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How to Have a Successful Gym Business (10 Steps)

How to Have a Successful Gym Business (10 Steps)

Posted by Tyler Spraul, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®) on December 9, 2023 — Updated on May 18, 2024

You can learn how to have a successful gym business if you follow these steps.

How to Have a Successful Gym Business

Running a successful gym business requires careful planning, strategic decision-making, and a deep understanding of the fitness industry. In this article, we will guide you through the essential steps to learn how to make a successful gym business, covering everything from opening a gym, to identifying your gym target market, to analyzing various successful gym business models, to creating a gym budget and managing finances, and staying updated with fitness industry trends.

Learn everything you need to know to learn how to start a gym business, learn how to run a successful gym business (and then watch out for the things that drive gym owners CRAZY!), learn how to make a gym business grow and become more successful, and how to improve gym business operations. So, let’s dive in and discover how you can turn your passion for fitness into a thriving business and learn how to open a successful gym business. Learn from the most successful gyms in America, the most successful gym owners, gym entrepreneurs who are killing it, key stats on how many gym members you need to be successful, and how to increase gym revenue and profit.

Fitness Income Ideas

To have a successful gym business, it’s essential to combine strategic planning, operational efficiency, quality service, and adaptability to industry trends. Each aspect of your business, from the gym’s location and equipment to staff training and marketing engagement, plays a critical role in its overall success. Let’s explore the key steps you can take to ensure your gym stands out.

And you’ll also learn why Exercise.com stands out as the best gym management software and the best personal training software solution. You get a comprehensive suite of tools that streamlines your operations and enhances member engagement, proving to be an indispensable asset in setting up and running your gym successfully.

Exercise.com is simply the best. We were using three or four different apps or softwares to do what we can now do all in one with the Exercise.com platform.
Brandon Stroupe
Founder and President, APEC Sports Performance

Get a demo now!

Step #1: Develop a Clear Business Plan

Creating a comprehensive gym business plan is the foundation of a successful gym. This plan should clearly outline your business goals, strategies, and financial projections. A detailed business plan will not only guide you through the early stages how to make a gym successful but also serve as a reference for future decision-making and expansion.

  • Identify Your Niche: Understand the unique value your gym will offer. Are you targeting general fitness enthusiasts, specific groups like athletes, or offering specialized services?
  • Market Analysis: Research your local market, including competitor analysis and understanding the needs of your potential clientele.
  • Financial Planning: Include startup costs, operating expenses, pricing strategy, and revenue projections.

Step #2: Choose the Right Location

Choosing the best location for your gym can significantly impact its success. It needs to be accessible and appealing to your target demographic. The location of your gym plays a crucial role in its success. Look for a location that is easily accessible, has ample parking, and is visible to passersby. Consider the demographics of the area, surrounding businesses, and proximity to schools or workplaces. A strategic location will attract a greater number of potential members and increase the visibility of your gym.

  • Convenience: A location that is easy to get to increases the likelihood of regular member visits.
  • Visibility: High visibility can attract walk-in customers.
  • Demographics: Ensure the local population aligns with your target market.

Use the best gym multi-location software and soon you will be scaling a gym to multiple locations!

Step #3: Invest in Quality Equipment

Your gym’s equipment is central to providing excellent service. Quality and variety are key. The quality and variety of equipment you offer will greatly influence the member experience. Invest in high-quality fitness equipment that is suitable for your target market and accommodates a range of fitness levels. Consider including diverse options like cardio machines, free weights, resistance training machines, and functional training equipment. Periodically check and maintain your equipment to ensure members can enjoy a safe and enjoyable workout experience.

  • Broad Selection: Offer a range of equipment to cater to different training preferences.
  • Regular Maintenance: Keep equipment in top condition to ensure safety and reliability.
  • Layout Considerations: Plan a layout that is welcoming and allows for efficient use of space.

Read More: What equipment is needed to open a gym?

Step #4: Implement Effective Gym Management Software

Leverage technology when managing a gym business to streamline your operations and enhance member experience.

  • Membership Management: Utilize software like Exercise.com for seamless member management.
  • Scheduling and Booking: Manage class schedules and personal training appointments efficiently.
  • Financial Management: Automate billing and track financials to maintain a healthy cash flow.

Read More: Best Gym Management Software

Step #5: Hire Qualified and Passionate Staff

The right team can elevate your gym’s atmosphere and member satisfaction so you can make learning how to run a gym successful one cheerful action at a time. Your staff is the face of your gym, so it is essential to hire individuals who are passionate, knowledgeable, and customer-oriented. Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each position and conduct thorough interviews to find the right candidates. Provide comprehensive training to your staff, equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge to assist and motivate members effectively. Foster a positive and supportive work environment to promote teamwork and employee satisfaction.

  • Qualified Professionals: Ensure staff members, especially trainers, are properly certified.
  • Strong Customer Service Skills: Prioritize hiring individuals with excellent interpersonal skills.
  • Ongoing Training: Invest in staff development to keep them up-to-date with the latest fitness trends.

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Step #6: Cultivate a Strong Gym Community

A sense of community can be a significant differentiator for your gym.

