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27 Things You Should Know Before Opening a Gym in 2024

27 Things You Should Know Before Opening a Gym in 2024

Posted by Tyler Spraul, Certified Strength and Conditioning SpecialistĀ® (CSCSĀ®) on July 14, 2023 ā€” Updated on December 22, 2023

Read this guide with a list of the top things you should know before opening a gym. Opening a gym is an exciting endeavor that can offer a rewarding career and help people achieve their fitness goals. However, it is not a decision to be taken lightly. Before diving into this venture, there are several crucial aspects that aspiring gym owners should consider and plan for. This article will guide you through the key factors that need to be addressed before opening a gym, ensuring a solid foundation for success.

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Discover the essential things you need to know before taking the leap and opening your own gym. And then see why at Exercise.com, we understand the importance of having a strong software partner in your gym business. That’s why we offer the best gym management software to help you streamline your operations and supercharge your marketing efforts.

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

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Before you go all in and dive headfirst into the adventure of opening your own gym, let us share some hard-won wisdom. We’ve been working with gym owners who have been in the trenches for decades now, and let us tell you, this journey will make you sweat more than any workout. Here’s our straight-from-the-heart, slightly humorous, and hopefully valuable advice to you, the aspiring gym owner. Buckle up, it’s quite a ride.

1. Love the Game, Not Just the Glory

Running a gym isn’t all about flexing muscles and posing for “after” pictures. You’ve got to love fitness, business, and people – sometimes, very sweaty people.

2. Your Gym’s Not Just About You

It’s about your clients and their needs. Remember, you’re selling a service, not showing off your personal training methods or record-breaking deadlift.

3. Be Prepared for “Gym Time”

And by this, I mean all the time. You might think you have set hours, but gyms are like needy pets; they demand constant attention.

4. Invest in Good Quality Equipment

Gym Equipment Sandbag, Medicine Ball, and Weights Storage Racks
Source: Escape Fitness

Cheap stuff breaks, and trust me, nobody wants to be on a treadmill when it decides to stop suddenly.

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

5. Hygiene is Next to Godliness

You’ll be surprised how much cleaning you’ll need to do. People sweat, and where does it go? Everywhere.

6. It’s Not Just About Lifting Weights

Running a gym is more than knowing the difference between a barbell and dumbbell. It’s about business, marketing, customer service, and a whole lot more.

7. Expect the Unexpected

Equipment will break, memberships will wane, a pandemic could hit (too soon?). You need to be ready to handle whatever life throws at you.

8. Insurance is Non-Negotiable

Not having good gym insurance and good personal trainer insurance is like doing squats with a bad knee – a painful accident waiting to happen.

9. Hire Staff You Trust

Unless you plan to live in your gym (and let me tell you, the novelty wears off), you need to have a team you trust.

Read More: How to Hire Great Gym Staff

10. Know the Competition

Keep your friends close and your competitors closer. Know what they offer and what you can do better.

11. You’ll Become a Jack of All Trades

One moment you’re a personal trainer, the next, you’re fixing a leaky pipe in the men’s shower.

12. Not Everyone Will Be Your Ideal Client

You’ll get all sorts of people, and trust me, they’re not all going to be poster boys and girls for fitness. Patience and understanding are crucial.

13. It’s Not All About the Money

Don’t get me wrong, profits are great, but seeing a client reach their fitness goals? Priceless.

14. Remember, It’s a Community

You’re not just building a gym, but a community. A place where people support each other.

15. Music Matters

Don’t underestimate the power of a good playlist. It can mean the difference between a lackluster workout and a client pushing to their max.

16. Keep Up with Trends

If you’d told me ten years ago that people would be doing yoga on paddleboards, I would have laughed. Now? It’s all the rage.

17. You’ll Need a Good Website

Even your Grandma checks out businesses online these days. A good website is a must.

Read More: Best Gym Website Builder Software

18. Social Media is Your Friend

Gym Country Theme Party
Gym Country Theme Party Social Media Post (Credit: Crunch Fitness)

Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok are the new “word of mouth”. Embrace it.

