Highlighting nine steps you must follow when looking at how to start a gym business. Especially as things have changed since the pandemic.

Table of contents
  1. Write Your Business Plan
  2. Get Accreditation
  3. Finance Your Venture
  4. Pick the Right Location
  5. Get Proper Permits and Licenses
  6. Load Up on Equipment
  7. Don’t Forget The Digital Equipment
  8. Find the Right Insurance Plan
  9. Gain and Retain Customers
  10. Wrapping Up Starting a Gym Business

As the world attempts to move on from a global pandemic, people are starting to take their health a lot more seriously. 

That doesn’t just mean trying to stay clear of germs but also paying more attention to diet and exercise. That means now could be a good time for starting a gym business, especially when you consider the following: from a revenue standpoint, the fitness and health industries are growing at a rate of 8.7% per year

So, as the demand for gyms and health centers continues to grow, now is a great time to open up your own gym business. 

Of course, opening a successful gym is no easy feat. The tricky part is that you can’t necessarily approach starting a gym business the way you would another business. While some aspects of starting a business are universal, there are certain aspects of starting a gym business that are specific to the industry. 

To help you get a better idea of both, we put together this guide on how to start a gym business.

Write Your Business Plan

Whether you’re starting a gym business or any other type of business, the first step is always to do your research and put together a business plan. Even if opening your own gym creates a lot of opportunities for you, that doesn’t mean you can just blindly jump into it. 

You need to do your research to make sure that your business will be in a position to succeed.

Specifically, your business plan should take a close look at the costs to open a gym, as well as the costs to maintain and operate a gym. This will be key to understanding how much funding you need to open and how much revenue you need to generate to stay in business. 

Your business plan should take a close look at the demographics in a particular area and the demand for a gym, not to mention existing businesses that will be your competitors. 

Your plan should also look into the best ways to bring in money to your gym. Are you going to do it through memberships, offering classes, or other services that might be in demand? 

Obviously, there’s time to change on the fly later on, but before you plan on starting a gym business, you should have the basics worked out and written down.

Get Accreditation

The most successful gyms offer customers some form of credibility, and you can earn that credibility by gaining accreditation from organizations like The American Council on Exercise

At the same time, the trainers and instructors you eventually hire should also have some sort of certification to ensure they have the background and experience to work in a gym. 

Of course, it doesn’t hurt when the owner and operator of a gym business is also a certified trainer. This will allow you to work in the capacity of a trainer during the early days when you may not have enough staff. 

It’s also a good look for a gym to have the person running the entire operation have a strong understanding of fitness. It will help give your business credibility and legitimacy while convincing potential investors that you know how to start a gym business.

Finance Your Venture

Speaking of investors, this is another critical step early in starting a gym business. If you did your due diligence while writing your business plan, you know that a lot of funding is required to open a gym. We’re talking tens of thousands of dollars to open a gym, potentially more if you’re in an area with a higher cost of living.

Calculating the costs when looking at how to start a gym business

Unless you’re ready to put your life savings into a new business, you’re going to have to get that funding from somewhere. You’ll have to decide whether it makes more sense to apply for a small business loan at a bank or to pursue private investment and silent partners. 

Either way, you’re going to have to show people your business plan and prove that your new gym has a path to success and profitability.

Pick the Right Location

Unless you’re planning on creating a digital gym, you’re going to have to pick a location to put your gym. 

Ideally, this is a topic you will cover in your initial business plan. However, nothing should be set in stone before you explore multiple options. You need to look at being close to your target demographic and how easily accessible your gym will be based on how your target demographic gets around town.

Of course, the cost of a particular space and whether you’ll be renting or buying will also play a big role. You need to make sure you have the budget for your ideal location and that it has enough space for all of your potential members and customers to work out. 

Finally, you can’t forget to make sure that the location you want is zoned for a gym business. Given all of these factors, you should understand why you need to consider several different options before making your decision.

Get Proper Permits and Licenses

Once you’ve nailed down the location of your gym, the next step in starting a gym business is taking care of the permits and licenses that you’ll need to operate a gym. 

