If you love exercise and fitness and want to share your enthusiasm with the world, you might consider starting your own gym. The health club industry is booming in the United States as we shift towards a more healthy approach to our lives. Odds are you yourself have a gym membership or a close friend or family member does. However, just because the market is huge doesn’t mean that you should jump into the business without doing some research and planning.
Opening a commercial gym could be a great business opportunity. However, there are a few factors you’ll need to consider before you’re ready to start. Here are tips for starting a commercial gym.
In order to own a gym, you’ll need to be qualified to do so. You don’t need a professional fitness qualification before starting your gym. However, accreditation from groups like The American Council on Exercise or the International Health, Racquet, and Sports club Association could improve your credibility and makes it easy to obtain a business loan.
It’s worth it to get a personal trainer or fitness certification so that you can try out these roles before you start your own gym. This way, you’ll be able to see if you will be happy in a similar role and make contacts to develop a client base that will follow you to your new commercial gym.
Now that you’ve determined that you would enjoy managing a commercial gym, it’s time to find out how you are going to get the money to start one. It typically takes about $50,000 or more to set up a gym, but that depends on your location. In large cities, it could take up to half a million dollars just to get started. No matter where you plan on locating your gym, you’ll need to produce a business plan and share it with investors or loan providers.
The location will be a significant factor within your business plan because a good location is critical to the gym’s survival. Do market research about your potential client base to find out what key demographics will account for the bulk of your foot traffic. Then figure out where those individuals can be found. Gym members care about accessibility and convenience before all else, so try to find a location near those demographics.
You’ll also have to take rent into consideration. Unless you have been able to purchase a building yourself, you will most likely have to rent space. The cost of rent will vary from location to location and has to be factored into your initial operating expenses. Remember, you’ll need permission in writing from your landlord or building’s owner to make alterations or conduct work on the building.
Once you have financing and a great location, you’ll need to start buying gym equipment. Filling your space with gym equipment won’t come cheap. You’ll need all of the basics from free weight equipment to serious lifters, and cardio equipment like bikes, rowing machines, and treadmills.
Make sure to source used commercial gym equipment, which can help keep money in the bank. Purchasing items such as jungle gyms and refurbished commercial gym equipment can help you get the most bang for your buck and make your customers happy at the same time.
Think about offering classes as well. If you are certified, you can lead these classes yourself until you have enough money to hire an instructor. Consider Yoga, Zumba, and Pilates classes. In order to do this, you’ll need studio space and equipment for each class. It all adds up quickly, but once these classes fill, you can expect regulars to keep coming back.
If you want to start a commercial gym, you’ll need to understand insurance. Insurance is important for any business owner, but especially for those in charge of commercial gyms. There will be lots of people in your business each day using heavy machines that if used incorrectly can be dangerous. High-intensity exercise can also be unsafe for some, so you have to make sure both your clientele and your business are legally and financially protected.
In addition to business insurance, consider gym liability insurance. Depending on certain state laws, liability insurance might be required before you can even obtain a permit. If you are also spending lots of money on equipment, you can also find equipment coverage as part of a separate policy.
Most gym owners will spend a lot of their time on-site, but you can’t run a commercial gym without hiring some employees. You’ll need to make sure you hire qualified and accredited individuals to join your team.
Aim to have multiple personal trainers or bring in trainers on a freelance basis to offer guidance to your customers. Also, make sure to double-check each employee to make sure they are properly certified. If you’re offering classes, you’ll need to bring in licensed or accredited instructors who know what they’re doing. If you do bring on any independent contractors, you’ll need to ensure that they are personally insured.
Start Your Gym
Now that you’ve gotten insured and met all permit and licensing requirements, you can start setting up your new commercial gym. Make sure to consult municipal authorities to make sure you are meeting layout requirements. You’ll also need to make sure to provide training for staff to make sure everyone is on the same page before the gym opens.
From there, it’s time to market your gym and get people in the door. While it is beneficial to have your own client base handy, you can also start from scratch. Marketing a new gym can be difficult, but if you’ve chosen the right location, people will be able to find you on their own.
Make sure to set up social media accounts and do any advertising that fits your budget.
When it comes to appealing to new clients, consider local advertising. Contact the local media and let them know who you are and that you’ve opened a new gym to help people get in shape. Provide them with photos and details so that they can help spread the word.
Lastly, never be afraid to ask for advice. If you’re considering opening up your own gym, you probably know other people in the industry. While they may be your competition, if they are located far enough away, they will most likely be willing to help you.