  • Member Engagement: Host events and challenges to encourage interaction among members.
  • Regular Feedback: Use surveys or direct conversations to gather member feedback and make improvements.
  • Online Community: Build an online presence where members can interact, share successes, and stay informed.

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Step #7: Offer Diverse and Innovative Programs

Keep your offerings fresh and appealing to retain existing members and attract new ones.

  • Range of Classes: Provide a variety of classes to cater to different interests and fitness levels.
  • Innovative Workouts: Introduce new and trendy workout regimens to keep members engaged.
  • Personal Training Services: Offer personalized training plans for members seeking specific results.

Read More: Fitness Class Ideas

Step #8: Focus on Marketing and Branding

Effective marketing can help in building your brand and attracting new members. Marketing is crucial to attract new members and retain existing ones. Develop a comprehensive marketing plan that includes online and offline strategies. Utilize social media platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook, to showcase your gym, share member success stories, and promote special offers. Consider partnering with local influencers or fitness bloggers to expand your reach. Additionally, use traditional marketing methods like gym flyers, newspapers, and radio ads to target potential members in your local community.

  • Digital Marketing: Utilize social media, email marketing, and online advertising to reach potential members.
  • Community Involvement: Engage with the local community through events, sponsorships, or partnerships.
  • Branding: Develop a strong, recognizable brand that reflects the ethos of your gym.

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Step #9: Implement Health and Safety Protocols

Ensuring the safety and well-being of your members and staff is paramount.

  • Compliance with Regulations: Stay updated with health and safety regulations.
  • Regular Cleaning: Maintain high standards of hygiene and cleanliness.
  • Emergency Procedures: Train staff in handling emergencies and first aid.

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Step #10: Continuously Evaluate and Adapt

Being adaptable and responsive to fitness trends and gym market changes is crucial for long-term success.

  • Regular Reviews: Assess business performance against your goals regularly.
  • Adapt to Trends: Stay abreast of industry trends and be ready to adapt your strategies.
  • Solicit Feedback: Continuously seek feedback from members and staff for improvement.

Running a successful gym requires a blend of strategic planning, excellent service, community building, and effective use of technology like Exercise.com for gym management. By following these steps, you can create a thriving gym business that stands out in a competitive fitness market.

Overhead Squat FMS
“We went live with our Fitness Business Management software at four locations. Everything is working great. The import and export are easy and the guys are really liking the look and convenience of the platform. From both my side and the user side the platform has exceeded our expectations.”
Mike Contreras
Founder & CEO, FMS HS

Get a demo now!

Understanding the Fitness Industry Landscape

The fitness industry is a dynamic and ever-evolving market, with a wide range of options available to consumers. From traditional gyms to specialized studios, there is something for everyone. To run a successful gym business, it is crucial to have a solid understanding of the industry landscape. Stay updated with the latest trends, technologies, and consumer preferences. This knowledge will help you position your gym effectively and stay ahead of the competition.

One important aspect of the fitness industry landscape is the rise of boutique fitness studios. These specialized studios offer niche workouts such as spin classes, barre, or hot yoga. They often provide a more personalized and intimate experience compared to traditional gyms. Understanding the popularity of these studios and the unique offerings they provide can help gym owners identify potential areas for growth or differentiation.

Another trend in the fitness industry is the increasing emphasis on technology. Fitness tracking devices, mobile apps, and virtual workout platforms have become popular tools for both consumers and fitness professionals. Integrating technology into your gym can enhance the overall member experience and provide valuable data for tracking progress and personalizing workouts. Staying up to date with the latest technological advancements can give your gym a competitive edge and attract tech-savvy customers.

To attract and retain customers, you need to clearly define your target market and identify your niche. Consider factors such as demographics, interests, and fitness goals when determining your target audience. By specializing in a specific niche, such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or yoga, you can differentiate your gym from others in the area and cater to a specific clientele. Conduct market research and gather feedback from potential customers to narrow down your target market accurately.

Once you have identified your target market and niche, it is important to develop a marketing strategy that effectively reaches and engages your desired audience. Utilize various marketing channels, such as social media, email marketing, and local advertising, to promote your gym and its unique offerings. Create compelling content that showcases the benefits of your niche and resonates with your target market. Additionally, consider partnering with local businesses or influencers in your community to expand your reach and attract new customers.

Continuously monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing efforts to ensure they are generating the desired results. Track metrics such as website traffic, social media engagement, and membership sign-ups to gauge the success of your campaigns. Adjust your marketing strategy as needed based on the data and feedback you receive. By consistently refining your approach, you can maximize your gym’s visibility and attract a loyal customer base that aligns with your target market and niche.

Securing Financing for Your Gym Business

Starting a gym can be a significant financial investment. Explore various funding options, including loans, investors, and personal savings. Prepare a detailed financial plan to demonstrate the viability of your business and attract potential investors. Seek professional guidance from accountants or financial advisors to ensure your financing strategy aligns with your long-term goals. Doing all these things will help you to have the best shot at getting a gym loan.

Designing an Inviting and Functional Gym Space

The aesthetics and layout of your gym space can significantly impact member satisfaction and retention. Create a welcoming and motivating environment by using bright colors, ample lighting, and modern equipment. Divide your gym into functional zones, such as cardio, strength training, and group exercise areas. Ensure there is enough space for members to move comfortably and maintain a clean and organized facility. Read more in our gym design guide.

