Hiring a personal trainer is not usually at the bottom of your monthly expenses — it tends to be way up there in your top eight expenses per month if you decide you want one. It tends to be a luxury service that usually costs on average, $400 per month for the basic services and could cost as much as $1500 per month if you just don’t want to think about it on your own, and you need the guidance and accountability.
I own an integrative personal training and fitness services company in Atlanta called CYB Atlanta (Catch Your Breath Atlanta, that is). We help our clients who are usually frustrated with the ‘quick fix’ programs with little to no direction or guided approaches that are available and look at things from a micro view which leads to injury. We train clients looking for a training service designed around being personalized for them. One that has accountability at the forefront. We connect our clients, based on their fitness needs, schedule, availability, likes and most importantly, their budget, to the training program for them. This can include training at other training locations like Orange Theory Fitness, ClassPass or even their athletic club facilities such as LifeTime Fitness and YMCA. We create a blueprint that involves scheduling, goals, objectives, and deadlines and we help hold our clients accountable through check-ins, body statistical analysis reviews,
updated quarterly goal setting and motivating factors and personalized challenges to keep up with progress. The problem is, not enough people participate in programs like this because of their thinking. Budgeting for personal training ends up being the identified problem, and my job is to help fix that by bringing a few points to light using client history. The most fascinating thing I find about Atlantans or anyone in need of a trainer is how people do not realize they can afford personal training. Quite simply, they just haven’t “run the numbers” yet — which is what happens when you don’t budget for something.
How Do I “Run The Numbers” you ask?
It’s pretty simple. First you have to be fully committed and ready to have a trainer for at least eight to 12 months, then make sure you have a motivating factor — the one emotional thing (or two) that you can connect with to keep you motivated when you start spending money for this service — that is very important! Here are the practical steps to take to budget for personal training and realize how affordable it is:
Step One: Write down the ‘big picture’ number.
“What’s your budget per month for training?” I usually ask. The client says $200 per month — that is the micro view of their budget for training. The best way to get a better idea is to look at the macro. Multiply your monthly by 12 months, and you reach $2400 per year. Now Step Two…
Step Two: Analyze your ‘spending habits’ that create barriers.
Most people can easily get to goals but they have to eliminate, or more realistically, lessen the load on the barriers/obstacles keeping them from reaching their goals. I had a client named Jennifer. She was 27 years old, a smoker who loved wine and was single looking for a boyfriend who felt she had gained some weight because of her current lifestyle. She had a great paying job and budgeted $400 per month toward her fitness, and to focus on changing her life for the long haul and to find a boyfriend (her motivating factors!). It was simple to ask four to five questions to get her to acknowledge what she thought were current barriers/obstacles keeping her from reaching her ultimate goal of having a boyfriend and changing her lifestyle (it is important to identify these barriers personally versus being told what they are). She answered stating that “I definitely have to stop smoking!”, “I go out too much with my friends and I am always traveling out of town to hangout with friends.” Now that is so much information right there to work with and my questions to her looked something like this:
“How many times per day do you smoke?”
“How many days per week do you have wine? How many glasses?”
“How many trips did you take last quarter of the year?”
“How many times per week do you meet out with your friends for dinner and drinks?”
I had her write down the estimate she thought she averaged and we configured that based on the number of times she did each thing, She was spending nearly $1500 per month on her habits keeping her from reaching her overall goals. Now that we have identified this and her desire to change her lifestyle, all we have to do is help her realize that we do not plan on going ‘cold turkey’ with the smoking, traveling, wining and dining or travel just yet, we just plan on modifying and lessening the number of times she does these things until we can get it closer to changing her lifestyle in its entirety. Now we can take $400 from that spending to add to her first two months of training; cut her monthly average of spending in two to $700 per month, and help coach her through her habits, and place the balance of $400 into a savings account or something, or to buy some workout clothes when she hits a milestone…her decision…always her decision, I just make the suggestions! Now her new found monthly budget is $800 per month, which could be $9600 per year, if we wanted it to be…but that is not necessary. You will see why in the next few steps why we don’t even have to spend that much…
Step Three: Remember that it’s a ‘temporary expense’.
