If you’re a fitness buff looking to turn your passion into profit, launching your own gym or fitness center is definitely worth considering.
As of 2020, the global gym industry was worth $96.7 billion with more than 184 million gym members in total. What’s more, nearly 64.19 million Americans belong to one gym or another.
So with the right blend of skills, training, and commitment, launching a gym or fitness center can be an amazing business move.
However, just because the industry is juicy and you’re passionate does not mean you should dive in without any planning.
Not to mention the still raging COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the gym and fitness industry — owing to the compulsory closure of such establishments and social distancing guidelines.
But once the world comes back to normalcy, rest assured that the fitness industry will bounce back stronger than ever before, with people wanting to get back in shape and become their best selves.
Thus, owning a gym or fitness center in the post-pandemic world is a sensible and lucrative idea, provided you equip yourself with the right knowledge first.
Here are the basic steps involved in launching your own fitness facility.
Step #1: Tackle the Legal Obligations
First off, you’ll have to take care of the legal hurdles that any new entrepreneur faces when launching a business. This includes:
Applying for an Employer Identification Number (EIN): Gyms have to pay taxes to the federal government, which means, like many other businesses, that gyms should have an EIN. This is an easy process, and the application can be filled out online.
Applying for a business license: You need proper licensing to operate your gym legally. Different states have different requirements for which specific licenses are required to own and operate a gym. You’ll find this information via the Small Business Administration.
Registering for taxes: Besides federal taxes, the tax situation at the local level depends upon the location of your gym and can vary based on state tax laws. You’ll have to consult your state and local tax agencies for exact tax registration information.
Registering your business name: Again, as with most businesses, gyms are required to register the name of their business in order to operate legally, and the exact process varies based on the locality.
Getting insurance: Insurance is crucial in the gym business as people are going to be doing high-intensity exercises in your facility, which means injury (and even death) is always a possibility even if thorough safety measures are taken. So it’s wise to opt for liability insurance along with the inclusion of a clause in members’ contracts preventing them from suing in the event of self-caused injury.
These are a few of the initial legal requirements you need to check off before you can get the show on the road.
Step #2: Get Your Accreditation
While you don’t compulsorily need to obtain a professional fitness qualification before starting your own gym, accreditation from groups like The American Council on Exercise or the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association would surely boost your credibility in the eyes of customers and make it easier to get a business loan.
Getting certified as a trainer also allows you to try out such a role in a test environment and make contacts and develop an initial client base that may ultimately become your gym’s first members.
Step #3: Determine Your Fitness Niche
Based on your interests and experience, you can either go for a general-purpose gym or a specialty fitness center.
The latter could focus on a specific fitness activity like yoga, aerobics, pilates, calisthenics, etc. You can offer classes during the week based on different levels of client fitness. You’ll also need to hire certified instructors.
Whereas a traditional gym offers a variety of workout options with strength and cardio equipment, personal fitness coaching, and amenities like a sauna for an additional fee.
Step #4: Have Your Finances in Order
Unless you’re sitting on a good inheritance, you’ll need to find financing for your new business.
Leasing the space for your gym, purchasing equipment, hiring staff, monthly maintenance, and registration fees are some of the cost barriers you need to tackle.
So once you know the type of fitness center you’ll set up, you’ll need to either find investors or get a small business loan.
Either way, you’ll have to provide a well-crafted business plan that clearly explains how the business plans to become profitable, otherwise, the investors or loan providers are unlikely to fund your venture.
Step #5: Find the Right Location
Your gym’s success has a lot to do with its location and is a key aspect of your business plan. Start by conducting thorough market research about your potential customer base’s demographics.
Parking and public transport convenience are important to most gym members, so try and find a location that’s easily accessible by car, foot, and public transport. Also, besides easy accessibility, the best gym locations are in localities where there is demand for a gym that isn’t being filled or the competition with other fitness centers is minimal.
It’s safe to say that a great location is worth paying more money upfront as your business will get more attention and foot traffic, leading to more customers.
Step #6: Source Your Equipment and Staff
Once you have the financing and location decided, your next step is to turn the empty space into an energetic one.
For a typical gym, this requires a ton of equipment. From basic free-weight equipment like dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, and a variety of racks to cardio equipment like bikes, treadmills, and rowing machines — stocking up your gym won’t be cheap. Don’t forget isolation machines like Leg press, lat pulldown, chest fly, and so on.
In the case of a specialized fitness center, the equipment costs may be fewer but hiring experienced and certified instructors for leading the classes in a studio space can be just as pricey. Also, you need to ensure all safety precautions are taken in the layout design, including gym rubber flooring to minimize the potential for slip/fall accidents.
When hiring trainers, make sure to look at their qualifications and background. Vet each individual to ensure they’re friendly, open, and personable and possess strong knowledge of anatomy and fitness practices.
Step #7: Market Your Fitness Center
With everything set up, you’re ready to bring in customers to your new facility. Now it’s all down to marketing your new business strategically in order to drive the best possible foot traffic.
It certainly helps to have an initial client base from your initial personal training efforts, but you need to have a well-thought-out marketing plan to continually build your customer base and stay on track for revenue growth.
Being a local business, your marketing plan must ideally include a mix of traditional offline advertising (flyers, posters, newspaper ads, etc.) and online marketing using social media, local Google My Business listing, pay-per-click (PPC) ads on search engines, and more.
You can also promote free guest passes, membership discounts, and other incentives to attract new members.
So there you have it. These are the basic steps involved in launching a gym or fitness center. Of course, you’ll face your own unique challenges that aren’t part of the equation. But being into fitness, you’ll be sure to roll with the punches, wouldn’t you?
Oh, and once you get your business plan off the ground and need help with your fitness center’s flooring, get in touch with River Rock Resurfacing. Our team of experts would love to hear from you!