Building an Engaged Community of Members

Creating a sense of community within your gym is key to increasing member retention and word-of-mouth referrals. Organize social events, workshops, and challenges to encourage members to connect with one another. Implement member recognition programs, such as member of the month, to celebrate individual achievements. Foster a supportive and inclusive atmosphere where members feel motivated and supported in achieving their fitness goals.

Offering a Variety of Membership Options and Pricing Plans

Provide flexible membership options and pricing plans to cater to different budgets and preferences. Consider offering various membership tiers, such as monthly, annual, and family packages. Offer additional services like personal training, group classes, or nutrition consultations for an additional fee. Tailor your offerings to align with the needs and desires of your target market.

Read More: Gym Pricing Guide

Providing Exceptional Customer Service at Your Gym

Outstanding customer service is essential for member satisfaction and retention. Train your staff to be friendly, approachable, and responsive to members’ needs. Encourage open communication and feedback to constantly improve your services. Address member concerns promptly and go above and beyond to exceed their expectations. By providing exceptional customer service, you will foster loyalty and create a positive reputation for your gym.

Implementing Effective Sales Techniques to Attract New Members

Develop a sales strategy to attract new members and increase sign-ups. Train your staff on effective sales techniques and provide them with the tools to promote your gym’s unique selling points. Offer complimentary passes or trial periods to allow potential members to experience your gym firsthand. Focus on building relationships with potential members and understanding their fitness goals to tailor your offerings accordingly.

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Leveraging Social Media to Promote Your Gym Business

Social media platforms provide a powerful tool for promoting your gym business. Engage with your audience by regularly posting informative and engaging content related to fitness and wellness. Share success stories, workout tips, and educational articles to position yourself as an industry expert. Interact with your followers by responding to comments and messages promptly. Leverage user-generated content by encouraging members to share their gym experiences on social media using specific hashtags.

Read More: Gym Social Media Marketing

Hosting Special Events and Workshops to Increase Member Engagement

Organize special events, workshops, or classes to engage and retain members. These events can cover a wide range of topics, including nutrition, weight loss strategies, or specialized training techniques. Invite industry professionals or guest speakers to provide additional value to members. Offering unique events and educational opportunities will keep members motivated and excited about being a part of your gym community.

Read More: Gym Event Ideas

Utilizing Email Marketing to Keep Members Informed and Engaged

Email marketing allows you to communicate directly with your members and keep them informed about gym updates, new classes, promotions, and events. Create a visually appealing and informative newsletter that is sent out regularly. Personalize your emails to address each member’s specific interests and goals. Encourage members to provide feedback or suggestions, creating a sense of ownership and involvement within your gym. Use the best gym email software to enhance your gym email marketing capabilities.

Partnering with Local Businesses to Boost Referrals

Form partnerships with local businesses that align with your gym’s values and target market. Collaborate on cross-promotions, where both businesses offer exclusive deals or discounts to each other’s customers. For example, team up with a local health food store to offer membership discounts to their customers, and they can provide coupons or vouchers for your gym to their shoppers. This partnership will expand your reach and generate valuable referrals. Be sure to use the best gym software with referral management tools.

Implementing Fitness Challenges and Incentives to Keep Members Motivated

Create regular fitness challenges and incentives to keep your members motivated and engaged. Set achievable goals, such as weight loss targets or strength benchmarks, and reward members who achieve them. Offer prizes or recognition for top performers, and create a friendly competitive atmosphere within your gym. These challenges and incentives will encourage members to stay committed to their fitness journey and elevate their overall experience at your gym.

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Monitoring Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to Track Business Success

Tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) is crucial to monitor the success of your gym business. Measure metrics such as membership growth, retention rates, revenue per member, and customer satisfaction. Regularly analyze and evaluate these KPIs to identify areas for improvement and make informed decisions. Utilize gym management software or spreadsheets to streamline this process and gain valuable insights into your gym’s performance.

Expanding and Growing Your Gym Business

Once your gym business is well-established, you may consider expansion and growth opportunities. Explore options like opening additional locations, offering franchising opportunities, or expanding your services to include online training. Conduct thorough market research and financial analysis to ensure expansion aligns with your long-term goals and provides a strong return on investment.

Managing Finances and Budgeting for Long-Term Sustainability

Achieving long-term sustainability requires effective financial management and budgeting. Maintain accurate financial records and regularly review your budget. Monitor expenses, revenue, and cash flow to ensure financial stability. Seek advice from accountants or financial experts to optimize your financial strategies and protect the financial health of your gym business.

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Staying Current with Fitness Trends and Industry News

The fitness industry is constantly evolving, with new fitness trends, technologies, and research emerging regularly. Things like fitness app trends and fitness app statistics reinforce the need to use the best gym mobile app builder software to make a fitness app for your gym, for example. Stay updated with industry news and trends by subscribing to fitness publications, attending conferences, and following industry leaders on social media. Implement innovative fitness programs or equipment to stay ahead of the curve and provide your members with cutting-edge fitness solutions.

