Should You Discount Your Training Rates or Give Free Training?

Should You Discount Your Training Rates or Give Free Training?

“You’re too expensive.”

“Do you offer package discounts?”

“What do you mean I have to pay for an athlete evaluation?”

As a 7-year strength and conditioning professional with a Master’s Degree, national coaching license, a blog readership bigger than the population of China, and an immense arsenal of client testimonials, I still get pushback on training prices.

While I’ve made it clear youth strength and conditioning is my profession and not a hobby, it flabbergasts me people expect this all to be discounted or free.

Okay, okay…

What You Will Get For Free

Now, this isn’t to say I’m totally against free stuff. For one, I’ve written over 530 blog articles on youth soccer training, as well as youth athletic development to better help parents and coaches with their kids.

I’ve uploaded over 600 YouTube videos with exercises for athletes to become their strongest and fastest selves. And I’ve responded to all emails from people who had questions on youth training, or needed advice on injuries and nutrition.

In fact, I pride myself in replying to every email. Of course, I could delete messages in my inbox and get on with my day like an uppity queen, but I don’t.

Additionally, I pride myself on getting on calls with parents, up and coming coaches out of college, high school coaches to provide insights and help them problem solve.

I talk to everyone with joy, a smile on my face, and glowing gratitude.

My mission is to help others and provide as much content as possible for coaches, parents, and young strength coaches.

Other stuff I have done for free: brought an athlete into the gym because of severe depression, traveled to tournaments and games to watch my athletes play, attended school band concerts to support my athletes, provided college recruiting advice, held live workshops for young female athletes to teach them strength training, hosted young strength coaches, volunteer coached kids in Brazil, and raised money to buy them new cleats.

Oh, and hugs are free too.

I do believe it is nice to have a blend of both community and charity work, as well as your professional and service work.

All are valuable.

With that said, I do have to draw a line in the sand and establish strict boundaries with my career: from in person coaching, to online coaching, to online team and coach consulting, specific exercises for specific muscle groups, specific sets and reps, week and month outlines, seminars, speaking engagements….yeah. Not free.

These all take energy, time, problem solving, gas money, internet systems, critical thinking, creativity, and hours of back-and-forth communication in order for the magic and results to happen.

Why I Value My Worth And Why You Should, Too

For whatever reason, coaching and training is seen as a hobby and part-time passion. Especially from an outsider’s perspective, people see us as rolling into work in our sweatpants with a stopwatch in-hand.


This is incredibly far from the truth.

And as far as money is concerned, I think it is downright disrespectful to ask trainers for free training. It is tantamount to asking a hair cutter for a free trim, or a manicurist for a free manicure, or a dentist for a free cleaning.

On a side note: I double dog dare you to ask these service providers for free stuff. You won’t!!

Moving on…


My career as a coach isn’t a ‘gig.’ It’s a professional service.

It isn’t Costco. It’s Nordstrom.

It isn’t the Iron Islands. It’s Kings Landing.

It isn’t Burger King. It’s a Michelin Star restaurant.

It isn’t a yard sale. It’s a meticulous craft.

Okay, okay, you get the point. This stuff ain’t cheap.

And while most trainers would cringe at the thought of charging so much, they should take pride in their services and the attention-to-detail they provide to their clients.

I know I do.

And take it from a woman who is so critical of herself and who questions whether or not a 4×5 set/rep scheme is better than a 5×5, or whether or not an eccentric hamstring curl is better on the stability ball or slide board, or whether or not marching or crawling should go into an athlete’s “customized movement prep” in their program:

Yeah. I consider all of the details. And I tap away in Microsoft Excel a ton. And I write programs during a two-hour episode of Game of Thrones. And yes, it takes the full time. And yes, all programs are based on the individual and their initial evaluation. This all is included in the rate.

Adding on, clients should value trainers not only for their time and diligence in writing programs, but their energy to coach movements, progress workouts on-the-fly, and monitor load based on game and practice schedules, all while listening to athletes talk about the dramas of high school and life.

Alas, I digress.

There are morons in the industry who ruin it for all of us coaches. They’re the scam artists who blast out general programs to the masses, with no customization or periodization. It’s 10 burpees, 10 squats, 10 push-ups for everyone. They don’t care if you have a history of herniated discs or anything…

And then, in the other corner, there are true fitness professionals with your best interest at hand, meaning they consider your medical history, body mechanics, needs, and goals to design a customized program.

Alas, you’re probably grunting, “ugh. All of this is expensive.”

More often than not, you get what you pay for.

Oh, so the sports club strength and conditioning coach charges $ 10 per player?

That’s cute.

Be ready for a cookie cutter workout written on a white board with no tracking of load or individualization based on each player’s body mechanics. Oh, and they’ll have you out the door in less than an hour. For 1x a week.

Moreover, I don’t know many free strength coaches out there, and if they are offering discounts and freebies to people, that’s going to be an icky conversation to have with the other full-paying clients when they find out.

To that end, training is an investment, folks.

An investment in your child.

Your child’s mental health.

Your child’s sports career.

Your child’s long term career.

Your child’s life after sports end.

Your child’s self efficacy and empowerment.

I get strength and conditioning is paid out of pocket, but it is an expense well worth it.

So to answer the big question of this article: should coaches give free training?

That’s their call. But I’d argue strength and conditioning coaches need to know their worth, the long hours put into honing their crafts, and their immense impact on people’s lives.

Not only for physical strength, but mental strength.

Of course, coaches can impact through both free work and paid work. Money, to that end, does not need to be “dirty” or “icky.” A great book on cultivating a healthier money mindset, go here.

Expounding further, you got a mortgage to pay, and gas to put in your car so you can drive to volunteer on a Sunday?

Yeah. Making money ain’t bad.

It allows you to do basic things that keep giving back to others – like buy soccer balls for your team, rent nice fields, and stay nourished with food so you don’t pass out while coaching kids.

One More Thing…

Before I exit stage right and cool off, let me talk about coaching education.

Strength and conditioning professionals spend endless hours (and money) attending conferences, seminars, workshops, as well as acquiring specialized certifications, graduate school degrees and phDs.

Expounding off of what else is included in my hourly rate: enduring my Master’s Degree program, while doing an unpaid NCAA Division 1 internship, while working full-time at a commercial gym, while clocking in at 4am, and while suffering anxiety and isolating myself from friends and family.

For two years.

Again, this bears repeating: this is my livelihood. Not a McDonald’s drive through.

*exits stage right*

  • Shane McLean
    Posted at 00:40h, 15 May Reply

    Did you drop your mic on the way out? Great post coach.

    • erica
      Posted at 01:26h, 15 May Reply

      Again, way too many have been dropped. Need a new supply. Thank you, as always, Shane!

  • Shane Blackett
    Posted at 20:07h, 15 May Reply

    Awesome! Coaching is more then sets and reps. The outside eye doesn’t see that and most people see us as being boastful if we start listing all that we do. This article summed it up perfectly! Thank you!

    • erica
      Posted at 10:30h, 16 May Reply

      I agree. We all need to value ourselves and the more we do so, the more we are taken more seriously as a profession. There is a LOT of service involved, so charge for it.

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