How Personal Trainers Can Retire: Top Ten Tips

Personal training can give you a long and varied career, but at some point, it’s got to come to an end right?

So what can you do to make sure you don’t end up 65 years old, broke and living in a tent?

In this article, I will be laying out the top ten considerations whilst planning your retirement whilst working as a pt so you can avoid the whole tent situation.

You will know exactly how to retire as a personal trainer.

Sound good?

Let’s go…..

“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”

You’ve probably heard that phrase a bunch of times before and when it comes down to your retirement plans, it really holds true.

Even if you are employed and have your company doing most of the work, retirement plans are still not simple matters, so being a self-employed personal trainer makes things all the more difficult.

It’s cool though, I got your back, so let’s crack on with everything you need to do whilst you are training people so you can prepare for the future, shall we?

retiring as a personal trainer

Action plan for retiring as a personal trainer

1. Set up a self-employed pension plan – NEST (UK) or USA equivalent

personal trainer setting up pension plan

Working for yourself means you won’t automatically be placed into a pension scheme as you would if you had an employer, but that doesn’t mean you are not eligible to be part of one.

In the UK, you can set yourself up with a self-employed pension plan that automatically takes money out of your account each month (like a direct debit) and keeps it in a safe account for you so that you have something to draw from when you are ready to retire.

One of the most well-known UK providers of pensions plans is a company called NEST. I had a chat with them and they have confirmed that self-employed personal trainers are eligible to sign up for a NEST account, and the best thing is, if you have been previously employed, you can use your same details and continue adding to the same account.

You don’t have to choose NEST, you can do your own research and see if there is a company that’d you’d prefer to work with. And for anyone reading this in the USA, you can set yourself up with an IRA, ROTH IRA, or Small Business Owners pension plan.

I really can’t recommend doing this enough, as it takes all the fear away from retirement, you can easily log into your account and see how your fund is growing and you can get advice from professionals if you are unsure of any of the finer details.

Below are links to the sites of companies that allow you to set up your own pension fund or useful financial advisory services.


Money Advice Service (UK)

UK Government Pension Advice

Fidelity IRA advice (USA)

Small Business Plan Retirement Options (USA)

2. Take account of your current finances

taking account of your personal finances

Before you start deciding on how much you need to save so you can afford to drink unlimited Pena Coladas on your retirement cruises, you need to know where your finances are currently at.

Take a weekend out to sit down at a computer or go to your bank, and find out as much as you can about how much money you have coming in each month and how much is going out.

If you’ve read other articles of mine, you will have worked out that I am a bit of a sucker for a spreadsheet, and there is nothing better for getting a clear understanding of your finances than by making a great spreadsheet.

Set up a sheet (Excel or Google Docs, it doesn’t matter which) that has a column for your expenses and for your income. It’s important that you put everything you are aware of into this spreadsheet to make sure you get a realistic idea of how much you can afford to put away each month.

Any expense, no matter how small should be in there (food, bills, travel fees, etc) as well as all your incomes. Don’t forget to add in any debts you have that you are either currently paying off or that you will need to pay in the future.

Once you have filled out both columns to the best of your knowledge, deduct your monthly expenses from your monthly income to get an idea of how much you have left at the end of each month that you can afford to put away into your retirement fund.

3. Plan for the worst-case scenario

planning for worst case scenario

I know, I know you should always be positive and look for the good things in life, but it’s not always the best way to go.

Sometimes, you are actually better off planning for the worst-case scenario, and this is certainly true for retirement plans.

You need to take every eventuality into account, no matter how negative so that you can be sure you have a realistic plan. There is no point in creating a plan that relies on everything going perfectly for the next thirty or forty years, life is rarely that predictable.

You will need to take into account things like illness, losing clients, needing to change location, maybe needing to retire a few years earlier than expected, and other things like this.

The very last thing you want to find is that something comes along in your life and ruins your plans for the future, so have a good think about everything in your life that could potentially have a negative impact on your plans and take them into account in your planning.

