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Opening a Gym? 5 Things to Consider Before You Invest

If you're considering opening a gym, it's important to be well prepared. Here are five things that can help make your journey smoother and more successful.

Eric LeClair
October 25, 2021
If you're considering opening a gym, it's important to be well prepared. Here are five things that can help make your journey smoother and more successful.
opening a gym
opening Photographer: Sven Mieke | Source: Unsplash

The fitness industry is among the most flourishing industries today because health and fitness are more mainstream than they have ever been. Therefore, the number of fitness instructors or personal trainers is increasing geometrically. Most of the instructors opening a gym start with established gyms to build their portfolio as well as save up. After several years, some move to start their own gym business.

Gym or fitness centers are very amazing business opportunities. Many trainers are living large just by doing what they love doing. This incredible appeal has caused a geometric increase in the number of gym and fitness centers opened in the last decade. Unfortunately, not less than 70% of these new gyms are shut down within the first year of opening.

Opening a gym is not just about being a skilled fitness instructor or personal trainer, several fundamental elements will determine whether you are successful or not. This problem is not particular to the fitness industry, most new businesses shut down within the first year, with only a few getting past the fifth year. Invariably, opening a new gym is similar to starting any other business but of course with its own peculiarities.

As harsh as this reality may seem, it is what it is. However, your gym can be one of the few that not just survive the first year but also thrive for many years. Understanding the potential pitfalls and properly planning on how to navigate this unprecedented competitive path will set you up for success hence you won’t be back in the 9-5 pool.

All fitness instructors or personal trainers intending to open a gym must consider certain key things before making the investment. It is important to count your costs before starting to avoid regretting the decision. The key considerations include:

Opening a Gym?  Which kind?

You can either open a gym as an independent owner or as part of a franchise.

  • Independent gym

As an independent gym owner, you are your own boss. You get to run your gym just the way you want – you choose the name, targeted audience, design, operating hours, and the people hired. You are completely responsible for the decision-making and will enjoy the dividends. You can easily change whatever you want or rebrand as you wish.

However, starting a gym from scratch can be very difficult – as nice as making all the decisions may sound, it can be very overwhelming. Also, building the brand will usually take time and resources. Many people get tired in no time.

  • Franchise

This involves buying a license from an established brand to make use of its name and trademark items. Investing in a franchise makes you an independent gym owner under a pre-made brand. Brand recognition plays an important role when people deciding the gym to go to. This makes it easier for you to grow your gym business faster and significantly increases the tendencies of success.

However, startup and licensing fees are required. Also, you have to stick to the procedures, making it impossible for you to change things as you would like.

Overall, a franchise is more expensive but comes with better security. If you have the money and aren’t very good at marketing yourself or building a brand, a Franchise may be better for you. If you are business-oriented and ready to go all out, you will enjoy the flexibility and freedom of being an independent gym owner.

Business Plan

Once you have decided on the type of gym you want to open, the next thing and a very important thing to do is to develop a business plan. This involves planning both the short-term and long-term goals of the business as well as how you want to meet the set goals. Vision, mission, goals, results of market research, and budget are key components of a business plan.

Money Management

Money management is at the core of the struggles of most new gym owners. Opening and running a gym involves numerous costs that can quickly escalate. Managing such expansive costs is new to many and they often get overwhelmed eventually. This is where the budget comes in – planning all expected expenditures. Always make room for miscellaneous when planning your budget but this is not to say be wasteful. Before opening a gym, it is better to have at least the first three months covered.

General Costs of Opening a Gym

Facility csts: one of the very first expenses you make when opening a gym is the acquisition or renting of a facility. The location and size will determine the cost. You will also spend on repairs, remodeling, and perhaps building improvement. Then the costs of furniture and equipment come in.

  • License and permits: business license and insurance are key requirements for opening a gym.
  • Utilities: this covers the internet, electricity, phone, water, etc.
  • Salaries: this covers the costs of employees’ rewards.
  • Marketing and advertising: your gym needs to be visible, especially to your target market. Websites and social media are great ways to do this.
  • Note: if you can afford the service of a finance professional, it is better to get one because managing finances is where many people get it wrong, especially regarding the creation of membership and contract agreements. Once a solid financial foundation is built, it will be easier to track finances and make adjustments promptly.

Time Management

One of the first things you will realize when you open your gym is the enormous number of hours needed. This often rattles people who opened an independent gym because they want more time to themselves. Unfortunately, the opposite will be the case. Above 80 hours are needed weekly for the effective running of a gym hence you pursuing other favorite activities can be tough. It is imperative to balance timing from the start because having “me time” is key to avoiding getting overwhelmed or burned out. Learning to delegate some tasks to trusted employees will help you manage your time better.


Opening a gym goes beyond being a skilled trainer. Numerous challenges are often faced by new gym owners, leading to many shutting down within the first year. To avoid this fate, attention must be paid to the above key considerations. If done properly, gym ownership is among the best in the world today.


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Eric LeClair

Eric LeClair works on the Marketing Team at PushPress. Eric has been a CrossFit Affiliate owner for 16 years. He's built three separate gyms and developed over 20 staff members to run operations at those facilities. He's a Veteran of the US Army, married with two little kids, and spends lots of time with his two boxers backpacking and exploring new adventures!

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