You’ll need to meet building codes and zoning laws if you plan to have a large group of people at your gym at the same time. 

There will also be other business licenses and permits required based on your city and state requirements.

Another forgotten or overlooked component of starting a gym business is taking care of the music licensing. Have you ever walked into a completely silent gym? You’ll want to play music at your gym, specifically music that will be appealing to people who are in the middle of exercising. While you might be able to get away with blasting a local radio station over your speakers, many gyms get a “blanket” license so that they have the rights to a certain catalog of music.

Load Up on Equipment

One unavoidable step in starting a gym business is purchasing the equipment that you’ll need. This is no small step and one that has to be given a lot of thought. 

While writing your business plan, you’ll want to have some idea about the type of equipment you’ll want to purchase. 

  • Do you want a lot of treadmills and rowing machines? 
  • Do you want to focus on dumbbells and free weights? 
  • Do you want to set aside space for yoga, pilates and Zumba classes?

However, you don’t want to make these decisions or spend money on equipment too soon. 

Remember that you’ll want to have your location locked in before purchasing equipment. This way, you’ll know the exact square footage of the space at your disposal, allowing you to make informed decisions about how much equipment you can fit and the best way to space everything out.

Don’t Forget The Digital Equipment

Running the day to day of a gym requires some digital muscle. Especially with the rise of mobile apps, it’s clear that digital is the way to go.

How do digital fitness management apps help? 

  • Real-time communication with clients and staff members improves retention and engagement 
  • Accurate time tracking and payroll management
  • Efficient scheduling of training sessions
  • Robust library for all material such as workout videos, diet plans, etc. that’s directly available, even on the go 
  • Automating daily processes at a click such as gym opening checklist, equipment cleaning checklist, repair order ticket, etc. 
  • And so on!

One of the leading fitness apps in the market today is Connecteam. It allows you to do the above and MORE

Online Checklists & Forms for Your Fitness Business

Better internal communication with 1:1 or group chat

A social feed to share company/customer updates with like and common function

Better team engagement with surveys, live polls, and a suggestion box

Add shift details and include images, voice notes, tasks, etc.

Export timesheet data for accurate payroll to Connecteam’s QuickBooks Online and Gusto integration

In-app directory to easily find info on team members, clients, vendors, and other third-party members

The benefits of implementing Connecteam as your business grows is neverending! (Especially when the app scales with your business, is easy to use, is easy to implement, is highly affordable, and has the best customer service around.)

Jump start your gym with the Connecteam app

Find the Right Insurance Plan

Believe it or not, people are going to get hurt at the gym. When people are working with weights and machinery, accidents can happen. The more people at your gym, the more likely there will be a careless accident. 

Just like any other business, you need to protect yourself and your business with the right insurance policy.

In some states, gym liability insurance will be required, but even if it’s not, it’s still a good idea to have it. In some cases, equipment insurance can be purchased as a supplemental policy. 

As with anything else, you’ll want to consider several insurers and perhaps consult other gym owners about their insurance policies so you can find a policy that works for your business.

Gain and Retain Customers

Finally, the biggest part of how to start a gym business is to understand how you’re going to attract customers and then keep them. 

  • Will you have money in the budget for traditional forms of advertising? 
  • Will you offer potential members a free trial period? 
  • How are you going to create a strong digital and social media presence so that people know there’s a new gym in town?

Of course, getting customers into your gym is only half the battle. 

You need to be able to offer your customers something special that they won’t find at other gyms. Are there ways you can offer your customers value or perks that aren’t available anywhere else? In short, how can you make your gym an essential part of the lives and lifestyles of your customers?

Wrapping Up Starting a Gym Business

It’s true that COVID-19 has opened the eyes of many when it comes to taking their health seriously. Whether it’s for medical or emotional stability, it’s a business that’ll always be in demand. 

Above we shared nine tips when looking at how to start a gym business. From picking a location to sizing up equipment and even choosing digital tools, this checklist will help you get a leg-up on the competition and ensure your business success.

Effectively Run Your Gym On Connecteam

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