You’re up before dawn, preparing to teach the first class of the day in your brand-new gym. You’re surrounded by people with all kinds of fitness goals. You enjoy motivating them and connecting them to others with like-minded goals. If this sounds like the dream you’ve been envisioning, let’s talk about what starting a gym takes.
Although it’s not an easy undertaking, it can be extremely rewarding with the right amount of effort. The motivation to help others is often the biggest driving factor for gym entrepreneurs. That mental fulfillment will help you maintain the focus, clarity and dedication to keep going if times get rough.
First and foremost, be truthful to yourself and your skill set. There are lots of career options in the fitness industry. Instead of opening a gym, you might decide to work as a personal trainer or fitness instructor. Consider all of your options before deciding whether or not starting a gym is your best option.
Starting a Gym From Scratch
If you decide to become a gym owner, here’s a quick overview of how to get started:
- Choose a location.
- Make a solid business plan.
- Consider fitness franchise options.
- Obtain all necessary licenses.
- Hire certified coaches.
- Get the necessary equipment.
- Invest in your interior design.
- Incentivize your team members in a way that benefits them.
- Create a solid marketing plan.
- Prepare a maintenance and cleaning checklist.
Gym Start-Up Costs
The location, size, target demographic and equipment in your gym will all play a role in determining the total cost of operations. Considering these factors, the cost of starting a gym ranges from $10,000 to $50,000.
Monthly recurring expenses:
- Rent or mortgage. Whether you’re renting or buying your space, factor in rent. Most likely, this will be one of the largest monthly expenses for your gym.
- Utilities. It’s hard to work out in the dark. Lighting, heat and water and three of the main utilities you’ll need to provide at your facility. When researching locations prior to opening, ask your landlord for the average utility fees from previous tenants. You can also check to see if utility companies offer a budget plan so you pay the same price each month.
- Payroll. Your team of coaches and staff are going to be an invaluable asset. Determine how you plan to pay them (ex: per class or set amount monthly) and the amount. Add up the payroll expenses for your full team and include them in your monthly budget.
- Insurance. In the fitness industry, insurance is imperative. Research your options and be sure you have adequate coverage. This is not an area to try to pinch pennies.
- Ancillary expenses. These costs will vary from gym to gym. Here are just a few questions to get started: How will you provide water for your members (purification machine, water fountain, bottles)? What music will you play? Do you need a streaming service? Depending on the number of members, how much toilet paper and soap will you need? Will you pick up those supplies yourself or get them delivered through Amazon Prime?
- Cleaning and maintenance. To keep your gym in tip-top shape, you'll need consistent cleaning and maintenance. First consider the amount of work needed and your budget. This will help you decide whether to have a cleaning/maintenance crew as employees or contractors.
Starting a Gym? The PushPress Gym Startup Guide offers concise, practical advice and process-oriented steps. This will help you open and grow a thriving and successful gym that your community will love.
Making Money as a Gym Owner
Like any other small business, starting a gym will require at least some investment. It’s smart to start small and gradually expand your business. Gym ownership usually does not come with a set salary, earnings are usually determined by the gym’s profit. Profit comes from subtracting your gym’s operating expenses from its revenue.
The largest source of revenue for most gyms comes from membership fees. This can be in the form of gym access, classes or personal training. Other ancillary sources of revenue can include things like apparel or supplements.
Your operating expenses will probably be fixed, but there are ways to manage other variable costs. For example, you can lower staffing costs by coaching classes yourself. You can also be strategic about your marketing: Create a referral program and utilize social media to spread the word about your gym.
So how much money can you make? It’s no surprise that salaries for gym owners differ from state to state, and location to location. From big box gyms to boutique studios, salary is affected by location, size, demographic and equipment.
It’s not uncommon for a gym to lose money in its first year or two of operation. As the member base grows, so will the earning potential. An entrepreneur needs to consider this in the gyms’ infancy so that they have some form of income.
Make sound business decisions and avoid common start-up mistakes during the growth period. Don’t shy away from making adjustments to your original plan based on demand.
A Few Tips and Tricks
Managing operations and expenses are an integral part of starting a gym. But don’t forget the “human” side of running a business. Here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind as you get started:
- Decide what sets your gym apart from the competition. Promote that.
- Eliminate competition by providing top-notch services that no one else can match.
- Negotiate when you can get a better deal. But DO NOT negotiate your values.
- You can trade membership in exchange for services, but do not devalue it.
- Do not entrust your website development to a member of your family.
- Take the time to get to know your members. They have chosen to be your clients.
- Show gratitude for those who have helped you or your company.
- Be prepared for emergencies. Set aside some cash for the rainy days.
- Recognize that their lives influence your customers' behavior in the gym outside of the gym.
- No matter how appealing a “magic pill” for success seems, it does not exist.
In Summary: The Risks and Rewards of Starting A Gym
Being a gym owner can be both overwhelming and incredibly rewarding at the same time. When you are considering how to start a gym, be analytical and practical. Choose location, size, demographic and equipment wisely. Control operating expenses while creating revenue opportunities. Your gym's earning potential is only limited by your business decisions and your willingness to put in the effort. It’s time to get to work.