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How to start a fitness business: a step-by-step guide

How to start a fitness business: a step-by-step guide

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. Do you want to start a gym business? Are you interested in learning how to make money as 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 when it comes to starting a service business.

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 can 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.

Once you have a name, it's time to create a logo that represents your brand and goals. You can look at fitness logo ideas beforehand to understand the kind of look and feel you should be aiming for, or learn how to make a fitness logo.

Then, to start a business you’ll need first 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 medium 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. When making a website think of it 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. Photos are an integral part of your fitness business website design, so make them count.

  • Videos: Learn how to shoot a workout video like a pro and display workout demos or offer full training videos. (Try the Wix Video Maker.)

  • 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.

  • A blog: Start a blog to share the latest fitness industry trends, workout tips or personal stories. Get started with a blog maker.

  • An SEO strategy: Implement strategies that help your site rank higher in search results. These SEO tools will give your site a boost.

Alternatively you can use an appointment scheduling app in order to secure bookings.

A fitness business online and on mobile

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.

Fitness business app with classes

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 and use it to develop your networking skills. 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.

Fitness business website analytics

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.

Can starting a fitness business be profitable?

Yes, a fitness business can be profitable, but like any business, success depends on various factors such as your business model, location, marketing strategies, competition and the quality of your services. The fitness industry is diverse, offering a range of opportunities for profitability. The following fitness businesses can be profitable if successful.

  • Operating a gym or fitness center can be profitable if you can attract a consistent membership base. Providing a variety of classes, modern equipment, and a welcoming environment can help differentiate your gym and attract customers, while maintaining reasonable operating expenses.

  • Offering personal training services, whether in a gym or as an independent trainer, can be highly profitable. Clients often pay a premium for personalized attention and expertise.

  • With the rise of digital platforms, creating and selling online fitness programs, workout videos, meal plans, and coaching services can be a lucrative venture with lower overhead costs.

  • Running specialized fitness studios (e.g., yoga, spin, CrossFit, Pilates) can attract a loyal customer base willing to pay for specific training styles and experiences.

  • Combining fitness with nutrition and wellness coaching can provide a comprehensive approach to health and attract clients looking for holistic solutions.

  • Selling fitness apparel, equipment, supplements, and accessories can be profitable with the right branding and marketing strategies.

However, the fitness industry is also competitive, and success is not guaranteed. To increase your chances of profitability:

  • Understand your target audience and local market to identify needs and opportunities.

  • Offer something unique that sets your business apart from competitors, whether it's specialized classes, innovative equipment, or exceptional customer service.

  • Deliver high-quality services that meet or exceed customer expectations.

  • Develop a strong marketing strategy to attract and retain customers. Utilize social media, local advertising, and partnerships.

  • Create a positive and engaging environment that keeps customers motivated and coming back.

  • Provide consistent and reliable services to build trust and loyalty.

  • Ensure you have a solid business plan that includes budgeting, revenue projections, and expense reports and management.

Remember that profitability might not happen immediately; it could take time to establish your brand, build a customer base and refine your business model. Conduct thorough research, plan carefully and be prepared to adapt and innovate as you navigate the fitness industry's challenges and opportunities.

Other business ideas to consider starting:

Looking to start a business in a specific state?

How to start a fitness business FAQ

How to start a fitness business with no money?

There are a number of ways to start a fitness business with no money. One way is to start a mobile fitness business. This means that you can provide fitness services to clients in their homes or at other locations, such as parks or community centers. This type of business requires very little overhead, so you can start it with very little money.

Another way to start a fitness business with no money is to start a virtual fitness business. This means that you can provide fitness services to clients online through video conferencing or other platforms. This type of business also requires very little overhead, and it allows you to reach a global audience.

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