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8 min read

Starting a Gym? Here is What You Need to Know

By Joel Lee on 3/10/21 12:00 AM

Topics: Business
Starting a Gym? Here is What You Need to Know

There are over 100,000 gyms across the United States. So, how are you going to make yours special?

If you're thinking about starting a gym, you need to make sure that you're creating a one-of-a-kind experience for your guests. In other words, you should be thinking about how your gym can stand out from all of the others.

It isn't easy, but you shouldn't worry. You've come to the right place.

We're going to talk about everything you need to know about opening your own fitness center. Just keep reading.




1. Get Certified

We highly recommend that you start by getting certified. No matter how much of a fitness guru you are, that doesn't mean you're automatically qualified to run a gym.

Getting certified is especially important if you're applying for a business loan. The certification shows that you're serious about pursuing this business and have the credentials to do the work yourself.

There isn't one entity that needs to certify all business owners in the United States. Instead, there are several smaller certification bodies that you can choose from. One of the most popular accreditation groups is The American Council on Exercise.

Be sure to do your research and see what certifications may be useful for a person with your skill level. You might need to explore several options if you've never ventured into the world of fitness.

In addition to these general certifications, you should consider a personal trainer or fitness certification as well. We also recommend that you try using these roles outside of a management role. This will give you training in the position before you jump into owning your own gym.

Plus, it will be much easier to start your own gym if you have existing clientele.



2. Find the Money

2. Find the Money

If you're going to start a business, it's likely that you're going to need the financing to do so. The amount of financing you need will differ depending on where you're going to set up your gym.

Typically, the cost of opening gyms won't be more than $50,000 per location, but it could be as much as $500,000 in highly populated areas.

In order to convince investors to lend money to you, you need to compose a compelling, inspiring business plan. You have to convince investors that your business is going to be one of the best ideas out there.


Composing a Business Plan

To compose a business plan, you should create a descriptive yet concise document that showcases the following sections:

  • Summary of the business you're trying to create
  • Description of the company, including target audience, intended results, etc.
  • Analysis of the current market, including an industry outlook, the current success of similar businesses, trends, themes, and more
  • Organization of your business, including who the manager is, who your first employees are, the legal structure, etc.
  • Describe any services and/or products that you plan on selling and how they will benefit customers
  • Marketing strategy (how you'll attract and retain customers)
  • Amount of money you're requesting for the next five years and how you'll use it
  • How much you anticipate making using income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements
  • Supporting documents that the lender(s) requested that you include

This document is the holy grail of your business. Even if you don't need a lender, you should create the document for yourself. It can help you organize ideas and details that will help keep you on track as you're running your business.



3. Consider the Location

3. Consider the Location

Location for gyms is an extremely important factor. You need to find a location that has enough of a demand to help you and less competition to hurt you.

First, you need to do some market research based on your target customer. Consider your target demographic and where they're located in the United States.

Your location of choice should also allow people to visit through many modes of transportation. There should be a place to park their car. Plus, it might be useful to be in a walkable area and a location that is supported by public transport.

The more accessible you make your location, the more likely that people will come to your gym. With online fitness options like FITNESS+, you need to stay competitive.

You should also be considering renting or buying. Unless you have or were given a significant amount of capital, it's likely that you'll need to rent the property that you're going to use.

As you're looking at different locations, you need to think about how that rent will factor into your budget.

You should also think about whether or not you'll need to make alterations to the property. You'll need written permission from the landlord to do so. 



4. Choose the Right Equipment

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4. Choose the Right Equipment

Gym equipment isn't cheap. You need to make sure that you're setting aside a decent chunk of change for this.

These are the different fitness equipment that you need to consider:

  • Bench presses
  • Squat racks
  • Deadlift mats
  • Dumbbells
  • Racks for curls and dips
  • Bikes
  • Rowing machines
  • Treadmills
  • Leg press
  • Tricep extension
  • Chest fly machine

This list holds the basics that every complete gym should have. Of course, you can expand beyond this list and bring in more specialized equipment.

Look through the six top commercial gym equipment brands to make the best choice for your gym equipment.


Offer Classes

Classes are a great way to attract new visitors while creating a community around your gym. You should decide what classes your gym is going to offer. Then, hire some employees to lead the classes and collect the equipment that participants will need.

You'll also need to make sure that you have the room for these classes to meet. Think about blocking off a separate room or investing in a property next door.

With these classes, you might want to consider having fitness club challenges. This is another great way to get the community involved while focusing on their health.

It's likely that those people who take your classes are going to be more involved in your gym and more involved in their health. You should offer special discounts and other incentives to individuals who try your classes. 



5. Remember Your Insurance

5. Remember Your Insurance

Insurance is one of the most important factors that you need to take into consideration when you're starting a gym. Insurance is important for any business owner, but it is especially important for someone who owns a gym. Because of the liabilities that you take as a gym owner, insurance is invaluable.

You need to look into how much gym liability insurance may cost you. Depending on the state that you're opening the gym in, the government may require you to have liability insurance before you even obtain a permit.

We also recommend looking into getting warranties and insurance on your gym equipment as well. With so many different people using the equipment, you can't be sure that it will all stay in good shape for a long period of time.

The best thing you can do is protect yourself, and insurance will help you do just that.




6. Hire the Best Individuals

It's time to get your team together! Whether you already have people in mind or you're looking for qualified individuals, you need to make sure that you're pulling the best professionals into your gym.

Depending on the kind of gym environment you want to make, you might have trained professionals or hobbyists. Invite people to teach classes, share tips, and invite clients.

Make sure that everyone you hire is accredited and certified to your liking. The more licenses and certifications they have, the better.

However, we suggest that they have at least a personal training certification. This is the basic certification that all gym employees should have.


Building as You Go

Don't feel like you need to hire 50 people right now. It's okay to open the gym yourself and hire help as you go.

You don't want to have high payroll to worry about. So, you should only be hiring the help that you need.

For example, you may open the gym and realize that you can't teach classes and help people check-in at the same time. To solve this, you may hire someone to teach the class or man the desk.

You don't need someone to teach the class, man the desk, hold personal training sessions, clean the equipment, and help the guests all on the first day.



Stand Out

If you want a gym that stands out, you need to have something special. Have you thought about investing in 3D body scanners?

These high-tech devices help private trainers, gym leaders, and other professionals evaluate their clients' progress. Whether your clients are trying to lose weight or tone, 3D body scanners give automated results. Plus, they're a great selling point to clients that are serious about tracking the numbers.

If you're starting a gym, a 3D body scanner could change everything. Your clients will rave about it, and your gym will get more attention because of it. It's a win-win investment.


Joel Lee

Written by Joel Lee