Are You in the Right Shape to Start a Successful Fitness Business?

By Aaron Eisberg


You love being fit. Maybe you can bench press a Brahma bull and work out on a stair-climber like it's an escalator, but does that mean that you are in the right shape to run a successful fitness business?

That depends on your answer to a few questions. Are you financially fit? Is your branding buff? Are you mentally prepared? Do you know the ropes? Can you handle the weighty legal issues of gym ownership? The good news is, you can do it if you bring your A-game in these essential categories:

Mental Gymnastics

Gym ownership requires the same stick-to-it attitude that physical fitness requires. You know the importance of determination and perseverance when it comes to a training routine. When you are training for a big event, you bring intense focus to each workout to maximize your body's potential.

When you become a gym owner, you need that same level of focus on your business goals and your vision for your gym. Being mentally prepared for the challenges of business ownership is a huge factor in your success. The article "Fitness Business-10 Steps to Success" gives this advice: "Cut the fear and self-doubt and focus on how you're going to turn your business into the success it was meant to be. You've got to have it in your head that you can and will be a success."

It is wise to note that mental preparedness must also include an understanding that when you open a gym, everything does not always flow smoothly. Therefore, you must be prepared for small failures to achieve great successes.

Financial Fitness and Legal Legwork

It has been said that a goal without a plan is just a wish. To take your dream of gym ownership out of the dream world and into the real world, you have to have a strong business plan.

A good business plan helps you focus on the details of opening and owning a gym. Entrepreneur's "What to Include in Your Business Plan" lists the following broad categories of information you need to craft a solidbusiness plan:

  • the basic concept of your particular gym
  • your strategy and specific actions you will take to bring that concept to life
  • the things that will make your gym competitive in your marketplace (what makes your gym stand out)
  • your marketing plan
  • your people assets (the people you have in place to lend expertise)
  • your financial needs (including a comprehensive budget for years one and two)

What does all of this really mean? When you are working on your business plan, think about the nitty-gritty of how to open a gym. Your business plan should include an overview of what you envision for your business, a detailed explanation of how you intend to get from point A (thinking about owning a gym) and point B (having a successful, thriving business).

The article "Optimism Meets Reality When Opening a Health Club" lists several things to consider when opening a gym. Ask yourself these questions, and build the answers into your business plan:

  • Where will your gym be, and what will be required to get the physical space into shape?
  • What state or local regulations will you have to handle to get the business up and running?
  • How much money will you need to get the physical space prepared, the licenses in order, the equipment needed, the utilities set up?

In the article "Tips and Considerations before Opening a Fitness Studio or Facility", Aaron Werner offers this important advice about your financial plan: "Understand that everything costs more than you think. The business plan will help you understand the initial costs (equipment, build out, etc.) and ongoing costs (payroll, rent, software, etc.) of opening and running a fitness facility. It will also force you to think about insurance, legal, employment taxes and other costs that tend to get overlooked by business owners just starting out. My rule of thumb is to come up with a conservative budget for Years One and Two of the business, and then add 20 percent to the final expenses line item. The expenses, at first, will always be higher than you expect."

Regarding legal matters, it is wise to talk with an accountant and a lawyer with experience in business law to help you navigate the legalities of what type of business entity you will set up, as well as any contract or franchising issues you may encounter. It is always good to have the advice of a banker, an accountant, and a lawyer when setting up a business of any sort, including a gym.

Buffed Branding and Muscle Marketing

When opening a gym, one of the most important pieces of the puzzle that must fall into place is effective marketing. Your gym may be the best thing since sliced bread, but if you do not market it effectively, it is doomed to failure.

Volumes have been written about effective branding and marketing for new gyms. It makes sense for you to do some research on the subject. Here are some tips to get you started down the right path:

1) Know your target audience.

While you likely do not plan to turn away anyone who wants to join your gym, you should at least have in mind the type of person you most want to see walk in the door. For instance, if you want to fill your gym with body building types, your marketing will not be the same as it would be if you were targeting new moms who want to lose the baby weight. Think about your ideal gym member and aim most of your marketing efforts to attract that member's attention.

2) Know your competition.

Think about other gyms in your area and figure out what works for them. While it is okay to borrow some things from a competitor's playbook, you will have to craft a marketing strategy that plays to your strengths. Give careful thought about what makes your gym brand unique and play it up in all your marketing efforts.

Brand-Business-Concept.jpg3) Market like a maniac.

This does not mean that you should include "crazy" in your marketing plans. What it does mean is that you have to get your message out everywhere your target gym member will be. This includes social media, traditional advertising, and participation in highly-visible community events. Make a marketing plan that includes all these avenues, and you will find and attract gym members.

Equip to Engage

When opening your gym, you have to give considerable thought, not only to attracting new gym members, but keeping them for the long haul. Successful gyms have a core group of members that stay through thick and thin.

One of the best ways to keep members engaged once they sign up is to choose equipment that challenges your members and keeps them interested. The AccuroFit system fits the bill, with club solutions that support exciting group fitness challenges and apps that keep gym members engaged even when they are not in the gym. Request a demo of the AccuroFit system today today, and get your gym off to a great start.