How to Start a Fitness Business: A Step-By-Step Guide
This post was last updated on November 4, 2021.
There are a few fundamentals of starting a fitness business, no matter your niche. You need to market your brand to potential clients, manage a schedule of classes and maybe even shoot workout videos to promote your services or train clients virtually.
It’s a lot at first, but just so you know, Wix Fit streamlines operational tasks, like managing calendars and onboarding new clients, and modernizes your business with quality live streams and online challenges.
But let's back up a bit, because a successful fitness business can take a lot of forms. A fitness business is any company that offers a fitness service, either in person or online—or both. Popular fitness businesses include yoga or Pilates studios, CrossFit boxes and kickboxing gyms. Whether you’re a personal trainer or the owner of a studio or gym, you have the power to make your fitness business truly your own.
11 steps to start a successful fitness business:
01. Discover your niche
Before you dive into the business essentials, you’ll need to establish your specialty and fine tune your brand. Are you interested in learning how to become a personal trainer? How to become a yoga instructor? How to become a Pilates instructor? You’ll need to obtain the right personal training certifications to establish your authority.
Once you’ve pinpointed your niche, research it like it’s your job (because it is). Understand your target audience, the specific clients you’re trying to reach and your competition.
Important FYI on that last part: Your competition is both local and virtual, so don’t limit your competitive research to gyms in your neighborhood. You’ll need to develop your personal fitness brand from all angles to stand out in a dense wellness space. Look at relevant YouTube channels, Instagram accounts and TikToks, too.
You cal also explore online fitness management courses at Wix Learn.
02. Create a business plan
Next, it’s time to plan. Do you have a name for your business? If you need help, check out the Wix Business Name Generator, which offers ideas based on a few questions about your business.
Then, you’ll need a business plan. A business plan is a professional document that outlines the purpose, goals, strategy and financials of your venture (things like gym equipment, rent, insurance and staff wages). It usually includes a summary of your business, industry and customer analysis, an operational plan and financial projections. You can tailor yours to fit your needs. You can read more about creating a business plan here.
Lastly, you’ll need to choose a business structure (sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation, etc.) and register your business. The business structure you choose depends on many factors such as the amount of personal liability you're comfortable with and how many people you plan to hire. (Read more about the many business structures.)
03. Fund your fitness business
The cost of starting a gym varies a ton, especially whether it's a digital gym or a physical one. The latter can cost anywhere from $25,000 for a small studio with minimal equipment to over a million dollars for something more involved. Read more in how much does it cost to open a gym?
So, how are you going to pay for your gym? Your options are essentially:
Fund it yourself
Partner with an investor
Secure a business loan
The more you invest in your gym personally, the more say you'll have in running it. If you've maxed out your savings, consider a loan through the U.S. Small Business Administration, which works with lenders to support small businesses.
04. Find your space
Even if your business is virtual, you'll need to think about where you'll shoot your workout videos and run your online sessions. It helps to have a cohesive look to your set, so find a well-lit room in your house and stick to the same location for each video in your series. If you plan on training clients outside, check out our guide to green exercise.
Of course, renting a space for a full-on fitness facility requires more effort and money. The good news is, plenty of landlords are willing to negotiate rent right now. (Tip: Hire a lawyer to do the negotiating for you.)
05. Create a website
You’ll need to build a fitness website to display your services and allow for online bookings. Think of your website as the center of all the action—the place where people come to learn more about you and your services, sign up for a membership, book a session with you, watch your training videos and purchase your apparel.
Wix Fit offers different fitness website templates with built-in booking capabilities. Other marketing features—live chat, email campaigns, social posts and SEO—can drive traffic to your site and help your business grow. You’ll also need to choose a hosting plan and a domain name.
Here are a few elements worth adding to your fitness site:
Photos: Add a photo gallery of your sessions with clients, your gym or studio and events.
eComm: Sell fitness equipment, healthy foods and apparel in an online store.
Testimonials: Feature recommendations and personal stories from your clients.
Your contact information: Include your name, phone number, email address and social channels so that clients can reach you. FYI: A custom email address looks more professional than your personal one.
An SEO strategy: Implement strategies that help your site rank higher in search results. These SEO tools will give your site a boost.
06. Offer online classes and sessions
Integrate Zoom directly with your site, so you and your staff can easily host classes. Even if your training is better done in pairs, like martial arts, you can still demo drills and exercises online to supplement your in-person training sessions. This is called hybrid fitness.
There are a few ways to up your Zoom exercise game:
Bring extra energy. You need to smile more on camera to make up for the physical distance.
Tell clients to sign in early to account for any technical issues.
Save time for questions. People enjoy chatting before and after class.
07. Make bookings a breeze
Use online scheduling to list your services, plus relevant info (the instructor's name, duration of class, price, location and so on). With Wix Fit, clients will be able to add the session to their calendar, then receive automatic email reminders, all without any additional work on your part.
How to use Wix Fit's online scheduling solution:
Choose your offerings: Offer group or individual sessions, classes or courses, package deals, sets of sessions or full membership plans.
Sync calendars: Sync with Google Calendars to track sessions.
Receive real-time notifications: Once a client books a session, you and your staff immediately receive an email update.
Waitlist when necessary: If a class is booked, clients can sign up for your waitlist and receive an automatic notification if a spot opens.
Provide a member login: Invite clients to become members, so that they can automatically sign in to your website or access your services on mobile.
08. Implement a clear payment process
Your payment process should be transparent and direct. Clearly list the plans on your site and explain the specific benefit of each membership and package. As a general rule, offer no more than three plans, so you don't overwhelm your clients with too many options. (Read more in 8 ways to price gym memberships like a pro.)
Note: With the Wix Bookings app, you can accept both full and partial payments, both online and in person, and clients can save their credit card information to pay for future sessions.
09. Choose your app
Mobile matters: More than half of people say they wouldn't recommend a site with a lousy mobile interface. Invite members to book your services and pay directly from their phone via the Fit by Wix app or the Branded App by Wix. They function the same way, but the latter app allows for your own branding.
As the business owner, you'll use the Wix Owner app. It's a free extension of your website, meaning you can do everything you can do on desktop, just on mobile.
10. Engage clients on social media
Some fitness businesses operate almost exclusively on social media. Even if your primary business is a physical gym, remember that potential members will often check out your Instagram page to see what you're about. Treat it the same way you would your website and invest in visuals that represent your brand. You can use the same photos and videos on your website and on Instagram, and be sure to respond to clients who interact with you.
11. Analyze your performance
You put in the work, now see if it paid off. Use analytics to measure your progress and gain a deeper understanding of your fitness business. View detailed information about new and returning clients (such as average class attendance, total sessions booked and no-shows).
This kind of info paints a clear picture of what’s working for your business—and what's not. Integrate customized reports using Wix Analytics to make adjustments (like offering more of one class). You’ve got to know what your clients like to give them what they like.
By Wix Fit Editors