Opening a Gym: Things to Consider

Opening a gym is an adventure. But, you can share your love of fitness with others while also making some money from it. Recent statistics show that the gym business is expanding but, before you dive in headfirst and start buying equipment, there are some things you should know. Here are some tips on how to open a gym the intelligent way:

1) Make sure you have enough space for everything going into your room. This can be tough, especially if you’re going for a more traditional gym model where classes will be held in the same area as weight training machines and cardio equipment. At any new studio, you will have several pieces of cardio equipment, including rowers, spin bikes, ski ergometers, treadmill stations, and weight training facilities. Hence, you had to get creative when designing the studio’s layout.

2) Putting together a schedule of classes is an important thing to do early on as it will drive your entire business. You can’t just offer group fitness or spin and forget about it; you need to know what times those classes are going to be held and how many instructors will be required for each category.

3) You should also think about how much rent will cost and whether the area you’re in can support the type of gym you want to open. Of course, running a successful gym isn’t always smooth sailing, so either has some savings set aside in case of unexpected expenses or get creative with finding ways to cut costs.

4) Several things need planning when you start putting together your equipment list, including how many pieces of each kind of machine you’ll need, what space they will take up, and wherein the studio is those pieces going to go? For example, do you want a separate weight room, or can that be included with your group fitness studio? Are there enough electrical outlets to support all the machines you have planned for the gym? How much power do those machines require?

5) You’re probably thinking, “but I just want to open a small gym where people pay me month-to-month because it’s so easy.” Wrong. It’s easy if you have an established business model, which many big gyms do but starting from scratch is entirely different. Of course, if your business fails, you will lose any money you poured into it, but it also might damage your credit rating.

6) If you’re thinking of renovating your space, it’s essential to know what changes need planning permission and which can be done without. Some areas are stricter regarding how changes to the exterior must look, while others might have rules about signage or window displays that need following. For example, in our area, there is a rule that only one piece of signage can be displayed on the front facade above ground level at any time, so placing branding materials anywhere else isn’t allowed.

7) Make sure your space is equipped to handle: cleaning, storage, power, internet/wifi, and drainage for laundry facilities if you have them. You should also check the type of zoning rules or regulations regarding commercial buildings where you would like to open up shop because some areas will not allow fitness-based businesses to be run out of residential buildings. Residentially zoned buildings typically need it rented as a private gym, limiting membership numbers, class sizes, etc. Another thing to consider is resale value; if you’re in this purely for the money side of things, it might not be worth putting a lot of money into your gym if you plan on selling it in 5 years.

8) We recommend hiring a lawyer to look over any contract before signing it. This becomes especially important if your contractor is asking for a percentage of the turnover when they’re working on your space and even more so in our case, where you have no idea what was going to happen when you sign that agreement.

9) The most common type of gym arrangement is called “co-tenancy,” which is when two or more businesses rent space in one building. You should consider how this will impact your business, such as who gets access to all the best times for group fitness classes, whether you can book out equipment during off-hours and how long each party has access for when there are maintenance issues. Think about everything from what happens when equipment breaks down and needs repairing, who gets first dibs on equipment that isn’t being used, or if there is a clause that allows either party to give notice and end the contract. Consider investing in specialized sports facility management software to make the process easier.

10) Once you’ve got plans for your gym’s appearance, it’s time to start thinking about pricing. Ensure it’s an amount people will be happy paying or risk losing customers once they realize how much membership costs (we know because we were shocked too). It depends on what kind of business model you want to follow. Still, you can expect anywhere between $20 – $100 per month for unlimited access to fitness classes during opening hours, depending on how many times it is offered each day. You should also estimate potential income from other sources such as personal training sessions, group fitness classes, or equipment hire.

11) Be smart about your pricing, do the math to estimate costs and potential for income for opening hours separately from memberships. If you don’t want to make people pay before they try out classes, it might be better not to include them in pricing until after their trial period (assuming that is something you’re providing). You should also think about what other services you might like, such as nutritional advice, supplements, equipment hire, and more.

The investment in opening any business is huge, so make sure you do all your research before signing anything!

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