Dealing with Common Challenges in Running a Gym Business

Running a gym business comes with its fair share of challenges. From dealing with equipment maintenance to managing staff schedules, it’s important to be prepared. Establish protocols for handling common challenges and be proactive in addressing issues as they arise. Develop strong relationships with suppliers, ensure proper equipment maintenance, and maintain open lines of communication with staff and members to foster a positive and efficient gym environment.

Providing Continued Education and Training Opportunities for Staff

Invest in the professional development of your staff to ensure they are equipped with the latest knowledge and skills. Provide ongoing training opportunities, such as the best personal training certifications, workshops, or conferences, to keep your staff up-to-date with industry trends and best practices. This investment will not only enhance the quality of service provided by your staff but also foster loyalty and retention within your team.

Start Running a Successful Gym Now

Running a successful gym business requires dedication, strategic planning, and a deep understanding of the industry. By following these comprehensive steps, you can establish a solid foundation for your gym and ensure its long-term success. Embrace the challenges, stay informed and continually strive to provide exceptional experiences for your members, and watch your gym thrive. Best of luck on your journey to running a successful gym business!

Learning what makes a gym successful is important for gym owners to know and fully understand as they grow their gym business. Why is it that some gyms succeed, while other gyms fail? And the question is an important one, not just for the gym owner but for the community. Gyms are more than places to exercise. They are community centers, social hubs, and personal empowerment stations where people come to achieve their health and wellness goals. But not all gyms are created equal. Some are thriving businesses with a loyal customer base, while others struggle just to stay afloat.

Read on to learn why gyms succeed, and how you can make sure your gym is successful. Be sure to read our gym owner guide, and then explore the best gym management software around because we know all about making gyms successful.

Exercise.com is simply the best. We were using three or four different apps or softwares to do what we can now do all in one with the Exercise.com platform.
Brandon Stroupe
Founder and President, APEC Sports Performance

Get a demo now!

Finding Success in the Gym Business

Success in the gym business is not just about having a great location and state-of-the-art equipment. It requires a combination of factors that work together to create a positive and effective environment for customers.

One of the most important factors in the success of a gym is exceptional customer service and support. This means going above and beyond to make sure that each and every customer feels valued and supported in their fitness journey. From personalized workout plans to friendly staff who are always available to answer questions, a focus on customer service is essential.

Another key factor is a commitment to providing high-quality equipment and facilities. Customers expect a clean and well-maintained gym with a variety of equipment options to choose from. Investing in top-of-the-line equipment and regularly updating facilities can help keep customers coming back.

Of course, a great gym also needs a strategic marketing and sales plan that targets the right customers. This means understanding the local market and tailoring marketing efforts to reach potential customers who are most likely to be interested in your gym. A strong online presence, including a user-friendly website and active social media accounts, can also help attract new customers.

Behind every successful gym is a talented team of staff members who are passionate about fitness and wellness. From personal trainers to group fitness instructors, a great staff can make all the difference in creating a welcoming and supportive community. Hiring and retaining top talent should be a priority for any gym owner. Managing staff with the best gym staff management software is key.

Staff Management

An open and inclusive community is also essential for success. A gym should be a place where everyone feels welcome and supported, regardless of their fitness level, age, or background. Creating a sense of community through group fitness classes, social events, and volunteer opportunities can help foster a positive and inclusive gym culture.

Finally, the use of technology can enhance the customer experience and streamline operations. From online class booking to personalized workout tracking, technology can help make a gym more efficient and convenient for customers. Investing in the latest fitness technology can also help a gym stay ahead of the competition.

While there is no magic formula for success in the gym business, focusing on these key factors can help create a thriving and profitable gym that customers love. Because, ultimately, its all about understanding what customers want in a gym and what makes a gym stand out that’s important. Let’s read on to learn more about each of the factors for gym success.

Jimmy Myers Relentless Sports Performance
If you want to offer an elite service for the end user you need to get with the times and use elite level software that is intuitive, visually appealing, and effective. That is exactly what Exercise.com delivers to its clients.
Jimmy Myers
Owner/Trainer, Relentless Sports Performance

Get a demo now!

Leveraging Technology to Enhance the Member Experience

Technology has revolutionized the way gyms interact with their gym members, offering a variety of benefits that improve the overall customer experience. With the advent of the best gym online scheduling software, customers can easily book their workouts at their convenience, without the need to call or visit the gym. This has greatly simplified the booking process, making it more efficient and hassle-free.

Virtual classes and personal training sessions are also becoming increasingly popular, thanks to technology. Customers can now participate in live-streamed classes from the comfort of their own homes, or even join in on-demand fitness classes. This flexibility allows customers to fit their workouts into their busy schedules, making it easier to stay consistent and achieve their fitness goals. This makes it even more important for gym owners to have the best gym livestreaming software because gym members expect more.


One of the most significant ways technology is enhancing the customer experience is through the use of mobile apps. Many gyms now offer their own mobile apps, which allow customers to track their progress, set goals, and access personalized workout plans. The best gym mobile apps also provide customers with real-time feedback on their workouts, helping them to stay motivated and on track.

Wearable technology is another area where technology is transforming the fitness industry. Fitness trackers and smartwatches are becoming more sophisticated, offering a range of features that help customers stay engaged and motivated. These devices can track everything from steps taken to calories burned, and some even offer personalized coaching and feedback.

