How to Open Your Own Business By Starting Up a Gym


A report by Statistic Brain shows that 25% of Americans are not active at all. However, gym memberships are growing every day as health and fitness awareness grows.

Starting up a gym can be a rewarding business venture. Here are some of the things you’ll need to keep in mind as you roll out your fitness center.

Cash Flow and Income Streams

As you go through the process of starting up a gym, there are a lot of tasks you will have to oversee. It may include fixing equipment, cleaning the towels, restocking on tissue paper, and cleaning the toilets. It is virtually impossible to do all that on your own and still train your clients.

You may have to hire a trainer and janitorial services to keep your gym spotless throughout the day. The decision to hire may impact your cash flow. If you handle all the work yourself, you may not offer the level of service members expect. On the other hand, if you recruit staff, it may deplete your capital just as you are starting up the gym.

You can minimize the risk of cash flow problems by developing multiple income streams. It may involve selling packages online through your website, or you can organize group training classes. You may also use the space as a commercial property for rent to lease to massage therapists and other fitness trainers.

When starting a gym, you may want to consider selling nutritional supplements online. Some fitness centers also use their website to sell sports attire and fitness equipment. It is all about finding something that will resonate with your clients.

You can maximize the potential of your fitness center by first establishing your long term plan. What kind of training will you be offering? Will you be focusing on people of all age groups? Do you want to focus on cardio or weight training?

starting up a gym

Answering those questions will help you determine the most critical aspects to incorporate into your gym. The type of training and age group you will be targeting will inform the equipment and services you offer. For example, if your clients are seniors, you will need to have a pain management physician on your payroll.

Choosing Gym Location

One of the critical aspects of finding an ideal location is accessibility. Once you’ve decided on the target demographic for your gym, you can determine if they can get to a given area. Do they live nearby that they can walk to your premises? Or will most of your clients be driving? If they are driving to the spot, you will require adequate parking spaces on your premises.

When starting up a gym, you will also have to analyze the demographics of your clients. Do they have the capacity to pay for the service? In affluent neighborhoods, they’ll be willing to pay more for quality training packages.

Your finances may limit your choice of location. If you have a tight budget, leasing is usually a less risky option. The other alternative is to hire a commercial building contractor to transform the space into a gym. You may need financing to complete extensive renovations successfully. Make a point of talking to a lender before making any decision to acquire a lot.

You should also analyze the competition when starting up a gym. There could be other fitness centers around that spot offering similar packages. You may choose to move elsewhere, or you could opt to repackage your services. In some areas, finding an accessible location can be a challenge. So, you need to consider those alternatives wisely.

Interior Design and Layout

Aesthetics are particularly crucial for high-end clientele who want to know they are getting their money’s worth. But regardless of the demographics, the interior should always be immaculate and appealing.

You also need to think about the functionality of the interior when starting up a gym. There should be adequate lighting and space around the equipment for movement. Circulation of fresh air is crucial for a room full of individuals working out throughout the day.

You can find a place with plenty of natural light and high ceilings. Replacing a roof and making extensive renovations may not be the best option if you are on a tight budget. The best approach would be to continue looking for a place with suitable lighting and spaces for comfortable sitting.

starting up a gym

Researchers say the ambiance of an interior can impact motivation. It is wise to think through the color, design, and mood you want to invoke. You can go ahead and hire a designer to optimize the utility of the space. Aesthetics and functionality are critical factors in drawing clients when starting up a gym.

Choose the Right Equipment

Your clients will expect to have the right equipment mix to fulfill their fitness goals. Some people will be looking to lift weights, while others are more interested in cardio. When starting up a gym, you’ll need bench presses, dumbbells, deal lift mats, squat racks, among other machines.

To make the right choice of equipment, you may breakdown the options into the following categories:

  • Muscle Gain: A significant proportion of your clients will be looking to work on their muscles. Here you’ll mostly need resistance training equipment. That may include hand and ankle weights, barbells, and dumbbells. You may also acquire resistance bands for full-body workouts.
  • Fat Burning: You should also consider clients who are looking to shed off extra weight. You may need exercise bikes, treadmills, and rowing machines. There are many different types of such equipment. You may want to go for those with tracking capabilities. They will have indicators that will show calories lost in a given period.
  • Cardio: Machines for cardio may include elliptical trainers, stair steppers, as well as exercise bikes and treadmills. Some members may be trying to keep fit and stay healthy using cardio equipment. Sometimes they are following the doctor’s recommendations. You may want to go for equipment that can measure heart rate, elapsed time, and calories burned.

The main factors that will determine the equipment you acquire will depend on the type of exercise and your budget. You will require a full set of machines to meet your client’s expectations.

