Ultimate guide to choosing a gym with a personal trainer

Personal trainer in Manchester having conversation with client

Ok, so you’ve decided that you’re going to join a gym and hire a Personal Trainer (PT) to show you the ropes, accelerate your progress and support you in achieving your health and fitness goals. Great, that’s the first step done – and often a hard one, so well done!

Striving to lead a different, more active lifestyle can be a huge change to your everyday life and this commitment is something to be proud of. But now how do you go about choosing from the abundance of gyms, health clubs, studios and other fitness facilities – what are the differences between them and is there an impact on the price of personal training? I’m here to help you find a gym with a personal trainer.

Let’s start by firstly having a look at a few different types of facility, membership costs and personal training costs. For each section I have just taken a few examples – there are mannnny others out there – but it gives you an idea of costs for different price brackets and offerings.

Budget gyms with the option to hire a personal trainer

PureGym 

Membership starts from £9.99 for off-peak (limited hours) to £49.99, the top end allowing you to access hundreds of other PureGyms, bring guests and be able to freeze your membership when going away so you don’t have to keep paying the joining fee, again. All prices have classes included and the majority are 24-hour so you can visit any time of day or night. The difference in price is based on location, so for example, certain London locations are closer to £50 for all the bells and whistles, whereas you can get all of this for more like £20 in Coventry.

JD Gym 

JD gyms pricing and personal training options

The cost of membership is £19.99 with classes and some offer 24-hour access. If you want to be able to visit any of their gyms you can pay £25 per month, regardless of location.

The Gym Group

The gym group offers personal training

Just like Puregym, The Gym Group base their membership costs on location. With all memberships, you get 24-hour access and free classes. Prices range from £9.99 to £35.99.

Cost of a budget gym WITH a personal trainer

Now for all of these options and the majority of other budget gyms, personal trainers operate independently and set their own rates. As a rough benchmark, most personal trainers charge between £30 – £65 for a session, depending on location and speciality. Sessions are usually around an hour.

You pay for this on top of your membership, arranged with the PT themselves.

The benefits of these gyms is that they are super accessible as well as budget-friendly. This works great for a lot of people who simply need access to a gym and know exactly what they’re doing. However, these gyms can be quite intimidating which is one of the big reasons personal trainers exist – to educate you on how to use all of the equipment available to you, specific to your goals. If you are having to watch your spending though, paying for a gym membership simply to get access to the right trainer, might not seem like the ideal solution.

Fancier clubs with the option to hire a personal trainer (more boujie, more frills)

David Lloyd 

David Lloyd gym with a personal trainer

On trend with most other classier establishments, David Lloyd isn’t particularly forthcoming with their pricing but similar to PureGym and The Gym Group, it depends on which club you are interested in. To find out specific pricing, you have to actually enquire by providing your details, to then speak to someone about various packages. You’d be looking at around £100 per month depending on the flexibility of access hours, contract notice period, access to other clubs, classes, spa facilities and racquet sports.

So quite a difference in price from your budget options but you get the wider health club experience. Again PT sessions are not included in any particular membership but in this case, you book through the gym directly. All sessions are 45 minutes long and are £35, and this price doesn’t vary from trainer to trainer.

Virgin Active

Virgin Active have personal trainers for hire

Membership can range from £30 – £210 per month depending on age, location, length of contract and access to other clubs. Membership can include gym, classes, pool and spa facilities – the whole shebang. Similar to David Lloyd you can book PT sessions through Virgin directly, but it’s still additional to membership, and again will usually be within the range of £30 – £65 for individual sessions but bulk buying sessions is available.

Bannatyne

Bannatyne gyms and spas

Pretty standard pricing here starting at £44.99 for off-peak membership up to £64.99 if you want to visit at peak times, both of which give you access to many clubs with spas and classes included. Quite a lot of bang for your buck if you ask me, but the experience isn’t quite the same as your David Lloyds (appropriate cheeky emoji here?). I guess you get what you pay for! PTs here operate independently and you pay separately, on top of your membership and will again usually be within the £30-£65 per session range (starting to notice a trend here?)