Overall, technology is playing a vital role in enhancing the customer experience in the fitness industry. By leveraging technology, gyms are able to offer more personalized and convenient services, making it easier for customers to achieve their fitness goals. As technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more innovative ways that gyms are using technology to enhance the customer experience.

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Strategies for Attracting and Retaining Gym Members

In order to be successful, gyms must attract and retain gym members. This requires a well-planned marketing and sales strategy that includes:

  1. Identifying the target customer base
  2. Developing a value proposition that sets the gym apart from the competition
  3. Creating marketing materials that communicate the gym’s unique selling points
  4. Utilizing referral programs and promotions to incentivize new membership sign-ups
  5. Building relationships with existing customers through community events, personal training, and other value-added services

By implementing these strategies, your gym can attract and retain customers, ultimately leading to a successful and thriving business.

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Crafting an Effective Gym Business Model

One of the keys to success in the gym industry is crafting an effective gym business model. This involves identifying the right pricing strategy, understanding the market and competition, and developing a financial plan that supports the long-term sustainability of the business.

Successful gyms understand the importance of keeping costs in check while delivering value to customers. They invest in equipment and facilities that are high-quality and durable, while also being cost-effective.

Another important aspect of crafting an effective business model is understanding the needs and preferences of your target market. This involves conducting thorough market research to identify the types of services and amenities that are most in demand among your potential customers. For example, if you are targeting a younger demographic, you may want to consider offering group fitness classes or social events that cater to their interests.

It is also important to pay attention to your competition. Understanding their strengths and weaknesses can help you identify areas where you can differentiate yourself and make your gym stand out in the market. For example, if your competitors are all offering the same types of equipment and services, you may want to consider offering something unique, such as a specialized training program or personalized coaching services.

Developing a solid financial plan is also crucial for the long-term success of your gym. This involves identifying all of the costs associated with running your business, including rent, utilities, equipment, and staffing. You will also need to project your revenue streams and set realistic goals for growth and profitability.

Finally, it is important to stay up-to-date with industry trends and best practices. This means attending conferences and workshops, networking with other professionals in the industry, and keeping a close eye on emerging technologies and innovations that could impact your business.

By taking a comprehensive and strategic approach to crafting your business model, you can set your gym up for success and ensure long-term sustainability in a highly competitive market.

Understanding the Benefits of a Thriving Gym

There are many benefits to operating a successful gym. For one, a thriving gym is a source of pride for the community it serves. It is also a profitable business that generates revenue and creates jobs.

A successful gym can also have a positive impact on the health and wellness of its members. By providing access to high-quality equipment and facilities, and a supportive community of like-minded individuals, gyms can help people achieve their health and fitness goals, which in turn leads to a happier and healthier society.

But the benefits of a thriving gym don’t stop there. In addition to improving physical health, gyms can also have a positive impact on mental health. Exercise has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and the social support provided by a gym community can also be a powerful tool in combating these conditions.

Furthermore, a thriving gym can serve as a hub for community events and activities. From fitness classes to charity events, gyms can bring people together and foster a sense of community and camaraderie.


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Another benefit of a successful gym is the opportunity to inspire and motivate others. When members see the progress and achievements of their peers, they are often inspired to push themselves further and set new goals. This creates a positive feedback loop where everyone is motivated to improve and succeed.

A thriving gym has many benefits beyond just physical fitness. It can improve mental health, foster community, and inspire and motivate its members to achieve their goals. By investing in a successful gym, you are not only investing in a profitable business, but also in the health and well-being of your community. In addition to hiring passionate and committed staff members, successful gyms also prioritize ongoing training and development opportunities for their employees.

This can include regular workshops and seminars on the latest fitness trends and techniques, as well as training on how to provide exceptional customer service and support. Another important factor in creating a successful gym is ensuring that staff members are compensated fairly for their hard work and dedication. This can include competitive salaries, bonuses, and benefits packages that reflect the value that these employees bring to the gym.

Read More: How to Hire Gym Staff and Build an A+ Team

But it’s not just about the staff members themselves – successful gyms also prioritize creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for their members. This can mean offering a diverse range of fitness classes and programs that cater to different interests and fitness levels, as well as providing a clean and well-maintained facility that members feel comfortable using.

Ultimately, the role of professional staff in creating successful gyms cannot be overstated. From providing expert guidance and support to creating a culture of excellence and inclusivity, these staff members are critical to the success of any gym. So if you’re looking to join a gym or start your own, be sure to prioritize investing in your staff members and creating an environment that fosters their growth and success.

Get the Basics…

  • Ensure you have the most up to date and popular equipment
  • Trendy classes every gym should feature
  • Beef up your marketing skills
  • Finding the right gym management software
  • Happy employees make a happy gym

Taking on the role of managing a gym can be a stressful, hectic job that is full of surprises and long hours. However, there are ways to find your groove to ensure all new and existing members are happy, that the facility is clean and well-functioning, and that employees are cheerful and fulfilled.

Some newly hired gym managers may think that because their gym has the top-of-the-line equipment, keeps up with current fitness trends, and has rates similar to area gyms, membership sign-ups should flourish.

