How to Open a Gym in 7 steps

What steps does it take to open a gym?

There’s a lot involved in starting any new business and opening a gym is no exception. Following this Step-by-Step guide will help guide you through the process, so that your new gym can get up and running quickly and you can start enjoying a career as a gym owner.

Step 1.  Have a Vision for Your Gym

From full scale 24/7 gyms to private personal training studios to employee fitness rooms to community fitness centers, hotels and more, gyms today offer a wide variety of atmospheres and training methods to suit the demands and interests of the ever growing fitness crowd. With so many types of gyms available to choose from, your first step in opening your new gym is to determine what type of gym you want to offer.

Your gym’s vision should include your personal interest, the needs of the community where your gym will be located and any area of expertise that you may have. It needs to be a vision beyond just wanting to have a gym. A well defined vision lays the groundwork for any business plan and allows you to concentrate your efforts to assure that every aspect of your gym works in together for a cohesive gym.

When making your decision as to what type of gym you want to open, don’t limit yourself to the specific type of training that you personally prefer in your workouts. Always keep in mind that you are opening your gym as a profit making venture and not as a hobby. Although you will certainly want to use your gym for your own training, you want to increase your gym’s appeal to the widest audience possible so that you can draw from a greater pool of prospective members.

Your vision does not have to be a singular type of training and your gym should incorporate various ways for people to work out. Offering a variety of gym equipment and training options will not only bring in new members, but also retain those whom you already have.

NOTE: From a financial perspective, it is better to have a small multi-faceted membership based gym that also offers personal training than a small personal training studio that offers nothing but personal training.

Step 2. Know Your Budget

Knowing your budget isn’t simply knowing how much that you’d like to spend to open a gym. It is knowing how much you can afford to spend. When considering your budget, you need to take into account the total budget required for you to open your gym. This includes purchasing or leasing your building or room, costs to build out or renovate the room, your gym equipment and miscellaneous expenses such as operating expenses, staffing and any additional things that you may be utilizing your room for.

NOTE: You need to know what your budget for your gym equipment is before you begin working on your gym equipment Package. You may not know how much gym equipment costs, but you will know how much is too much for you to spend on equipment. Use that top end figure and work down from there. This will allow you to work within a specified budget for your business plan, loan or equipment purchase.

To know your budget, look at all of the options that you have available to you. This includes your own finances, loans from banks and credit unions, investors, leasing to own, partners, family members and others who may share your vision and see the value in helping you to finance your new gym.

When considering your budget, it is important to remember that you are opening a business that, done properly, will become a great source of profit for you. Make sure that you allocate the proper amount of money to get off to the best start. It is better to start with a smaller gym with the best gym equipment than to start with a larger gym and have cheap equipment.

Step 3. Know Your Area

Most people open gyms in cities and towns that they are very familiar with, often ones where they have lived for several years. Even is you have lived in an area for your entire life, you still need to do some research to make sure that your vision of a gym is a good bet for your town. This research can be effectively done without spending money. Talk with as many people as you can about what you are looking to do and ask them if they would be interested in joining your gym should you go forward with it. When speaking with various people, ask them what they would like to see with a gym in the town. This is done to give you a general idea of what your members will expect. Do NOT let the opinions of everyone else dictate what your gym will be. This is YOUR vision and your dollars that are bringing a gym to this area. You want to satisfy your member base but, if someone wants a different type of gym than what you are looking to offer, let them go open one themselves.

Beyond meeting and speaking with various people, the local chamber of commerce will have demographic information on the area. This will give you a breakdown of age, gender and income level so that you can see who your prospective members are. This knowledge will also help you to decide what is the right monthly membership fee. Internet research is also an excellent way to get some demographic information so that you know your area better.

Certain types of gyms require more exposure than others, but it’s a good idea to check demographics in any case. When you have a building in mind, check to see what the traffic flow is on a daily basis. If the gym is going to be adjacent to other businesses, such as in a strip mall, see what the other businesses are and how much activity the overall mall gets.

Step 4. Secure Your Building

Securing your building means to move beyond seeing an available location where you would like to have your gym. It is researching that particular building to determine if that’s the right place to have your gym. This research includes speaking with the building owner to see what the cost is if you are considering purchasing or what the rent is if you are leasing. You also want to know the terms of the lease, (length of time, who is responsible for what, etc.). If the location is in a strip mall or other building with adjacent businesses, you will want to know what the other businesses are or what they will be. This information allows you to know the type of clientele that this location will draw so that you can determine how to bring them into your gym. You also want to make sure that the building owner will not allow a competing gym in the same building where your gym will be.

