. A client paying this amount moves away and can no longer train with you. This coveted spot is now available at $140 an hour, because it’s rare, and rare things are valuable. As long term clients slowly leave (which they will, because no matter how good you are, that’s how the world works), you’ll gradually replace them with higher paying clients.

That’s it, your five step model to taking home $100,000 a year. Like I said, you should be able to achieve this in under three years.

Of course, as you’re doing all these ‘billable hours’ of PT work, you should also be building the systems you need around bookings, communication, programming, bookkeeping and admin. It’s these systems that will ensure as many of your work hours are directly billable as possible.

If you’re the sort of person who wants to build an empire, this isn’t for you. If, however, you’re the sort of person who measures success by the quality of life, rather than the number of zeros, this might just be the approach you’re looking for.

Dan Williams

Dan Williams


Dan Williams is the Director of Range of Motion and leads a team of Exercise Physiologists, Sports Scientists, Physiotherapists and Coaches. He has a Bachelor of Science (Exercise and Health Science) and a Postgraduate Bachelor of Exercise Rehabilitation Science from The University of Western Australia, with minors in Biomechanics and Sport Psychology.

Our Most Recent Articles: