Although starting a gym requires a bit more start-up capital than some other types of businesses, the rewards of owning your own gym can be limitless. It is also a very profitable business to be in, because people often value their health and physical fitness more than they value luxury items. This helps a gym to continue thriving, even in an economic climate in which other types of businesses fail.
Consider your options. Do you want to open a large, franchise-type gym or an old-school gym? Do you want to open a new gym or try to find an existing gym to purchase? Know what your options are and consider them carefully. Even if you do not think a particular option is suited to you or available to you, at least consider the possibility so you will go into this venture with as much information as possible.
Write a detailed business plan for your gym that covers every aspect of the business. You should know what materials you need, how much they cost, what your staffing and overhead costs will be, and what your marketing plan is. Putting your ideas and needs in writing, in a well-structured format, will help smooth out any wrinkles in the plan before you commit any money. A number of free business plan templates are available online.
Obtain financing for your gym. The cost of starting a gym will vary depending on such factors as how large you want it to be and whether you will offer special amenities, such as swimming pool, sauna or aerobics room. You should have figured out these things when creating your business plan and have a firm budget. If your credit rating is good enough, it may be possible to obtain a small business loan or a personal line of credit. For large-scale operations, you may need a financial partner to help you get things off the ground. Funding is key to any business, but particularly for anyone who wants to start a gym, because a large investment in equipment will be required.
Register your company as the legal entity the gym operates under. This is largely done for proper collection and payment of taxes, but it also provides a layer of legal protection between you and the business. The type of company you register depends on your unique requirements. Sole proprietorships and general partnerships are the most common choices, but a limited liability company (LLC) is preferred by those who like a more comprehensive corporate structure. Whichever you choose, you can fill out the forms to register your company at your local courthouse or with the Secretary of State.
Find a suitable location. This will depend, to an extent, on the type of gym you have chosen. If you are building a franchise gym, you probably will need to construct a new building, using plans provided by the franchise, to have a look that is consistent with other franchise locations. If you are opening an old-school, privately owned gym, any building with enough open floor space can be used. Ideally, you want to find a location that has a high population density, along with limited fitness options available to those living in the area. This will help you get the highest return on your investment in the shortest period of time.
Furnish your gym. This is when the check book gets a workout. You will need to have a comfortable reception area that is inviting to prospective members. You will need to equip a locker room, as well as order the weights and exercise equipment you will use. If your gym will be used by fighters in training, you will need to build a ring and purchase specialised workout equipment. If you will have yoga or aerobics, you will need an open space with mats and plenty of mirrors.
Hire and train your staff. You will need to hire a friendly reception staff to answer telephones, sign in members as they arrive, and answer questions for potential members. You will need to hire a small maintenance and cleaning staff, or contract those roles out to a local company. You may wish to hire trainers to work with your customers. If you offer yoga or aerobics, you will need to hire specialised trainers to lead those classes. You should have identified your staffing requirements when you wrote your business plan, so now it is just a matter of interviewing and hiring the right people for the job.
Advertise your grand opening. Remember that you are marketing to a local audience, so keep your advertising local. Newspapers, radio ads and handouts make excellent advertising venues to get your message to your core audience. You may want to consider giving away free day passes to the gym to allow people to try the facilities before paying for a membership. Not only will this form relationships with potential customers, but it also will help you generate a good flow of people by giving the impression that you are a thriving, successful business.
Make sure that you have sufficient insurance coverage in place before opening for business.