Read More: Gym Social Media Marketing Guide

19. Results Matter

At the end of the day, if your clients aren’t seeing results, they’ll leave. Ensure you provide the right guidance and tools to help them succeed.

20. Safety First

Injury prevention is crucial. No one wants to be known as “the gym where that guy tore his ACL.”

21. Listen to Your Members

Your members are your best source of feedback. Listen to them and learn.

22. Not Every Day Will Be a Win

Some days, you’ll question why you ever thought opening a gym was a good idea. That’s okay. Take a deep breath, and remember why you started.

23. Membership is Not the Only Revenue

Consider personal training, selling products, online training, or even renting out space to related businesses for additional revenue.

Read More: How to Increase AOV With Fitness Upsells

24. People Will Complain

About everything. The music, the temperature, the color of the wallsā€¦ Take it in stride.

25. You’re Changing Lives

Remember this on the hard days. What you’re doing is helping people become healthier and happier. That’s worth all the sweat and tears.

26. Lastly, It’s Worth It

Despite the long hours, the occasional headaches, and yes, the constant smell of sweat, running a gym is one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have. Take it from me.

27. Harness the Power of Exercise.com

Now this one’s a real gem from any experienced gym owner’s treasure trove of wisdom. Use a fitness business management software like Exercise.com. It helps you manage everything from memberships to workout plans, and allows you to offer a custom branded mobile gym app experience to your clients. Imagine being the cool gym owner who says, “There’s an app for that!” Efficiency, my friend, can be your secret weapon in the gym warfare.

Read More: How to Start a Fitness Business

Core Online Mobile Fitness App
“My custom-branded apps have made my life easier and helped streamline my online training, which in turn has transformed into a pretty awesome additional revenue stream for me and my family.”
Tony Gentilcore
Founder, Core Online

Get a demo now!

Understanding the Current Fitness Industry Landscape

In order to establish a successful gym, it is essential to have a deep understanding of the current fitness industry landscape. This involves staying up-to-date with the latest trends, market demands, and consumer preferences. Conducting comprehensive market research will allow you to assess the competitive landscape, identify potential opportunities, and determine the viability of your gym in a specific location or market segment.

Furthermore, understanding the different types of fitness facilities (such as boutique studios, full-service gyms, or specialized training centers) and their respective target audiences will help you define your unique selling proposition and niche. By identifying the gaps or untapped needs in the market, you can position your gym to stand out and attract your desired clientele.

Identifying Your Target Market and Niche

Identifying your target market and niche is a crucial step in developing a successful gym business. Defining your ideal customer profile will enable you to tailor your services, marketing strategies, and facility design to meet their specific needs. Consider factors such as age groups, fitness goals, demographics, and location when determining your target market. By focusing on a specific niche market, you can differentiate yourself from competitors and become the go-to gym for your chosen demographic.

Conducting Thorough Market Research and Feasibility Studies

Before investing significant resources into your gym, it is vital to conduct thorough market research and feasibility studies. This involves analyzing the demand for fitness services in your target area, evaluating the competition, and assessing the financial viability of your gym concept. By conducting surveys, focus groups, and analyzing industry data, you can gain valuable insights into the market potential and make informed decisions regarding your gym’s size, services, and pricing structures.

Additionally, conducting a feasibility study will help you identify potential challenges and risks, such as high competition, saturation, or economic factors that may impact your gym’s success. This analysis will guide you in making necessary adjustments to your business plan and strategy to mitigate these risks and increase the chances of long-term profitability.

Creating a Comprehensive Business Plan for Your Gym

A well-developed business plan serves as a roadmap for your gym’s success. It outlines your goals, target market, unique selling proposition, marketing strategies, financial projections, and more. Creating a comprehensive business plan is crucial for securing funding, attracting potential investors, and ensuring that all aspects of your gym operation are carefully considered.

Your business plan should include an executive summary, detailed descriptions of your gym’s services and offerings, a market analysis, a marketing and sales plan, an overview of your organizational structure, and a financial plan. Being thorough and detailed in your business plan will not only help you attract investment but also serve as a valuable reference tool as you navigate the challenges of opening and managing your gym.