Unfortunately, running a gym is not quite that simple. Although updated equipment and competitive rates are important, they are only a fraction of what it takes to increase and maintain membership. Read on for some pro tips on running a fitness club effectively and fruitfully.

Of course, proper gym management requires proper fitness business software. Book a demo of our All-In-One Fitness Business Management Software to learn more!

Equipment and Services Every Gym Should Have

One common question that many gym managers or owners receive is whether or not the gym has certain pieces of equipment – equipment that can make or break their decision to become full-time members.

Some of the more commonly requested items and services include:

  • Squat racks
  • Smith machines
  • Cables
  • Free weights
  • Steam rooms
  • Sauna
  • Pool
  • Massage offerings
  • Niche group classes
  • Olympic weightlifting platforms
  • Kettlebells
  • Rowers, stationary bikes, and treadmills
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Personal training
  • Sport-specific training

People want to know if your club fits their needs, so it’s imperative that you offer a wide range of equipment, features, and services for all ages and physical activity levels. With that being said, your niche will ultimately determine what kind of equipment you invest in. For traditional fitness facilities and clubs, standard equipment like treadmills, bikes, and rowers are expected. For spinning studios, however, members will not (and should not) expect a wide range of equipment outside of bikes and the occasional light dumbbell.

Do research that pertains to your specific niche to figure out what items you need to provide to your members and then list those items in order of priority. Some of those items may need to be doubled-up if they’re particularly popular among members. Why? Read on to find out.

Double up on Popular Equipment

Know the workout world. Understand why one squat rack is not enough and why two bench press stations might get too crowded. Don’t limit yourself to one set of each poundage of free weights. Consider the fact that many people use 5 to 30-pound free weights more than 65 to 100-pound free weights. Think outside of the box and consider larger equipment that can act as many different machine types.

One example is The Octagon. The Octagon is a large gym apparatus that serves over 20 different purposes. Clients can set up bench press or squat rack stations; they can hook up a jointed bar, ropes or utilize the monkey bars on top; a heavy bag can be hung and TRX stations can be tied to its frame. The possibilities with this piece of equipment are endless.

Get to Know Your Equipment and Find a Great and Reliable Maintenance Worker

Gym managers should know their equipment well enough to fix many of the smaller problems that pop up in their clubs. Knobs that pop off the cable machines or broken or bent rods that are used to choose the various weight plates are some of the more common fixes that occur around weight rooms.

However, for larger jobs, like mainframe malfunctions within an elliptical, a belt break on an abductor machine, or even broader issues like an AC vent clog or a broken wall mirror, it’s time to call in the professionals. The easiest way to find reliable help is to ask around. If you have friends that manage other clubs, ask them for recommendations. Ask your current members. Scour your local Yelp pages for testimonials and reviews to ensure that the maintenance workers you hire are reliable and knowledgeable.

Additionally, make sure that you have a maintenance worker who is the taskmaster of all maintenance duties. Whether you need a pad replaced on a piece of equipment, a showerhead replaced in the locker room, installation of a new TRX hook, or need torn gym flooring replaced, it’s easier to have one person to call than five.

Do research on outside companies as well, such as plumbers, glass workers for mirror replacements, electricians, and more. Make sure you also have a good, communicative rep for each type of equipment in your gym; oftentimes they can offer you deals on part replacements.

Workout Classes and Group Instructors

Remember, there is a large population of fitness enthusiasts that won’t go near a leg press machine, are intimidated by a squat rack, and have zero clue what that massive Octagon above does. For those folks, you’ll need group workout classes.

Find the Most Popular Workout Classes and Implement Them Into Your Location

Gone are the days of Jazzercise! Don’t let your club fall out of touch with what’s in. Do your research, join platforms like ClassPass to see what is offered around you so that you too can ensure you’re covering your Group X bases. Check out the websites of the largest national gyms and click on the links for their class offerings.

Be sure to always include something for everyone. Yoga is a must; remember there are dozens of types of Yoga classes: hot yoga, advanced, prenatal, and more. Zumba is a dance-directed type of class that also caters to many types of members. BodyPump and any Les Mills certified classes are always popular; and let’s not forget a cycle or spin class!

Find the Right Instructors for Your Group Fitness Classes

Of course, as a gym manager, you are free to become certified and run any of these classes, but it’s also important to find instructors who are experts in their fields.  Many members keep coming back to their chosen Group X classes not just because they love the class structure, but because they love the teacher and will often jump into other classes that he or she teaches, no matter the niche.

Research, interview, and pay your instructors accordingly. Many of these folks are freelancers and will go where they can get the most class hours and the best pay.

Gym Management Software

Some companies will try and sell you on using one type of software for billing, one for scheduling, one for employee tracking and more. However, is there a way to keep all this in one place?  The answer is yes!  Exercise.com carries an entire business platform that can be your all-in-one business management software.

What can Exercise.com’s business software do?

  • Schedule appointments and classes
  • Accept payments
  • Manage clients with individual and group calendars
  • Schedule workouts to a client, group, or class workout calendar for easy member and trainer logging
  • Take clients through your personalized assessments to automatically create personalized workouts based on the data important to their success.
  • And so much more!

