How to Start a Gym

By Becca Chiaravalle

If you’ve been a personal trainer or a coach for years, working under someone else’s roof, or maybe working in other peoples homes, it might be time to consider opening a gym. Taking this step is risky, yes, but the rewards have the potential to outweigh those risks. Having the freedom to run your programs out of your own space, hire your own staff, set your hours, and change more lives, could be the freedom you’re looking for.

I’m sure you have a lot of questions about how to start a gym, such as how you actually plan to do it, if it will be profitable, and how different it will be from what you’re already doing as a fitness professional.

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We’re here to answer those questions and assure you that we’ve helped numerous gyms grow their business through SpaceTogether. Starting a business is scarytake it from a startup! We understand the fear and want to outline the risks and obstacles, so you can get a good jump start on pursuing your passion.

Things to know

  • Business: Starting and running a gym will be a lot different than the health or fitness related job you’re doing right now, or have done in the past. In other words, the business world is vastly different from the fitness world. Where you have a broad knowledge base in fitness or health, your business knowledge may be significantly narrower, and that’s okay! That’s expected of many new business owners taking the leap and following their passion, but your initial lack of business knowledge will be an area to invest time in. The more you understand about the business world, the better you are setting your future business up for success.

  • Risks: Know that there are significant risks to starting a business, and opening a gym is no different.

    • The market is cyclical. Meaning, there will be really busy and successful times of the year, like January with all of the resolutions. Those drop off, and you may find your gym empty with low membership. Understand that the market fluctuates, and you’ll have to get creative in marketing to make up for losses.

    • You’ll now be upper management, which means connecting with customers and employees will be much different. Where you seek to build sustaining professional relationships with clients as a personal trainer or coach, this will no longer be your main job. It will still be a priority, but relationships change the higher you go.

    • Gym startup costs are expensive. Really expensive. You’ll have to decide whether or not you’re going to buy new or used equipment, and that makes a huge difference in startup costs. This also depends on what kind of gym you plan to open up. While the startup costs are high, there is also the potential for a high return. When the time comes and your gym is open, consider alternate sources of revenue, such as space sharing, to help cover your overhead. SpaceTogether has helped many gym owners find renters to fill their empty space, allowing them to cover a portion (or all) of their overhead. Space sharing is made easy with SpaceTogether, and it can significantly reduce the financial burden of running a business!

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Getting started

There are quite a few aspects to consider as you begin thinking about starting a gym. We’ve outlined the major considerations below.

  1. Have a gym business plan. You don’t have to do this aloneconsulting other gym owners and business consultants could be a great help to this part of the process. If you feel comfortable doing this on your own, there are a few things to consider while drafting it up: You’ll want to think about startup costs, breaking even, membership costs, and marketing and branding. Things don’t always go to plan, but having a solid plan makes the process of starting a business much smoother.

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  2. The financial aspect of running a gym is intense. Here are some of the financial and legal aspects to think about:

    1. What is your source to cover startup costs? Are you going into a partnership? Do you have an investor? Are you getting a loan? Remember that getting a loan without a degree in the business you are trying to start can be difficult, as they want to know you are extremely knowledgeable. If not a degree, think about the different certifications and specialties you can bring to the table to backup your business plan.

    2. Becoming a legal entity and forming the actual business happens when you register your business with your state and obtain your tax ID numbers. After this, you’re pretty much legitimate. Now that’s exciting.

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    3. Business bank account: Unless you plan to tie personal finances in with your business, you’ll want to open a business bank account. We recommend doing it this way because having business funds tied to personal funds can get messy later on if you plan on parting ways with your business at any point.

    4. Hire an accountant to take care of your taxes unless you’re actually a tax wizard as well as a fitness professional.

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    5. Choosing the right licenses and insurance can be intimidating, but this site makes it easy.

  3. The last thing to keep in mind is hiring staff. You’ll want to take your time and choose wisely. The people that walk into your gym to get better are probably nervous or intimidated, and if your staff isn’t prepared to properly motivate and encourage vulnerable people, then be prepared to lose business. Your staff needs to be optimistic, knowledgeable, friendly, and willing to go the extra mile to help clients. This is ultimately the best marketing for your business. When people feel good, see changes, and feel motivated in the gym, they won’t be afraid to let everyone around them know. Word-of-mouth is powerful and hiring a great staff ensures that happens.

Before you go

I know we’ve thrown quite a bit at you, but it’s all very important and relevant information you’ll want to know as you begin venturing into a new business. If you feel overwhelmed, then you’ve got a healthy state of mind. It’s a lot, and there are certainly risks. But don’t let the fear accompanied by those risks keep you from pursuing your passion of opening a gym.

As always, SpaceTogether is here to help make your business successful. Keep us in mind as you open your location; from finding qualified, verified people to share space with to getting the details setup, SpaceTogether is here to help you along the way. You can sign up here, or click the little blue circle in the corner if you have questions!

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