A Concise Guide To Opening A Gym

This guide will walk you through the entire process of opening a gym. It includes tips, advice, and resources to help you save time and money as you open your doors for business!

James Plata
January 12, 2022
A Concise Guide To Opening A Gym
This guide will walk you through the entire process of opening a gym. It includes tips, advice, and resources to help you save time and money as you open your doors for business!

It's not news how lucrative and diverse the fitness industry has become, and it is sparking a lot of interest. You've probably done your own research and discovered that your passion for staying fit, could lead to owning a gym. You have probably had it as an ambition for a long time, and now you are ready to start.

Opening a gym requires you to be financially comfortable or buoyant. But also demands a lot of time, especially at the beginning and building stages. To become fully operational, extra work hours would probably be needed. So, if you have sufficient finances and are willing to take on the risks of starting a business, then you are almost set for the challenge ahead.

What else? You need to build a team of skilled and experienced individuals. Even with all the time and money, if you don't have a team, you risk running at a great loss because your team determines another huge percentage of how much success you achieve.

black and gray escalator inside building
Photographer: Sven Mieke | Source: Unsplash

A Concise Guide To Opening A Gym

Here is a quick guide with detailed sections that would help you open the doors of your gym for business in little or no time.

#1 Identify Your Niche

There are various niches in the fitness industry, and you would be having a lot of options to choose from. For you to identify with your fitness niche, you would have to do some exploring to discover which one is right for you.

Niches include:

  • Traditional gym: This niche or establishment provides various workout options, personal training, fitness classes, and more in a single location. They could also make provision for additional services like steam rooms and massage, which all have additional fees attached to them.
  • Special fitness center: Here, the focus is given to special activities and specialty fitness. They consist of an intimate design, quality instructors, and boutique experience. They are usually more expensive. Think of yoga studios, CrossFit gyms, bootcamps, or strength and conditioning gyms.
  • Family fitness center: Country clubs and athletic clubs are included in this niche. Various workout options are also made available, and it is an ideal gym option for all age groups, children and teenagers included. Additional wellness amenities may also be included.
  • Medical fitness center: This niche is centered around medical fitness. Gyms in this niche provide medical services like physical therapy to clients who need help recovering from certain health issues. Various educational services concerning mental and physical health are provided in addition.

#2 Acquire Training and Accreditation

To open up your gym, you would need to be trained and accredited properly. You need to be capable trainer or coach to help people stay fit and healthy. After all, people are paying you for the service you provide! You would have clients and members looking up to you for inspiration, so this is the right way to start.

#3 Write Down The Plans For Your Business

"If you fail to plan, you plan to fail" is one phrase that can not be overemphasized. How you put out your plans determines the success of your business to a great extent. Putting down a plan for your gym enables you to identify specifics and unknowns.

When you are creating your business plan, the details to take note of include finances, target market, business name, and prices, amongst a host of others.

Your target market is a group of people within an age range, a particular lifestyle, income, and location. These people are identified as your potential clients, and they have shared characteristics, especially your business.

Your business plan is what gives you direction on your road to success. Additionally, it serves as a persuasive tool while getting investors and potential partners to join the business. In cases where you need more capital to grow your gym, you would be required by banks or lenders to present your business plan before a loan is given or an investment is made. Your business plan speaks to your potential on your behalf, so be sure to make it good.