Another client, Sara, who had allocated $150 for training when she came to me (mainly because she had been paying OTF that amount for her unlimited and thought that was the going rate for a trainer too). I let her understand what she could get with that, and how we should review her spending. Just like Jennifer, she had her vices. One was her very sophisticated wine palate. She drank on average three to four glasses of wine, four to five days per week. “Whoa!” was my response to her. Now, I’m a numbers guy so I was quick to analyze and let her know that she was drinking anywhere from 16 to 20 bottles of ‘good wine’ per month — that is anywhere from $300 to $400 per month she was spending. I let her understand the spending expense for her trainer is not fixed over the next 10 years, but maybe eight to 12 months. It is a temporary expense that, when it is all said and done, you will see it as an — yea I’m going to say that cliche word — INVESTMENT! After a year and cost for training goes away (or is significantly less) she will have her life back, and would have eliminated the habits she did not need in her life. She will have excess cash to spend or save and be in a better position overall to maybe go back to buying that much wine per month…but hopefully not!
Step Four: Modify the monthly or quarterly spending based on needs, strengths and availability.
As a business owner, one of the most important things to do is plan out the year based on needs, strengths, areas to improve and availability. It is a very important part of planning which should be adapted in planning your training budget. People fail to perform this task. Understanding that if you are on a strict budget for personal training, you should definitely budget using strategy. For example, when you have a budget of $300 per month ($3600 per year), that does not have to mean that you can only spend $300 per month. You can assess at the beginning of the year when you really need training and place emphasis on those months or that quarter of the year and spend more money then. Your trainer should then create a maintenance program (especially if one of your strengths is being accountable and regimented, we will discuss later) for you to do on your own, and therefore take some months off from your coach during the year. Statistics show that a lot less people train during holidays in November or December, and trainers are usually out of town traveling and being with family. In the summer, clients who are parents travel for summer vacations, yet they are spending per month versus looking at the entire year. Starting a program requires much more time with your coach to learn the new system you are under. Most or actually all my clients are provided this information to understand that they will splurge more in the beginning, take time off in the months to come, and we as a unit, will decide, what the best and next approach should be moving forward.
Step Five: Find Your ‘Maintenance Package’…not a best friend!
Too many times clients think that because of their relationship they have formed with a trainer they should continue to train with them forever because “they are helping us out and don’t want to hurt our feelings!” Although we do create lasting relationships, we are still your trainer or coach first. If you want to be ‘friends’, you can still be that but why pay $100 plus just to have a ‘friend’ — I don’t know about you but I sure will not pay anyone to be a friend of any sort. In this final step, your job (more so your trainers job) over the course of your first year of training is to find out who you are: your strengths and areas you just can’t seem to stay disciplined or consistent at and make sure you tackle that, your likes, dislikes in the gym, and understanding your intangibles as a whole. After awhile — unless a client just doesn’t care about the money being spent, or accountability seems to be a big issue — the client and trainer should get together to decide a realistic plan of action that zeros in on the trainer coaching the client on things they just cannot do on their own, and create tasks, challenges and objectives with deadlines the client can use as motivation to get done on their own — that is the Maintenance package. I have found that clients either hate it or love it, and if they hate it, the trainer should be creative and observant enough after a long relationship to know what will work for that client. The point is, clients should not be paying more than they want to pay or anything close to what they were paying two to three years ago unless money is not an issue!
When looking at the big picture of any event in a person’s life, it tends to provide much more efficiency and effectiveness. I require the coaches, trainers and network of fitness professionals who work at the studio in Atlanta to look at every client with a macro view. I created the CYBmethod™ system based off of a macro view of programming and it works when it is used. It provides an added value for our clients and is encouraged to be taken advantage of. When you are able to analyze, understand and allocate your funds better, you realize that anything can be budgeted for — as long as you really want it! Take a moment to speak with your coach the next time you are with them and if they just can’t decipher what works for you, take a few moments to do it yourself and review the steps on your own, or find a different coach who can.