While some people consider personal fitness training a luxury, others view it as a necessity. Surveys indicate that time-crunched fitness enthusiasts, as well as people with medical needs, are willing to make the required financial sacrifices to afford a personal trainer.
Statistics in the Bureau of Labor 2010-2011 Occupational Outlook Handbook suggest that the fitness industry will experience at least a 20 percent growth by 2018. In 2008, the median annual fitness trainer wage was $29,210, with the middle 50 percent earning between $19,610 and $44,420, the bottom 10 percent earning $16,120, and the top 10 percent earned $60,760 or more. These statistics are difficult to interpret, because they do not distinguish between group-exercise instructors and personal trainers. Personal trainers, especially those who are self-employed, may be paid at a higher rate.
A May 2009 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey identified New York, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New Jersey and California as the top-paying states and districts for fitness trainers. New York, with an average annual mean salary of $48,830, had the highest-paid trainers, but once again, the survey did not differentiate between personal trainers and group exercise instructors.
The International Dance Exercise Association conducts a bi-annual salary survey. In 2010, 84 percent of personal training directors, who supervise other personal trainers, are employees who earned an average annual salary of $42,364. The percentage of personal training director receiving employee benefits jumped to 76 percent, up from 64 percent in 2008. Personal trainers reported that they are working more as employees than independent contractors, but only 38 percent were eligible for benefits, and 50 percent were eligible for education funds. The average personal trainer employee earned an average hourly rate of $34. Independent contractors earned $42.50.
In 2008, IDEA surveyed the most common personal training specialties and equipment used in their sessions. Strength training, at 97 percent, was the most popular, followed by balance training and functional exercise at 96 percent. Most trainer favored smaller equipment, with 97 percent using resistance bands and stability balls.
Importance of Education
The results of a 2002 study published in the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research" indicate the importance of education and respected certification. The researchers surveyed 115 health fitness professionals, who revealed that an exercise science bachelor's degree or American College of Sports Medicine or the National Strength and Conditioning Association certification were strong predictors of a personal trainer's knowledge. The subjects did not relate years of experience to knowledge.