Business Template

  • Executive summary: The executive summary of your business plan consists of your goals, your vision, your mission, and how everything plays out to achieve great results. When writing down your business executive summary, you are answering the questions - What? Why? and How? You are expected to write this down with clarity while also sticking to the point. This summary is usually brief and should contain fewer details than other contents of your business plan.
  • The overview: Since the executive summary served as a brief review, this section would serve as an area where you can properly elaborate and highlight the points made initially for more insight. Here, you carefully put down more information about the purpose of your gym, your target market (who it is going to be for), and how the aims of your business would be accomplished. You can get to be more personal when elaborating your mission statement (the 'why'?). This would serve as one aspect of your business plan where you get to put your passion on paper; to do this, think of the major reason you chose the fitness industry for business.
  • Personal history: What have you done previously that qualifies you for the task ahead? What are the skills you possess that can serve as great assets on your journey? This section highlights your potential in detail.
  • Business strategy: First, you determine exactly what services you will offer. Then decide on your approach to new offerings and developments. How do you intend to increase your market share? How you would convert big target clients or customers?
  • Management: This section should give information about the necessary positions that would be filled, and how every individual in different positions or departments would contribute to the success of the establishment. Precisely, you would be giving details about what your employee ladder would look like, skills and qualifications required, and the incentives you would be willing to offer.
  • Marketing: This is where your creativity comes to play. You are required to give details of how you would explore your target market and present your services to them in an irresistible manner. You can do this without a solid background in the marketing field. All you have to do is equip yourself by doing some research to gain at least a fair knowledge of marketing strategies that would enhance growth in your business. The summary of your market research includes the location of your gym, your local demographic, and your competitors. Proper market research recognizes the target market, which could include working professionals, schools, specific groups, etc. After your research, you should be able to determine the ideal membership package you can offer, how you would gain the loyalty of your target audience, and what would make you stand out among numerous competitors. If there is a demand for special services or equipment, you would be able to find out too, and then you can decide how to fill in the gap. Marketing strategies include; advertisements, promotions, sponsorship, prices, and other niche services.
  • Services: Products, services, and amenities determine how big your establishment is going to be. Gym equipment, specialist equipment, and edibles such as food and drinks are examples of products for your gym. Gym equipment is essential. Specialist equipment could be included specifically to attract members even outside your target audience. To sell healthy foods and energy drinks, hygiene standards must be met. Gym services include; personal training, physiotherapy, swimming pool, classes, spa, etc. Decide on what products and services your establishment would be offering, describe the benefits attached to them and demonstrate how it would be of value to your members or clients.
  • Finances: What are your financial projections? Be sure to put on an estimate on every purchase and give details of all necessary expenses. To put out a proper guide, key areas include; the cost of hiring, operations, gym equipment, CRM system, building work, legal expenses, and accounting software. After calculations, you are left with the rough estimate of what it would cost you to successfully launch your gym. If your budget is below your total, you can determine whether it is manageable for a start or if you would need extra funding. On the other hand, what is your financial strategy like? How would you use your prices to increase membership and enrollment? From your market research, you may have discovered your competitors or other gyms around your area have prices that are higher than average. This could be a fine opportunity to draw in members by making your prices fair. Financial sensitivity would appeal to your potential clients and would most likely bring them in. Discounts, loyalty rewards are also pricing strategies.
  • Sources of income: What are your potential sources of income? Without this in detail, you would lack a solid plan for the return of investment. To put this in place, consider how much income the services you offer will generate.
  • Sales forecast: Most of the time, the growth of a business is measured by sales. The sales forecast is a fundamental aspect of your business plan, and it is the main factor that sets the standard for all profits, expenses, and generally, the growth of your business. Your sales forecast for the first three years of your business should be highlighted. Your assumptions and calculations should be based on unit sales each month, a breakdown of all purchases, and other relevant data.
  • Payment options: This might seem like a section you could easily neglect but don't. How fees and gym memberships at your gym are being paid for are important. A seamless experience while purchasing is a bonus that helps you keep your members and customers loyal. Additionally, it attracts potential investors because it shows how organized the system in your establishment is. Direct debit services are the easiest and most practical option as long as it is being properly operated.
  • Extra Capital: Certainly, you don't just open a gym and hope to run it with whatever income you generate. You need to include in your business plan where the extra funding would be brought in from. Weigh your options and see if they are sufficient enough to take you through, otherwise, you might need to have your plan revised. Possible sources of extra capital include; soft loans, bank loans, personal savings, sponsorships, business partners, and crowdfunding.

#4 Get Your Licenses and Permits

Just like with other businesses, you need a business license to open your gym. To get it up and running, you would need to check and get familiar with the requirements of your state in regards to the type of gym your establishment would be. Each city and state have different requirements. So you make sure your business meets the necessary requirements.

Additional permits would be required for special services in your gym like food and drinks. Your establishment would undergo tests and inspections to ensure you meet certain standards.

#5 Find The Right Location For Your Gym

The right location is determined by a long list of a list of factors;

  • Where your target market is located
  • How much space you would need
  • The number of clients your establishment can accommodate or offer services to
  • The distance between you and your suppliers
  • Your mission statement
  • Your business strategies include how you intend to stand out or fit in the market.
  • Neighborhood safety
  • Business-friendliness of an area
  • Community engagement
  • Ease of accessibility by both employees and clients
  • Accessibility to the streets and parking areas
  • Proximity to competitors
  • Room for a possible renovation of the gym structure
  • Taxes
  • Walkability score
  • Legal business operation in an area
  • Zoning laws and restrictions

The fitness industry might be booming with great revenue, but it doesn't mean you simply open a gym and expect everything else to fall into place. Without a proper guide or plan, you would risk folding up as quickly as you started.

In addition to the guide above, be sure to invest in quality equipment and inspect staff certification before you open up your gym. Your team and the quality of your services promote the credibility of your establishment. Invest in the right areas at the right time and watch your business contribute to the boom of the fitness industry.

James Plata

James Plata is the CX Operations Manager at PushPress, a fitness-nut and hoarder of all gadgets. He brings 10+ years of experience in startup tech and fitness to help gym owners rebel against useless and overpriced software.

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