Securing Funding and Financing Options for Your Gym Startup

Securing sufficient funding is often a significant challenge when opening a gym. Depending on the scale of your facility, the equipment required, and your business plan’s financial projections, you may need to explore various financing options. These options can include traditional bank loans, small business loans, angel investors, crowdfunding, or personal savings.

It is essential to have a solid financial plan and accurate projections to present to potential funders or investors. Demonstrating the potential return on investment and outlining a clear path to profitability can significantly improve your chances of securing the necessary funding. Additionally, building relationships with local banks, investors, or fitness industry professionals can provide valuable connections and guidance throughout the financing process.

Choosing the Right Location for Your Gym

Selecting the right location for your gym is a critical decision that can significantly impact its success. Consider factors such as accessibility, parking availability, visibility, and proximity to your target market when choosing a location. Assessing the demographic makeup of the area, competition in the vicinity, and the potential for future growth will also help determine the optimal location for your gym.

Furthermore, evaluating the gym lease terms and conditions, zoning regulations, and any necessary permits for your chosen location should not be overlooked. Consulting with a commercial real estate agent or attorney who specializes in these areas can ensure that you make an informed decision and avoid potential legal or operational issues.

Legal Considerations: Licenses, Permits, and Insurance for Your Gym

Opening a gym involves complying with various legal requirements, such as obtaining licenses, permits, and insurance. The specific requirements may differ depending on your location and the services you offer. Common licenses and permits may include a business license, health and safety permits, fitness professional certifications, and food and beverage permits if you plan to offer a cafƩ or juice bar.

Securing liability insurance is crucial to protect your gym and its members in case of accidents or injuries. Working with an insurance professional who specializes in the fitness industry can help ensure that you have adequate coverage for all potential risks and liabilities.

Designing an Appealing and Functional Gym Layout

The layout and design of your gym play a significant role in attracting and retaining members. Consider factors such as the flow of the space, equipment placement, lighting, and ventilation when designing your gym layout. Creating different zones for cardio, strength training, group classes, and functional training will help optimize the user experience and maximize the usage of your space.

Additionally, investing in high-quality equipment that is ergonomically designed and regularly maintained is essential. The arrangement of equipment should be intuitive and easily accessible, providing a safe and efficient workout environment for your members.

Selecting the Right Equipment and Supplies for Your Gym

Choosing the right equipment and supplies for your gym is another crucial aspect to consider. Conducting thorough research to identify reputable suppliers who offer high-quality and durable equipment is essential. Consider factors such as the variety of equipment options, warranty terms, maintenance requirements, and after-sales support when selecting your gym’s equipment.

Furthermore, stocking your gym with essential supplies such as towels, sanitizing stations, water stations, and cleaning products is vital to ensure a clean and comfortable workout environment. Creating a checklist of all required equipment and supplies will help you stay organized and ensure that no essential items are overlooked.

Hiring Qualified Staff and Trainers for Your Gym

The success of your gym relies heavily on the knowledge, expertise, and professionalism of your staff and trainers. Hiring qualified and experienced fitness professionals who align with your gym’s culture and values is crucial. Look for certifications, relevant experience, and a track record of delivering excellent customer service when evaluating potential candidates.

When hiring staff, consider the necessary roles such as front desk personnel, personal trainers, group fitness instructors, and maintenance personnel. Provide thorough training and ongoing professional development opportunities to keep your team motivated and up-to-date with the latest fitness trends and techniques.

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Developing Effective Marketing Strategies to Attract Members

Developing effective marketing strategies is essential to attract potential members and establish a strong presence in the fitness industry. Utilize a combination of digital marketing channels, such as social media platforms, search engine optimization, email marketing, and paid advertising, to reach your target audience effectively.

Creating engaging and informative content that showcases the benefits of joining your gym can help build brand awareness and establish your expertise in the industry. Use customer testimonials, before-and-after success stories, and promotional offers to encourage potential members to take action and join your gym.

Building a Strong Brand Identity for Your Gym

Building a strong brand identity is crucial for differentiating your gym from competitors and attracting loyal members. Clearly define your gym’s mission, values, and unique selling proposition to create a memorable brand presence. Utilize consistent branding elements, such as a logo, color scheme, and tagline, across all marketing materials, signage, and online platforms.

