Gym Profitability Checklist

By Maximilian Schuetz
September 10, 2019

Opening a new gym can be intimidating. With hundreds of thousands of gyms already in operation across the U.S., it may seem like the market is beyond saturated. Fortunately, millennials are on a health kick - and after they eat their kale and drink their protein shakes, they’re ready to hit your gym. If you’re serious about opening a fitness center, here are some key things to consider:

Is Opening a Gym Profitable?

Gym profitability depends on your gym’s facility, services, atmosphere, and more. But above all, your gym’s success will be based on member retention. Gyms experience unstable profits when their rate of member retention swings wildly. If you can keep your clients happy while also attracting new members, then the money should follow. Some tried and true member retention strategies include:

Invest in targeted advertising. First, identify your gym membership demographics. These are your “regulars;” the people who make up most of your gym’s population. Think about the local demographics can cater your advertisements and services to their needs. Practice strategic marketing by focusing your energy on advertisements that appeal to this group specifically. Many people choose a gym based on proximity first and foremost. Using this method, you will attract new members faster with a smaller budget.

Communicate with your members often. By polling your current members, you can track customer satisfaction and make better decisions about which services to add and which to cut. Which machines do your members use the most? Which group classes have the highest enrollment each week? Finding the answers to these questions can limit unnecessary spending and boost your gym’s reputation.

Stay ahead of the curve. There are always new fitness trends to discover, and it’s a good idea to adopt a few from time to time. Stock shelves with popular protein bars or schedule new kinds of classes to keep your members coming back for more. Not sure what the next trends are? Follow fitness organizations and hashtags on social media to get the latest updates.

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Opening a Gym Checklist

Serious about opening a gym? The path to actually opening your doors can be long and frustrating. You should expect to wait anywhere from six months to a year before your gym is ready to welcome new members. In that time, you will be busy establishing your brand and purchasing equipment, among other things. As you consider becoming an entrepreneur, here are some tasks you may be adding to your to-do list:

  • Reflect. Are you prepared to open your own business? Is becoming a gym owner really something you want to do? You may want to conduct a feasibility study to explore these concerns further.
  • Write a business plan. Every business needs a thoroughly researched business plan. It convinces investors to fund your operation and helps guide you through the process of opening a new business. You can search for “free business plan templates” online to find resources and ideas. 
  • Find a facility. Location, location, location! What other businesses are nearby? How many people can fit inside? How much is the lease commitment or purchase price? Your facility is what members will interact with the most, so make sure you find the right one.
  • Funding. Consider acquiring a loan or investors when deciding how to fund your business. You’ll want solid finances to carry you through your first few months or years. You should also set up new bank accounts for your business.
  • Hire the right team. The hiring process can take a while, so start looking for qualified staff members now. You’ll need to create job listings, network with other industry contacts, read resumes, interview candidates, complete background checks, and more. But the more work you put into building your team, the more functional your gym will be.
  • Market yourself. Start spreading the word about your new gym. Identify your target market and invest in strategies that reach them directly. You can purchase digital ads, traditional ads, or both. This is also when you should start developing a unique and consistent brand for your business.
  • Add the finishing touches. You’re almost ready! By now, the little things will take up more of your time. Building employee schedules, writing membership contracts, deciding which programs and services to offer, incorporating technology, and creating pricing plans are all small details that will make a big difference once you open.
  • Cut that ribbon! After a lot of hard work and many sleepless nights, your gym will be open for business. While the journey can be difficult, the reward of owning your own fitness center is definitely worth it.

Owning a Gym Franchise

If opening your own gym sounds daunting, then you may be interested in owning a gym franchise location instead. There are certain pros and cons to consider if you’re thinking about taking on a franchise. For example, you may enjoy having a support system when problems arise, but a franchise’s restrictions may be too limiting for your overall mission. This article outlines the benefits and drawbacks to owning a gym franchise in detail.

Maximilian Schuetz

Max is the COO and co-founder of Kisi.

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