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Personal Trainer to Small Business Owner


Name: Bonnie Katz
Job Title: Small Business Owner, Personal Trainer
Where: Fitness Together – West Seattle Personal Training
Years of Experience: 10 years in personal training, 4 years being a small business owner.
Education: Cornish College of the Arts – BFA, Renton Technical College – Health and Fitness Technology
Annual Salary: The national average salary of a small business owner with 10-19 years of experience is $70,372. The average salary of a personal trainer with 10-15 years of experience is approximately $23.00/hour.

For most personal trainers, the term "average salary" doesn't really apply. The majority of personal trainers are paid by the hour. Because personal training is a one-on-one activity, many personal trainers choose to ditch the gym and work for themselves, a smart decision that will most likely increase a personal trainer's salary. The average salary of a personal trainer is highest when self-employed, a difference of over $10 an hour.

In this Salary Story, Bonnie Katz offers advice on working as a personal trainer and becoming a small business owner. She gives an insider's look at owning a personal training business and discusses the top challenges she faces as small business owner. If you're into fitness, don't miss this inspiring interview!

Personal Trainer to Small Business Owner
With my background as a personal trainer, it was a great transition to become the owner and operator of the West Seattle Fitness Together franchise. My team of West Seattle Personal Trainers and I offer one-on-one personal training in a private gym setting. It's a little different than just working out with a trainer at a regular gym. We create custom training programs for all types of people. Clients get to work one-on-one with a personal trainer to do strength training. We create custom cardio programs and provide nutrition consultations to help them reach their fitness goals.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

As a personal trainer, I have a background in working with special populations, people who are high risk or have type 2 diabetes. I have worked with the University of Washington research team who has proven that diet and exercise help prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. 

PayScale: How did you get started doing this type of work?

How to Increase Your Salary as a Personal Trainer.
Education is the key to increasing your salary as a Personal Trainer. There are degrees and certifications that will increase your salary and make you a more valuable employee. In this economic downturn, education is a key strategy for a successful career in Personal Training. Click here to Research Personal Training Degrees.

I was heavy when I was younger, and didn't like being that way. I made a decision right away to start exercising and eating healthy. I wanted this to be a part of my daily life, so I became a certified personal trainer. I have been doing this work for over 10 years and love helping other people reach their fitness goals.

PayScale: What do you love about your job as a personal trainer?

It is great to meet all types of people and help them bust through their fitness barriers to reach their goals. We have so many clients who have benefited from our personal training programs. One person in particular stands out to me. He came into the studio on his first day, very overweight. He weighed about 350 lbs. He signed up for a year with no hesitation. If anyone needed it, he did. It's been a year since then and he has lost about 65 lbs, increased his muscle mass, changed his diet drastically, and looks and feels fantastic. He is an inspiration to the rest of our West Seattle clients!

PayScale: What are the biggest challenges you face in your job as small business owner?

The hardest part of my job as a small business owner is finding good certified personal trainers. It is also the most important part of this job as well. I have great personal trainers, but I will always take my time to find the right person. I have hired the wrong person before, and it really takes away from the energy in the studio and client retention.

PayScale: What advice would you give to someone trying to break into this field?

From the personal training standpoint, you have to be passionate about this type of work. There are a lot of frustrating things about working in this field and dealing with people. You have to be into it, and be relatable. In the end it is really rewarding when you see clients make changes.

From the small business owner standpoint, you need to be involved in your community. Join your local chamber of commerce. Being located in West Seattle, we participate in many West Seattle community events. We just did a Personal Training Fitness Demo for the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce Biz Expo. Our Fitness Together personal trainers taught people how to maximize their time with a personal trainer and demonstrated fitness techniques that they could use at home.

PayScale: What are the craziest, most amazing, or most interesting things that have happened while doing this type of work?

The most interesting thing that has happened while doing this job is meeting all sorts of fascinating people. It's great to meet people from all different fields of work, education levels and success levels. I learn so much from all my clients, and all of them are looking to better themselves through improving their health and fitness.

Personal Trainer Salary Research
Salary for a Small Business Owner

Bonnie Katz's West Seattle Personal Training Studio

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