How to open a gym

If you’re considering opening a gym, find out how to do it from this guide.

Who can open a gym?

Only those who have a strong passion for fitness can be successful at opening a gym because once you have the business set up and running fitness will become your whole life. Even after you hire staff, there will be days when you will have to spend a lot of time at the premises, surrounded by people taking part in fitness classes and using all kinds of gym machines.

In addition to that, you have to love working with other people. It’s highly unlikely that you will be the only person working at the gym and even if that was the case you’d still have to interact with clients. Maintaining a positive attitude at all times is essential to keeping the customers satisfied. Hence, if you’re not a fan of social interaction, maybe you should reconsider opening a gym.

Things to consider when opening a gym

Starting your own gym, like any other business requires careful planning. There are several things you need to take into consideration.

what to think aboutwhat does it entail
Do you have what it takes to open a gym?Not everyone is suitable to open a gym.
If you want to do it, you need to make sure you have a real passion for
fitness and an entrepreneurial mind.
In addition to that, you have to be able to well manage finances.
Most importantly, you need to be good at interacting with people.
What will be the costs?Opening a commercial gym can be very expensive so you need to think
about how you will finance it and how much you will need to spend on equipment etc.
Where will your gym be located?The location of your gym can determine how successful it will be.
Your gym has to be easily accessible and situated in an area where there
will be a high demand for your services.
Can you find the right venue?You have to find a venue that will be big enough for all the gym machines
and a large number of customers.
What are the rules for opening a gym?When opening a gym, you will have to follow a set of regulations and standards.
That’s why you should familiarise yourself with the government’s guidelines
before launching your new venue.

How to actually open a gym? – based on OriGym’s advice

OriGym is an example of a gym opening success story. It started as a small start-up training studio but, over three years, it expanded to owning 12 gyms across the UK and having a regular turnover of more than £5 million. OriGym wants to help all those who dream about opening their own gym so it explains what steps need to be undertaken to start one. 

  1. Conducting Market Research

Thinking about what type of gym will be of the biggest benefit to the people living in the area, and how your gym will stand out should be the starting point. OriGym outlines a number of methods that can help you conduct market research. These include:

  • mystery shops
  • focus groups
  • market polls
  • industry reports
  • consultation with industry experts.
  1. Finding the best location

OriGym explains that finding the perfect location for your new gym is extremely important because it can help you attract new customers and make your marketing more effective. That’s why before you commit to one location, you should visit several sites.

OriGym listed factors you need to consider when choosing your gym’s premises:

  • council permission
  • accessibility
  • competition
  • rent
  • lease terms
  • price
  • space
  • parking
  • visibility
  • style of the building

A member of OriGym’s team, Luke Hughes, saidWe elected to go for a warehouse-based gym that was just off a main A road. Our venue therefore had plenty of accessibility, visibility to passing traffic, and came with a free car park for our gym members.’

‘There were no competing gyms within a three mile radius, no business rates, and rent was low due to it being a warehouse that we converted into a gym’

  1. Deciding on the services your gym will offer

Most gyms not only allow clients to use gym machines but also give them a chance to participate in a wide range of fitness classes. If you want your gym to do that too, you have to ask yourself what kinds of classes you will offer. In addition to that, you have to decide what things will be included in customers’ membership.

  1. Getting the right equipment

The equipment and how much money is needed to purchase it is different for each gym. You have to ask yourself how much and what kind of equipment your venue will need and where to get it from. There are many firms that sell gym equipment so make sure to compare all of them and their prices before you pick one.

  1. Thinking about how your gym will generate profit

OriGym provides an overview of factors you need to look at when deciding how much to charge for the membership. These include:

gym facilitiesDoes your gym have a pool or a sauna? Are there group fitness classes?
service add-onsAre there any membership perks such as free sessions with personal trainers?
gym contractHow long do customers need to commit for?
equipmentHow many machines does your gym offer? Are the machines modern?

To further decide on the price of the membership, you need to prepare a financial prognosis in which you will try to assess how many, people will sign up to your gym. In the prognosis, you also have to try to determine what your monthly costs of running the place will be.

  1. Advertising your gym

OriGym highlights the importance of gym advertising. Through marketing, you will let potential clients know that you exist and you will tell them why they should choose you and not your competitors. Some tools to advertise your gym, which OriGym recommends are:

  • Creating a website
  • Social media ads
  • Ads in search engines
  • Handing out leaflets
  • Running an email marketing campaign
  • Using SEO tools
  • Running a blog
  • Posting YouTube videos.
  1. Recruiting staff

After you’ve considered all other costs, you need to also think about how much you will need to spend on your staff members’ wages. Then you will also need to think about the qualities your employees should have as they will interact with your clients on a daily basis. To find employees you can use job boards available online.

  1. Insuring your gym

Getting insurance for your gym is a must because of multiple reasons. Firstly, insurance protects you against third party claims. Secondly, it offers you the protection of damages to your fitness equipment. Thirdly, it covers your staff. Lastly, it provides business interruption cover.

  1. Preparing for unplanned expenses

As your gym develops and more and more people sign up, you might sometimes encounter costs that you weren’t prepared for. That’s something you have to be ready for and it’s impossible to tell what exactly these costs will be and how much extra you will have to pay. Nevertheless, to help you avoid unpleasant surprises, OriGym prepared a list of costs you should include in your gym business plan that people often forget about. These are:

  • Electricity, heating and lighting costs
  • Telephone line and Internet
  • Stock
  • Equipment service charges
  • Accountant fees
  • Office equipment
  • Pension scheme.

These 9 steps that OriGym outlined can make the process of opening your own gym easy and relatively stress-free. The case of OriGym shows that if you are motivated and have a real passion for what you’re doing and for the fitness industry, you can be highly successful.

Mistakes to avoid when opening a gym

One of the biggest mistakes you could make when opening a new gym is ignoring the needs of your market. You have to understand who uses gyms in your area, what needs these people have, and what they like and dislike about your competition. By answering these questions, you can create a place that will fill the gap in the market and will beat any other gyms in the area.

Another thing you should never do is promising clients things you can’t actually offer. For example, some gyms advertise themselves as the cheapest in the area, when in reality their prices are the same or higher than those of other venues. When customers realise that you have been giving them false promises, they are likely to have a negative perception of your business and that’s something you’d rather avoid.

Lastly, you should avoid buying equipment that’s overly expensive. Machines that cost a lot are not always the best. You shouldn’t try to show off by offering the most expensive equipment, but instead, purchase the one that is easy to use and that many people are likely to enjoy.