Before you make any decision on your building, get inside the room and see how it fits in with your vision of your gym. Get the square feet of the space where you will have your gym equipment in. Check the ceiling height and to what extent any build out will need done to make this room into your gym, such as electrical outlet placements, floor condition, etc..

Your purpose here is to see if this building is in the right place and has the right feel for your gym. If so, negotiate with the owner and lock the building in for you.

Securing your building means that you get the building, either in a written or verbal commitment with the owner or by direct purchase or by signing a lease. Once you have your building, you can cross this off of your checklist and move on to the next Step.

Step 5. Work with a New Gym Specialist

The first step in opening a new gym is to contact and align yourself with a New Gym Specialist. A New Gym Specialist will act as your guide throughout the gym opening process, answering any important questions that may come up along the way. You want to be careful to pick the right person and company for this helpful and vital position. The right New Gym Specialist is someone with decades of experience in the fitness industry helping people to open new gyms. Using their experience, they will work closely with you so that you avoid the common pitfalls that people run into when they try to handle all aspects of opening their gym by themselves. It’s important to speak with a New Gym Specialist as your first step in the process because they will save you time in how to proceed.

Besides guiding you through the process, a New Gym Specialist has expertise on the best equipment line and selection for your new gym. They will be able to use their industry connections to create a Custom Gym Equipment Package with the best equipment that will be the ideal fit for your specific gym. Through negotiations with manufacturers, they will be able to get you the best equipment for less.

Don’t rely on retail stores, commission sales reps or online ecommerce websites to do the job of a New Gym Specialist.

A New Gym Specialist is focused only on helping people to open new gyms and is not just looking for a quick sale or to hit sales figures. They are interested in your success for the long haul and will be a key partner for you in opening your gym and in years following.

Step 6. Get the Best Gym Equipment

People choose to join a gym because the gym can offer things that they can’t get by working out at home. Your gym’s equipment is integral to the success of your gym. The equipment that you have in your gym can make the difference between whether or not someone decides to become a member. Your equipment tells people how committed you are to your gym and to your members.

To help insure the success of your new gym, it is essential that you get the best gym equipment that features modern styling and functions. People want to belong to a place where they can train with the latest and greatest equipment. They want to know that the money that they spend to be a member is worth it.

Don’t open your new gym with someone’s used equipment. Used, refurbished or remanufactured equipment sends the signal that you didn’t have enough money to purchase new, modern quality gym equipment and that your gym may not be around for very long. That signal can be the death knell for any gym who is trying to entice people to join. Used gym equipment is equipment that has already been in a gym that has failed. It already wasn’t good enough to keep the previous gym in business.

Although cheap, getting used, refurbished or remanufactured gym equipment is NOT the way to cut your costs. The return on the investment that you make on getting modern, high quality gym equipment can be great and well worth it for years to come.

Offering the best gym equipment demonstrates to your members that you are serious about your gym and about their training.

Step 7. Purchase a Complete Gym Equipment Package

Your New Gym Specialist is your key in combining your equipment selection into a Complete Package that will give you all that you need at a Discounted Complete Package Price. Every new gym, regardless of its size, should be purchased as a Complete Package because it allows you to take advantage of Tremendous Discounted Package Purchase Pricing while still being able to get the absolute best equipment for your new gym. This allows you to spend your equipment dollars in the wisest manner, whether you are purchasing outright or through a loan.

Your New Gym Specialist will also be able to put together a Complete Package for you that will feature the same line of equipment so that your new gym will have a cohesive look throughout it, adding to the showcase quality that entice people to become members.

A Complete Package will include a variety of modern, high quality equipment to suit the different training methods of your members. This often includes a selection of cardio equipment, (treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, etc.), a circuit of weight stack machines, free weight equipment, plate loaded equipment, leverage equipment, Olympic weights, dumbbells and other pieces that are specific to a particular gym’s needs.

By following these simple 7 steps you can easily make the transition from dreaming about opening a gym to becoming a gym owner and be on your way to enjoying a profitable and exciting career.

Written by Bill at BAMPSCO International Inc. / Gymstarters