Client Spotlight

Time to Own It: Why One Gym Owner Chose to Stop Renting Gym Space

Renting gym space might seem more feasible for gym owners but the benefits of owning should be considered. Here's why Saddle Up CrossFit is a great example!

Emily Beers
May 22, 2023
Time to Own It: Why One Gym Owner Chose to Stop Renting Gym Space
Renting gym space might seem more feasible for gym owners but the benefits of owning should be considered. Here's why Saddle Up CrossFit is a great example!

For many gym owners, purchasing a facility or land might be unrealistic. In some cities, 5,000 square feet of warehouse space could cost upwards of $10 million. In other markets, $20 million isn’t out of the question. Therefore, most gym owners lean toward renting gym space instead.

However, depending on the area you’re in, buying land or a building might just make more business sense.

This was exactly the case for Jill and Jason Hughes in a little Texas city with a population just under 7,000 people. Jill and Jason are the owners of Saddle Up CrossFit in Decatur, TX.

Gym community in front of owned gym space
Saddle Up CrossFit community in front of their future gym space. Photo credit: Saddle Up CrossFit.

The Decision to Expand Gym Space.

Four years ago, when the CrossFit gym they belonged to closed down, Jill and Jason needed a new option. They built a small home gym next to their house on their 40 acres of land in rural Texas.

Soon, friends from their former gym started joining them for workouts. It grew quickly, and Jill remembers thinking, ‘Maybe we should start our own affiliate.’

So in May 2019, instead of renting gym space, their small home gym became Saddle Up CrossFit. Over the next three years, they grew to nearly 70 members and were at capacity. It was time to expand.

Luckily, a neighbor was selling his land, which included a 3,500 square foot barn. The Hughes saw as an opportunity to turn it into a gym.

A lot of work went into turning the space into their brand-new gym, but it paid off. Just one month ago, they moved into their new, 3,500-square foot facility, located just 200 meters from their home.

Managing Quick Gym Growth.

Since moving into the new location, Jill and Jason have already increased gym membership by nearly 30 percent. Their ultimate goal is a community of 120 people and they’re currently at the 100-member mark.

Saddle Up CrossFit gym space interior
Interior view of the Saddle Up CrossFit gym space. Photo credit: Saddle Up CrossFit.

Jill credits switching to PushPress with managing this quick growth. She says the new website and Grow automated workflows help with both lead generation and effective nurture.

“The biggest thing for us has been with leads,” said Jill. “If someone reaches out, we’re able to keep that contact with the lead. We still get on the phone pretty quick, but if someone falls through the cracks, having that automation has helped.”

The second big game changer has been Grow’s 100-Day Journey workflow. Jill describes it as, “adding a personal touch (that) keeps members engaged.”

She especially likes that she was able to go into the 100-Day workflow and make some edits. She wanted to ensure her messaging is “authentic” and sounds like it’s coming from her.

Jill believes the 100-Day workflow has also contributed to a big influx of new, positive Google business reviews from new members.

Pro Tip: Want to find out how PushPress Grow can help you with lead generation and member experience? Book a demo with our team today!

Why a Gym Owner Should Consider Owning.

Although renting gym space is generally the quicker, simpler option, every business is different. For gym owners who life in areas where owning is an option, Jill recommends considering these benefits:

1. More Freedom.

In comparison to renting, Jill says building ownership comes more “freedom and flexibility.” When you own your building, you’re not limited when it comes to decision making. For example, something as simple as hanging things on the wall doesn’t require approval.

“Or things like bolting the rig into the ground,” said Jill. “But if we want to change anything, it’s pretty easy. We’re already talking about adding a piece onto the back of the building, and that’ll just be an investment.”

2. Improved Member Experience.

The freedom to make improvements doesn’t stop at design renovations. In fact, it can actually extend into an incredible member experience.

CrossFit classes at Saddle Up CrossFit
Incredible member experience for Saddle Up CrossFit clients. Photo credit: Saddle Up CrossFit.

For example, 90 percent of Saddle Up CrossFit’s members have young children. And they often like to bring the kids along to the gym. So when the Hughes added a fenced-off area in the backyard for kids to play during their parents’ workout, it was an instant hit. Jill describes it as a huge value-add to their members.

Something like this is still possible if you’re renting gym space. However, chances are it would require various hoops for you to jump through first.

“It’s nice to be able to provide that for them and not worry about getting approval," Jill said.

3. Having A Valuable Asset.

When it comes to getting as much value from your gym as possible, leasing generally isn’t the best option. Gym owners who’ve tried to sell their gym have learned that the value often isn’t much more than that of its depreciated assets.

On the other hand, gym owners who’ve purchased land or a building are playing a different ball game. With an actual asset to sell, you may be talking about money you can retire on. Or in the very least, you have the potential for renting gym space to the new gym owner.

In Summary: Ditch Renting Gym Space in Favor of Owning if the Conditions Are Right.

In some parts of the world, renting might be the most feasible option for gym owners. But for anyone running a fitness business with the potential for owning land or a facility, there are some big benefits to consider. Among them is the freedom to make choices or improve member experience without prior approval. Another is having a worthwhile asset to increase the value of your business. Therefore, if owning is an option, the Hughes recommend at least exploring it.

Emily Beers

Emily Beers is a health, fitness and nutrition writer. She has also been coaching fitness at MadLab School of Fitness in Vancouver, B.C. since 2009.

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