Want to give gym management software a go? Fill out the form below for a free demo of our All-In-One Fitness Business Management software:

Attracting New Members

Simply putting new gym equipment, cycle classes, and a fancy steam room inside four walls will not attract people to your club. Whether your gym is new, or whether you are new to taking over the management for your location, it’s all about the marketing.

Beef up Your Social Media!

The exercise social media fad is booming right now. Make sure you have a Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, and even a Snapchat page that you (or an employee) are in charge of running. (If you cannot afford a full-time social media manager and do not have the time to devote to social media yourself, consider hiring an intern part-time.) You should post almost daily. Show videos of members using your equipment; share pictures of happy, sweaty faces in your group fitness classes; share demo videos, testimonials, and even a healthy protein-packed recipe or two. You’re a fitness professional — think about what you like to see on social media and implement that into your social media marketing plan.

Create winner-driven challenges like body fat loss contests, drawings for a free month of membership, giveaways, and more. Create buzz that your members will share on their social media platforms.

Another tip? Advertise in-house. Download poster templates and print them at a local Staples or OfficeMax.  Use eye-catching graphics, fitness models, and more. Properly placed advertisements can not only keep people motivated to reach their personal fitness goals but will create buzz and curiosity among members.

Know the Latest Workout Trends

Most gym owners and managers have been in the business of fitness for years and have seen hundreds of workout fads come and go. As a gym manager, it’s important to stay up to date with these trends and to not only utilize them to market to new and existing members but to continue to keep things fresh inside of your location as well.

Note: this does not mean that you should replicate Instagram fitness fads disguised as trends. Follow reputable organizations and stay up-to-date on fitness industry news.

Try a Pop-Up Class!

Want an inexpensive way to drum up business and buzz around the club? Pop-Up classes are fun, exciting ways to create something new and test the waters on possible future Group X classes.

Pop-Up Classes are temporary twists on a program you already have. Some ideas are:

  • Hip-Hop Spin (an upbeat cardio thumping hour)
  • Yoga-Lates (Adding Pilates movements to a yoga routine) See video below for a glimpse into some trendy yogalates moves you can use to implement into your class
  • CrossFit eXtreme (utilize your existing equipment to work small group sequences)
  • Couch to 5k (Train groups on a treadmill, then head outside for small runs)
  • Core n’ More (Hit those ab muscles in a core-focused class)
  • Post-Holiday Boot Camp (Sweat off those Christmas calories!)

Add a customized playlist to the above classes and have your instructor ask for feedback at the end.

Give Back to Your Members

Consider giving back to members by incorporating an annual “Member Appreciation Week.”  Advertise for this a month or two in advance and offer the following:

  • Sign up for a free training session (this is a great way to highlight your personal training program and get potential clients)
  • Free protein shake and healthy snack samples (if brands often offer to give you free samples, this is when you should call in those favors)
  • Enter to win a free month of membership
  • Bring a guest for free
  • Sign up for no money down
  • Decorate the place with balloons, turn the music up a notch, and kick up the fun!

Remember: while you should always try to attract new members, retaining current members and rewarding loyal members is just as important. The more loyalty you cultivate, the higher the likelihood is that you will attract new members from free word-of-mouth advertising.

Promoting a Positive Gym Culture

One of the hardest parts of managing a gym is finding good employees and keeping them. Most positions at fitness clubs are part-time and rarely offer benefits or full-time salary pay. So, what are some things you can do at your location to find and retain a happy staff?

  • Focus on athletic/fitness-minded applicants – The majority of applicants are of the younger crowd, mostly college students or entry-level candidates. Students majoring in fitness or physiology are a plus as are fitness enthusiasts. When you find a candidate who meets those parameters, you can offer them more growth within the company.  Typically, they are more excited about coming into work, they take their time helping members, and they care more about the equipment and proper usage of the facility.
  • Competitive pay – Get to know the gyms around you and what they are paying their front desk staff, personal trainers, fitness assessment consultants, and group class instructors – then, meet or exceed that, even by a small amount. Do not pay below minimum wage for your geographical area and always give your employees a free membership to your gym.
  • Offer to help pay for their personal training certifications. Employees who have the option to build on their resumes while employed with your location are more empowered to stick around, grow their book of business, and become personal trainers for you. Some of the more popular certifications include:
    • NASM – National Academy of Sports Medicine
    • ACE – American Council on Exercise
    • FM – Fitness Mentors
    • NCSA – National Strength and Conditioning
    • ISSA – International Sports Sciences Association
    • Les Mills – For your group X classes
    • Zumba – Requires a separate certification than the LesMills umbrella of classes
  • Offer bonuses – Whether it’s an end-of-the-year bonus based on commission earned, new members signed up, training packages sold, or another task completion, it helps to feel appreciated. Too difficult to calculate? Throw an end of the year holiday party for your employees! Make them feel special and valued. It will go a long way towards minimizing turnaround.

As you can see, managing a gym can be chaotic, daunting and even stressful at times. However, if you are organized, utilize the right tools, and plan ahead, it can be one of the most fulfilling and rewarding jobs you’ll ever have. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help, do your research and never stop educating yourself in the newest research and latest trends in the fitness business. Stay up to date, keep the pace swift and know that you’ll never stop learning as long as your mind is open and you’re acceptable to change.