Consider hosting grand opening events, collaborating with local businesses or fitness influencers, and creating partnerships within the community to enhance your brand visibility. Creating a positive and inclusive gym culture that aligns with your brand values will foster member loyalty and encourage word-of-mouth referrals.

Pricing Models and Membership Options to Maximize Revenue

Determining the right pricing models and membership options is crucial to maximize revenue and accommodate different customer preferences. Consider factors such as the cost of operations, market demand, target demographic, and local competition when establishing your pricing structure.

Offering various membership options, such as monthly, quarterly, or annual plans, as well as individual or family packages, can appeal to a broader range of potential members. Additionally, consider offering special discounts, promotions, or premium services to incentivize sign-ups and member retention.

Implementing Efficient Operational Systems and Processes

Implementing efficient operational systems and processes is essential to ensure smooth day-to-day operations and provide exceptional customer experiences. Invest in gym management software that streamlines administrative tasks, membership management, class scheduling, and billing processes. This will allow you to focus on delivering quality services and engaging with your members.

Establish standard operating procedures for various aspects of your gym’s operations, including member onboarding, equipment maintenance, cleanliness, and safety protocols. Regularly evaluate and refine these processes to ensure optimal efficiency and to adapt to changing industry trends or member feedback.

Providing Exceptional Customer Service to Retain Members

Providing exceptional customer service is key to retaining members and building a loyal community around your gym. Train your staff to be responsive, friendly, and attentive to members’ needs. Encourage open communication and feedback to continually improve your services and address any concerns promptly.

Organize member appreciation events, workshops, or challenges to foster a sense of community and increase member engagement. Maintaining a clean and well-maintained facility, offering personalized support, and constantly seeking ways to exceed member expectations will help create a positive, welcoming atmosphere that encourages long-term membership.

Leveraging Technology in Managing Your Gym Operations

Embracing technology can significantly enhance your gym’s operations and member experience. Utilize software and applications to automate tasks such as class bookings, member check-ins, and communication. Consider investing in fitness tracking devices or integrating with popular fitness apps to offer personalized training programs and tracking tools to your members.

Implementing a robust online presence, including a user-friendly website, social media platforms, and online class registrations, can expand your reach and attract a wider audience. Stay updated with digital marketing trends and leverage analytical tools to track the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and make data-driven decisions.

A Guide to Maintaining Health and Safety Standards in Your Gym

Maintaining health and safety standards in your gym is of utmost importance. Complying with local health and safety regulations, implementing proper sanitation procedures, and having well-maintained equipment are vital to protect the well-being of your members and staff.

Regularly inspect the facility for any potential hazards or maintenance issues and address them promptly. Provide clear guidelines and signage for proper equipment usage and encourage members to practice good hygiene, such as wiping down equipment after use and following appropriate social distancing protocols.

Establishing Partnerships with Fitness Professionals or Influencers

Establishing partnerships with fitness professionals or influencers can significantly boost your gym’s reputation and attract more members. Collaborate with local personal trainers, nutritionists, or wellness coaches to offer additional services or specialized programs at your gym.

Invite fitness influencers to lead workshops or guest classes at your gym, which can help generate buzz, attract new members, and enhance your brand credibility. Building meaningful relationships within the fitness community can open doors to potential collaborations, referrals, and joint marketing efforts.

Expanding Your Revenue Streams: Additional Services or Classes

Maximize your gym’s revenue potential by exploring additional gym revenue streams beyond standard memberships. Consider offering specialized classes, such as yoga, Pilates, or boot camps, that cater to specific member interests. Alternatively, explore other fitness-related services like personal training sessions, nutritional counseling, or wellness workshops.

Additionally, you can partner with local businesses to offer exclusive discounts or packages to your members, such as nutrition supplements, fitness apparel, or spa treatments. By diversifying your revenue streams, you can increase your gym’s financial stability and cater to a broader range of member interests.

Evaluating and Adapting your Business Strategy as the Fitness Industry Evolves

The fitness industry is constantly evolving and adapting to new trends, technologies, and consumer preferences. As a gym owner, it is essential to stay proactive and continuously evaluate and adapt your business strategy to remain competitive.

