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Freelance vs In-house Personal Training: Ultimate Guide


Are you doing meaningless work that’s just making your boss richer?

 

Is a deskbound job killing your body & soul?

 

BUT you have this itch to turn your love for gymming into a source of income? 

 

It’s time to scratch that itch. Once and for all. 

 

There’s no better time to launch a fitness career. 

 

Expats are coming back after covid, gym & personal training take up rates are at an all time high. 

 

You can either do personal training in-house or as a freelancer. 

 

What are the pros and cons? Here’s an Ultimate Guide. 

 

Definitions


In-house definition: you’re employed by a gym and provide your services there. If they have multiple outlets sometimes there’s an option of hopping from outlet to outlet. 


Freelance definition: you work on your own capacity and usually train clients at

  • public gyms that don’t limit PT entry

  • condominium gyms

  • home gyms (landed homes usually)

  • fitness corners at parks 

  • a gym where you pay either a per session or a flat monthly rate to rent the space (getting popular)

 

$$$

 

1. Pay. In-house generally pays a basic pay plus commission on the number of sessions you do. Commission is sometimes tiered, based on number of sessions done and/or experience level. 

 

For freelancers, you keep what you charge (minus rent you pay to the gym if you go with that option)

 

If you charge a high per session rate as a freelancer, your income will be substantially more than in-house, assuming the same number of sessions done. 

 

2. CPF. In-house PTs contribute CPF. 

 

Freelance PTs fall under the self-employed scheme and there is no requirement for CPF contribution (except Medisave). Outlined here: https://www.iras.gov.sg/taxes/individual-income-tax/self-employed-and-partnerships/am-i-a-self-employed-person

 

Some people prefer CPF has a way of forced savings. Some people prefer to have more cash to spend. Pro or con really depends on the individual. 

 

3. Benefits. In-house full time PTs usually have full company benefits such as leave entitlement, bonus, medical benefits etc. 

 

Freelancers potentially charge more money per session but lack all these benefits. You’re on your own. 

 

4. Overheads. In-house PTs have little or no overheads (with that said, I still encourage in-house PTs to spend some money to generate PT leads so you are self sustainable and don’t fully rely on your gym for customers). 

 

Freelancers have marketing expenses for generating leads. Also if you train clients at multiple locations there are traveling expenses that could add up to quite a bit. 

 

Clients

 

1. For in-house personal trainers, leads are usually provided by your gym. You are expected to convert these leads and maintain a high closing ratio, if not you have no customers and will struggle in the industry. 

 

Freelance personal trainers have to find your own customers. It can be done via a variety of methods. Social media marketing can be an effective advertising medium.

 

The most knowledgeable personal trainers with the best physiques will be destroyed in this industry if they lack marketing/sales techniques. This cannot be overstated. 

 

2. Scheduling. In-house personal trainers usually station at one location and can pack their clients back to back for efficiency. During evening peak hours from 6-10pm an in-house personal trainer can see up to 4 clients. 

 

Freelance personal trainers (except those renting a gym to service their clients at one location) usually travel from one gym to another and a lot of precious time is spent on the road. During evening peak hours, you can see 2, maximum 3 clients, compared to 4 if no traveling is required. That will reduce your income. 

 

3. Membership fees. Clients training with in-house personal trainers usually need to pay gym membership fees on top of PT fees. But they don’t usually come on their own without a PT. It may not be much but for some price sensitive individuals that’s an extra cost that’s not comfortable for them to bear. 

 

Clients training with freelance PTs don’t pay membership dues and that could be a selling point for freelance personal trainers. 

 

 

Growth

 

1. In-house personal trainers usually receive more structured training programs such as sales training etc. to get them up to speed. New trainers might also get understudy opportunities to learn the ropes. 

 

Freelance personal trainers have to responsible for their own learning and professional development. 

 

2. Promotion. For in-house personal trainers working in a big box gym chain, there’s more room for promotion. Eg. Climbing through the ranks of a PT, then becoming your gym’s PT lead, then a regional PT lead, to a national PT lead. Or even executive positions within the company. 

 

Freelancers typically progress by charging more. Then opening their own gym, which sometimes incur significant investments of time and money. 

 

Recently though, some high performing freelance personal trainers have formed their own brands and manage a few PTs under them. Usually they have good marketing skills and are able to generate leads not just for themselves but also for their team. And they generally rent spaces at a gym to service their clients in order to keep overheads lower. 

 

Hours, facilities & colleagues

 

1. Full/part time. In-house personal training is typically a full time endeavour. Since you are paid a basic pay, you are generally required to stay in the gym for a minimum number of hours each week. If your client is scheduled outside of your allocated gym hours, you might be spending the entire day in the day. Hours can be long. 

 

For freelance personal trainers, you are your own boss. You work, you get paid. A part time, side hustle is very very doable. 

 

2. Facility. Generally, gyms that house in-house personal trainers have decent equipment. This potentially allows for more effective and varied training that could lead to better results and greater retention rates with customers. 

 

Bonus: in-house personal trainers get to train themselves at their gyms for free!

 

Freelance personal trainers going to condo or landed home gyms typically have access to a much smaller range of equipment and facilities (I’ve been to condo gyms with one treadmill, one stationary bike and one cross trainer). 

 

But if you rent space from a bigger commercial gym this won’t be a problem. 

 

3. In-house personal trainers have work colleagues. From front desk to fellow trainers to the cleaning auntie. Some might be angels. Some might be asses. Depends on your luck. 

 

Freelancing? You’re on your own. Money is your companion ◡̈ 

 

Summary

In-house PT

Freelance PT

Basic pay + commission on sessions

Keep whatever amount you charge

CPF contribution

No CPF

Typical company benefits

No benefits

Little/no overheads

Marketing & traveling expenses

Customers provided

Have to source for customers

Higher scheduling efficiency (1 location)

Lower scheduling efficiency (multiple locations)

Clients pay membership

Clients don't pay membership

Gyms provide training

Responsible for own training

More options for promotion

Less options for promotion

Usually full time only

Both part/full time options available

Access to better equipment

Gyms might be ill-equipped (condo/home gyms)

Have colleagues (may be shitty)

You're on your own


In summary,

 

Similarities: both are equally fun and rewarding. 

 

Differences: read the damn article.

 

If you prefer to go all in and do a full time gig, prefer to have a base pay for more certainty, don’t have much of a flare for marketing and don’t really wish to learn, in-house PT might be right for you. 

 

However, if you wish to try PT on a part time basis to supplement your income, am confident of getting customers or open to learning how to, freelancing might be the way to go. 

 



Not PT certified yet? Consider the No. 1 gym course in SG: https://www.personaltrainercertification.com.sg/certified-personal-trainer


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Or click here to continue a Whatsapp convo with Khit.

 

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