AMPD Golf Performance
“Working with Exercise.com and their team has been an amazing experience and a dream come true in terms of accomplishing a vision! Their workout technology has helped us effectively engage our community, and I highly recommend Exercise.com to grow your business!”
Andrew Banner
Co-Founder, AMPD Golf Performance

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Is it better to buy or lease gym equipment?

Leasing your gym equipment is often a better option because it’s easier to finance over time and comes with better maintenance and financing options compared to inheriting a fitness equipment loan. Just remember that over time it does end up being more expensive because you do not inherit the asset of the equipment. For more information on buying versus leasing equipment, check out the below article.

Read More: Should my gym buy or lease gym equipment?

What type of group fitness classes are the most popular?

According to ClassPass, the current top 5 ranked group classes are Strength Training, Cycling, Yoga, Pilates, and Barre.

I know nothing about marketing – where do I start?

Social media is the most popular and most seen marketing platform to date. Take your time and make your social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) the best and most appealing pages they can be. Be sure to share the links to your pages in your facility. Word of mouth travels fast and is free!

Read More:

What type of software do I need to manage my gym?

Exercise.com’s fitness management software is your all-in-one solution to your fitness business management needs.

Do I need to hire a human resource manager?

Unless your club employs more than 10 full-time employees, the duties of a human resource manager can be done by you or your club’s Assistant Manager. If it is not you taking on the responsibility, be sure the person can be trusted and has all employees’ best interests as their main focus.

How profitable is owning a gym? Is running a gym business profitable?

Owning a gym can be profitable, depending on several factors such as location, overhead costs, membership fees, and number of members. A small gym owner can earn anywhere from $30,000 to $70,000 annually, while more lucrative gyms can make over $100,000.

Read More: How profitable is owning a gym?

What makes a gym business successful?

A successful gym business provides excellent customer service, maintains clean and functional facilities, offers a variety of fitness programs, and effectively markets its services to attract and retain members. Use of a gym management software like Exercise.com can streamline operations and enhance the member experience, contributing to success.

Is owning a gym a good business idea?

Owning a gym can be a good business idea if you have a passion for fitness and are prepared for the challenges of running a business. The fitness industry has shown steady growth over the years and the demand for fitness facilities remains high.

What is the toughest thing about being a gym owner?

The toughest challenges as a gym owner can include attracting and retaining members, maintaining equipment, managing staff, and dealing with high overhead costs. It can also be physically demanding, with long hours often required, especially in the early stages.

What gym makes the most money?

Large, well-known fitness chains often make the most money due to their extensive membership base, variety of services, and brand recognition. However, smaller niche fitness studios or gyms can also be quite profitable if they cater effectively to their target market.

Read More:

What makes a gym stand out?

A gym can stand out by offering unique services, fostering a strong community, maintaining top-tier facilities, providing exceptional customer service, and employing knowledgeable and personable staff. Innovative classes, flexible membership options, and modern, user-friendly equipment can also set a gym apart.

How many members does a gym need to be successful?

The number of members a gym needs to be successful depends on several factors, including overhead costs, membership fees, and additional gym revenue streams. However, a small gym could aim to have at least 200 to 300 members to cover costs and turn a profit.

What is the success rate of gyms?

There isn’t exact data on the success rate of gyms. However, the fitness industry has seen consistent growth over the years. Success often comes down to management skill, effective marketing, quality of services, and the ability to retain members.

Is it hard to start a gym business?

Starting a gym business can be challenging due to high start-up costs, the need to attract a steady stream of clients, competition, and other operational challenges. However, with a solid business plan, good location, effective marketing, and excellent service, it can be a rewarding venture.

What is the disadvantage of gym business?

Disadvantages of owning a gym can include high initial costs for equipment and facility set-up, ongoing maintenance and upgrade costs, and the challenge of attracting and retaining members. It can also be time-consuming, particularly in the early stages.

How do I start a small gym business?

Starting a small gym business involves several steps:

  1. Planning: Develop a business plan outlining your target market, services, pricing, marketing strategy, and financial projections.
  2. Location: Find a suitable location that is accessible to your target market.
  3. Equipment: Purchase necessary equipment based on the types of workouts you plan to offer.
  4. Staffing: Hire qualified, certified trainers and other staff as needed.
  5. Marketing: Promote your gym locally and online to attract members.
  6. Management: Consider using a gym management software like Exercise.com to streamline operations and provide a seamless member experience.

Read More: How to Start a Small Gym

Is it hard to start a gym business?

Starting a gym business is challenging, requiring a significant initial investment, a solid business plan, a suitable location, quality equipment, and effective marketing. It can be time-consuming and often involves managing various risks. However, with careful planning and management, starting a gym can be a rewarding and profitable venture.

Tony Gentilcore
Exercise.com makes my life easier by providing an all-in-one solution and the opportunity to help those who otherwise would never have access to my programming!
Tony Gentilcore
Founder, Core Online

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Tyler Spraul is the director of UX and the head trainer for Exercise.com. He has his Bachelor of Science degree in pre-medicine and is an NSCA-Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®). He is a former All-American soccer player and still coaches soccer today. In his free time, he enjoys reading, learning, and living the dad life.
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