Hopefully, they will never happen, but it’s a hell of a lot less stressful working around a negative situation that you have already planned for than trying to fix it when it comes completely out of the blue.

4. Use a retirement calculator

retirement calculator

Do you know exactly how much money you will need to retire? How about how many years you’ll need to work and at what rate you need to save to get there?

Of course, you don’t, and neither do I, so use a retirement calculator to do all the work for you.

They are actually pretty neat, I of course wouldn’t trust them 100%, but they give you a pretty good idea of roughly where you should be at each month in order to reach your goals.

Don’t forget again that these calculators cannot add in your worst-case scenarios, so you’ll need to do that and add them into your initial calculations.

Another really cool benefit I found to using tools like these is that they really help you build goals and targets for your fitness business. It’s always good to have goals in any business, but it can be hard for some people to know where to start with coming up with a figure.

By using a retirement calculator, you can see exactly how much you will need to be earning each month in order to retire at your desired age. If you then decide you’d actually want to retire a few years earlier than you previously thought, knock a few years off the retirement date, and you are given your new earnings target.

I’ll put a link below to one that I can so you can have a play with it.

UK retirement calculator

USA retirement calculator

5. Be realistic with your time frames

young man on a yacht

It’s a lovely thought that you will be able to retire at the age of forty, but is it really realistic?

I’m not saying it isn’t, it might well be if you are earning enough and planning properly, plenty of people have retired at ages even lower than that, but the question is, can you?

Look at what your current earning are and how much you will need to earn each month to be able to retire at your desired age.

There is really no point in saying you are going to somehow be able to bring in an additional £3,000 a month just so that you can bring down your retirement age by a few years, you would need to have a solid plan of how you would do that.

If you want to do that though, you totally can by: charging more for your sessions, taking on more clients, or working a side hustle. Instead, why not just give yourself a few extra years for wiggle room?

This way, should anything go wrong, you are not going to get massively disheartened by seeing the age at which you can retire jump up steeply, as you will have already taken that into account by giving yourself this tolerance.

As a start, why not add an extra five years onto your dream retirement age, that way you will get your target income and you can work hard to increase your income enough to drop those years down as soon as you can?

6. Start as soon as possible

starting retiring early

The best time for you to start saving for your retirement was last month, the second-best is this month, so get cracking!

Time can be your friend or your enemy with savings, start nice and early and you can put small amounts away nice and slowly with minimum stress, start too late on the other hand and you’ll need to stump up large amounts of cash each month as quickly as possible, which is obviously a lot less comfortable.

It’s pretty rare that someone in their early twenties would be worrying about their retirement, but if there is one thing that I could go back to myself in my twenties and say, it would be

“Don’t eat the potted shrimp in the summer of 1996, something terrible happens”

The second thing I’d say would be to start saving for your retirement from the very first paycheque you get.

Even if you are getting on in life and still don’t have much of a plan together, it’s ok, there is always something you can do and at least you are now thinking about it.

Recommendations here would still be to start saving as much as possible each month. You may need to work a little harder and even take on some extra work outside of your main role, but there is always time to put at least something together for your future, so don’t give up on the idea.

7. Consider using the stock market

using the stock market for retirement income

Ok, before I even start this one, I want to make it very clear that I am not a financial advisor, so do not take any of the information I give in this point or the entire article as financial advice because it isn’t.

Now that we have that unpleasantness out of the way, using the stock market can be a great way to supplement your income.

Now, if you know nothing about the stock market, don’t worry, in the UK there are types of ISA account called Stocks and Shares ISA’s where you choose the level of risk you are willing to take and you can put up to around £30,000 into the account that takes many different companies from multiple industries and invests that money on your behalf.

If after several years the value of the stocks has gone up, you can close the ISA and take the profits gained.

This isn’t actually the way I do it, as I have my own stock portfolio that brings me in monthly dividends that slowly increase over time due to compounding (see, there’s that time thing again).

This will sound super confusing for most people, so I’ll put a link below to an article that explains how you can use dividends to increase your yearly income.

