While I do still work with the occasional ‘one-off’ client, it’s been several years since I’ve promoted my own personal training services by the traditional “hourly” model.
Initially, one of the reasons I switched to more of a ‘monthly membership’ – or ‘program design’ model was because it was just different enough from what every other trainer was offering – and in a market flooded with “experts,” any point of differentiation can’t hurt.
Besides, how much longer can we – as an industry – expect people to pay us to follow them around a gym while we ‘expertly’ count to 10?
In fact, I now go so far as to provide that level of personal
counting training for free – it’s what I call the “toy in the cereal box”. I’ve come the realization that the real value isn’t in my ability to count accurately (or lack of that ability, as my clients will surely agree!) – but in designing and supporting “big picture” programs and processes that get ’em from where they are now to where they want to be in the next month – or 2 – or 3.
To explain my coaching process very simply: I can be the GPS, but you will always be the one who needs to step on the gas and turn the wheel. If obstacles come up (and they always do), I can often recalculate the route so you’ll end up in the same place, but you STILL need to do the driving.
WHEN DO “HOURLY RATES” MAKE SENSE?
If you’re a mechanic, charging by the hour can work (though I’d suggest garage owners would be wise to consider offering a monthly/annual maintenance & repair membership program, too, but I digress…)
The auto repair industry has standardized labor guides in which one can determine just how long it should take to replace an alternator on a 2011 BMW or the flux capacitor in a 1981 Delorean DMC-12. The car doesn’t get to choose why, when, how or where the repair gets done – or if it gets done at all – but the fact that there are standard expectations makes it easy (and perhaps even logical) to sell such services by the hour. As long as the annoying ‘service engine’ light is off when you collect your vehicle, all’s-well-that-ends-well.
The problem with selling personal training by the hour is that individual goals, experience, level of commitment and a plethora of other variables can be completely different from one trainee to the next. A single strategy might take one client/member a brief chat to understand, accept and implement. The same strategy might take another months – if it’s even an appropriate strategy! There are no standard guides to follow that allow us to provide a meaningful ‘hourly’ rate. Can a person lose 10 pounds in a month? Sure. Can you lose 10 pounds in 6 months? Absolutely.
While your car doesn’t have any say-so in its repairs, YOU ultimately have to make every decision from the time you decide to hire a trainer – or buy a book/video – or choose to do-it-yourself… or stay as you are and do nothing at all. YOU have to decide the best way to acquire the goal-supportive foods/supplements that’ll move you closer to your fitness goals. YOU have to consume, digest and eliminate the waste of said food. YOU have to get enough sleep. YOU have to control the rise and fall of your own iron. With so much dependent on what YOU do, do you really want ME or any other trainer to charge for personal training “by the hour”???
I (and all of my fit-biz brothers and sisters) can only teach, persuade, educate and direct. Unless (and until) you make the decision to systematically put your nose to the grindstone, shopping for “personal-training-by-the-hour” can only be a short term band-aid that may make you feel good… but what is the VALUE in that?