Now these health clubs definitely give you a wider experience than just the fitness side of things so it depends on what you are looking for – if a spa is worth the extra, well then why not?? Taking care of your mental and physical health is often underrated and spending that extra bit per month to reduce stress, and illness and ultimately improve your wellbeing could be just what you need. You will need to have a fair bit of disposable income though if you are paying for a membership and a trainer on top, and there are absolutely other ways to get a lil well-being moment (if you’re stuck for ideas, give me a shout! ❤️) 

PT only gyms 

shredded personal trainer

Right, here’s where it gets more interesting. More and more gyms have been popping up that have been built specifically for 1-2-1 sessions. You may have heard of Ultimate Performance as they’re a fairly big name in this game (international in fact) and mainly sell packages spanning 6 to 12 week periods. You’ll be looking at a grand a month, give or take, depending on the length of your programme (longer programme = larger discount).

These facilities are all based around transformations and your results = their results [insert insane before and after pictures here], so the training sessions will be gruelling and they will also expect you to stick to a strict nutrition plan. If you are looking to get SHREDDED, a PT-only gym is where it’s at…if you’ve got that kind of money to spend. 

Going local

Personal trainer in Manchester having conversation with client

Now I’m a big fan of supporting independent businesses and going local (not really a surprise being a small business myself! Swear I’m not biased…) and sometimes that can mean spending that little bit more.

However, this is often not the case in this industry. Many smaller studios offer either just 1-2-1s or a mix of classes with the option of 1-2-1 sessions. You’ll find that some trainers (like myself) have access to smaller studios through arrangements with the owners and can therefore train you within the facility at no extra cost to you.

What I mean by this, is that you’re not having to pay for a gym membership to then get access to a personal trainer that you also have to pay for – you can simply pay for the PTs time and they sort the location.

And the standard rates that I have mentioned throughout will also apply: £30-£65 per session depending on the trainer and if you’re looking for anything specialist (eg. Pre+Post natal, Lower Back Pain, Exercise Referral).

Personally, this is the category I fit under. I’m based at a private facility called Urban Reform and offered personal training in Manchester City Centre.

I cover the cost of using this gym myself so the cost to you is purely for my services. My pricing always fits within the standard rates and for block bookings (so signing up for a certain number of sessions/programme length) you’ll be looking at the lower end – of course depending on how many times per week we are training (which depends on your goals).

Pop me a message if you are interested in discussing working together and we can go into this in more detail.

How do I choose a gym with a personal trainer?

Most PTs will offer competitive rates based on location and so whether you’re at a bigger commercial gym or a local independent, you’ll be paying around the same for the actual sessions, programme and service – so any additional cost depends on whether you want gym access outside of those sessions and if so, are you just looking for a standard gym, or any extras on top like classes or a spa.

What I would say though is that even if two personal trainers are charging the exact same, the service provided can be wildly different.

For example, if you’re unsure on whether your nutrition and lifestyle has only a small or large impact on whether you are going to achieve your goals, the answer is the latter and some PTs won’t be offering a service that looks at any other aspect other than the time you spend with them in the gym. Now, this may work out for many people who already have these other aspects nailed, but for anyone seeking professional fitness services, it’s not often that they are experts in nutrition and habits (of course I am generalising here).

So, it’s important to ask for clarity on what it is you are actually getting when you are quoted a price for sessions because if you are quoted the top end of that £30-£65 range with no explanation as to why –  reasonable reasons being specialist services as detailed above, extra consultations outside of training sessions, or they are simply highly experienced with limited availability (simple supply/demand tactics 😉) – then it may be worth questioning this or having an extra shop around.

I always have an initial chat with prospective clients about their goals and past experience but then also tell them about me and my services so that we can see if it’s a good fit.

At the end of the day, you’re going to be seeing your trainer multiple times a week so it’s important that your values align and that you’re confident they’re invested in your goals. Most trainers will be able to write a good programme, but it’s often the support throughout the programme that will make the difference to you sticking to your new lifestyle, long term, and enjoying it too.

So, that’s my final piece of advice: take time in your search to get to know the trainer, their costs and what they offer.

It’s a big step you’re taking and whether it’s confidence, education, motivation or all of the above you need, make sure your trainer is a good fit. You might appreciate someone quite hands-off with not much communication between sessions and someone else might need that constant support and communication. Different trainers will specialise in different methods. 

Let me know if you have any questions either by popping me a message through my Contact page or via Instagram and I hope this has been a useful insight into finding a gym with a personal trainer and the PT-hiring processes out there!

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Picture of Ray Hickford

Ray Hickford

Hi, I’m Ray, a health and wellbeing professional in Manchester working with clients through training and nutrition programmes to help them feel more confident, strong and happy both in and outside of the gym.
As a Qualified Personal Trainer and Level 4 RSPH Nutrition Advisor, I am constantly learning myself - from my clients, from other industry experts and sometimes myself! And sometimes I write some of this down for ya.

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