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A How-To Guide For Starting a New Gym


If you are thinking about starting your own gym, the planning process will prove critical to your venture's success. The global health club industry pulls in over $81 billion each year. Gyms in America make more than $25 billion a year. The market is certainly there. Your share of these customers partly hinges on whether your gym gets off to a good start. Here's how to do it.



Start With the Certification

Though it is not necessary to obtain a fitness qualification before launching a gym, accreditation from a group like the American Council on Exercise will certainly help. Certification enhances your facility's credibility. Furthermore, it boosts the odds of securing a business loan. You can also obtain a fitness or personal trainer certification to test the waters before opening a facility. This initial step might even help you network and form the beginnings of your client base.


Starting Your Own Gym: You Will Likely Need Financing

Most entrepreneurs intent on opening a gym do not have enough cash to finance the venture on their own. It will likely take upwards of $50,000 to open a gym. If you are planning on starting your own gym in a vibrant city, you might need upwards of several hundred thousand dollars to get the venture off the ground. Develop your business plan, practice your pitch for venture capital and do everything you can to obtain the financing necessary to open your fitness center.


Location, Location, Location!

Carefully select the location for your fitness center. Starting your own gym is especially risky if you set up shop in a section of town with little traffic. So perform market research about your target clients. Figure out where your key demographics live and drive. Pinpoint a bustling area of town that people can access by car, foot and public transportation.


Stock up on Equipment and Supplies

Once you have the financing to launch your facility, it is time to fill the empty space. Think long and hard about the fitness equipment and fitness center supplies necessary. Your clientele will desire free weights including dumbbells, dead lift mats, squat racks and bench presses. Members also need treadmills, rowing machines and stationary bike. Consider additional machines like chest fly, tricep extension and leg press machines. Don't forget about floor mats and weight benches.

Load up on fitness center supplies! Your members and staff need all sorts of supplies ranging from anti-bacterial wipes to clean off machines, paper towels, Kleenex, anti-bacterial sprays, gym towels, soap, disinfectant, mops, cleaning tools, brooms, vacuums and beyond. Be sure to place sanitizer sprays and towels by workout machines throughout your facility. Encourage members and staff to clean off machines as frequently as possible to avoid the spread of germs. Don't forget to place trash cans throughout the facility so members and staff have a place to dispose of used towels, Kleenex and other sundries. When in doubt, always order more fitness center supplies than you anticipate you will need. This way, you will have spare items on hand, ready for use as you await the shipment or pick-up of your next order.


Staff Your Facility

You can't start a gym on your own. The personnel you select will prove critically important in your quest to attract and retain members. Look for qualified and accredited people with a true passion for fitness to join your team. Qualified instructors are especially important if they will host classes. Ideally, you will hire several personal trainers, some of whom can be brought in on a freelance basis. If you bring in freelance trainers, make sure they carry their own personal insurance.


Obtain Insurance

Insurance is an absolute necessity. Consider the activities your clientele will engage in when working out in your facility. They will be running at a high rate of speed, lifting massive weights and pushing themselves to the limit. The last thing you need is for an injury to result in a costly lawsuit that bankrupts your fitness center. So be sure to obtain insurance that covers member injuries stemming from gym activities.

In terms of specific types of insurance, liability insurance is a must. If anyone, from a contractor to a prospective member taking a tour or a member is hurt while on your property, your liability insurance will limit your financial vulnerability. Also, consider a member contract clause that disallows members from filing a lawsuit against you or your gym if an injury occurs.


Advertise Wisely

The manner in which you market your business will play a large role in the venture's success. Put significant thought into your initial marketing effort. Your first advertising push will be remembered by current and potential clients for years to come. Make sure to take advantage of social media and the Internet in addition to traditional local advertising.

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