Personal trainers have many options when it comes to training venues, of which, renting gym space at someone else’s facility is one. Are you currently searching for a facility to train your clients at? Navigating the numbers can be tricky for personal trainers who are independent contractors. Some of us take what we can get without much thought and others have the option to choose between various facilities. It can be confusing.

One way for you to make more money as a trainer is to raise your rates.

The other way is to negotiate a better deal on the rent you pay the facility.

Compare these two scenarios for renting gym space:

1. Monthly Rent

You pay the gym a flat rate of $1,000/month.
You charge $50/session x 20 sessions/week = $1,000/week x 4 weeks = $4,000/month.

You take home: $4,000 – $1,000 (rent) = $3,000/month.

Pros: It’s a flat fee, so if business is good, you see every dollar extra.

Cons: If you have a slow month, you still have to pay the same rent fee. If you’re out of town for a week, you still have to pay rent for that week. Unless you get a temporary substitute for your clients.

2. Percentage of each session

You pay the gym 40% per session and keep 60% per session.
You charge $50/session x 20 sessions/week = $1,000/week x 4 weeks = $4,000/month.
$4,000 x 0.40 = $1,600/month to gym and $4,000 x 0.60 = $2,400/month to you.(You earn $30/session and gym keeps $20/session)

You take home: $2,400/month.

Pros: If you have a slow month, you only pay a percentage of the sessions you did. If you are out of town for a week, you don’t pay anything.

Cons: When you earn more money, by raising rates or recruiting new clients, the gym also gets a percentage of it.

Which One is Better?

This depends on the numbers for your situation, so it’s important you plug them in to see.

In the examples above illustrating two common scenarios for renting gym space , 1.(rent) made $600/month more than 2. (percentage). This would change if the rent fee was $1,600/month because then they would be equal.  $4,000 – $1,600 = $2,400. This would also change if the gym percentage was 25% instead of 40%.  $4,000/month x 0.25 = $1,000.  At 20 sessions/week they would also be equal.

When the number of sessions each week varies, it changes the numbers.

This is why I encourage all my business coaching clients to keep track of their numbers and income each week. Data can make you more wealthy because it raises awareness and changes habits (sort of how your clients make changes when they see numbers). Paying attention to the numbers is the easiest way to earn or, rather, keep, more money.


The Easier Answer

If you’re doing fewer than 20 sessions/week, paying a percentage is usually better. Especially if you’re a new trainer. You might pay more rent overall, but won’t owe anything if you’re not making money in a particular week.

If you have 5 sessions/week x $50 each = $250 x 4 weeks = $1,000 to cover your rent, but leaves you with ZERO income. With a percentage, you would still take home 60% of what you’re making. Which would be $1,000 x 0.60 = $600 take home.

If you’re doing more than 20 sessions a week, your book is always full or you have a waiting list, then a flat fee for renting gym space is almost always a smarter financial choice. You pay that flat amount and keep every dollar after that.

Put your own numbers into these scenarios to find out what your situation looks like.

***Realize the pros and cons are reversed for the gym.

Numbers can be tricky, but knowing how to navigate them can earn you more money easily. Now, you’re ready to negotiate the best value for renting gym space!


Negotiate Renting Gym Space

You can earn a better living through personal training just by negotiating a better deal at a gym that suits your needs. Once you have decided on renting gym space as a personal trainer, spending some time doing math and adjusting the numbers helps you negotiate gym rent wisely, and with confidence.

The more organized you are, the easier it is to make your case to a gym owner and negotiate a reasonable rate. When they see you understand numbers, it shows you’re on your game and responsible. They may be more likely to hire you just for this reason.

Whether you’re looking for a gym space for the first time or re-evaluating your current situation, follow these steps. A little preparation goes a long way.

7 Steps to Negotiate Renting Gym Space

 1) Investigate gym fees. Call the place you want to work and ask about how their personal trainers contribute to overhead costs. Do trainers pay rent or a percentage? Something else?

2) Find out the average session price. While you’re asking about renting gym space you can also ask if there are set rates at the gym or if trainers set their own fees. Ask what the high and low prices are at that particular gym.

3) Choose your session rate. Based on what you find out from step #2 and what you feel you’re worth (education, certifications, experience factored in) – choose what you will charge. This factors in to how much you will make and how much you can afford to pay.

4) Compare your financial options. If you’re shopping at more than one gym now you can plug in the numbers and compare to find the best deal. Factor this into your decision along with parking, appeal, space and anything else that is important to you and your clients.

5) Determine if you can earn a living. How many sessions do you need to do each week to break even? To earn more than the bare minimum? Learn more about calculating your expenses if you aren’t sure what your essential needs are (cost of living).

6) Calculate the numbers to make them work. Once you know the details of a particular facility and how they split costs, then you can do some more specific calculations. Make slight changes to the hourly rent or percentage to see if you can make it work better for your situation. Subtract 20% for taxes

7) Negotiate gym rent. This is the big one! It’s time to talk with the owner and make a deal. Some gyms are willing to set up a starting rate/fee and gradually charge you less as time passes. They may want to see your commitment and income-earning capability before they “pay you more”. Especially, if they get a lot of traffic and referrals, bringing you more business. If you’re already established with a full clientele, you might be able to negotiate rent to be lower.

And, if you’re an NFPT – CPT, contact us to request your free business guide template to work from when running numbers and for a bigger-picture view of your options.

Beverly Hosford

Beverly Hosford, MA teaches anatomy and body awareness using a skeleton named Andy, balloons, play-doh, ribbons, guided visualizations, and corrective exercises. She is an instructor, author, and a business coach for fitness professionals. Learn how to help your clients sleep better with in Bev’s NFPT Sleep Coach Program and dive deeper into anatomy in her NFPT Fundamentals of Anatomy Course.