Another issue that you may have to contend with when starting up your gym is space. The location you find may end up being too small for the equipment. One way to go around the problem is to use foldable machines. Consider acquiring folding treadmills and rowing machines to economize on space.

Additionally, if you are looking to offer Yoga or Pilate’s classes, you may not need a lot of equipment. But you need to remember you must have adequate space for training. That could mean moving to a bigger room to accommodate all your clients.

Independent Business versus Joining a Franchise

Starting up a gym is a demanding process; that is why some entrepreneurs opt to join a franchise. Before you can sign up with a franchising partner, you need to consider the pros and cons of either choice.

starting up a gym

One of the advantages of a franchise is that it is an established brand with easily recognizable services. As an independent owner, you will probably be working alone on every detail of the project. That includes branding, promotions, as well as hiring trainers and assistants.

By joining an established brand, you can tap into their experience and expertise. Many franchise companies will have tested and tweaked their services to optimize their value. They can advise you on the best location for your business. Additionally, you may get an exclusive site to represent the brand, which could give your gym a great head start.

On the other hand, you must investigate the company before signing the contract. If the franchisor has problems, it will affect your business even when you are doing everything right. For that reason, it is wise to consult a franchise agreement attorney before making any commitments.

Another disadvantage is the franchise cost, which you’ll have to pay before using their brand. Such fees may be in the thousands of dollars and beyond the limits of your budget. You may want to assess what you are paying and whether it is worth it.

Franchise companies will also focus on supervising their franchisee, especially during the initial stages of the business. Some entrepreneurs may appreciate the assistance as they struggle to get a footing in the market. Other people may find the constant supervision annoying and suffocating. Take time to consider these factors before signing up with a franchiser.

Insurance Requirements

When you are starting up a gym, you can’t afford to ignore insurance. There will be many people engaging in strenuous activities on your premises. Some fitness workouts may cause physical harm, and you need to ensure you have protection for your clients.

Depending on the regulations in your jurisdiction, liability insurance may be necessary even before acquiring a permit. The coverage may include physical injuries and medical payments. The insurance may cover chiropractic treatment or physiotherapy for clients with injuries.

Property damage liability covers the personal effects of your clients lost in your gym. Your insurer may also include any destruction to the premises.

Hire the Right Personnel

If you can find the right people at the initial stages of starting up a gym, you can make your work easier. You can free your schedule from tasks such as calling the waste management service or hiring repair technicians. As you focus on the core tasks, you can deliver on what you are good at to impress and retain clients.

starting up a gym

But the hiring process is one of the hurdles you’ll have to overcome. It can be overwhelming to try and find people with the right qualities before starting up a gym. Therefore, you need to understand each employee’s role and how they add value to your business.

Some of the staff you may need includes:

  • Front Desk Staff: At the earliest stages of your business, you may only need to hire a receptionist. You may still be in a position to take care of marketing and advertising. But as memberships grow, you will have to hire more staff. The position requires people with excellent communication and customer service skills. You also need to remember the front desk staff will be interacting with members regularly. They will, therefore, impact the image of your business.
  • Operations Manager: If you’ve got exceptional management skills, you can be the gym’s operations manager. However, it is wise to consider an assistant to take care of day-to-day tasks, such as calling the AC company. When your hands are free of those tasks, you can deliver to clients more effectively. The role goes beyond making decisions on sales and marketing. It also requires the manager to provide leadership and direction to the rest of the staff.
  • Fitness Instructors: The instructors you choose can make or break your brand. Find people who can motivate your clients to participate in your fitness programs. As the gym grows, you’ll need several instructors to provide adequate training to your clients.
  • Certified Personal Trainers: There is a growing demand for personalized fitness training. A significant proportion of your clients will want a tailored program that will guide them on nutrition and exercise. For such a specialized role, the employee will require certification for a Certified Personal Trainer.
  • Marketing Staff: You’ll also need someone who has the creative mind and energy to develop and manage your campaign. They will be responsible for creating flyers, brochures, and online ads.
  • Maintenance: To keep your premises in immaculate condition, you may need someone to carry out maintenance tasks. The role may involve polishing surfaces, replacing bulbs, and swimming pool repairs, where applicable. The position requires someone with a keen sense of detail and the ability to work with different kinds of equipment.

License and Regulations Requirements

The licensing and requirements will have an impact on many aspects of your business. For example, some states require instructors to get CPR training. Depending on the regulations, you may have to invest in additional training to be compliant.

You will also have to check your local building code on zoning and construction rules. Before starting up a gym, consult an expert to advise you on what is possible based on your area’s regulations.

Starting up a gym requires a lot of research and planning. Keep in mind no two businesses are the same, and yours may be unique. Always seek professional assistance whenever you are unsure of a decision.

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