Keep a close eye on industry trends, attend conferences or workshops, and benchmark against successful competitors to identify areas for improvement or new opportunities. Regularly collect member feedback and adjust your offerings, services, or marketing strategies based on their input.

Continual improvement and adaptation are key to maintaining a thriving gym business and ensuring long-term success in the dynamic fitness industry.

Is owning a gym profitable?

Owning a gym can be profitable depending on factors like location, membership rates, operating costs, and the ability to diversify revenue streams. With Exercise.com, gym owners can increase profitability by offering add-on services, improving member retention through engagement features, and streamlining business operations to reduce overhead costs.

Read More: Is owning a gym profitable?

Is a gym a good business to open?

A gym can be a good business to open as the fitness industry continues to grow and people are becoming more health-conscious. However, success depends on factors like location, target market, unique selling proposition, and efficient business management. Using a platform like Exercise.com can significantly help in managing your gym business effectively.

How hard is opening a gym?

Opening a gym can be challenging. It involves tasks like business planning, securing financing, finding a suitable location, purchasing equipment, hiring staff, and marketing your services. However, with a comprehensive gym management tool like Exercise.com, many of the operational and administrative challenges can be streamlined.

How to start a gym with no money?

Starting a gym with no money can be difficult but not impossible. Consider starting with a home-based or mobile personal training service, utilizing outdoor spaces, or offering virtual classes. Exercise.com can help you manage and grow your business, even with a limited budget.

Read More: How to Start a Gym With No Money

How much can gym owners make?

The income of gym owners can vary widely based on factors like the size and location of the gym, membership fees, additional revenue streams, and overhead costs. By leveraging Exercise.com’s features like fitness upsells, marketing automations, and digital landing pages, gym owners can increase revenue and profitability.

Read More: How much can gym owners make?

What is the success rate of gym ownership?

The success rate of gym ownership can vary based on numerous factors. However, with the right gym business model, target market, location, and business management tools like those offered by Exercise.com, a gym can become a successful and profitable business.

What are the pros and cons of opening a gym?

Pros of opening a gym include the opportunity to capitalize on a growing industry, promote health and fitness, and create a community. Cons might include high startup costs, ongoing maintenance expenses, and competition. By leveraging a gym management platform like Exercise.com, gym owners can streamline operations, reduce costs, and improve member engagement, thus mitigating many potential cons.

What type of gym is the most profitable?

The profitability of a gym can depend on many factors including its target market, location, and services offered. However, gyms that offer niche or specialized services, or that diversify their revenue streams through personal training, classes, or virtual services, often see higher profitability. Exercise.com’s platform can help gyms maximize revenue with its versatile features.

Read More: Most Profitable Fitness Business Models

How do I run a successful gym?

Running a successful gym involves maintaining high customer satisfaction, offering unique and engaging services, efficiently managing operations, and continuously attracting new members. Platforms like Exercise.com can support these goals by providing tools for member engagement, business management, workout creation, and marketing.

Read More:

What is the failure rate of gyms?

The failure rate for gyms can vary based on a range of factors, such as location, competition, management, and the economy. However, by leveraging best practices in the industry, and utilizing robust tools like Exercise.com for managing your business, the risk of failure can be significantly reduced.

How much does it cost to make a good gym?

The cost to open a gym can vary widely, ranging from tens of thousands to several million dollars, depending on factors like size, location, type of equipment, and overhead expenses. However, once operational, the ongoing costs can be managed effectively with a comprehensive gym management platform like Exercise.com, which can also help maximize revenue.

Ready to Start a Gym?

Opening a gym requires careful planning, rigorous gym target market research, and comprehensive understanding of the industry landscape. From identifying your target market and niche to securing funding, finding the right location, and implementing efficient operational systems, there are numerous factors to consider. By addressing each aspect with detailed attention, you can lay the foundation for a successful gym that caters to the needs of your target audience and thrives in the ever-evolving fitness industry.

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!

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 SpecialistĀ® (CSCSĀ®). 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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