Best Cities for Fitness Trainers

Being fit and healthy is all the rage these days. And for good reason. Science continues to provide conclusive evidence in support of exercise and its many benefits to your long and short-term well being. As such, people of all ages are looking for direction on what exactly they should be doing to make the most of their time at the gym. So whether it's one-on-one sessions or group training classes, fitness trainers have stepped in to meet the high demand.

The field of fitness training is forecast to grow 24% over the next ten years according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is great news for the 251,400 professionals currently employed in America as of May 2012. The median salary for personal trainers is $31,090 across the U.S or $14.95 per hour. 

So what are some of the top cities for Fitness Trainers to work in around the United States?

We've reviewed data from over 300 cities across three important metrics: median salary, cost of living, and location quotient (methodology and sources located after the table). 

More: Salary Comparison for Fitness Trainers

Select Best Cities for Fitness Trainers

Eugene-Springfield, OR

The Pacific Northwest is a great place to get in shape and spend time in the outdoors. Because of that, it's no surprise the Eugene-Springfield area ranks highly (#3) as a top city for fitness trainers. Nicknamed 'Track Town, USA', and laying claim to being the birthplace of Nike, Eugene has the 4th highest concentration of personal trainers out of all the cities in our study. Additionally, the Eugene-Springfield area is a very affordable part of the country to live in, 3rd cheapest on our list. 

Ann Arbor, MI

Placing 4th in our study, the home of the University of Michigan Wolverines performs well in all of our metrics. Ann Arbor placed in the top 1/3rd of our cities when looking at location quotient, a strong indicator of demand for fitness trainers in the area. And although the average salary for trainers in Ann Arbor was only 36,160 per year, fitness professionals in the city will enjoy the 4th lowest Cost of Living in our study which will allow their dollar to strech much further than in other top cities.

Boulder, CO

Located about 30 miles northeast of Denver, CO, Boulder rounded out our Top 5 in this year's study. Long known as an exercise-centric town, Boulder is routinely included on lists (such as this) where they're recognized for their high-quality of living. In this particular study, Boulder received high points for having a large number of personal trainers inside city limits, giving them the 2nd highest location quotient. Fitness professionals were also paid well in this mountain town, $45,270 per year, or almost 50% more than the national average. They'll need those extra dollars though as the town also ranked in the bottom third of cities when looking at affordability. All-in-all a strong performance and a very worthy 5th place finish.

Ogden-Clearfield, UT

You can find the Ogden and Clearfield metro-area at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains about 40 miles north of Salt Lake City, a perfect playground for those looking to spend time outside and stay in shape. Amongst the past awards the city has won is a 6th place finish in Forbes 'Best Places to Raise a Family'.  Now, they have another designation that they can be proud of, one of 'Top Cities for Fitness Trainers' in the entire country. Ogden-Clearfield showcased a higher than average demand for fitness trainers in the area, an average annual salary of $38,520 (25% higher than most other US cities), and an insanely low cost of living, good enough to lay claim to the most affordable city in our study.

Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA

Positioned right on the Pacific Ocean and about an hours drive west of Los Angeles, this metro area has a lot going for it when it comes to staying fit. From water sports to hiking and biking the mountains, it's all within reach. And because of the active lifestyle present in the area, there are a large concentration of personal trainers (more than 2x the national average per capita). And if you're looking for a great place to start a career as a fitness trainer, you may be drawn to the average salary of $50,230 per year that you can fetch in town!

Top 30 Best Cities for Fitness Trainers

RankCityAverage SalaryJobsLocation QuotientCost of LivingScore
1Trenton-Ewing, NJ57,8308102.0910678.3
2Chicago, IL31,64011,9001.8210572.2
3Eugene-Springfield, OR32,4405502.2610368.8
4Ann Arbor, MI36,1606901.9710364.8
5Boulder, CO45,7206702.3514563.9
6Edison-New Brunswick, NJ42,3103,2201.8413364.0
7Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO42,3803,5501.6011063.5
8Boston, MA45,5905,6301.8315263.3
9Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT45,1901,5902.1314362.9
10Ogden-Clearfield, UT38,5206201.769360.7
11Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA 50,230 1,080 2.0915059.8 
12Haverhill-North Andover-Amesbury, MA-NH44,7003302.3913559.6
13Baltimore-Towson, MD32,790 3,550 1.57 107 58.2 
14Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, WA 40,020 330 1.87 100 57.8 
15Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA 43,750 3,950 1.56 143 52.4 
16Bend, OR 39,590 230 2.18 111 52.3 
17Newark-Union, NJ-PA 45,370 2,330 1.36 119 51.9 
18Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA 56,490 540 1.76 138 50.8 
19Sacramento, CA 44,100 1,750 1.19 117 48.0 
20Fort Collins-Loveland, CO 37,770 410 1.72 109 47.8 
21Vallejo-Fairfield, CA 52,080 340 1.55 111 45.4 
22Lowell-Billerica-Chelmsford, MA 59,380 340 1.61 137 44.8 
23Naples-Marco Island, FL 37,300 470 2.29161 44.3 
24San Francisco, CA 64,280 2,710 1.51 200 43.2 
25Portsmouth, NH-ME 43,320 200 2.00 137 43.1 
26Olympia, WA 40,280 310 1.81 114 43.0 
27Washington D.C. 41,290 5,540 1.32 157 40.5 
28San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA 38,430 400 2.21 165 40.3 
29Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, MA 45,200 1,390 1.38 157 36.4 
30Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA 50,210 250 1.68 154 31.5 


These were the three key questions we asked in coming up with the list. 

1. What can fitness trainers earn in the city?  

We ranked the best cities for personal trainers based on the median annual pay. Income is likely the most important factor people consider when starting their career or relocating elsewhere. A high salary in an expensive city, however, may be less attractive than a lower salary in an affordable town. Our next metric takes affordability into consideration.

2. How affordable is it to live in this city?  

Now that we have the median salary, we’ll look next at the cost of living. The cost of living is a measure of how far earnings can be stretched. Cities with lower cost of living index numbers ranked higher in our study. For example, the average city is benchmarked at 100. A city with a cost of living index of 110, such as Denver, CO, would mean that generally speaking, living expenses are 10% more expensive compared to the average city.

3. What is the location quotient for fitness trainers in the city?  

A place with a high median salary and low cost of living may seem perfect, but job opportunities may be limited. Our third factor accounts for this by favoring cities with high location quotients. Location quotient measures the concentration of fitness trainers in an area as a percentage of all occupations, and then compares that to the national average. We interpret a higher location quotient to mean a relatively higher demand for a personal trainer's services.


1. Median Salary: Cities with the highest median annual salary, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data as of May 2012

2. Cost of Living: Cities with the lowest cost of living, with data sourced from Sperling's Best Places COL Calculator. Data as of July 2013

3. Employment: Cities with the highest location quotient metrics, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data as of May 2012

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