What to know about starting a fitness business

 In Opening a health club

If you’re thinking of opening your dream brick and mortar fitness business, here are some things to keep in mind.

Fitness is an inspiring industry.

Fitness really makes a difference in the quality and health of people’s lives. If you decide to open your dream gym or studio you’ll have a mission driven business that contributes to the well being of others.

People who work in the industry will be your kindred spirits.

People who work in the fitness industry are passionate about bringing fitness and wellness to others.  If you are a fitness fanatic or want to contribute to the health of others, it will be fun and exciting to work alongside people who share your passion.

It’s fun.

Not only will you be working with people who are excited about what they do, but you don’t have to be tied to your desk and computer all the time. If you’re running the business well you’ll be out of your office schmoozing with members and clients and exercising yourself, setting a positive example for your staff and being visible to your customers.  Plus, everyday you’ll walk into an environment that is filled with energy.

The right design and equipment can impact your business for years to come.

Designing a fitness facility is one of the most fun aspects of starting a business. A good club design makes a statement that attracts new members, retains current members and influences who wants to work for you.  Hiring an architect and designer who has experience building and renovating gyms and studios will save you hours of work and lots of money.  Experienced architects and designers will know how much space should be allotted to specific activities, what surfaces will withstand constant use, how many lockers to install in the locker rooms and much, much more.

Developing realistic financial projections can make or break the business.

A key factor in securing financing and planning and managing your business includes having comprehensive financial projections.  In order to generate solid projections you’ll need to take into consideration industry benchmarks as well as key factors such as but not limited to realistic membership ramp up, member attrition and a multitude of expenses including how and what to pay a variety of different classifications of employees.

Having good marketing and sales systems are critical to success.

In growing your business you’ll find that every month you lose customers, so in order to grow you need to replace those you lost as well as add more. Many fitness entrepreneurs invest a lot in marketing at the beginning, get a lot of members at first, and as a result decide to invest their dollars elsewhere.  Because fitness businesses are constantly losing customers, on-going, multi-channel marketing is critical to acquiring prospective members and retaining current ones.  When your marketing results in the acquisition of prospective customers, you’ll need a sales team that is trained and knows what strategies will turn those prospects into members. Without good marketing, your sales team won’t be successful, and without a good sales team and good sales systems, you won’t be able turn prospects  into members.

It’s not easy. 

Many people dreaming of opening a fitness business don’t understand the complexities that go into it.  They think, “how hard can this be?”  Well, it can be hard.  There’s way more to it then people imagine.  It’s a customer service business and most clubs and studios are open 7 days a week for long hours.  In most markets competition is stiff and every day it gets stiffer.  It can be highly capital intensive…rent, equipment, labor and build out can really add up.  The list of things one needs to know operationally to run a successful fitness business is long and detailed and many entrepreneurs simply don’t know what they don’t know.

Developing and operating a fitness-related business can certainly be rewarding, but it takes a lot of hard work, capital and knowledge.  Therefore, if you have never run a fitness business on your own, our biggest words of advice are: 1) Do your research; 2) Ask a lot of questions; and 3) Get some help and support from experts who have been there and know what it takes to build a long term sustainable business.

For a more comprehensive breakdown how to start a fitness business, check out our ultimate guide.

Example of a gym for sale