It can be a great way to make more money without having to do a great deal of work, but your money is of course always at risk in the stock market, so bear that in mind.

Living off dividends – (link to an article explaining how dividends work)

8. Will you need to work after retirement?

working past retirement age

Things aren’t always simple in life, as I am sure you are already aware, and even with all the best planning in the world there still may be the eventuality that you may need to work even after you have officially retired.

There is nothing wrong with this, and it usually happens to self-employed people who: Didn’t give themselves long enough to save up enough to retire on, had some sort of difficult life situation that cut into their savings, or some other event that meant that the original calculations are no longer valid.

Working past your retirement is not uncommon and in fact, it is actually becoming more and more popular.

Working as a personal trainer well into your 60’s isn’t always going to be possible, but there are plenty of other options available to you, such as teaching, becoming a coach in a very specific fitness field that doesn’t require you to be quite so active, working on a completely separate side hustle and the list goes on.

It really is up to you what you do if you decide to work past retirement age (or for financial reasons you need to), but just remember, there is nothing wrong with it at all.

9. Research how much your state pension will give you

state pension

My main reason for putting this point up is that so many people rely on the state pension to give them a comfortable life once they reach retirement age.

Well, in the UK, there are some seriously important points you need to take into account when using this strategy (if you can even call it that).

Firstly, the state pension age for myself as of writing this article is currently 68 years old. That means if I wanted to wait until I was allowed to start getting my pension, I would have to wait until my 68th birthday to be entitled to anything.

You don’t see many personal trainers that are working into their late sixties, and there is a good reason for this, it’s just far too physically demanding to be able to keep up into that time of your life.

So what would you do if you had to stop training people at the fairly realistic age of 55? Can you really wait for another thirteen years of savings to get you by until you can start taking out money from that sweet sweet state pension?

Secondly, you would be amazed at just how low the state pension actually is. As of writing, the current state pension allowance is £179.58 per week! That’s £718.32 a month and a whopping £8,619.84 a year!

Please do NOT rely on a state pension!

That may be disappointing to hear, but I would be pleased if I have helped you by making it perfectly clear that you should not rely on a state pension to get you by in your old age. It is essential that you at least put some money away for yourself, and preferably in some sort of pension plan as I have described above.

10. Decide if you Should use a financial planner

using a financial planner for retiring as a personal trainer

Not everyone will need the advice of a financial advisor, but some will really benefit from the help.

There are pros and cons of hiring someone to assist you in your financial matters, and I feel for someone that gets totally overwhelmed by anything to do with money and planning, an advisor will have more pros than cons.

One thing that is incredibly important is that if you are going to go for it and get some advice, is that you go to a reputable advisor. There are some terrible financial advisors out there so make sure you go to one that has either great reviews or comes recommended by a friend or family member that has seen good results.

Some of the major benefits of seeking advice are that you can save a ton of time by not needing to do any of the complex research that they do on a daily basis.

They are also completely unbiased and impartial, so they will not get caught up in the complex emotions that can be brought on by dealing with your money and livelihood, and finally, they are great at helping your investment be as tax-efficient as possible which stops them being eaten away by taxes each month.

So, in short, it can be worthwhile talking to a financial adviser if you feel that you lack the confidence to organize your money yourself, but just please, please make sure they have a great reputation behind them.


Retiring as a self-employed trainer isn’t any different from any other profession when you’re self-employed.

The main factors to remember are: start as early as you can, do your research, be realistic, and if possible, set yourself up with a retirement plan.

Retirement planning doesn’t have to be a long complicated mess, so don’t stress about it.

Have a good think about the points above, and if you are still not sure you can do it all yourself, talk to a financial advisor.

Good luck in your career, and enjoy a long and happy retirement.

Go get ’em

If you enjoyed this article and feel it might help others, please feel free to share it or link back to it.

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Chris Walker

Chris Walker worked in the City of London as a fully qualified REP's level three personal trainer for just under ten years. He built and maintained a client base of 40 individuals and worked with several high profile clients, including actors, actresses, comedians and politicians.

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